A Conversation with a Cockroach

A Conversation with a Cockroach

A Story by Cadel

A Conversation with a Cockroach

By Cadel


Suspend for a moment your disbelief that a cockroach can speak english and a man can speak cockroach.

How it happened:

There I was, soaking in every pour the steamy mist flying from the periphery of the showerheads steady and rugged stream (the water pressure is very powerful, comparatively).  It was turning out to be one of those marathon showers, where If you're not careful you'll have to wait almost 20 minutes for your mirror to be functional and even the walls are gathering enough steam to slowly dismantle the wallpaper.  Which I didn't mind so much. Needless to say, it was precisely the climate of bliss.

That is, until I looked to my right and was…  surprised to see a certain creature.

“Holy s**t!”

“Holy s**t yourself!”

The water stopped.

The cockroach climbed up and over the fabric shower curtain so that half of its body was obscured by the curtain and half was poked over the top.  The man jumped to the opposite side of the shower and cowered, suddenly feeling like he needed ten more showers.

“Wait… you can understand me?”

“Yes… Why can I understand you?”

I paused for a moment, thoroughly confused.  I had seen them before, but never been able to talk to one.  “Yep. This is it. This is what losing your mind is like,” I thought.

“You really are an ugly thing, ugh!”

“Oh? Straight to insults? No pleasantries? I see.  Well, rest assured, you're not too good looking either.”

My feelings were hurt.  I will admit. In fact, I stood for a while summoning up the opinions of anyone who had, at one point, complimented my looks.  Rebuilding confidence, my wife and kids came to mind and they don't run in fear from me, plus I succeeded in courting my wife, so my looks are just fine.  Heh! Look at me, still I feel the need to justify myself being insulted by such a thing.

“Look, I don't have to take that from you.”

“Oh yeah? Why don't you attack me then.  I know you’re planning it!”

I was actually planning to attack, but was left immobilised from fear of how it might end.

“I’m naked, I feel so vulnerable.  I don't want you seeing this, this is private.”

“I have on as few clothes as you.”

“Well, yeah, but it’s normal for you.”

“How do you know that?  How do you know I don't crawl into some dark, tight crawl space and put on a nice pair of slacks and a turtleneck?”

“Come on.”

“No, you don't know.  Because you only see me when I’m above ground, out in the open, where, by the way, I don't want to be.  It's scary up here, what with you running around and all.”

“Speaking of you being above ground, you need to stop coming up here, I've seen you or your friends around here before.  Its gross, stop it.”

“Oh! excuse me!  I didn't realize that you were taking up every square foot of this place all at once.”

At this point, I was starting to become very angry and, quite frankly, ready to attack.

“I don't need to be currently occupying a specific space to justify not wanting you there.”

“Oh, were talking about justifications now!  Ok, what makes you think you are justified in wanting me out of here anyway?”

“Well, it’s my house.”

“Oh! It's your house? I’ve lived my entire life here my entire life, pal!  My dad, his dad, his dad’s dad: all lived in this house!”

“I've lived in this house all my life too!  How much of your life you've spent in a house doesn't make a difference to the ownership of the house.”

My head was growing hot from frustration and generated an itch that when i reached up to scratch, he must've mistaken for an attack, because he made a swift retreat.

“Careful now.”


“You relax!”

“Look! my point is:  I paid for the house, so it’s mine.”

“Paid? What is paid?”

“It’s when you give money to someone for something.”


“Yeah, it’s a human thing.”

“So, you interacted with another human through words and ‘money’.  You had an interaction with another human that resulted in it being ok for you to live here.  Therefore: its ok?”

“More or less.  Mhmm.”

The nudity was becoming less of a problem.

“Ok, well.  A buddy of mine were arguing at the a fork in the pipes trying to decide who gets to go into which pipe.  Long story short: I hissed louder than him, so I was allowed take this pipe which led to this shower, therefore its ok for me to be here.” The roach said.

“No.  See, it doesn't work like that.”  The man said.

“Oh it doesn't?  See, I made an agreement with a member of my community, who said the action was allowed, just like you made an agreement with a member of your community who said it was allowed for you.  By using your own logic, I’m allowed to be here.”  The roach said.

