MONIKA AND THE SLUG

It was decidedly not here the night before. She could be reasonably certain of that, or at least that it wasn’t here in its present state. The garden always had a few slugs doing whatever it was that they do in the garden, and some of the slugs were surprisingly large, but never a slug this big. She wondered if anyone ever saw a slug this big.
           It must have originated in the garden, for unless it possessed the means to unlock and open the gate in the back yard fence, there was simply no way in which it could have entered. Then again, when looking at a slug measuring well over eight feet long, the ruling out of the slug’s hopping the fence was difficult; it was more than a little challenging to assert that anything was impossible. Still, the easiest means for her mind to understand what she was looking at (God, it’s so huge!) was to assume that it had grown, monstrously and impossibly, during the night. A drastic deviance from normality seemed easier to cope with than some tangible intrusion from the imaginary.
           In strict accordance with pop psychology, her first reaction was denial. And this is not to fault her; 400 pound snails and their kind would be troubling for anyone to welcome. The slug simply does not exist, she thought. This is some sort of dream, a too-much-pizza dream, the remnant from the late movie, an intruder from the subconscious. I cannot be experiencing what I think I am. This does not happen here. Santa Claus never showed up, nor did his tooth-swapping counterpart; they’re all make-believe. Logically, she continued on: there are no monsters; Mom is the Easter Bunny; Godzilla is a fake; ghosts do not exists, and this slug is not in my back yard! I will not believe it. And to put the assertion into practice, she invoked the supreme rite for the banishment of imagined evil and the fearful: she closed her eyes, rubbed them with the backs of her hands, shook her head from side to side (if she had been a cartoon character, motion lines and swirls would have followed the action) and finally re-opened her eyes.
           The slug remained, unimpressed.
           The (not really) unexpected un-dissapearance of the slug gave her serious pause; the usual stuff wasn’t working. She sat down on her ass and worked on the psychic removal of the limax maximus. First came a rapid litany of nos. She then gave herself the talk about the unreality of monsters that Dad gave her after her last bout of nightmares; surely this slug was a monster. Or at least monstrous, which should count for something. She tried yelling: you aren’t real, slug! She attempted to wake herself up from whatever dream this was by pinching her thighs, and finally (and half-heartedly,) again rubbed her eyes.
           It seemed that the slug was very real. As if to prove her correct, the beast rolled just the slightest bit, glistening in the morning sun.
           It looked, as all of its kind do, like a shell-less snail. Except for its amazing size, it held no differences in appearance from any other garden slug. Well, maybe one: its eyes, wet on the end of thigh-thick stalks, were decidedly blue. She couldn’t remember if slugs all had blue eyes, or if their eyes were simply too small to attract one’s attention. While musing on this, she absent-mindedly picked up a bit of gravel and threw it toward the slug. Though not intentionally aimed, the rock hit one of the slug’s blue eyes precisely in the center. Oh no, she thought. I’ve hurt it, but her fear gave way to wonder as she watched the 30 inches or so of eye stalk recoil rapidly into the slug’s head. Slowly, as if giving her another chance at trust, the eye gradually fountained back out, to her relief, with no apparent damage.

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