The Cockroach Rules: Finish the Story Contest #45

2년 전

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When I was eleven years old my family moved to New York City, and I met my first cockroach. It was a one-sided romance. As much as I detested these bugs, they seemed drawn to my apartment. The phrase, "patter of little feet", held particular meaning, as I could hear the critters running around at night (or did I imagine that?). Cockroach nightmares were inevitable. So when I read the beginning of this story, written by @f3nix, the roach caught my imagination. It was easy for me to reproduce a roach nightmare, backed up by a little bit of research.

A few "fun" facts, incorporated into the story:

*Roaches really like the smell of each other's poop.
*Roaches like to hang out together--they are quite social, though not highly organized (as compared to ants, for example).
*Roaches are omnivores. They will eat anything.
*Roaches have been known to eat human eyelashes.
*Roaches are rather familial. Generations of roaches may stick together.

At the end of my (gruesome) tale, I'll add a bit of positive information about roaches.

Right now, prepare to enjoy the combined efforts of @f3nix and @agmoore, in this week's edition of #finishthestory, sponsored by that font of creativity @bananafish.

The First Part of the Story, by @f3nix

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Blue Inferno for Tres Culos

"They're coming outta the walls! They're coming outta the goddamn walls!"

Tres Culos awoke startled, at the sound of his own raving nightmare. A muffled sound that multiplied in the bottled and synthetic sounds of a dinghy seen from the inside.

Where the hell was he?

Around him, a blue claustrophobic hell jolted convulsively, smashing him repeatedly against plastic walls encrusted with unspeakable miasmas.

"I was hoping that hell was more spacious and above all less shitty, in the literal sense of the term." He thought as a trail of excremental smell slapped him almost with the same physical strength of the umpteenth jolt.

Tres Culos was still too stunned and disoriented to react to that torture. He tried to faint again, but the smell did not allow it. Even the after-effects of what looked like a colossal hangover couldn't help him.

Now that he was slowly focusing on himself, he tasted something different in his mouth than the usual rancid of the after-booze. Something bitter. Something that moved jerkily.

"Yearrrrrrgghhhhhhhhhhhh!" He spat and screamed together. On the grey floor stood a cockroach still tangled in Tres Culos' saliva. The brown insect seemed to look at him scornfully as if it wanted to say "Wassup, never seen a roach?" If it had a small arm, it would surely have shaken his fist as a challenge to the wide-eyed Tortillas De Pelo bass player.

"Mum, there's a screaming toilet!" On the sidewalk of Allerton Avenue, a child tried to interfere in the conversation between his mother and the neighbour with the only result of receiving a frowning look.

For Tres Culos, the revelation took place progressively, triggered by the irreverent attitude of the cockroach. The bassist's eyes slowly moved from the insect to the wall ahead of him. On the blue-spotted plastic stood an inverted heart that could very well be interpreted as a bum: he knew that sign. A ubiquitous symbol in all rock festivals in which he had participated.

The brand of the renowned Montezuma porta-potties. He was imprisoned inside a fucking chemical bath.

He tried to open the door. He tried to undermine, crack, push his shoulder against the bloody door, but there was nothing to be done. At the umpteenth jolt, another moment of awareness struck him: the door would not open because it was pressed against other toilets, all piled above a van in movement.

He screamed asking for help until almost vomiting. And it was between one gagging and the other that he heard a guitar riff coming weakly through the wall. His beady eyes widened as his already fine lips blanched and stretched out in surprise.

"Machete is that you! What the hell are you doing here?!"

"Hi Tres, did you hear this riff?" Answered the unmistakable voice of the Tortillas guitarist.

"Machete are you telling me that while we die slowly because of the shitty smells, your only idea is to play? And then, for God's sake, why were you in a toilet with the guitar? "

The presence of the guitarist made his hypothesis of an accidental post-concert kidnapping unlikely.

"Très .." The guitarist continued complaining "There's very little we can do. Have you ever heard of the legend of the Masonic porta-potties association?"

"If there was Mendoza, he would take us out with one of his plans." Tres Culos thought desperately.

"This guitar riff is really cool. If only there was Tìo Billy, I would ask him to follow me with the drums." Machete thought.

