Myna Chang: 5 Ways to Fail at Killing…

… the Centipede on Your Ceiling Because Your Husband is Laughing Too Hard to Help – And Why Even Be Married If You Still Have to Kill Your Own Bugs?

Failure #1: Swatting with a hand towel

Reaching for a convenient hand towel is a classic rookie mistake. Hand towels are too short to reach the centipede on your bedroom ceiling, even if you jump while swatting. Also, towel impacts are rarely lethal. If you successfully connect with the centipede, you’ll only send it pinwheeling through the air to land, mostly unharmed (and now irritable), in a random location, such as on the light switch or among the pile of stinky socks your husband tossed into the corner. Keep in mind that you will probably squeak and squinch your eyes shut at the key moment, as will your husband, even though he’s pretending to be above your ‘antics’, so the bug’s point of touchdown will be a mystery. Then you’ll be too jittery to sleep because you’ll know that leggy little bastard is still alive, lurking, waiting to wriggle over your exposed arm, tiptoe past your left nostril, and scuttle into your unguarded ear canal.

Lesson: Hand towels are useless in the centipede wars.

Failure #2: Standing on the bed with a slipper

A semi-rigid house slipper can be lethal to centipedes, so good job for choosing an appropriate weapon of destruction. Using the bed as a platform is also a solid strategy. However, the centipede is a wily adversary. It will anticipate your tactics and parkour across the ceiling fan to the other side of the room. From there it will taunt you because it knows your puny slipper-arm can’t reach that far. You might be tempted to leap from the footboard, swinging your size 9 flamingo-pink scuff in its direction, but you’ll miss and fall into a graceless heap, possibly cracking the ‘universal’ television remote with your knee. The villain will then, predictably, waggle all of its venomous forcipules at you, providing enough nightmare fuel to keep you awake for at least a month.

Note: It’s okay to smack your husband with the slipper because he absolutely should not laugh at you during this anxiety-ridden ordeal and, also, that’s what he gets for leaving the TV remote on the floor again.

Failure #3: Thwacking with the Swiffer

That Swiffer thingie with the extendable handle might seem like a brilliant idea, but you must resist the temptation: The swiffy fabric is soft and fleecy – exactly the opposite of what you need when battling a multi-legged hell bug. The centipede will recognise this opportunity and latch onto the fringey fibres with every one of its microscopic pincer-feet, and then, when you frown and peer into the fluff and say oh shit, where did it go?, it will launch out of its hiding place and dart into your messy sleep hair. And you know what’ll happen after that: you’ll shriek and beat at your own head, twirling and hyperventilating until you lose your balance and crash into your bedside table, knocking your stack of unread books to the floor and breaking your lamp. Your husband will fail to stifle a guffaw as he helps pick the dust-bunnies out of your hair and, just when your annoyance is at boiling point, the dislodged centipede will ninja-sneak onto your foot and sting you in the ticklish spot between your went-to-market-piggie and your stayed-home piggie.

Remember: Centipedes love Swiffer-induced chaos. And toes.

Failure #4: Balancing on the wobbly vanity chair

Seriously, that rickety second-hand chair? With the jinky leg? It will not remain steady while you’re flailing at the ceiling. Truth is, that old chair is in cahoots with the centipede, and it will joyously dump you on your ass at the most perilous moment. Then the bug will let go of the ceiling, and – you guessed it – drop right down the back of your pajama top like a paratrooper of hundred-fold doom, causing you to body-slam yourself into a defensive roll which will do no harm to the centibeast, but leave you covered in third-degree carpet burns. You can’t even blame your husband when he snorts and says I told you so, because (obviously) you should have donated your vintage grad school furniture long ago.

To-do Item: Replace that treacherous chair. If you survive the night.

Failure #5: Squirting with the air can

It is imperative that you ignore your husband’s suggestions. Ask yourself: If he’s so smart, why isn’t he killing the damn bug? Yes, ‘freezing’ it with a blast from his keyboard-cleaning compressed air can sounds clever. But did you know the air isn’t cold unless you hold the can upside down? Yeah, thanks for not telling me that important bit of info, possibly soon-to-be-ex-husband. If you position the can upright (like a normal person), the unchilled barrage will launch the centipede across the room where it’ll ricochet off the dresser – directly back at your face.

Caution: Don’t scream. The bug can’t get in your mouth if you keep it shut.

Take Note: Quick reflexes are a plus in this scenario. Dropping immediately to the floor could allow the room-temperature centipede to zing past you and land on your husband instead. Extra points if his mouth is open. Swallowing a predatory arthropod = poetic justice.

Bonus Failure: Run Away

The best way to fail at killing the centipede on your ceiling is simply to abandon your home. There is no shame in a strategic retreat, so drop any remaining pretense of dignity and flee before it’s too late.

Pro Tip: No one will judge you if you leave your husband behind as a sacrifice.

Myna Chang writes flash and short stories. Her work has been featured in Atlas and Alice, Reflex Fiction, Writers Resist, and Daily Science Fiction. Stories previously featured in Funny Pearls include ‘First Impressions‘ and ‘It’s Not Christmas Without Butter.’ Read more at or @MynaChang.