I freeze in place, one hand still reaching for my phone. I am trying to piece together what this means like an amputee staring at the spot where their limb no longer exists; all the information is right in front of me, everything I need to know, and yet none of it makes sense.
Behind her, a mass of roaches is surging over the pile of dirty laundry, covering my floor in a clicking brown blanket of shiny-shelled bodies. Together they’re making a low hissing noise, not unlike how Marnie sounds when she says my name.
I watch in helpless terror as they invade my dresser, my nightstand, the edge of my bed. They crawl beneath the sheets and in the folds of my blankets. They file one by one into my pillowcases. Oddly enough, they leave a neat radius of space around where I sit – I’m trapped on my own bed by an army of cockroaches, and it feels like they’re watching me.
No, not me – Marnie. And they’re waiting.
I look up at my roommate. She’s grinning again; it looks like she’s chewing on something, transferring a small lump back and forth between her cheeks like a wad of gum.
“You never let me tell you what the sssssticky ssssstuff was for,” Marnie says, and she opens her mouth.
I jerk awake at the sound of the phone ringing at my bedside. At first, I forget where I am, but then I notice the drawn curtains and closed door and I remember I had decided to lie down for a while, get some shut-eye.
I smack my lips – I always get this awful taste in my mouth after I take naps, like dusty old linen – and grab the phone off the nightstand. Look who it is, Landlord Jack at last.