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Crushing a mosquito


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I sit in the bedroom in front of the stool with the laptop, hunched over it, typing, moving the mouse along the sofa on the right. The room is starkly lit by a light bulb of 80 or 100 Watts, hanging close by to my left in the center of the room from a cord, partly covered by a makeshift lamp shade. The door to the balcony is open, and as it is hot, air is allowed to come in from the night past and around some heavy curtains. The floor is linoleum, sort of yellow in some meaningless ornament. I type. Half a meter of so from my left foot, almost directly under the light, a mosquito is struggling. I had plugged in a fumigator, the invisible, odorless fumes must be in the room, sparing me from night life. I give a mosquito a distant look. He has dropped down, as I said, and is wriggling on the linoleum. He is sort of grayish green, longer than he is wide, as usual, and kind of large, but not plump, so not full of my blood. At first I am not sure it is a mosquito. Then I lean over, still sitting, and confirm that it is. The fumes must really be working, though it is a quiet night. There are no other bugs, moths or those jumpy transparent green things that sometimes fall in my lap, and I shoo them away. Sometimes a spider skitters across the floor here from somewhere. It is summer, after all. But tonight there is no one else. The mosquito is alone. I look at him some more. I've read long ago that it is only female mosquitoes that seek out blood, they need it to develop fertilized eggs inside them. So this is a she, strictly speaking, but I still think of it as a he. He is walking on the floor. I have never see a mosquito walk. He is moving one leg, another, rising and wobbling, but not getting anywhere. It is hard to say where he would want to go, if he could. Maybe by millimeters he would get to my ankle and bite into it. That is what he will try to do, if I take the fumigator from the socket. In ten minutes or half an hour he will recover, rise back into the air, try to get at me from my naked back, at the ankles, maybe my neck. And I will wave at him without looking away from the monitor, then eventually try to pin him to a wall. It is a familiar pattern to us both, except that to him that would be the first time. This is not how it will go for this mosquito, though. The fumes have gotten him instead, and now he is making this ridiculous striding motion on the floor, over and over again, doubly strange for something that is meant to fly. He is like a horse. I can almost distinguish his proboscis, bending against the floor, and thrashing legs. He is silent, too, no whining. I wish he would just die. But the balcony door is open, the night is just outside my peripheral vision on the other side, the concentration must not be high enough. If I close the door, the stuff might kill him after a while, but I would be too hot. Anyway, he is already here, and I have to deal with him. What am I going to do? There is only one thing to do. I can't talk to him. I don't know the language of pheromones or whatever they use between themselves, and even if I did, what would I say? This one has to have my blood, and nothing else would do. All it would take to crush him is to stretch my leg, though I would have to get up, too. The foot would get dirty, and if I crushed him with my hand, the hand. Then I would have to go to the bathroom and wash them. If I swat him with one of these thin paperbacks I have lying around (fairy tales, children's stories), then I would need to wash that, too. Still, this would be the best. Anyway, the mosquito is already there or still there, depending on how you look at it. I have to crush it, then drink some tea, maybe, finish modding on the computer, close it, turn off the light, go to bed. I can't just leave him there. It is action time: nothing between me, sitting there in green shorts and nothing else, and him. Nor is there any other opportunity, rescue plan. If I shift to pick him from the floor in a T-shirt or rag, wrap him up and toss him from the balcony, as I have done with flies, spiders and knocked-out moths, he will just come back at me. By the way, I was supposed to continue reading Ivan Goncharov's "Oblomov" today. It is a classic of Russian literature, and a few days ago I had decided I would finally know what it is about, what it is like. Words have texture, the fantasies of their authors have a texture, the source of expected enjoyment. The book is about a nobleman who wastes his life by sloth and procrastination. The first chapter rang some shameful bells in me, to be sure. I made some comments to myself, in my head, also some rejoinders, where Goncharov might not have been sufficiently fair and sensitive to his subjects, where there was too much satire. I started on the book the other day and went about 120 pages - not bad. For the next day I half-hoped I could get in as many, but it did not work out that way. I was busy making this mod, something else. Today I also did not read anything from it. It is not really such a great crime with a novel that is not exciting in any way, but the fact remains. What will tomorrow bring? Jains, if "Wikipedia" is to believed, go through life with medical-like masks on their faces so that they don't accidentally breathe in any small flies from the air and kill them, and they sweep the ground before them with brooms. Jains revere living things. I wonder how they manage to get by? Besides eating meat sometimes etc, I myself have killed all sorts of insects in my life, like everybody. When I was a boy at my grandmother's house I used to swat flies with such enjoyment whenever they flew in. Whack, whack. There was a memorable swatter. I can still feel its heft. At that time I did not consider insects living things at all, I think. Later, when I was on that hike by myself through the woods to the rock festival that never happened and sat for a nap in a hut in the forest, mosquitoes poured from every crevice. I swatted them with my hands, a whole flock, so to speak. I did perceive them as living then, but I knew they had to be extinguished. Protoplasm, basically. Now is the next stage. Now all those memories have shortened and can't help me. I wish I had something to hide behind, some idea of Insect or Enemy. Something I could imagine about this mosquito - still on the floor in the same place, because no time has passed. Clotho weaves the thread of life, Lachesis measures it or stretches it out. The line, my line, is now before me as a stretch of flax between one place I can't see and another. And still I have to make a decision. By God, how much of the animal kingdom I have already squashed or flushed down the toilet. I have to get up now and quickly get rid of the insect and shift my mind to important things on my scale, the human scale. My pose, sitting cross-legged like this, is very uncomfortable, it takes some time to get out of it. I disentangle arms, I lean to the left, I half-rise and extricate the right leg from its place on the ground. At this exact moment, meaning in my life ends. "It is now," I think. All fantasies that have dragged on through my childhood, my graced youth, finally ended.

