Giant Carnivorous Dust Bunnies

Giant Carnivorous Dust Bunnies

By G. S. Norwood

We’ve all had them—those midnight fears that something dangerous is lurking down the hall, in the closet, or under the bed. As a child we wake in the night, desperate to make that perilous trip to the bathroom but afraid some dark thing may reach out from the shadows to grab us on our way.

As an adult, who never has enough non-working, non-writing, non-sleeping time to keep ahead of the dust and dog hair, I make jokes about my fear of the giant, carnivorous dust bunnies under my bed. I figure, considering the amount of time they’ve had to evolve down there, they may well have developed fangs and begun taking small prey.

"Dust Bunnies by Rob McElhaney shows some gnarly, fantastical bunny-like gray things with teeth, lurking just under the bed, while a child's sneakered feet and legs in jeans dangle down.
Dust Bunnies, by Rob McElhaney, is available as an art print, but also on a coffee mug, T-shirt, and other formats from Søciety6.

A mystery

So, when one of my felt slippers disappeared beneath the hem of the bedspread, I joked to my friends that the giant, carnivorous dust bunnies had kidnapped it, and were holding it for ransom.

When I got out the dust mop, I riffed on mounting a desperate rescue mission, decimating the dust bunny army to save my slipper. When you’re a writer, that’s how you turn reality into fantasy.

My friends all laughed. They have dust bunny armies breeding under their beds, too.

But then my slipper disappeared again. I rescued it once more, but I couldn’t help thinking, “Man, the dogs must be playing hard to have kicked it so far under there. And while I’m down here, poking around, how come I haven’t found the red one and the grey one, that were lost this same way last winter? Maybe the dust bunnies ate them.”

This meme shows a photo of a crying woman's face, with the words: "My dust bunnies ate my Roomba"
It could happen . . . maybe to the slippers, too.
(meme courtesy of Imgflip)

The mystery deepens

A few evenings later, I was reading in bed when I heard a faint thump that sounded remarkably like my cork-soled slipper, dropping onto the floor.

Slowly, cautiously, I rolled onto my side to peer over the edge of the bed. I saw my slippers more or less where I’d left them. And then I saw a long skinny arm, no bigger than baby’s, stretch out from beneath the bed frame. It was covered in plush white fur, and each tiny finger was tipped by a razor-sharp claw.

Fantasy folded over reality, wrapping it up in a blanket of horror as I watched the fingers pat the slipper, making it rock a little, and thump on the floor once more. Then those terrible claws sank into the felt and dragged the hapless slipper one inch closer to the darkness under the bed.

". . . and each tiny finger was tipped by a razor-sharp claw." In this photo a cat reaches out from under a dust ruffle.
“. . . and each tiny finger was tipped by a razor-sharp claw.”
(photo courtesy of twyzted1984 on DeviantArt)

The horrifying truth

Part of my dazzled mind recognized at once that the arm belonged to my six-month-old kitten, Gift, who has a fascination with all things foot-related. But a deeper part of my subconscious recognized a more primal truth: Giant Carnivorous Dust Bunnies are REAL!!!!

And seriously, how far from reality was that fantasy? The reality was that I had a fluffy, very dusty, five-pound carnivore lurking under my bed, actively trying the steal my slippers. A kitten may be adorable, but she is still an apex predator, and my toes are absolutely not safe when I step down from my bed to the hardwood floor.

Reframing that reality, and renaming its components is the essential magic that writers use to layer fantasy over reality and twist them both together to create delicious new stories for readers to enjoy.

What lurks under your bed? A low-light photo of a cat under a bed shows the moment when the light flashes back and the animals eyes seem to glow.
What lurks under your bed?
(photo courtesy of PoC)


Many thanks to Rob McElhaney and Søciety6 for the Dust Bunnies artwork. We’re grateful to Imgflip for the “Ate my Roomba” meme. Deep gratitude to twyzted1984 via Deviant Art for the photo of the claw-tipped arm. And much obliged to PoC for the “mysterious under-bed lurker” photo with the glowing eyes (nice touch)!

2 thoughts on “Giant Carnivorous Dust Bunnies

  1. Yes. Dust bunnies are real! Every time I sweep the stairs in my old Texas farmhouse…I come up with enough cat fur to make another cat. I shudder to think what is lurking under the bed, where I can’t quite always reach. Sometimes, late at night, I look up, and am convinced I hear small scurrying noises up stairs……….Dust bunnies?. Perhaps. I don’t know. I can never convince myself to go up and actually look. My mind always replays every horror movie I have ever seen, and I remind myself that I am MUCH smarter than the young heroine with a flashlight.

    So, I pour another glass of wine……and……stay downstairs…….and deny……Cheers!

  2. Cheers to you! Thanks for the comment and the commiseration! Oh, and–Happy New Year, to you, your cat, and . . . whatever’s under there.

Comments are closed.

Comments are closed.