Horror story without an ending

Posted on September 13, 2015

I found it just after lunch, a seemingly insignificant brownish shape on the floor behind the table, right next to the baseboard. It was a leaf, I assumed, blown in from outside. Possibly a scrap of dark paper. I swooped down to pick up and dispose of it, then stopped. Something was wrong. This was not a leaf. This was rather three-dimensional, more defined, more… leggy.

This was a scorpion. There was a scorpion in my apartment.

There was a short pause, maybe two seconds, although it felt much longer, during which my brain processed this discovery: First, a fleeting feeling of fascination while I stared at it, mouth open, pre-scream – and then disgust and terror crashed in. A scorpion. My shriek brought Alessandro running into the living room where he found me standing on one of our wobbly chairs, the classic caricature of a woman scared by something small and many-legged.

We quickly discovered that the scorpion was – or at least appeared to be – dead. This was a relief, but not as much of a relief as I would have expected. As Alessandro nudged its immobile body onto a sheet of paper and carried off it to the toilet, I began to worry about where, exactly, it had come from.

Given that apartment had been tightly shut for the past ten days (we had just come back from Sicily), it seemed unlikely that the scorpion had found a way in during that time. This meant that it had either been inside the apartment beforehand – possibly lurking around the potted plants in the corner of the room, near where we found it – or, more worryingly, that it had climbed into one of our suitcases in Sicily, survived the airport and the plane and the taxi on the way home, then climbed out as I was unpacking, scuttled halfway across the room, and died. The idea that I could have been reaching into a suitcase in close proximity to something with a venom-loaded stinger on one end and a set of sizeable claws on the other was terrifying; I imagined it curled up between folded t-shirts or lounging in a bag of bikinis as my fingers grazed by just millimetres away.

That night, as I lay in bed, I couldn’t stop thinking about the scorpion. So, naturally, I did the only thing that could make the situation worse: I grabbed my phone and Googled “scorpion”.

This is obviously inadvisable before attempting to go to sleep.

Here is what I discovered, each fact more horrifying than the one before it: Scorpions live all over Italy. Scorpions can live for a year without food and water. They can slip through spaces the size of a credit card. They can survive underwater for two hours. They enjoy small spaces like corners and baseboards and old spaces like my several-hundred-year-old apartment and damp spaces like the bathroom by the toilet and dark spaces like the bathroom in my apartment beside the toilet in the middle of the night and… I was, by this point, traumatized.

Still, there was no reason to believe that there would be another scorpion in the apartment… until I continued to read, against my best judgement, the section about scorpions molting and leaving behind their skins as they outgrew them. Their skins, which, depending on the type of scorpion, could either look clearly empty, or… almost indiscernible from the actual scorpion itself. Their skins, which, in several photos, looked identical to our supposedly dead scorpion.

Therefore, one of two things could be true: Either we did in fact find a dead scorpion and dispose of it in the toilet, therefore ending this horror story… or, we simply found and flushed its discarded skin, leaving the actual scorpion undisturbed – and larger than before – in the apartment, free to roam around in the baseboards and hide under the bed and lurk beside the toilet at night.

I am never walking barefoot again.

Our unwanted scorpion invader

Our scorpion invader. Obviously Alessandro couldn’t resist pulling out the camera and taking a disturbingly close photo of it. He also insisted on naming it. Men.
Share this post: Pinterest Facebook Twitter

Comments on this post

vijai 20 September 2015 at 8:55 pm

i too live in Rome, but i have never seen one here.

Leave a comment

Recently Written

Life  |  Travel


The day before we leave, the temperature hits forty degrees Celsius and the humidity is clammy and close, inescapable. My suitcase gapes open on the living room floor; the fan whirrs continuously and stirs the air into hot, useless, frantic gusts. I sweat as I fold a jacket and sweater into the suitcase. Outside, the asphalt has gone soft and gummy from the heat. The cicadas in the trees along the river are screeching relentlessly, and the air smells faintly like garbage. I love Rome, but I have also never been quite so glad to escape Rome. Arriving in Vancouver is a...


Two wheels

I didn’t really mean to become a cyclist. It just sort of snuck up on me, stealthily, until one day I was encased in skin-tight spandex and attaching my feet to the pedals with a pair of those special and deadly cycling shoes that simultaneously make riding a bike so much better and also so much scarier. It all started this winter, around the time when I began dating my boyfriend. He had a stack of bicycles leaning against the wall in his apartment and a pretty serious passion for cycling; I asked questions, curious, and perched experimentally on one of...


Here, again

So. Hi! I think you’ve all realized by now that I’m not very good at actually writing in this thing. I have a lot of partially-completed posts lurking on my computer, fragments and half-paragraphs and sentences that sounded like the start of something when I jotted them down but didn’t turn into anything. And for a while that bothered me, because I wanted to write, and I wanted to schedule it out and outline a neat list of topics to follow and, basically, blog like a proper blogger should. But actually? I don’t think I really care about that. Isn’t there...


Bold and stark: The colours of Burano

Burano is a strange kind of place. If you search for photos of it, you’ll mostly come up with shots of ultra-saturated rainbow-hued buildings bathed in golden sunlight and girls in sundresses twirling cheerfully in front of doorways. Any maybe it’s like that during the spring or summer, when it’s warm enough that your lips don’t feel numb with cold after a few minutes of wandering around – but I was there in winter, mid-January, the deepest part of the season where sundresses and warm sunlight felt like a long-lost memory. So Burano, a tiny island in the Venetian lagoon, felt...


Winter isn’t over yet: A warmly-spiced cookie recipe to keep you cozy

The wind is blowing hard today, a cuttingly cold wind that slices its way down through the narrow streets, slamming shutters back and forth on their hinges and ripping leaves and twigs off plants. The sky is brilliantly, deceptively blue; it looks like a perfect nearly-spring day until the wind gusts again and tips over a parked bicycle while sending a stray plastic bag flying through the air. “Senti che tramontana”, remarks an older man at the market as his scarf whips out behind him. The tramontana is a cold wind that comes from the north, from somewhere cold and snow-covered...


Venice: The allure of Italy’s most unique city

If you ask me, a good portion of Venice’s appeal lies in that fact that it seems so unbelievable. Here is a city that regularly floods, seawater gushing out of canals and covering sidewalks, creeping under doorways to invade homes and businesses. Here is a city of islands knit together by over four hundred small bridges, a city where water replaces streets, where boats replace cars, trucks, scooters and bikes. Here is a city that seems hostile towards the very old, the very young, the disabled, the distracted, and anyone who has to pull a wheeled suitcase for any distance...

View more posts
Show me posts about...