[quote=“urodacus”]far far nicer than the other centipedes found in Taiwan: Scolopendra species. (And here in Okinawa too). Nasty little fuckers. Actually, not so little: up to 30 cm. I’ve worked with venomous animals of all kinds, snakes, spiders, scorpions, stone fish, cone shells, and no problem. only those mean centipedes scare the shit out of me.
As a young man fresh out of university I found myself, as one does, living alone on a large remote mountain in Nara, a few hours drive from the nearest major city, Osaka. Teaching by day, drinking and watching Seinfeld by night I found my mountain existence to be quite ‘out there.’ Drunk electricians working on my wiring in the rain, ablutions taken with old men in the public baths in winter when the pipes froze over, returning from vacation to find the local kids had stolen and crashed my car and that I was to pay for the damage… just a million crazy memories. But seeing that photo brought back a terror that I still think it will be hard to top. Although this isn’t exactly a war story, I had barely been in Japan 2 weeks and was still in deep typhoon fuelled culture shock. This was my Vietnam…!
My sofa was a floor adjacent deal and small to boot. My head on one end, my back covering the whole base, and my legs lolling over the other end and onto the floor. In front of me cold sake and beer, slightly above and to the right, the tv video combi and a stack of tapes. A usual night night in I thought. Just me, a billion frogs humping in the wet fields outside, and the cockroaches scuttling about in my kitchen. My home was sat in quite a sweaty little spot and plenty of mini-beasts must have survived many generations before my arrival. This place was not exactly fortress standard and so encroachments of a nature-meets-man-meets-nature scenario had already taken place. From these I had gathered myself quite a false level of confidence. A confidence that was soon to be exposed… The whole thing lasted about 10 seconds I suppose, and it started with a scratching feeling. I was wearing tracksuit bottoms, the kind with a wide billowing bell shaped base, ankle length socks and no shoes. God knows why I was so sportively dressed that night, but I was. Anyway, suddenly my right leg began to feel very scratchy. My right toes are curling as I write this. The scratching moved quite rapidly up towards my knee and I struck out at my leg with my hand. I hit something solid. The feeling didn’t stop moving north. I swung my legs round and used my left leg to hoist myself up. I banged at the new most scratchy area and connected with it heavily. I could feel an intense scrabbling and then something begin to move down my leg. Then it slid and I waited, looking at where my sock met my tracksuit bottom. Then the head of that thing pictured above came out. It was so black and shiny. Then I clocked the legs. Bright red! What the hell was this thing? I think it was about 15- 20 cm long. SO many busy legs. It scuttled out and onto my foot and onto the floor. Then it made a dart for the sofa. There it was, a shocking contrast of black and red, built of what seemed like teflon, bolting from out of my trousers! I couldn’t quite believe what had just happened, yet in true outdoor style I now had to compose myself and catch the thing and chuck it into the garden, from whence it had first sidled. With many muted curses, feelings of total eww, and a sense of something monumental having just happened, I made some nimble spasmodic movements to the kitchen for something clear pyrex and a Hello Kitty plate. The thing is of course much smaller than a human when observed trapped, and I afforded myself a small victory breath when I felt brave, but hells bells, when unseen and then first seen decesending from your own trousers, well, you can have a moment right there. The next day I went into school to tell tale of what had passed. “You very lucky. Centipede can give nasty bite. Hospital!” For quite a while after that I wore my socks pulled tightly up over my jeans when at home, and never again did my legs loll over the edge of the sofa. Who knew what else might be lurking on the floor of my house?