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My part of the story:

The Cockroach Rules

By @agmoore

He'd taken a right turn into an orifice rich in nutrients. Delectable tidbits were scattered throughout the cavity, and he made a note of where they were located. He intended to eat every last one. At the very moment of his expulsion, he'd begun to munch on a tasty bit of roast beef. Extracting the morsel from a tight crevice had been difficult, but well worth the effort. Then, the explosion. The Thing spat him out with the roast beef still clutched in his mandibles.

Viscous saliva allowed for a cushioned landing. This slime was rather pleasant to his senses, but contained little in the way of nutritive value. The minutest fragments of this and that were spread throughout the goo. What really bugged him, though, was not so much the loss of a meal, but the rough treatment he'd received from the Thing. Summary judgment, and crass disrespect for personal dignity. This would not be tolerated. He, Luis Mangione, could not let insult from the Thing stand without response.

What to do, what to do. The assailant was large. This would take a grand plan, and lots of help.

He began to poop. That would summon enough allies to work his revenge. They were all nearby, hanging around the porta-potty. Everybody knew everyone else, and most of them were related. Best of all, none of them could resist the smell of roach poop. Given the amount of food he'd recently consumed, generating this product was not a challenge.

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Soon the place was literally crawling with buddies. Hundreds of them. He told them to poo, because hundreds wouldn't be enough for what he had in mind. And so his buddies applied themselves to the task. In a very few moments, the mass of cockroaches in the porta-potty left little room for the Thing.

Once critical mass was reached, Luis explained what had happened to him and what he intended to do.

This was a loyal crew. They were all indignant and recognized that the plan was good, because the Thing was vulnerable. He was alone, trapped in a porta-potty with a blocked exit. It was dark, and he was disoriented. Overwhelming him would be easy, if the roaches acted in concert.

And so they did. They swarmed up his pant legs, onto his groin. Into his ears, through his hair. They made a beeline for the eyes and quickly removed his lashes. He swatted frantically but with little effect as every entry point in his body was invaded. He gagged as they climbed through his nose and down his throat.

The army of roaches finished their mission long before the truck carrying the porta-potty stopped. When the door to the ambulatory toilet unit opened, and fresh air poured in, the human was discovered with his mouth agape, his lashes stripped and large red welts all over his body.

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To end on a more positive note:

Cockroach Robots

Researchers at the University of Berkely have studied how cockroaches climb walls. It seems that, when a roach runs into a wall, it absorbs the energy from the impact and uses that energy "to go up the wall in approximately 75 milliseconds".1 With this information in hand, members of the robotics and biology departments worked together to create a shell for robots that would act like the cockroach's body. In this way, a robot could collide with something without doing harm. The energy from the collision would be absorbed by the robot.

The Berkely researchers envision developing rescue robots that can squeeze into spaces. This would be a great asset in extracting people from collapsed buildings--say, after an earthquake.

Check out this "roach" video to see how these creatures inspire robot design.

By the way: cockroaches play an important role in nature. While they torment humans in the home, elsewhere they are important decomposers and also help to spread seed for a certain species of plant (see previous citation). They also are a food source for many animals.

This post has been both entertaining for me to write, and also an opportunity to learn more about the despised cockroach. While these critters don't belong in our homes, they do have a place on earth.

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  1. UC Berkeley researchers build wall-climbing robot based on cockroaches

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All illustrations created with the help of Paint/ Paint 3D / GIMP

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- Blerrie -

Silent taps radiating
from the blue walls
in this porta-potty
of Infernal Heck now!

Cockroach swarms
cockroach attacks
cockroach overcome
cockroach triumphant

Now begins the great
and very blerrie event
of rippin'-n-tearin' now
within this porta-potty

So let's smell red rum,
let's live the red rum,
let's decorate red rum,
let's become red rum!

