By LARRY WOODY
As if we didn't already have enough to worry about -- war, famine and whether to send Caitlyn Jenner "His" or "Her" towels -- along comes zombie cockroaches.
Sounds like something Stephen King might find in his kitchen.
Here's the story, as reported recently by the World Wildlife Fund:
Mr. Cockroach is leading a normal life, scurrying around eating leftover breakfast crumbs and darting away when the light is turned on, when one day he bumps into a species of Mekong Delta wasp that injects him with a special type of venom.
The venom doesn't kill Mr. Cockroach, but instead "blocks receptors of the neurotransmitter octopamine, which is involved in the initiation of spontaneous movement."
In other words, Mr. Cockroach is alive, but incapable of movement. Sort of like the U.S. Congress.
It gets worse. The diabolical wasp isn't going around making zombie cockroaches just for the fun of it, or to impress his girlfriend. He does it because he's hungry. Once the wasp has rendered its victim immobile, "It drags its stupefied prey by the antenna to a safe shelter to devour it."
It's Jeffery Dahmer with a stinger.
As I read the account, I was curious: why cockroaches? If the wasp is simply preparing dinner, how come it doesn't prey on other insects as well? Could it be that it has developed a taste for (yuk!) cockroach? Or, for some reason, is a cockroach easier pickings than say, a doodlebug?
Mekong Delta Wasp: "Hey there, doodlebug, like to go for a ride?"
Doodlebug: "Get lost, creep!"
Mr. Cockroach: "I'll go! I'll go!"
Another question: does the wasp's venom have a similar paralyzing effect on slightly-higher forms of life, such as Joe Biden or Rush Limbaugh?
What if the wasp stung Joe, rendered him (slightly less) senseless, grasped him by his antenna, and started dragging him away? How would his Secret Service guards react?
Agent One: "Hey, look -- some sort of weird bug has turned the Vice President into a zombie and is hauling him off!"
Agent Two: "Better lay off those after-lunch martinis, Al."
Or the dastardly killer wasp suddenly barges into the EIB studio amid a Rush-rant and lays the ol' zombie stinger to El Rush-o:
Limbaugh (before being rendered mute): "Uh, folks, I'm just curious -- are zombie-wasp stings covered by Obamacare?"
Unfortunately all this conjecture about the potential benefits of turning Joe and Rush into zombies won't help Mr. Cockroach.
His nightmare is all too real: lying paralyzed and helpless in a dark basement, listening for the dreaded returning footsteps of the kidnapper that turned him into a zombie.
Unless Cookie the Pest-Control Man gallops to the rescue at the last second, armed with a big can of Raid Wasp Spray, Mr. Cockroach's story isn't going to have a happy ending.