There’s a monstrously large, black, hairy-legged spider crawling out of my ear. I’m sitting as still as possible, suppressing the urge to scream as first two, then four, then more legs blindly explore the contours of my earlobe, cheekbone and hairline. Stroking in a way that is more sinister than tender, these legs take their time negotiating the soft terrain of my cheek. The body duly follows the legs and soon enough I am eyeball to many eyes with a spider the size of an oven mitt. I only briefly ponder the enormity of the beast that has emerged from the rather small hole on the side of my head before its eight legs contract, digging into my flesh. With surprising alacrity it tenses then springs most acrobatically into the air and onto the floor. The creature scuttles away the way only an enormous spider can. I lose sight of it somewhere in the vicinity of the wardrobe. The scene is replayed in agonising detail as a parade of spiders in depreciating proportions make a similar exit from my horridly startled head. A single crystal tear escapes, wetting my frozen cheek as the last of them skitters out.
I pause for a moment to reflect. My first instinct is to liberally apply oven cleaner to every orifice of my body. I shudder as I remember the rasping, coarse hairiness of their bodies and the polished obsidian sheen of their many impenetrable eyes.
My reminiscing is cut short by a sudden rumbling feeling in my stomach. What feels like a sick kind of tickling grows and spreads. My stomach is in knots, and the writhing spreads. There is little I can do but hang on. My internal architecture tenses and my hands grip tightly to the arms of the chair. A sighing sound escapes my lips as my insides explode up into my mouth. It is now that I am aware that I am vomiting cockroaches. Thousands of them. I involuntarily shudder and slump in turns as wave after wave of seething black cascades out of my mouth and onto my lap, the table and the floor.
As quickly as they came, they disappear, dissolving into the cracks in the floorboards. I gingerly extend my tongue out conscious that there might be stragglers. The interior of my mouth feels strangely cavernous in comparison, as though the filthy tidal wave has eroded my oral outlet into a vast and expansive canyon. I politely cough up a collection of amputated legs and antennae.
Ten seconds. Twenty seconds. Time scrawls out on the clock looming above me in irrational slowness. I feel paralysed, alarmed by what has just happened, terrified by what might happen next. Was it something I ate?
Shortly into my review of possible dietary infractions that could have led to such a literal outpouring, I am aware of what seems to be a buzzing sound. Quietly at first, but developing with rapidity into a voluble humming, I am very attentive to the fact that the sound is inside, not outside my head. My teeth are vibrating in time with the strangely mechanical chorus that rises in both volume and pitch to agonising heights. In what must approximate the feeling of balloons at the point of over inflation, internal pressure compresses the back of my eyeballs, and swells my eardrums. Dials spin madly as critical point is reached and breached by the epic sawing sound. There is an almost imperceptible pause as my head tilts back slightly, followed by an enormous whirring sound and the squeal of compressed air. Bees. Erupting out of my nose. Some project out with velocity and double back to hover in storm cloud density around my head. Others exit a nostril with less explosive power and busy themselves crawling on the rapidly diminishing topography of my face. In the few seconds that manage to feel like eternity, they group into precise formation. With hive mindedness to rival even the most consciously communist, they surge forward in an obscene wave of yellow and black and launch themselves out the window. The net curtain flitters gently in the breeze and then relaxes. The once overwhelming buzzing is replaced by a silence of primordial enormity.
And then, nothing.
I cautiously extend a foot, wriggle my torpid limbs and try to entice blood back into my extremities. Is it over? Is what over? What exactly was that anyway? I peer from my chair at my surrounds and can find no trace of the hordes, swarms or hosts of insects that just exited my face. A light tapping on my forehead produces no rattling sound. The only physical evidence remaining is the eerie hollowness. It’s also quiet. So very quiet.
Gradually I am able to unfold myself out of the furniture. Something mechanical takes over and I shuffle forward in a most ungainly fashion. I am vaguely aware of a numbness that spreads through me. An invisible skin has spread over my body, some kind of perfectly tailored cocoon. A rapidly receding sense of shock registers as the rubbery coating enters the previously hollowed out portals and proceeds to drown my insides.
And now, even less than nothing.
In my perfectly pliable yet peculiarly impenetrable state I gaze through the honey film clinging to my eyeballs out of the window. Turning my head to survey the now slightly yellowed vista takes aeons, every movement languidly lethargic.
Hours that could have been days that may have been weeks pass as encased in the ever present jelly I drowsily navigate. Every so often a slightly uncomfortable feeling will penetrate my head and a feeble spark ignites inside my now pudding filled skull; “This isn’t me”. The change doesn’t go entirely unnoticed; every so often from the mouths of people I dimly remember knowing will issue unintelligible garble approximating “she’s much more pleasant this way”.
The answer to everything is ‘Ok’. My confectionery mind remains relatively inert as it is no longer necessary to make decisions. I’m a nice girl. I’ve got nice hair and nice clothes and a nice smile.
Food comes in one portion packets. It vaguely resembles Styrofoam for taste and texture but at least it isn’t messy.
One fine day (for all the days are fine now) some time later I find myself in the park. I settle onto a park bench after making sure it is clean (must not get dirty) and that there are no scary people. The sun is shining and the breeze is whistling through my ears. Isn’t this nice?
It’s then that I notice something scratched onto the bench. I look down at the crudely etched message and silently chastise the perpetrator. ‘What did you do that for? That’s not very nice.’ As I am about to turn my attention away a vague curiosity tugs at my consciousness. I know I should resist it but a peculiar sensation that I don’t seem to recognise drags my eyes back to the bench.
As I look down I am aware of a low growling sound. Then I am aware that I am that sound. The crookedly etched letters loom larger and larger as an irregular though hazily remembered sensation floods into my limbs. My teeth clench slightly as small electrical charges ricochet inside my head, burning holes in my degenerated brain. All at once I’m drowning, falling, floating, exploding into thousands of fragments and reconstructing into intricate patterns of flesh, thought and bone.
What happens next is a blur, but ends with me perched in a tree, delirious and covered in cuts and stings. There’s a familiar buzzing in the holes in my head.