On Friday night I experienced something that I had not seen since my mission to Mexico - something I'd never hoped to see again. My roommate, Scott, and I stepped into our apartment at about 1:30am and flipped on the lights to find our walls, floors and furniture covered with little black beetles.
"Oh, good hell, no..." was all I could say as I observed these creatures, crawling, flying, and squirming around with delight in their new-found home. Ten or so had already made themselves comfortable on the couch, while another dozen enjoyed the view on the ceiling. Countless others meandered blissfully behind and under the furniture. There were bugs on the kitchen counter. Bugs in the sink. Bugs crawling through the pile of mail that didn't belong to us. Bugs in the window. On the blinds. In the track on the sliding glass door. In the hallway adjacent to the living room, and in my shoes that I had taken off the day prior.
It was a FULL ON infestation!
A week or so prior we'd noticed a few of these exact same bugs on the walls here and there. We figured they were coming in from outside when Patrick would open the sliding glass door to ventilate the strange smells from his dinner. We'd kindly slide the bugs onto a piece of paper and fling them outside. A simple solution to a very small problem.
The day after, we'd find a few more. They, too, were collected on a piece of paper and quickly thrown outside. Every day, though, we'd find a few more than the day before. We considered talking to Patrick about making sure the screen was closed when he opened the sliding door at dinnertime, but we figured it wasn't a big deal yet, so we let it slide.
On this night, though, it was all too much. How the hell could so many bugs fly into the apartment without Patrick noticing while he ate!? It seemed unlikely, but there was such a vast concentration of the little creatures at the sliding glass door, that it looked like the most probable entrance.
Scott and I gathered our wallets and put on our shoes to set out on a journey to the grocery store. It was decided that when we returned, armed with RAID, we would bring a swift and foggy end to the intruders. They would be shown no mercy, except for one, which we would waterboard until he revealed to us the methods whereby they infiltrated our peaceful home.
I stood in the doorway ready to leave - my mind working furiously to find the answer to this mystery - when the source of our infestation came into my mind as clearly and quickly as the vast, blue dome of the sky does when you rise out of the clouds in an airplane.
"They're under the table!"
Sure enough, I ran over to a small table in our entryway - under which Patrick stores things that I guess won't fit in his room, and there, on top of a box of motor oil, was a bag of crap with a horrific beetle/dirt mixture oozing out of a hole in the bottom. The lower half of the bag moved in a disturbing, unnatural way- lifting and falling like the heart of some alien being. We stared at the terrific spectacle that lay before us - momentarily transfixed by the bizarreness of it all - and then decided to confront Patrick about it.
I knocked on his door a few times. I could hear muffled Chinese as he spoke to somebody on the phone. There was frustration in his voice when he came out to ask what was wrong.
"Umm, come here for a sec," I asked, laughing nervously as I led him over to the bag. "Is this yours? This bag here?"
"Uh... yeah. Those are some herbs I brought from California."
"Oh, okay. Yeah. Herbs." I paused. "Hey, did you notice all of these bugs in the room?"
He looked around halfheartedly as if I were wasting his time. "Oh... yeah. I notice a few lately."
"Yeah, okay." I paused again. "Well, If you look here...." I got down and pointed to the bag, "...you'll notice that the beetles are coming from this bag. From your herbs. The California herbs"
He looked around and then at the bag, putting it all together. "Oh, okay. Yeah, that's gross." He paused. "I'll take care of it in the morning."
"Nope. No you won't. You'll take care of it now." I didn't skip a beat. There was no anger in my tone, but I was succinct and clear. I laid it all out with a matter-of-fact attitude. The way I saw it, an infestation was not something that would "wait till tomorrow." Patrick read into my seriousness and picked up the bag, opened the front door, and set it outside. I wasn't entirely appeased by this move, considering the fact that these strange beetles were now free to move about the country (Southwest, anyone?), but it was good enough for the moment.
He returned to his room and closed the door.
I - a man on a mission - walked calmly into the hallway and armed myself with our Dirt Devil 'Featherlite' bagless vacuum. With the smooth, calculated intensity of a professional assassin, I turned the suction knob from "FLOOR" to "HOSE" and then pulled the large, black barrel from its holster. I was, in that moment, a Ghostbuster, ready to rid this edifice of its wretched unwelcome inhabitants.
For the next sixty minutes Scott, our other roommate Kevin, and I probed every nook and corner of the kitchen, entryway, livingroom, and hallway, sucking the bustling city of beetles into oblivion. When we were through, we'd counted 849 of the little bastards. Their society: eradicated. Our apartment: pristine.
A few stragglers have shown up since that night - lucky ones that were missed in the chaos. We kindly push them onto a piece of paper and toss them outside, free to go with the agreement that they tell their friends of the horrors of the vacuum. I hope we've seen the last of them.