I get up, walk to the cabinet across and pick up one of the candy wrappers lying in a pile there. They are made of paper, vivid scarlet and green, showing a flowering poppy. I kept the wrappers after eating the candy to make a collage for the lid of the notebook. I have the beginnings of one there already, from long ago, glued to the top - foil, some pictures of birds arranged, never finished and kind of tattered and dirty now. With the poppy wrappers I hoped to improve the collage: a field of poppies, with other wrappers to end later on. I never got around to it. Now the wrappers are a little dusty from waiting too long, and it makes no difference anyway. I take one, walk over to that little damn horse on the floor, zoom in and catch him in the paper. The wrapper is now a wad: the colorful upper side is to myself, the white underside must be where the mosquito is. I carry the wad to the bathroom and throw it down the toilet tube, kind of scummy below the yellow water and stinky. It floats, still red, and I look at it. What I don't get is the difference. Just now, before I moved my fingers together, there had been something there, in that precise spot in space, something tight and stubborn - a personality. Now the wrapper is no different from the mosquito it is blended with, who has turned into a carbon material. It has fled from there, the phrase comes to mind from a TV series with a mortuary scene. There was a body on a stretcher - a long beautiful woman. "It" has fled from there, the doc said. Well, it's not there any more, that is for sure. But I don't believe in the soul, and it makes no difference anyway. And what I am doing now, in this abstract place, is not commemorating him, but what I did.

Edited by temnix
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The story of the last man, not quite as predicted by Nietzsche. He sits alone, musing over myth and philosophy from his rich heritage, gifts from the giants of the past. Surrounded by sophisticated technology, he is preoccupied watching an insect struggle across the floor. No battles to fight, no forests to tame, just a man idly watching as the tiny fragment of nature invading his insular home slowly dies, killed by an automated process. His powerful mind is under stimulated. He looks forward to the quiet amusement of tinkering with his video game, a sedentary hobby after working a sedentary job. The last man has no need for sons - in his old age he'll be cared for by social programs constructed by previous generations. Surrounded by people, yet without any real sense of community, he's atomized, a product of his time.

Edited by InThePineways
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Very good, only I won't be cared for by social programs. They are on the way out across the world. And for the mosquito there is no heritage or Nietzsche. For him there is just me. Was.

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