Shane the slug

January 28, 2013 at 7:41 am | Posted in Short Story | 4 Comments
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Commuters on two train stations heard
Fon’s scream …

Feisty and Fon married and bought an inner-city cottage.

It was warm and humble, with hand-made bricks, a kitchen fireplace and 13 types of vermin.

Though these were not evident until some time after the auction, Feisty calmly resolved to combat them by humane, environmentally responsible means.

As it turned out, this was not always possible.

When a plate-sized huntsman spider in the bedroom ignored his well-reasoned arguments, Feisty persuaded Fon to take the only remaining course of action.

She smashed it with one of her Doc Marten’s ten-ups, on the understanding that he would handle all similar transgressions by reptiles and tigers.

The next day, on their walk, Fon tested Feisty’s resolve by shouting ‘Snake!’ and leaping into his arms. He immediately rushed towards the indicated area.

‘What the hell are you doing?’ shrieked Fon.

‘I’m gonna club it to death.’

‘What with?’

‘Your Reeboks.’

Fon struggled to her feet in disgust. ‘That’s not what I had in mind.’

Despite her best efforts, Graham the Jack Russell terrier failed to impact the mouse population.

She lay snuffling for hours in the pot cupboard (and once accidentally overnight) as a robust clan devoured box after box of poison.

Feisty bought a mousetrap and experimented with cheese, salami and corn chips.

Only when he tried pre-softened Kit Kat fragments did he meet with success.

The victims stared bright-eyed up at him in a highly unsettling manner, strengthening his resolve to encourage Skat the cat to take a more active policing role.

Though she toyed mewing with the tiny corpses hurled on the roof, she steadfastly refused to source her own.

It was a wet autumn. As the house gradually slipped into the ancient sewer beneath it, cracks opened in the walls.

Worst affected was the shower. Week after week, Feisty watched the tiles diverge, until one night he found himself gazing right through the ceiling at the evening star.

‘This is crap,’ he observed to Fon, who vehemently agreed.

‘I hate the mould. It’s gone out of control since the recess broke. We’ve got to get it fixed.’

But they’d spent all their money on furniture and celebrating.

The toadstools appeared shockingly, literally overnight. Pale and spindly, they felt horrid even through the wads of toilet paper Feisty used to pluck them. When flushed, they spun lazily to the surface and clung to the bowl.

‘Jesus,’ moaned Feisty. ‘This wasn’t in the brochure.’ He lifted a broken tile to reveal rotting wood smothered in more fungus. Then a huge, febrile centipede shot out and reared angrily, startling him into the shower door with a crack.

Swearing and trembling, he fetched his silicone gun and glued the tile fragments to the best of his modest ability.

Though this worked for a while, the mould became worse than ever.

The couple took it in turns to scrub, but the stains went too deep. Soon the shower resembled a gritty wire-frame model of itself.

When it seemed it couldn’t possibly get any more hideous, the slugs arrived.

Commuters on two train stations heard Fon’s scream.

Feisty flew from their bed to find her rooted to the spot, clad only in her sparkly shower cap. Through chattering teeth she wailed, ‘Feisty, there are f*cking SLUGS in our shower!’

Feisty followed her bloodless finger and recoiled as four of the fattest gastropods he’d ever seen pulsed nonchalantly across the walls and floor.

Losing all sense of karma, he mounted the cubicle, reached in and turned the hot tap on full. Aiming the showerhead like an Indonesian water cannon, he blasted the writhing intruders onto the drain hole and into oblivion. He then hosed the surfaces repeatedly as Fon regained sufficient motor control to retrieve her robe and retreat to the kitchen.

A few days later, two more slugs appeared. Ashamed of his former reaction, Feisty gingerly plucked them with disposable chopsticks and threw them in the garden. They returned the following night. And the next.

He didn’t want to kill them, but could find no merit in allowing them to stay. Then, completely by accident, he encountered an enchanting article on slugs in New Scientist.

A naturalist in ever-damp Sydney, on observing three species of slugs in his shower, had discovered that they loved eating mould.

Through a series of experiments, he had even determined that the Great Grey Slug (limax flava) exhibited the optimum combination of appetite, light aversion and territoriality.

He provided a ceramic oil burner, to which his ‘leotard’ of slugs returned every morning. In return, they cleaned his shower nightly – growing up to nine centimetres long in the process.

‘No f*cking WAY!’ replied Fon to Feisty’s carefully worded suggestion.

To her eternal credit, she eventually capitulated under his intensive lobbying and agreed to a trial.

Elated to at last be dealing with critters in an holistic, non-violent fashion, Feisty installed his own oil burner and waited for results. Sure enough, the mould began to recede, particularly in wet, hard-to-get-at places like the door tracks.

Though the switch from daylight saving caused several fatalities, the program proved a success. So much so that during one full moon, a baby slug appeared.

Feisty was amazed to find that his revulsion had turned to acceptance.

Fon was markedly less enthusiastic and declined his invitation to name the new addition.

‘How about Séamus?’

‘I don’t care.’

‘Sly?’

‘I don’t care, Feisty.’

‘Simon, then?’

‘I really don’t give a damn what you call it. I am not bonding with the slugs the way you obviously are.’

‘Shane?’

‘Yes; Shane. Fantastic! Shane the Sh*t-eating Slug. That’s the one; let’s run with it, shall we?’

Feisty regarded her narrowly. ‘You’re not just saying that? You really prefer Shane?’

Fon unmuted the TV and concentrated on a ‘Toilet Duck’ ad.

‘We’re the germy germs, under the rim … ‘

Feisty stared at the screen, and was struck with a sudden thought. ‘I wonder if they really could be trained to clean toilets.’

He jumped up and ran an eclectic keyword search on Google, only to stump it for the first time ever.

‘Trial and error it is then!’ he declared excitedly.

🙂

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

Pic by SleetDro.

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4 Comments »

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  1. Wonderful story!

    • I’m mighty glad you think so, Ad! Slugs can have such a polarising effect in literature. So I’m particularly delighted you dug this tail. 🙂

      • I haven’t noticed too many slugs in literature, but perhaps I haven’t been paying enough attention. Well, I shall subscribe to Gastropods Gazette today and remedy the gap.

        • A common oversight. Slugs are bigger in noir. And nocturnes. But in all fora devilishly hard to spot … 🙂


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