Now this was one cockroach infested entry, this really hit home on the science of crapology, cockroaches, horror, the Tortillas getting senselessly and slap-tastically abused... wait, where am I going with this? Anyways, beneath the obscenities of horror qua Nature is a deeply invested tale that's basically wants to say one thing: don't fuck with the roaches. Yet a more obscene version would be basically: "Let us not deceive ourselves by our victories over nature. She avenges for each such victory" to quote Friedrich Engels. For the assuming and hungry Tres-Culos (us) had his breakfast too early and then took upon the cockroaches; for which they resisted and avenged the humiliating loss they experienced. And in global contemporary times with Climate Change said to be non-stop, there's no denying that Nature will treat Humanity as her equals finally and give back to Humanity what she thought of their shitty (pun intended and not intended) ideas of making subordinate all things nonhuman... But we shall see.

Comradely love,
Comrade Prof. Dr. Victor


Red rum, red rum---conscious reference to the mayhem in The Shining?
As usual, your poetry is sonorous and fluid.

As for your analysis of our conflict with nature--here's what I have to say.

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Keep up the good fight, Comrade, because people with less noble intentions will not abandon their advantage easily.

Thank you for your kind words!


Indeed, but I was also referencing the song called Red Rum, but I can't find it nor remember the lyrics other than the singing of "Red rum~ Reeeeeed Rum" as the lyrics. I only heard it thrice in my life, so can't remember the lyrics all to well...

Surreal gifs, 'twas a true way to respond to this~

Aye, same to yah mój towarzysz.

Proszę!!!!~ <3

It was a one-sided romance.

Uggh! As though they could sense your revulsion and decided to do their best to change your mind. 😱

Your story went somewhere unexpected and was delightfully gross! Thanks to your bits of info before the story, we're given an understanding of roaches natural appreciation for things we find disgusting. The icky details that follow then become more integral to the story beyond simply shock factor.

Instead of commiserating with Tres Culos, I felt bad for Luis to be denied that tasty bit of hard-earned roast beef. Instead of suffering the indignity of being spat out in silence, the crafty bugger executes a victorious attack with a massive army of loyal comrades in punishment for the Thing's transgressions! You had me cheering for the roaches, Agmoore! (And happy to have been only reading this instead of being a bystander. 😁)

Also, I loved that you included more fascinating tidbits in your ending notes! Thank you.


Hi Brisby, I appreciate your kind appraisal of my story. After I wrote it I thought of a psychoanalytic theory called reaction formation. According to this theory, you overcome a profound fear by adopting the opposite view. People who are afraid of flying, become airline pilots, for example. Next I'll have to pretend to climb cliffs, eat dirt...oh dear. So many fears. So many opportunities for story writing :))

Cool. Not just good fiction, but informative nonfiction as well. Excellent post.


Thank you, skilled writer and master of the ghoulish realm :) I hoped this one might be to your taste.

This post contained some typos in its mentions that have been corrected in less than a day. Thank you for your quick edit !

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Thank you, @checky. I have corrected it!

Don't f*ck with the cockroaches

I absolutely love this! Taking the cockroach perspective, shifting the focus of the story and using the opportunity to create your own character, and my word you play the cockroach facts so well in there! Enjoyable and education! <3

How you play Tres in this works really well, the step away, and then referring to him as The Thing (which adds to the cockroach point of view so well), him as a bounty to the cockroaches, the human body viewed as a resource instead of as a being, the way the cockroaches approach it, going for the 'good' stuff in the feast. The very ending just caps this perfectly, calling him human again, and once again showing him in the light of a person, injured and presumably dead, shown through the eyes of those who find him. You create this sense of evolution in the way you show Tres, the man, the meal, the man again, that gives a wider sense of perspective, the relationship between things, and their place in the world. To the band, he may be a kick ass bass player, but through the eyes of the cockroaches, he is no greater than the sum of its parts. Which is just how he saw the cockroach. Hmmm there is a lot in this, i could probably go on for a while longer about the depth visible on reflection here. The contrast between the mayhem of the first human half, and the organised coordination, and team work of the cockroaches. Damn, gunna stop before you get an actual essay, very good ending!


Thank you! You make me sound better than I am :)
I have to say, this one poured out like melted butter. I'm a Kafka fan, and that cockroach caught my attention as good material for a story. F3nix gave the bug a personality...I just took his cue and carried the character to an absurd extreme.
Appreciation from a writer with your skills is high praise indeed.

