I can hear them scratching – almost ticking, always clicking, as they move around inside my head. It’s maddening. Their tiny little feet always touching, testing, feeling their way about. Each hair coated limb sliding between the soft tissue and bone – scuttling through the crevasse in between. Growing in and feeding off the fluid…
Sometimes, when I’m looking in the mirror, in the worst moments, the moments where I have to hold onto the basin to support myself and can barely catch a full breath, I swear I see a shadow scuttle behind my eye. The quick darting of a grotesque form moving swiftly past before I can fully focus on it. My own visage in the mirror is a horror in itself; long hair a greasy tangled mess, cheeks sunken and hollow, skin a sickly yellow hue from their rancid poison. Sinking to the floor, scratching at my face to be rid of them, I gouge my eye sockets with filthy, torn nails. Will they find their way through the opening if I offer one? Covered in blood oozing from the destroyed tissue around my eyes, forehead slashed bare, with flesh caked beneath my fingernails, I crawl on hands and knees to the bed, where I cower beneath the covers seeking refuge, hoping to hide. But there is no refuge, nowhere to hide, they are always there with me – inside me, there is no escape from what is inside…
I would have thought knowing they were inside me would be the worst part, but it’s not – the mind adapts to such things; it’s feeling their movements, their scurrying back and forth beneath my skin that is the most brutal part. I don’t know how they were able to gestate inside me; they seem maddened at not being able to get out. Their constant frenzy keeps me up at night – I’m getting no sleep; it keeps me sick throughout the day – nourishment something I’ve not known in weeks; a prisoner in my own home – I’m terrified to go into the light, I look the part of a monster – a filth ridden hag.
I wonder: will they roast in the sunlight if I let myself burn in its glorious blaze? The sun beating down upon me, turning my skin the blistering red of cracked paint on canvas. Perhaps I should wander to the basement and embrace the furnace with its searing hot metal, cooking myself like meat thrown upon a hot skillet. Or simply douse myself with open flame; does it matter at this point? Tempted to try such things, my mind wanders to the possibilities: what if they panic from the heat and start to run, cascading in a black surging mass from my ears and shrieking maw? Nowhere for me to go, no way to escape them – more still coming, an endless flow continuing their frantic evacuation. What if they are no longer only in me, but all over me? The thought alone drives me beyond the limits of this tenuous sanity I now grasp.
God, the cacophony of their humped bodies sliding between the soft tissue of my brain and the hardness of my skull is deafening. I must find a way to get them out! Nails gouging at myself once more, ripping chunks of skin from my own body, sending fresh streams of puss and blood running down my face, past my eyes – my mind shuts down and I feel no more.
Oh God, I think I threw one up during the night. It’s lying on my pillow, but it doesn’t look like I expected it would. It’s far too elongated, thin and withered as am I, almost a milky grey color. Covered in mucus, mine or its own, I cannot say.
It twitched! I know I saw it twitch, I didn’t imagine it. Frozen in fear, I stare wide eyed at the collapsed carcass of the thing on my pillow, hoping it was my imagination. It twitches again, not my imagination.
I leap up, tangled in my own covers, screaming wildly. It still lies there making a feeble attempt to move, I think it’s dying. I feel a sloshing in my head. I moved too fast, screamed too loud, they are scuttling insanely about inside my skull. I retch, and retch again. Vomiting up more, I realize that they are no longer only in my head but have found a way to travel into my throat! The thought makes me retch yet again. They are agitated by my convulsing; I can feel their vibrating urgency to quell their host. Oh God, please get them out of me!
The pounding in my head is beyond bearable, the heaving of my starved body uncontrollable; afraid to breath yet terrified I won’t, panic begins to set in as my body spasms of its own volition.
They are larger now, no longer simply sliding through the minute fissures of my head. I feel a piercing pain with each stab of their clawed legs as they dig in and they drag themselves forward. I can barely inhale for the number of them clinging to the walls of my throat. Coughing blood and eight legged bodies, I feel them holding on with their barbed legs so as not to get ejected with each contraction of my body.
Swallow or vomit my only choices, I grab a bottle of water from my nightstand and begin to gulp the warm water. I can feel it sluicing over their swollen bodies like lesions grown from my esophagus, not just the intruders that they are. I vomit more, pulling one or two free to expel them onto the bed. The others grasp tighter, puncturing the delicate pink tissue of my already mutilated gullet. These seem different, more frantic as they dance about. Their color more flush, darker – their bodies harder in form. Clearly blind, they dart in sporadic circles, slowly growing more sluggish, more translucent, collapsing like the first one I saw.
