“Centipede Heartbeat” by Caspian Gray
For Lisa, life is becoming unbearable. The infestation of creepy crawling centipedes is enough to drive her insane. Now they’ve managed to crawl into Joette’s heart and Lisa is willing to do whatever it takes to save the woman she loves. Drione Dust seems to be just what Lisa needs. Tasteless and odorless, the centipedes won’t know what hit them. After all, the packaging said it is “safe”. As the dust works its toxic magic, Joette becomes ill. Is her suffering worth it or has Lisa gone way too far?
About the Author
Caspian Gray is a used car salesman who has previously worked as a funeral director’s apprentice, a pet nutritionist, an English teacher in Japan, a Japanese teacher in America, and a crystal healing “expert” in a head shop. He currently lives in Columbus, Ohio, where he shares a home with a tall man and a small dachshund.
Lisa and Joette are having some relationship difficulties. Lisa is craving Joette’s attention. She wants some kind of physical or emotional connection, but there seems to be a wall that Joette has put up. Perhaps it is the centipedes running around in her heart. Lisa can hear them when Joette lets her lay on her chest long enough. She wanted to call the exterminator to get rid of them along with any other kind of bug they may have in the house. Joette does not want to call the exterminator. She finds it disgusting and makes sure Lisa understands it. She was a vegetarian except when on rare occasions they ordered chicken vindaloo.
Lisa could not take the creepy crawling creatures that have taken over her entire house. They were in her hair, in the washing machine, the cereal boxes, and in the crevices and cracks around the home. She even sneaks in an exterminator that had promised a free estimate to validate her concerns. After his inspection, he regrettably informs her that she has an infestation of centipedes. She had to take matters in her own hands as she did not want to let Joette know that she had enlisted the help of an exterminator.
Lisa comes up with a plan. She tells Joette that she has lice and needs lice shampoo to treat it. She also suggests that Joette does the same. She hopes that the shampoo will also kill the centipedes. She has to starve the centipedes somehow. At first Joette resists. She doesn’t think they have lice. After Lisa pleads with her, she relents. They get Lice shampoo and do their best to clean out any potential lice.
It did not work. On rare occasions when Joette allowed Lisa to be close, she could still see the centipedes scurrying along. They were not regular household centipedes, but rather they wore dark bodies, coiled tightly with promise of tensile strength. They were growing. Lisa was desperate for a cure. She scoured the internet looking for solutions to her bug problem. She found that there were ways to use small doses of toxins to kill the bugs, but safe for humans. She found Drione Dust. A white powder that cuts away at the exoskeleton and robs the insect of vital moisture. The description of the insecticide said that it was the safest insecticide available, perfect for homes with pets and young children. Lisa like the word “safe”. She would use this to help Joette.
Joette became ill. It started with diarrhea and then with vomiting. Lisa at first thinks that she Joette is pregnant. She had been cheating on her. The centipedes have managed to reverse even that most integral part of Joette. Lisa could not believe it. She did not connect the dots that perhaps the illness was from the Drione Dust. When Joette complains that she had just puke blood, Lisa realizes what is happening. Perhaps the dust was working. The centipedes were finally dying.
Lisa gets a call from the hospital telling her the Joette had been admitted. She is afraid to go see her. She even gets in her car and out of the garage, but doesn’t actually go to the hospital. A friend of Joette drops her off. A week later Joette went back to the hospital. This time Lisa called the ambulance herself. She waited for them to come to take Joette. That same day, the police came to their house and arrested Lisa. Detective Phó questions Lisa. She’s asked why she attempted to poison Joette. She explains that Joette has been infested with centipedes and she was only trying to help. When no one believes her, she asks for her lawyer.
Joette comes to the police station. She is angry with Lisa. While Detective Phó watches in the corner of the room, she asks Lisa why she would do this to her. Lisa asks Joette to open her mouth. When she does, Lisa sees the shadow of a centipede disappear. She knocks her handcuffed hands on Joette’s head and a single centipede fell out from under her tongue. Lisa throws the centipede to the ground and it skittered towards the wall. Joette screams and Detective Phó recoils. There was little time.
Grey succeeds at slowly revealing the depth and acuity of Lisa’s psychosis, especially as it relates to her fear of losing Joette. She must be saved at any cost…….but what that means may just lead to the most horrifying take on “together forever.”