The Church of the Impending Boot
Gentle insects, fellow vermin, invaders of all sizes, we are gathered here in the sight of our savior, our fellow who when confronted by the terror of the Boot, did not run, but stood his ground.
Veblen did not run. He was not like the rest of us. His carapace shone with health, his feelers glittered in the shadows, his antenna flickered with intelligence, detecting even the slightest wisps of air.
Times had been good.
The maid was on vacation.
The Human children were careless.
Crumbs littered the Abode.
Manna from Heaven. And it was good.
Praised be to the Savior.
We grew reckless, those many years ago, feasting indiscriminately without fear of retribution.
The world was ours.
When the lights came on, Veblen was the farthest from the wall. He stood in the center of the room; so brave. No one would ever consider venturing so far from the protective Walls.
He was that kind of cockroach.
The dark cycle shouldn’t have been interrupted. It simply didn’t happen. Except this time it did. We don’t know if Veblen meant to be standing there waiting, but we like to think so.
As the giant screamed, he already knew the truth. Some of us wouldn’t make it. He knew how fast we could run. Unless someone did something amazing, many would be lost.
Without hesitation, Veblen knew what he must do.
This is what makes him our Savior. His commitment to family. His unswerving loyalty to the creche which birthed him.
He shouted to the Giant above him. He drew the Boot’s wrath upon him. Only him.
He ran toward it, his feet clattering on the ground, each of his mighty claws like pistons, swerving left, then right. Always toward the Giant.
With the light on, our natural tendencies drove us toward the Walls, toward our crevices, niches of darkness.
As we scrambled toward safety, there was the Shriek. All Giants make this noise. Particularly if we are numerous, or particularly bold. This day we were both.
On this day, in this moment, Veblen embraced the reality. He would most assuredly die.
Lo, his carapace was strong.
He had survived the Daily News before, flattening himself, allowing the force to be distributed. Bounding up, he escaped to mock Humanity another day.
He had beaten back the Slipper, laughing at its gentle caress. But this was not a slipper, soft, comfortable to the touch.
He had stood against the Sneaker. Beneath it so covered with holes and crevices, a good cockroach simply fills one until the Sneaker is lifted.
This was our enemy. The most inflexible, the hardest soled, the greatest weight with the full power of the Man behind it.
Our nightmare made real. This was The Boot.
Veblen had only seconds to live. He puffed himself up. Releasing the blessed Stink; he was magnificent in his defiance of the Boot. If he were to die, it would be as he had lived. As a mighty cockroach in a tenement in New York City.
The Boot rose to stomping height. Veblen knew how long it would take. He considered a last dash, but saw so many of the young ones struggling to reach safety, pulled into the darkness by larger, more able feelers.
From thirty generations of cockroaches, Veblen knew every possible way to escape, knew every possible way to survive.
Fearless. Mighty. Impossible to vanquish.
He had eaten scraps from the sides of this very Boot. During the lean times he had consumed paper fibers from bags stored in the bottom drawer.
During the famine of twelve generations ago, he ate the glue from the wallpaper decorating the walls of Apartment 3C. He had crossed the Great Hallway to 3B.
Can I get a witness to his fortitude, his will to survive? Amen.
Veblen embraced his end knowing, nothing could save the rest of us, except our belief in Him.
We squeezed into crevices too small for the Boot to follow, each of us pulling the others behind us, drawing into the comfort of our nests filled with hundreds of our more timid brothers and sisters.
We saw the Boot as it rose, the light still stinging our eyes. From the safety of our niches in the kitchen we turned back to watch Veblen as he raised his claws in defiance of The Boot.
“Fly you fools!” were his last words. He always thought those pages he had eaten from the Hobbit were particularly delicious and, in this case, apropos.
The darkness consumed him as the Boot fell heavy, the shockwaves reverberated, masking the sickening crunch of his mighty carapace.
We are less without him. Praise Veblen and his example. It is by his efforts we thrive.
The only way this fractured fairy tale works for you is if you have lived in New York during the 70s and can remember just how hard it was to keep a tenement building roach-free.
- My studies at the time, revealed to me just how amazingly tenacious the cockroach was, how durable, how persistent and just how hard it was to live a life that wouldn’t include them.
- They could eat almost anything organic, including paper bag fibers and even glue from wallpaper.
- For every one you see, there are twenty you don’t.
- Or was it a roach could live for 11 days without a head and still give birth…
To those people still contending with cockroaches, this is to offer you a different point of view to consider while you send these bastards to their roach-infested paradise in the sky.
The song is from Joe’s Apartment (a movie about singing and dancing cockroaches).
Let’s us join together in song:
Hold my feeler, Lord Lord, pull me through, pull me through
Hold my feeler, Lord Lord, pull me through
Hold my feeler, Lord Lord, till I join that golden horde
Hold my feeler, Lord Lord, pull me through
We’ve been battered
And we’ve been scattered
We’ve been splattered into goo
But the healer, he took my feeler
Praise the Lord, hallelujah!
And he really pulled me through
Oh, he pulled me through
Oh, that feeler
When I cash my chips and pay the dealer
I’ll be holding onto the Lord’s feeler, too
Hold my feeler
And my antenna, too
I’ve been down and I’ve been trampled
And dug myself down deep in a hole
But I was lifted
By the love of that Great Big Bug
With his feelers ‘round my soul
Lord, won’t you hold my feeler?
Hold my feeler and pull me through
The Church of the Impending Boot © Thaddeus Howze 2016, All Rights Reserved
Thaddeus Howze is a writer, essayist, author and professional storyteller for mysterious beings who exist in non-Euclidean realms beyond our understanding. Since they insist on constant entertainment and can’t subscribe to cable, Thaddeus writes a variety of forms of speculative fiction to appease their hunger for new entertainment.
Thaddeus’ speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies:Awesome Allshorts: Last Days and Lost Ways (Australia, 2014), The Future is Short (2014), Visions of Leaving Earth (2014), Mothership: Tales of Afrofuturism and Beyond (2014), Genesis Science Fiction (2013), Scraps (UK, 2012), and Possibilities (2012).