Marcus L. Rowland
The morning after Halloween, when Xander Harris woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin. He lay on his armour-like back, and if he lifted his head a little he could see his brown belly, slightly domed and divided by arches into stiff sections. The bedding was hardly able to cover it and seemed ready to slide off any moment. His many legs, pitifully thin compared with the size of the rest of him, waved about helplessly as he looked.
"What's happened to me?" he thought. It wasn't a dream. His room, a proper human room although a little too small, lay peacefully between its four familiar walls. A collection of comics lay spread out on the table - Xander was an avid collector – and above it there hung a picture that he had recently cut out of an illustrated magazine and housed in a nice, gilded frame. It showed Babylon Five floating in space.
Xander turned to look out the window at the bright weather. "How about if I sleep a little bit longer and forget all this nonsense", he thought, but that was something he was unable to do because he was used to sleeping on his right, and in his present state couldn't get into that position. However hard he threw himself onto his right, he always rolled back to where he was. He must have tried it a hundred times, shut his eyes so that he wouldn't have to look at the floundering legs, and only stopped when he began to feel a mild, dull pain there that he had never felt before.
Thinking back over the events of the previous evening, he wondered what had possessed him to abandon his plans to dress as a soldier and wear an insect mask and antennae instead. When everyone had turned into their costume, he’d spent the evening running from a succession of foes armed with clubs, cans of Raid, shotguns, and in one case a powerful flame-thrower. It was only his ability to slip into narrow cracks that had saved him. He’d expected to wake in his normal form… instead he was still a monstrous cockroach.
He was still hurriedly thinking all this through, unable to decide to get out of the bed, when the clock struck quarter to eight. There was a furious knock at the door near his head. "Xander", somebody yelled - it was his mother - "it's quarter to eight. Get to school!"
Somehow Xander slipped out of the house, scuttled into the undergrowth, and made his way towards the school. Once he was there he was sure that Giles would know how to fix things. He found moving painfully slow, and decided to risk the back streets and alleys of Sunnydale for a more direct route. In a town that ignored vampires, something as mundane as a cockroach was bound to go unnoticed.
It was unfortunate, perhaps, that Buffy Summers, whom Xander worshipped as a goddess, had chosen the costume of a certain Warrior Princess the previous evening, and like Xander was still transformed. Spying the gigantic vermin scuttling through the streets, and seeing him approach the shop of a bootmaker, she had uttered a piercing cry of “Eww! Gross!” and hurled her chackram at the nearest brick wall. Ricocheting along the alley, it sliced through the guy wires securing the bootmaker’s sign, and bounced back to her waiting hand. The sign, a gigantic boot, plummeted down onto the unfortunate Xander, who suffered the traditional fate reserved for cockroaches which dare to venture into the public eye.
As for the Warrior Princess, her newfound ability to decapitate a dozen vampires with a single throw of her chackram stood her in good stead in her role of Slayer, and even more when she led her conquering hordes across California and the many states of America to become the nation’s undisputed Queen. In later years her biographies stressed the loss of many friends, those who had perished or vanished in Sunnydale. Xander Harris’s name was occasionally listed in a footnote, but usually omitted.
This came out of a discussion on the Twisting The Hellmouth forums, which initially had very little to do with Kafka, cockroaches, or princesses. I have no excuse…
Incidentally, the icon is a woodlouse (pill-bug), I don't have a cockroach icon.
Comments please before I post to archives