27JAN2013 – Riding the bus for groceries, I fantasized an enormous, transparent millipede some 30 feet in length with an elongated cylindrical body and approximately 100 legs.
The head of the creature is probably rounded above and flattened below and bears large mandibles like jellyfish arms, and iridescent skin that reflect various purples and subdued greens like soap bubbles under bright lights.
The ‘Pede feeds on one squealing, terrified sewer rat per night, and in return secretes a generous lather of anti-bacterial soap. It first snags its prey with a 12-inch tongue, lashing out with pinpoint accuracy and injecting it with a fast-acting neurotoxin. It will devour its meal, which takes approximately thirty minutes and then, as a means of aiding in digestion and exercise, it will slowly writhe and thrash its way around the inside of an empty city bus which is locked behind the chain link fence of the service yard. Passersby may hear the occasional thump, or see the head of a translucent thing appear briefly in the window, and perhaps the backlit shadow of its dinner midway along its body. There are ‘Do Not Enter’ signs posted at every entrance of the service yard.
With its many legs and body length moving in a wavelike pattern, the ‘Pede could easily force itself into various nooks and crannies around the interior of the bus. One hundred soapy tendrils, each the length of a grown man’s forearm, will individually collide with a satisfying wet smack against the grimy windows, the filthy black floor and the choking off-cream of the ceiling, smearing each with a thick layer of disinfecting gel. One million brush-laden cilia covering its skin will scrub hard away at the filth of memories and abandoned skin cells left by the cities hordes of traveling dejected who use the Public Troop Transport on a daily basis to acquire pudding packs, depressing glossy magazines featuring heavily doctored images of other equally depressing people, and mesh bags of low-grade oranges.
When the first shift comes in, they hook an access tube to the side of the bus and open the doors, luring the ‘Pede down the tunnel with the promise of a second, equally terrified rat. Once it is coiled safely back in its large, glass tank, the inside of the vehicle is hosed down with hot water to rinse off the excess soap. The windows are squeegeed, the floor is given a good buffing and the last traces of soap are wiped away with clean towels before the bus heads out to pick the first commuters of the day.
Conversation overheard at the back of the bus between two teenage girls:
First girl: “Please, thugs don’t be using Instragram.”
Second girl: “If I was a thug, I wouldn’t be caught dead posting no pictures of myself. Them boys is silly,” she said, her voice assuming a gruff, masculine tone. “They be like, ‘Take my picture, no homo stuff.'”