Perhentian Short Story: Damn mosquito net

After too many nights partying at Monkey Bar and Beach Bar, I wanted to get an early night and wake up early the following day. I bid my friends a good night and went back to my bungalow.

The bungalow was quite small. There was about three-quarters of a metre between the end of the bed and the wall. By the wall in front of the bed was a small table where the fan was. We had two plug points, one occupied by the fan and the other by the light.

I have oft spoken about my habits/rituals. From my routine when I get to an airport waiting lounge, to the walking around for 3-4 hours aimlessly when I arrive in a new city. Well, I have some habits when going to sleep.

My wallet goes under the pillow. When possible my phone goes under the pillow too, but that night my laptop and phone were charging at the end of the bed – I used the plug where the light should have been. Next to my head I have my weatherman, a bottle of water, and some mosquito spray. I lock my small day bag and keep that next to the bed at the end where my head is; whenever possible on the opposite side to a door. I’d been doing this for the best part of 8 months now.

I brushed my teeth, completed my ritual, checked inside the mosquito net for mosquitos, then turned in around 11 pm.

Margarita – with whom I was sharing the Bungalow – came back at 4 am. It was raining very heavily.

Having gone to sleep very early, I awoke again. It was still raining outside. I thought I saw a light at the end of the bed by the fan. I was a little confused and disorientated.

Within a split second, my heart began to race. The extra blood and oxygen whizzing around my body woke me up and sharpened all of my senses. I quietly shot a short glance to my left side to confirm what I knew, Margarita was asleep.

My brain had turned off and my body was on auto-pilot, moving by instinct.

I bolted upright. My movement went unnoticed. I grabbed my Leatherman. I let out a loud roar – my voice was croaky from having just woken up and with my muscles by-passing my brain, the Christian Bale Batman-style noise that escaped me failed to form any words. The burglar panicked and went straight for the door. As he did I was already moving. I leapt off the bed trying to pull the mosquito net upwards so I could slide out in one smooth motion. ¡De mierda la malla de mosquito!

Two seconds later I was free of the mosquito net. I ran out the door chasing the burglar across the lawn. But he disappeared behind another building. I wanted to chase him but with the door wide open behind me I didn’t want to leave Margarita in the room alone.

I went back in. Grabbed my torch. Then stood on the porch scanning across the building trying to spot him. I desperately wanted him to come back. I was angry. He was in my room while I was asleep. The invasion of personal space felt very unsettling. I was becoming more livid, he didn’t only invade my space, Margarita was in the room. There was a girl in the room, and a guy had snuck in without me waking up. I was furious at him. I was furious at me for not waking up. I was furious that I didn’t even land a single punch before he got away.

I paused to try and lock in some details in my memory. He was about my height. His hair was about 3 inches long, straight and not particularly styled. He was wearing nothing but shorts. He was about the same complexion as most the locals on the island. He ran with a crouch in his upper back – he was either drunk or high. That description was fairly useless. It described most the local people on the island. That description could even be used to describe me.

After 5 minutes. I went back inside. I locked the door behind me and locked the window. I turned on the light. All the electronics were still there. I saw a pouch on the table, that looked like it belonged to Margarita. I grabbed it and went back inside the mosquito net. I woke her up and asked her to look inside the pouch. I asked if she had money in there. She seemed confused – well dir and or hello, she didn’t understand the context of my question. I explained there was a man in our room going through our stuff, that I chased him off. I asked her again, was there any money in the pouch. She looked inside. “Yes, there was 200 ringgit inside. It’s not there anymore.” I told her to see if anything else was taken from inside. While she did that, I went outside of the mosquito net and started to fix one corner which I had yanked off the wall by accident collapsing one of the corners. She said no. We sat there for a minute. Then she said, “I can’t deal, with this right now. I’m going back to sleep”. She turned over and went back to sleep.

I turned off the light, put my things back on charge and got into bed. It was another hour and a half before I got back to sleep, then my alarm went off half an hour later.

I got up. Got ready. I was still fuming.

Gratuitous picture of some dead mosquitos I found inside my mosquito net one morning – just for the sake of the title.

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