You out did yourself in this adventure! What an exciting ride from beginning to end.

The language and images you used throughout the piece is woven together like a sage's clothing.

A creature of 1 kilogram or less can hit walls at full speed and run up them without getting hurt. Wow.


Thank you! You're really kind. You have a great imagination so, it's nice that you appreciate where I went with mine. The research was fun. Glad you think it enhanced the story. See you next week, I hope :)

After your initial statements, I expected to find a very vulgar story. I must admit that I was curious, because vulgarity is not something I see easily associated with you.
However, I am amazed to discover a final from a very original point of view and a lot of interesting information about an animal that we usually despise.

Not the usual Finish the Story, almost a documentary which frames a story in which poor Tres once again sees his bodily orifices violated and multiplied! :D

Now I strongly feel the need for a "cockroach" emoji for Discord's chat! The "poopy roaches" deserve to join the bizarre zoo of the Bananafish Tribe!


I love the idea of "poopy roach"!

This story wouldn't have been posted without your very "expressive" example. You're right, the graphic description of excrement doesn't flow easily from my keyboard, but we all have our styles and we all respect that. It's one of the great charms of finish the story.

Here's to the roach I won't meet in my kitchen tonight and good riddance to those who tormented me when I was young :))

Whoa. You let your imagination run wild. A very good idea to leave the human perspective and take the strategy out of the cockroach's eyes. Overcoming disgust is really not easy. But what you write as a writer is so different from what you read as a reader. As an author, you have to be able to put yourself in all worlds, no matter how strange they may be. Of course we never really leave our human perspective, but even a rapprochement like this to something else holds the possibility to feel useful as a cockroach and to accept that we have to feed ourselves as normal. For the cockroach the human being is a found food. Only good that we can never grasp the true thoughts of other creatures.

Your additional information is really gold. It's nice that you gave a wider story and illuminated more than one aspect. You have a morbid taste, that's for sure! :)


Nice to see you around Erika ☺️


Thanks and hey, you! I am just peeping in but too busy to participate in finish the story. My own content keeps me busy:)


Thank you! I didn't really have to stretch my imagination too far. I actually did have nightmares back then about cockroaches crawling on me. Coming from a nice, clean, quiet country environment, I found the roaches horrifying. Surrounded, suddenly and inescapably, by people and insects.

Doing the research was fun. Waiting for your entry into finish the story :)


:) the absence of cockroaches speaks for cleanliness? Interesting. Or I think they also were there where you grew up but had plenty of other food sources.

My friend in California certainly dislikes them and gets the creeps having them in her home. I think I would feel the same. Even spiders make me uneasy and when I see them I put them into a jar and throw them down my balcony.

Hi agmoore,

This post has been upvoted by the Curie community curation project and associated vote trail as exceptional content (human curated and reviewed). Have a great day :)

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Thank you, Curie. What a miracle, to be rewarded for doing something that is so much fun!

This story was recommended by Steeve to its users and upvoted by one or more of them.

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Don't like them much at all. Met a lot of them in Thailand


It's hard to shake the creepy crawly feeling after you've lived in an infested environment...that comes through in the story, I think :)

Thank goodness I am getting used to these bizarre stories and characters you guys have been creating.
Roaches are one of my most hated creatures, I don't care about the final possitive notes. If they end up inspiring the cure for cancer that's the least thing they can do after so much disgust. You have to see my wife and daughter when they get one of the flying type, and they become their landing target almost every night.
We just hate them with all our might.
But this story was fun. I'd rather have had them flushed and done with at the end, though.


I was sitting on a bus once, and a huge cockroach crawled out of my coat. Hence: cockroach nightmares. The flying ones are especially horrific.
These household pests should be recycling rotting material in the forest. Everything in its place :)


Yep. That's what I say. We try to keep the house clean, we live in a huge town with entire sections gone to waste and filth, why don't they go there?
They seem to have evolved and enjoy fresh sources of food and certain weather conditions

Totally different story, ha ha. Finish the Story doesn't have to be a different ending just a different perspective. Well done.


I wrote a lot of papers on him in German and English. Imagining myself as a cockroach was a natural :)


Worked on an audio version once.

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