I woke in a sweat, not sure why. Peering blurrily through one eye I checked the time on my phone, 02:34. As I rolled over, hoping to quickly fall asleep again, I heard the intruder.
The high pitched whine could mean only one thing, I was under attack by the world’s most deadly predator.
I pulled the duvet up over my body until only my head remained exposed to the danger. Lying motionless on my side, my breathing slowed and I listened intently. A bead of sweat ran from my armpit and over my chest as I waited for the impending assault – nervousness, or the heat of duvet in the muggy Joburg night, I wasn’t sure which.
I was well aware that the intruder that had dared to encroach the sanctity of my bedroom is responsible for over 725 000 human deaths every year, Bill Gates said so. A massive 724 990 deaths more than the monstrous great white shark. They kill more people in four minutes than sharks kill in a year.
Had four minutes gone by?
The whine grew louder as the creature flew stealthily closer and closer towards the side of my face. Diving in for an exploratory foray of my naked, juicy, blood filled flesh.
The noise from the female beast stopped. A dreadful silence. I felt a feather light touch on my cheek.
With lightning speed my hand whipped out from under the duvet, delivering a blinding slap to my face. I ignored the stinging pain and a twitching eye as I slid my hand over my cheek, desperately hoping to feel a tiny flattened body and an accompanying slimy trail of blood.
An end to the dramatic encounter.
But alas, I felt nothing.
By now I was wide awake, all my senses fully alert, a finely tuned 46 year old insect killer with a throbbing face. Blood coursing through my body, the blood she was after.
I knew that it was only a matter of time before the merciless predator regrouped for another violent attack.
But I wasn’t prepared for what I heard next. Craning my head away from the pillow to make quite sure, I clearly heard two whining sounds. The little monster had called for backup. Women always stick together.
Abandoning all thought of sleep I realised that I was going to have to take the attack to the enemy.
I switched on the bedside light, and reached for my thick, black rimmed glasses, I was prepared to fight one mosquito whilst half blind, but not two.
Standing on the bed I reached for my weapon; a polyester, hollow fiber blend pillow.
Gripping the pillow with both hands I stood poised for action in my watermelon sleep shorts.
By now I stood alone, deserted by my cowardly cats. The same cats who had engaged in a ‘sharp claw on aging skin’ contest for duvet supremacy earlier that night. They had won, as usual.
But now they had slunk off into a dark corner of the bedroom, meowing with fear or laughter, I’m not certain which.
As the tiny but deadly predators circled I watched, my eyes attuned to the slightest movement,waiting for one of them to land on a surface. Any surface would do. Except the bedside lamp. Previous battle disasters had taught me that.
Two whines became one. I searched the walls, the cornices, and finally saw nature’s most deadly animal self-confidently poised for attack, upside-down on the ceiling.
Without hesitation I swung the pillow with all the speed and force I could muster. Only to watch as the ensuing wind from my seemingly deadly blow brushed the cunning insect away.
Minutes passed. Silence. And then a more distant drone. Silence again.
The prick to my calf came without warning.
I whirled around, slapping simultaneously at my leg, one silky smooth, beautiful human movement. I was convinced I had been successful. Practically celebrating.
As the blood oozed out of my leg at approximately one litre per 236 days, I searched the duvet frantically for a corpse. I couldn’t find one.
Failure is not my middle name.
It was time to step up the intensity of my attack. I strode purposely down the dark passage to the kitchen, groping in the dark for the light switch.
As my toes felt beneath them a cold, soft object on the floor, I jumped sideways, letting out an inadvertent shout as my spine shuddered.
Curse the damn cats!
A dead, tail-less, lizard-gift lay on the tiles. Thoughtfully left there by either Bart or Bella for me to find as proof of their hunting prowess. Suffering severe sense of humour failure, and growling through gritted teeth I marched back to the bedroom battle scene, armed with weapons of mass insect destruction to end my own hunt.
I was no longer to be trifled with.
I laid out my arsenal of vastly superior firepower on the bedside table.
Then I plugged the Raid insect repellent into the socket beside my bed. Sprayed every millimetre of my exposed skin with Peaceful Sleep, and standing on the bed again, I covered the room in a thick cloud of Doom.
No matter the wheezing chest, burning eyes, and prevailing stench, I felt deeply satisfied albeit slightly poisoned.
This was not my time. I was no longer under threat to become a statistic, number 725 001.
I had waged a bedroom war against the planet’s most deadly predator. Not one, but two…and had emerged victorious.
03:12 and all is well.
Well not for the 52.4 people that had died somewhere on the planet in those 38 minutes.
Death to mosquitoes.