Since it’s around Halloween time, I’m including a post from my blog that I kept while I was in Japan about my run in with a creepy crawler. I originally wrote this post in September of 2012 shortly after “the incident.”
Before I even came to Japan, I heard legends of this creature. We were warned by our sempai about them. We listened to war stories of people being bitten in their sleep, finding them in their bed, or worse, on their face. Living where we do, flush up next to a mountain, it’s really only a matter of time before you have your own story to add to the saga. I made it two years without an encounter, but last night/this morning, I had my run-in, and it was a doozy. So gather ’round kiddos. I’ve got a story for you.
It was 4 am. I was sleeping in my bed, when I was woken up by what sounded like a bird flying into my window. To this day, I still don’t know what the sound was. My mom said it was God waking me up; I’m not really sure. So I wake up, and lie awake in bed debating about whether the noise is worth me getting up and investigating. I turn off the fan, lie still, and listen. I can hear little scratching noises and what sounds like water. This is not a “go back to sleep” noise. Seized with fear, I turn on my light and sit up to look. I don’t see anything for a while, but then I look to the window by the head of my bed, and there it was. The giant mukade, or poisonous centipede. I have never seen a mukade this large before and its size almost made me think it was a snake. It was at least six inches long, had a red, angry face, and was about a centimeter across. As soon as I spotted it, I knew it was go time.
I sprung up out of bed, put on some shoes to protect my feet, grabbed some dish soap (my friend who’s had many an encounter with mukade told me dish soap would do the trick), two large plastic mixing bowls, and some cockroach spray for good measure.
Trying to balance the arsenal of items in my arms, I crept into my room cautiously. Of course, the mukade wasn’t there anymore. Time stopped as I poked around, trying to get the bug to show himself. In the silence of the night, I could hear him walking around, because he (yes, he was large enough to deserve the pronoun “he”) was so big. So I knew he was there, somewhere. Finally, I spotted him at the foot of my bed. At this point, I’m on top of my bed balancing on my bed frame like some sort of stressed out Cirque du Soleil performer. Mukade know no fear. He ran from under the bed into the open. We locked eyes. He had his front two inches of his body raised and ready to attack me. So I got my bowls ready and threw the first one. Swing and a miss. It only caught half the mukade and he ran around even angrier than before. He’s slithering around on the floor. I toss bowl number two, feeling like I’m in some horrible carnival game. I miss again. This time, I scared him into a defensive coil position which made his body smaller and easier to catch. The third bowl toss was the charm.
So now He’s trapped inside the bowl. He’s running circles around the edge furiously. I can hear the clicking of his legs against the bowl. I rummage around my kitchen looking for something to slide under the bowl, so that I can move him. Bingo! A cutting board.
I try the dish soap method, pouring a generous helping onto the board and maneuvering the bowl onto it. It does nothing. He’s still running circles. The only difference is now his feet are clean. My friend swore to me this would work. I shake my fist at the sky. I think of my options. Well, I’ve heard Japanese people boil them alive, but I don’t have the time nor the patience to make a pot of tea right now. It’s a state of emergency. I can’t crush him because he could release pheromones to attract other mukade to avenge his death. So I grab the cockroach spray. It has a long skinny straw nozzle that I slip under the bowl carefully. I spray for a good minute. The bowl fills with the poison. But he’s still moving. I go away for a bit and come back and he’s stopped moving, but every once in a while, I can see a leg twitch.
By this time it’s 5:30 am. The monster vanquished, I go to my couch (there’s no way I’m sleeping in my bed again for a while), and “sleep.” Which involved me still wearing my glasses and waking up every three seconds in terror.
In the morning, I had my friend come over and help me dispose of it. Almost exactly two years ago, I helped him do the same when he found a mukade in his house.
Now today, every sound, every movement, I find my hands going up into the kung fu defense pose. I know that this will fade with time, but it really messes with you, encountering something so huge and awful in your home.
I try to see the silver lining in situations, so I guess there are a few. One, the mukade didn’t bite me. If it had, due to it’s size, I could have been seriously injured. Two, the mukade was so big, it moved a little slower, couldn’t hide as easily, and made noise when it walked. Three, I caught and killed it so I can at least know that it’s dead.
But the horrible part is, folklore says, they hunt in pairs. So even though I got this one, as one JET forum said, I could still be “living in a nightmare.” I really hope this is just folklore.