At night I’m woken up by the sounds of insects rustling along the walls, scraping their hard chitinous shells along the skirting boards. When I go back to sleep I dream of big black beetles crawling across the sheets of the bed, climbing the pristinely white cotton crests and troughs with their alien bodies. They morph into the trilobites I found up on the mountain during the day. In their petrified state I have no trouble touching them, tracing the lines of their shields, stroking the crab-like texture of their faces, but their living descendants awake in me a deeply seated disgust. They seem to be characterless automatons, their movements machinic as if programmed by some higher force. They have no age, no family members. When you sweep a big African beetle aside, its body sounds hollow against the stone floor. Except for the scraping of their shields and the scuttling of their legs, these creatures are completely silent. Their only form of expression is the speed at which they move: a slow and rhythmic pace when set on a determined course, a wayward chaotic sprint when a threat is sensed. They seem to be irresponsive to laws of mechanics and logic: open a door, make a noise, sweep a broom, and they will run in the opposite direction of where you wanted them to go. They are more susceptible to chemical communication; heat, light, the magic smoke with which Idir fills my room when it’s dark at night, makes them disappear magically. The Berber trick to clear my ant-infested bag with raisins does wonders; leaving the contents on a plate in the bright sun for a minute, scatters the imposters in a frenzy trying to escape the scorching heat. Following Opis’ advice I’ve made a threshold of salt across the doorway to my room and around the legs of the bed.