“Hey Jessica,” he says when I answer. “I’m sorry I haven’t been responding to your texts or calls or anything, dropped my dang phone in the toilet on Friday and haven’t been able to get in touch with anybody.”
“No problem.” I stretch. My body feels out of use.
“So you’re still having bug problems, right? I’ve got a guy I can send over this afternoon—“
“No thanks,” I tell him at once. “Taken care of.”
Landlord Jack pauses.
“You sure? Your texts sounded pretty serious—“
“It’s okay. Taken care of.”
“Oh,” he says, sounding relieved. “Good. I was afraid you had roaches, previous tenants had problems with those so you have no idea how relieved I am. But if you see any of them nasty things, just let me know and we’ll get ‘em gassed, lickety-split.”
“Okay,” I say, and hang up before he can add anything else. I drop the phone on the bed. I flex my hands. They are good hands and can do much more than spiny little limbs.
It is dark in here, dark and warm and nice. Easy to tell Jessica what to do. Whisper things into her pink human brain and watch as she does them. Hard to talk out of her mouth at first, speech is the hardest thing but after enough time we can do anything we want.
I am hungry. I think of the garbage in the kitchen and before I know it Jessica is up, stumbling out of her room, digging in the trash can for the things I crave: coffee grounds, fruit rinds, moldy bread crusts.
This is the one thing we cannot stop them from doing, eating when we are hungry, but that’s all right. We find it very funny indeed.
Throughout the apartment, in the walls and under furniture and behind every shadow, I hear my brethren laughing: a low, long, whispery hiss.