It seems they die quickly, they don’t seem to survive long outside my body.
Scratching my ear, I feel something long and thin move away from my finger. Something covered in fine wisps of hair, something that slithers backward and draws into itself, much the way I have snatched my own hand away, clutching it with its blood covered finger to my chest.
Crawling again to the bathroom and scaling the sink, I open a drawer and reach for my scissors intending to cut away a chunk of hair to more easily see inside my ear. As I grab a handful of hair, I realize that the clump I’m clutching is slowly pulling away from my scalp with a sickening sucking noise. Tendrils of a thick sticky substance adhere to the skin for a brief moment before slopping to the side of my face. The exposed tissue is raw, puss covered and stinging – the small globules of fatty tissue clinging in place.
With a terrified grimace, I turn my head ever so slightly to allow the light to shine on my ear. There! Just like the shadow scuttling behind my eye, something quickly moves further into the darkened recesses of my ear canal. Barely able to stand on quivering legs, weak from hunger and brought to the brink of insanity by this infestation, I pull my long tweezers out of the drawer – the medical ones, and with a shaking and still bleeding hand, I begin to reach into my ear hoping to extract what is hiding there.
A sharp nip warns me to go no further; I drop the tweezers and my other hand slips off the slickened sink as I crash to the tile floor. The coolness of the stone a brief reprieve from the molten pain I feel in my head and throat.
I wake in a sticky patch of drying blood on the bathroom floor. Disoriented at first, I wonder how I got here, but the first subtle movement reminds me as they begin to rummage through my decimated body. Glancing downward, I can see the shape of one as it moves under my skin making its way across my abdomen and down my thigh. They’re crawling throughout my entire body now. They seem to be making their way to the cooler surfaces that are in contact with the tile floor I lay upon.
They relish the cool feel of the stone as much as I do. The clutter of them must have moved while I was unconscious. There is a pregnant hum to the silence, almost an anticipation of retribution should I try to move yet again.
The more aware I become, the more I come to realize that they are not all seeking to be dormant – not all moving toward the cool floor. The smaller ones still crawl through me, using their clawed legs to move in and around my organs. My body spasms from the pain, and I feel the frenzy of awakening. They nip in vague warning for me not to move, poke at my tender innards with their pincers and jab with hardened nails.
Exhausted from not eating, from the loss of blood, and the horror of knowing my body is their only source of food, I reach out towards the edge of the bathtub. As my hand closes around it, I feel their bodies crunching between skin, tendon and bone. They bite and scrabble frantically to escape; I can’t help but feel a smug bit of satisfaction at this. Others awaken and join the fray, biting and stabbing with abandon at their host, my body. But I refuse to be coerced, I have found strength in their terror. I will drag myself to the bathtub – its cool surround offering a coffin of reprieve.
I manage to pull my torso up and over the edge. God do they hate this. The moment my abdomen is bent in two, head dangling in the tub, I begin to spew blood and small black bodies. Fatigued from my efforts and unable to go any further, I lay bent over the edge and watch as their slickened bodies scurry about, unable to find purchase on the smooth surface. Too drained to do more, I collapse in a heap half in, half out of my enamel coated salvation as the malformed creatures desperately crawl up my limp hair, trying to enter through ears and mouth that others are still using as a route of mass exodus from my traitorous body.
Pressure, there is so much pressure building behind my eyes. My head feels like it’s going to burst. So many of them have returned to my skull – I feel them packed in there like the woolen stuffing of a doll. For some reason this thought makes me laugh. Stuffed like a doll I am with crawling monsters gnawing away at my insides. More laughter, hysterical this time. I hear it as if from a distance, but know it is emanating from my own cracked and swollen lips, my own cracked and damaged mind. The laughter gives me energy, makes them crazy. I can feel their panicked agitation escalate with the flow of what little blood is left in me.
Heaving the rest of my body into the tub, my swollen and infested carcass is wracked with uncontrollable convulsions. A stream of small creatures emerge with the spittle that I cough up. They scurry for the darkness of the drain. Lifting one foot, I manage to flip the hot water tap on. Immediately they begin to scale my body and climb my flesh to escape the torrid flow.
Twisting, contorting and clawing my way around, I manage to turn my body so that my head is closer to the near boiling stream. It is excruciating, gloriously agonizing. I rip handfuls of my own hair from my head, and stuff them into the drain effectively clogging it to trap the scalding water in the basin with me – with them!
