On Encountering a Mosquito in My Room at Night

By Shaun Tan

By Shaun Tan

Founder, Editor-in-Chief, and Staff Writer


10.30 pm

It’s 10.30 and I’m just getting ready for bed, when what do I see but a mosquito flying past my face. I don’t know why it didn’t show itself earlier, but now I’ll have to find it and kill it before going to sleep or it’ll bother me in the middle of the night. The chase is afoot.


10.39 pm

It’s a fast one. It flew past me again, but before I could react, it vanished.


10.42 pm

I just saw it and got in position to hit it, but because I didn’t have a clear shot, I didn’t smack at it and it disappeared again. Dammit, I should have taken the shot – at least then there was a chance of getting it!


10.49 pm

I just saw it and smacked at it, but missed. Dammit, I shouldn’t have taken that shot – it wasn’t a clear shot, and now I’ve probably made it more wary! I read that mosquitoes learn to be more wary once you hit at them but miss.


11.11 pm

Yup, it’s definitely more wary now: I’ve been looking for 20 minutes and I’ve seen no sign of it. I’ll have to flush it out into the open. It probably likes to hide in my curtains or under my bed, so I’ll have to move those about.


11.23 pm

Yes! I flushed it out from behind a curtain and smacked it dead!

No, wait, something’s wrong. This isn’t it. What I just killed is definitely a mosquito, but this one is smaller and thicker, like an Aedes mosquito. The one I was hunting was larger, but thinner, more delicate, ghostly, like a Culex mosquito. How many more of these fuckers are there? Well, there’s definitely one more, so I’m gonna keep hunting for that one. Where the hell is it? Still hiding, like a coward!


11.48 pm

Ok, I’ve been searching for ages and seen nothing. Maybe that was the one I killed after all. How good a look did I get at the mosquito at first anyway? Could I really see that it was larger and thinner rather than smaller and thicker? It was moving so fast; do I really know what I saw? Yup, you know what, the mosquito’s dead, I killed it, it’s time for bed. Goodnight!

12.20 am

Argghhh! I’m lying to myself! I know deep down that mosquito’s still alive. This is like that part in Jaws when they kill that tiger shark and the stupid mayor declares that’s the shark that’s been eating people and now it’s safe to go back in the water and then, sure enough, Jaws shows up again and starts eating people.

And now I can’t sleep because I know that mosquito’s still out there. I keep thinking of it biting me in the middle of the night and growing fat on my blood. I keep expecting to hear its plaintive eeeeeeeee in my ear. It’s clear I’ll know no peace until it’s dead. Fuck this, I’m gonna get up, and I’m gonna find it, and I’m gonna kill it, no matter how long it takes!

12.50 am

I’ve been searching for the past 30 minutes and found nothing. What if that mosquito doesn’t exist? What if I’m spending all this time chasing a figment of my imagination? I think I’m losing my mind.


1.03 am

Hah! There! I just saw it! I knew it was still out there! I knew it, I knew it, I knew it! It vanished before I could hit it but I’ll find it!!!

Come on then, let’s dance, let’s dance the dance of death.


1.20 am

I have a feeling it’s hiding under my bed. I’ve looked everywhere else and that’s the only place it could be. So I’ve been moving my bed around my room to try to flush it out, but it hasn’t emerged. Maybe it follows the shadow of my bed and stays under it whenever I move it. That’s smart. But you know what, I’ll turn off all the lights and then move my bed, so there’s no shadow to follow anymore. Then when it’s out in the open I’ll kill it!


1.29 am

Nope, that doesn’t work either. Maybe it knows to stay under the cover of my bed even without the shadow. That is one smart mosquito. How is it so smart? How smart can it be with its tiny little insect brain? How could it possibly outsmart a human?


1.46 am

Just moved my bed around a dozen times and tore up the rest of my room looking for it and still nothing. Where are you, you motherfucker? Come out and play! Come out, come out, come out, come out, come out!


1.58 am

Just flushed it out and smacked at it, but it slipped through my fingers. It’s fast! How is it so fast? This is like an ace flying mosquito, the one the young mosquitoes look up to as their hero at Mosquito Flight Academy. I bet it goes back to Mosquito Flight Academy to give talks and tells them stories of evading slow, dumb humans and they all laugh about it. God, I hate it even more now.


2.14 am

I’m growing dizzy with all that walking around and searching and I have a headache from the exhaustion. I’ve now spent like four hours trying to kill that one mosquito. There is another option I’ve considered, and that’s spraying my room with insecticide, but I don’t want to do that because that’s like the nuclear option, and will fill my room with poisons and force me to vacate it for at least an hour. Also, it kind of feels like a cop-out. The mosquito and I are engaged in an epic struggle. If I spray my room it would be an admission of defeat and the mosquito wins (even if it dies). It would be like someone hunting a wolf and then carpet-bombing the entire forest in frustration when it keeps escaping. Now I know how the US felt fighting the Viet Cong.


2.37 am

Let me tell you how that wretched mosquito finally met its end. I flushed it out from beneath my bed, and then, as it flew beside my wall, I smashed it up against it! I was like, “Smile, you son of a bitch!” *BAM!* My tormentor, my nemesis, the great hero of the Flight Academy, is now a dark smudge on my wall.

I’ll leave it up there as a warning to all the other mosquitoes.

At last, the long hunt is over. At last, I can take my victor’s rest, drift off into sweet sleep untroubled. Goodnight, goodnight, goodnight!

3.01 am

Did something just bite me?

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