(A contemporary inversion of Kafka’s Metamorphosis)

 

I was scuttling along the walls when I lost my grip and fell onto the notebook with a soft thump. It felt like a thump to me but for the giant human that now faced me, I doubt the sound was even perceptible. I prided myself on my ability to cling to walls but the ability had failed me today, leading to my immediate and quite dire straits. To my horror, the human caught sight of me, his pupils swiveled in my direction, eyeballs twice the size of my entire torso. It was at moments like these that I wished I had wings to fly.

However, it was at that minute that the door opened and another frail old human entered the room. I took the opportunity to scuttle across the table and hide among the books that stood leaning against the wall of the shelf. I felt safe in the dark, the light didn’t hurt my eyes. I settled peacefully in a corner. Ages passed before I realized that the there wasn’t any light in the room anymore. Hunger was gnawing at my insides.

I made my way to the edge of the table and toppled onto the carpet. Fortunately, I landed on my feet. Had it been my hide, it would have taken me hours to stand again. I scuttled around for a bit but finding no other food source began to chew on the fabric of the carpet.

Something was wrong. I felt like I was no longer in my body. How else could I explain it? Everything felt so different, so light. I opened my eyes to find my face digging into the carpet, my nose pressed against it. Except it wasn’t my nose or was it – this soft cartilage? Either way, it felt like something I would have liked to chew on. So, I began to move my jaw but it proved to be a fruitless exercise. I began to chew on the carpet instead. The surface of the carpet was rough against my skin. I realized there was a soft lump resting in my mouth and bit down hard on it. Immediately, blood began to drip to the ground. It tasted like metal.

I had been so preoccupied with my chewing that I didn’t notice the sound of footsteps approaching until it was too late. Now they stood, two pairs of feet only inches away from my face. The tips of one’s toes were visible from the corner of my eye while the other one wore boots. I quickly began to crawl away using my elbows and knees, my torso still touching the ground. The fear of being stomped on was so great that my limbs began to move of their own accord. Finding no place to hide, I hoisted myself against the leg of the bed at an awkward angle. I realized I had nothing to worry about. The feet didn’t seem that large anymore but the shrill cry that had erupted from the smaller of the two humans jarred me in my place. I had been seen. The other human who was now holding a curtain rod hesitated for a second, a look of consternation on his face.

I could still taste the blood in my mouth. It was sticky and some of it was on my chin as well, the result of my face being pressed against the carpet just a few minutes ago. I could still see the stain I had left behind.

The human slowly backed away from me, taking the arm of his companion on the way out. I heard a key turning but it was of no consequence to me. Something else had caught my attention. I was looking at my hands and feet. I wriggled the fingers of my right hand. This was a new sensation. I still didn’t understand. My tongue was throbbing. I had almost severed it in half. Was I a human? What for? I was hungry but didn’t feel like moving.

I just sat there in a vegetative silence, the kind I had been used to my entire life except everything was different.

Massa Rogger still couldn’t believe what he had seen. If not for the hysterical sobs of his mother, he might have thought that he was losing his mind. How had it come to this? Just this morning his greatest worry had been to close the deal he had been working on for the past two weeks. He had woken up like any other day, had his breakfast of bacon and eggs and got to work to prepare everything for the meeting. Unfortunately, he had forgotten the brief he had been working on his desk last night. Finding some spare time at the office in the afternoon, he had hurried back home to retrieve it – to the most peculiar sight ever.

He had entered his room to find a scrawny middle-aged man sprawled on the carpet. If this was not enough, the man was buck naked. His mother had been pestering him to have lunch at home and had followed him into the room. The two of them were too shocked at first to utter a sound. But the man was now aware of their presence for he began crawling across the carpet on his stomach as if looking for a place to hide. It was the strangest thing he had ever seen. He quickly retrieved a loose curtain rod that had been lying in one corner of the room and raised it to strike the man, possibly to drive him out when the situation turned even more bizarre. He could finally see the man’s face. It was smeared with blood and dirt and his eyes, what horrific eyes, full of unbridled fear and confusion.

He returned to the room a half hour later with a policeman by his side. The middle-aged man lay just as he had left him. His eyes were vacant and he was frothing at the mouth. The stench of vomit filled the room as the cop hurled in a corner. Massa averted his gaze. When the medics finally arrived, it was discovered that the man had choked to death on his own severed tongue. Efforts were made to find the dead man’s family. Missing person records were scrutinized, questions were asked around the neighborhood and enquiries were made at mental institutions and hospitals. No one knew who the man was or where he had come from. There hadn’t been a single shed of clothing let alone any identification when the police had discovered him. With no one to claim him, the body was stored in the morgue of the local hospital for a few years before they buried it as part of a state-funded project. Massa Rogger never quite recovered from the incident but continued to prepare briefs and work at the same firm until he was fired 20 years later. He lived alone for a year before blowing his brains out in a shoddy two-room cabin he had bought after his mother passed away. He never married.

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