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Stealthy Centipede: A Rescue Story

Updated: Aug 31, 2023

It’s about 3am, and this is what I see inside my bathtub. Measuring in at about two inches and more legs than I care to count, is this centipede, scurrying all around the slippery porcelain, trying to get a foothold, but having no luck.

You should know that I’m a Chicago girl, and I’ve seen worse (if you can believe that), so this fuzzy-looking critter only rates a quarter-scream on the terror scale.

What I’m thinking (in my semi-slumber) is that I need to RESCUE Sir-Legs-a-lot from his unintended confines. Yes, you read that correctly. I said RESCUE!

I don’t like killing much of anything (though my former succulents would disagree), and I’m a firm believer that if it’s not “bugging” me, then I’m okay to let it live…just not inside my bathtub.

Okay, so, no biggie. I get a TALL plastic cup from the kitchen, along with a thick (unread) postcard from the recycling bag, and I return to the scene of self-incarceration.

Now, you may think that what I saw next is made-up, but I’m telling you, this is a TRUE story! The centipede (and all its legs) was GONE, and in its place was a daddy long legs SPIDER! I was tired, but not delusional!

I can only surmise that Eight-Legged-Eddie was literally trying to get the “drop” on his many-more-legged prey, and missed! Perhaps he dropped his eight-rimmed glasses beforehand.

I felt bad for Eddie, but his unexpected presence meant that I was now one-bug-short! And this was not a pleasant realization.

Frozen like the Tin Man, I scan a 360-degree target zone around my feet, praying to see nothing that would trigger a seismic freak-out. So far so good…Sir Legs-a-lot is nowhere in sight.

I turn back to poor Eddie, now exhausted from his own slippery-slide to nowhere and ask, “Would YOU like to be rescued?” He gives me eight thumbs-up and yells, “Lower away!” Super. Here I go.

I’ve done this many times before, so the extraction should have been quick, but it wasn’t. As I lower the cup, I see Sir Legs-a-lot peeking out of the tub drain as though checking to see if the coast is clear.

I hesitate…and wonder how many of these late-night “meet-ups” I’ve been missing out on. Seriously! We should all be extremely grateful we can’t see everything that goes on in our homes.

Anyhow, as I’m watching, the stealthy, quick-footed centipede zips out of the drain, flashier than Flash Gordon, and wrestles the gangly-tangly Eddie into a ball of incapacitation.

Poor Eddie. He never had a chance to scream. In less than a minute, every last morsel of Eddie’s fuzzy round body was devoured, except his legs. Ewe!

My jaw would have dropped in shock — if it wasn’t for the fear of something else zip-lining in from the ceiling.

Belly full, Sir Legs-a-lot is now reenergized and attempting another escape. I watch for a few moments and wonder if he’s worthy of a rescue. I mean, I just saw what he could do — without conscience — and now I’m conflicted.

If I leave the well-satiated mini-monster in the tub, there’s a chance he’ll find his way out…and find “something” tastier to munch on.

Beyond spiders, I’m not sure what this centipede craves. Like, would he enjoy a hearty chicken nugget or are his meals limited to things with an actual pulse?

And if the latter is the preference, then how many spider conquests does one centipede need before it takes on a human?

You may think all of this is funny (and I’m laughing too), but this is SERIOUS business. Maybe not front-line critical, but life or death for someone.

I’m thinking that any “normal” bug-avoider would have sledge-hammered Sir Legs-a-lot at first sight and gone right back to bed, but, for me, it wasn’t that easy.

In the scheme of all living things, I reason that we all have to eat — circle of life and all — and that most buggers see us humans as GIANTS! I also have this quirky philosophy that the less we kill, the less we will encounter.

Bottom line: Humans have an unfair advantage over bugs. I’ll admit that centipedes and spiders give me the heebie-jeebies, and that I’m not a real big fan of being crawled upon, especially in my bed, but, if the situation were reversed, I’d be begging for mercy.

So…down goes my tall cup of freedom, followed by the shimmy of the postcard underfoot, and the 5-yard dash out to the back porch, where Sir Legs-a-lot skitters away on all those legs.

Epilogue: A few months after that fateful evening, when all the house was still and quiet (including the air conditioner), I thought I heard, in the tiniest whisper of a voice, “We’ve got your back.” (True story!) I haven’t seen any spiders or centipedes since…not even on my back!

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What could it mean when you dream about centipede? Does this animal have any spiritual meaning?

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