Delirious as I am, a small voice in the back of my mind whispers that I may be imagining all of this, but as my flesh peels back from bone and sinew, and the smell of steaming meat assaults my nostrils, I can’t help but feel that I have finally won. They will die along with me in agony and pain. My final act – to slide shut the glass doors, trapping them in the swiftly filling watery grave I’ve chosen for us all.
I hope you have enjoyed my little tale for Coffin Hop 2012. This was be a story told day by day – on this final day, encapsulated into one post.
In honor of the tour, I’ll be giving away a goodie per day to one random recipient who leaves a comment on each post. My prizes will come in the form of e-books, print copies, eZines, and an unending subscription to The Sirens Call eZine as well. (plus there may be a rubber duckie or two) All prizes will be randomly selected on November 1st, as per the Coffin Hop guidelines found here on my Coffin Hop 2012 page, along with a list of the other bloggers. Please don’t forget to visit the Coffin Hop Blog for news, updates, delirious ramblings, and magnificent posts from the other bloggers as well!
October 31st, 2012 at 8:04 am
This story was the highlight of my #CoffinHop, Nina. Thank you!
October 31st, 2012 at 12:33 pm
Thank you Aniko! That’s incredibly kind of you to say!! Enjoy the final day of hopping around. Happy Halloween!
October 31st, 2012 at 3:02 pm
Thanks for the great story!
October 31st, 2012 at 3:49 pm
Thank you for stopping by to read it!
Happy Halloween to you also! ;}
October 31st, 2012 at 3:20 pm
Nina, I wasn’t sure how this would end, but now I’m quite satisfied lol Sometimes writers tend to wrap things up too neatly; there were no “why’s” to your story, just a simple & brutal “but because.”
Thoroughly enjoyable (and painful) read. Thank you for sharing with us!! 🙂
October 31st, 2012 at 3:48 pm
I’m glad you enjoyed it Joe! I don’t like neat, tidy explanations. I prefer to be dropped into the here and now of a story and ride the wave to its end. Let the reader imagine their own why, it’s more fun that way. ;}
October 31st, 2012 at 7:16 pm
OOH…this was truly chilling insanity….but beautifully written Nina… Didn’t want to comment until the final moment when the whole story was revealed!
A dirge of sheer insanity overlaid with mastering the monsters within.
October 31st, 2012 at 7:29 pm
“A dirge of sheer insanity overlaid with mastering the monsters within.” Kim, I think I’m in love with you! LOL
Thank you very kindly, your words are truly appreciated!
October 31st, 2012 at 7:30 pm
October 31st, 2012 at 9:33 pm
Nina, this was a crazy week for me – working too many hours, having a new book come out with all of the promotion that goes with that and having over 100 blogs to visit. However, I faithfully kept up with this story once I discovered it. Well done! I read the whole thing to my 18 year old just now. It’s his fault for coming into the room! *laughs* He was pretty creeped out, but I was delighted. I enjoyed every moment of it. I think it is good either way, but I really enjoyed the whole following it one day at a time bit.
October 31st, 2012 at 11:34 pm
Jimmy, I’m genuinely honored that you made the time for me and my depravity in your crazy schedule!! And secretly pleased to creep out your 18 year old. Thanks for the feedback on the piece, I liked it broken up, but I’m fairly impatient so I didn’t know if others would feel the same frustration I did at it being a slow roll instead of a top to bottom read.
I’m really happy you enjoyed it, I had fun writing it. And Congrats on the book! I left that on your blog earlier, but you can never have enough congrats when you make it to the end of the pub’ing process. It never gets old! 🙂
October 31st, 2012 at 9:41 pm
Terrific story. I love the maddening descent and the ending is great. The writing is very, very good as well.
October 31st, 2012 at 11:35 pm
Thank you very much AJ! Maddening descent is definitely my side of the block. I’m happy you enjoyed it!! ;}
October 31st, 2012 at 10:13 pm
The worms crawl in whether in our body or mind
excellent Nina and creepy crawly
October 31st, 2012 at 11:40 pm
Yes, that they do! Thank you Leslie!! And I think your slow crawl to the darkness has become a scuttle – I loved “Have a Cup on Me”!!
Happy Halloween!! ;}
October 31st, 2012 at 11:44 pm
October 31st, 2012 at 11:47 pm
Thank you! 🙂