Visualize this: you’re sitting outside, enjoying a glass of wine, admiring the view, looking at the stars. It’s summer, it’s 25°C (77°F) and around 10 pm. There you are, comfortable, starting to feel the call of your cozy bed. Suddenly, something thuds on the table three inches from your nearly finished glass of wine. It lands with such a loud thud that it literally shakes the table. You open your half-closed eyes and focus on the source of the thud…
It’s a bug, but not just any bug. This is a bug of Equatorial proportions: at least 3 inches long, maybe four if you include all the legs, and almost an inch and half wide. The thing actually caused a “thud” sound when it crashed on the table next to your glass. Now, there it sits, upside down. It starts to kick out its legs, open its shell. It’s trying to get back on its feet. Darn! After a few seconds of flaying around, the thing manages to flip itself upright and lands on its six legs.
Now it’s staring at you. Or not, because it’s hard to tell where the behemoth is staring. But it’s aimed in your direction. What is its plan? This beast is built like a battle tank. Hard reddish brownish shell, legs everywhere, antennae, mandibles, and… hairs? It looks as though it would easily survive a nuclear blast, and probably could, unlike you.
It’s still staring; with what looks like eyes that have a thousand facets, and in fact do. What does it see? Is it like the Gary Larson cartoon that depicts the last thing a fly sees: an old lady with a fly swatter multiplied by a hundred? Or, is it just seeing everything around it, you included, with stunning clarity? You’re not taking a fly swatter to this thing. The swatter would break. The reality is that either it leaves of its own free-will, or you do. You may coexist on the planet, but this is way too close for comfort… This is almost akin to having a Piranha in your tub. This thing could inflict serious damage, and live to tell the tale. It makes an angry scratching sound.
It’s still staring. Motionless, it just sits there, facing you. You look around, in case it has colleagues. There is the odd moth flapping uselessly near the light, but nothing else like this seems to be in the immediate neighbourhood. It’s you, and the beast.
You decide that you’re going to be tough about this. The thing is not moving. Why not record it for posterity? You pop in to get your camera. Then the thought hits you: by the time you come back it will either a) have left; or b) be in what’s left of your wine. You hurry.
Back with a camera, the monster is still there, in exactly the same spot it was before. Maybe it’s concussed from the hard landing? Maybe it’s dead? That latter possibility would mean that it died on you. That’s an unpleasant thought. Why you? After all, you don’t know the thing, and it does not know you. Is it dead? You’re not about to touch it. You need something: a pen. You put the camera down and rush back inside to get yourself a bug prod. Less than a minute later you’re back armed with a pen, a long one.
Decision time: photograph first, or prod first? If it’s alive, and you prod, it might leave. In that case you have no evidence of the encounter. Or you photograph it first, cementing the fact that the encounter occurred. Indeed, if it is D-E-A-D who’s going to know? You’ll have a nice still of the beast. Decision made, you place your camera on the table, and get it to focus on the leviathan. To flash or not? This is very low light after all. It’s night and the only ambient light is coming from those lights below the veranda fan. You try without. If it’s still alive, the flash might either a) make it leave; or b) make it jump in your direction (not a good plan). Click!
Now you’re getting bolder. There was no reaction, so it’s probably either stunned, or dead. You pop the flash up and back up so you can zoom in without getting the shadow of the lens. Click!
No reaction; the thing must be dead. Darn. Now what are you going to do with it?
You have to make sure; time to prod it with the pen. Exercising the same care that a sapper would with a live land mine, you back up and extend your arm, the long pen adding an extra six inches of protection… and you touch IT.
You try it again. Still nothing. Yet you poked it in the leg. Now you poke it on the thick black carapace. Poke! Well, you’ve pushed it a bit, but there is still no reaction. It must be dead, you think. What a stupid place to drop dead! That, in turn, makes you think of what possible stupid place you’re going to drop dead in: while sitting on the toilet? Now that would be embarrassing… were it not for the fact that you’d be dead and therefore could not care less.
You prod the thing again. This time, it may not have been the best of plans.
It makes the scratching sound again; loud, very loud this time. The hard brownish shell suddenly opens while splitting down the middle, and extends to either side. This thing is like something from Star Wars! Wings open up, and it flies straight at your head! Before you can react, it has smacked you in the mouth and bounced off. You recoil, disgusted.
It buzzes around with a great deal of noise, only to crash to the floor… upside down. That seems to be its landing procedure.
Time to toss back the remains of the wine, wipe your mouth, go inside, and lock the doors.