I couldn't see how he wasn't getting my point, and for a minute or two, we sat in silent eye contact.

“... Exactly.  You cant respond to that.”

“Yes I can.  A human agreement is just more meaningful.”

“How do you figure?  I feel like my agreement was pretty meaningful.”

“Because human agreements are held up by the law.”

“The law?”

“Yeah it’s this stuff you have to do or else they take you to jail.  Everybody is supposed to follow these rules.”

“Oh, you mean another human agreement, just on a larger scale, involving more people?”


Still, how could he not see my point?

“So somehow, you've got to prove that human agreements are more valuable than roach agreements.”

“We just launched like six rockets into space.  You’re clung to a moist shower curtain and covered in so much filth that you have literally evolved into the color of feces.  I think were more valuable...”

“What you say is true, I admit.  But, you still haven't shown the intrinsic superiority of human agreements.”

“Were just better.  Were just smarter. We can put more reasoning into our agreements, we can think them out more, we can accomplish more overall.”

“The question still stands.”

“You're going to be dead in about three weeks, everyone you know will be dead by then.  Your agreements are so short lived and forgotten and meaningless and just overall less useful.”

“This could go on and on.  You’d have to explain how one can judge usefulness and meaning and all these other things.  I certainly feel as if my actions are meaningful and useful, in fact, so much so that it's literally the only thing I can do.  I can't even conceive of another options in my ‘inferior’ brain. But you can't explain it, because just like all those human agreements, they are nothing more than immaterial thoughts and ideas floating around, to be judged by the standards of those who invented them to begin with.  So ill end that bit of it right here.”


“Anyway, you say it's because my kind doesn't live long and doesn't do any of these so called ‘useful’ and ‘meaningful’ things, but did you ever consider that we could eventually evolve to do such things?  That if you wouldn't kill us as we walk around and explore your creation, we might have a chance to become as ‘useful’ and ‘meaningful’ as you, at least in some million years.”

“In that case, for the preservation of my species, it is my moral duty to mankind to kill you and every other species, so as not to be overtaken by them.  Just as a preventative measure”


“Yeah! That's probably why my first instinct is to merge your scaley back with your pale underbelly beneath the force of a morning slipper.”

“Wait.  Let's make one of those agreements your kind is so keen on making.”

“I agree, an agreement”

“Yes, I agree”




“So… What'll it be?”

“I won't come in any area you're in, if you don't come in any area i'm in.”

“Ok deal.”

“You won’t even know I’m here.”

“I’d better not.”

“I’d better not, too”

This was surely the strangest encounter of my life.  It gave me a lot to think about, not only regarding what we talked about, but just what happened in general.  I couldn't wait to tell my wife and kids. Although I doubt they'll believe me, they'll think i'm losing it. My mind continued to race comparable in pace to my spiny, pleated legs, down the shower curtain, onto the damp anti-slip-textured floor, down the moldy drain, left, right, left, left , right, way down, and then in my home.

The week following this encounter, the cockroach, taking a break from searching for food, had perched itself beside the wall when from nowhere: a dark cylinder enveloped it, sucking it through a labyrinth of tubes, ending in an orange-tinted plastic container.  The man continued vacuuming his living room.





© 2018 Cadel

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Your writing style is quite memorable, leaves things mark in the memory, perhaps with your choice of words and how you order and phrase everything. It's distinct, a pleasure to read. The climax blows the mind away, when it gives away with direct details the identity of the protagonist, which it seemed throughout the scene was the human. That was clever. The scene, the writing, it makes you think, makes you smile, makes you wonder, it is moving, potent, and the philosophical parts flow well with the casual dialogue feel to it, you know a happenstance conversation. There was this vibe, like the protagonist seemed to be projecting himself onto the other character and thinking through them, as if one were the reflection of another, like a monologue crafted into a dialogue, flows well and is engrossing. There's humor, imagination, profound thoughts, something one could read again and enjoy just as much, something to take something away from too.

Posted 7 Months Ago

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1 Review
Added on April 10, 2018
Last Updated on May 24, 2018
Tags: Philosophy



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