A man's nightmare into unspeakable horror.
By; Bert A. Haagenstad
It started over a month ago. I had been working out in the yard most of the afternoon when I had decided to take a short nap before dinner. I had showered and lay down on the couch in the office; with soft classic music playing in the background I was very relaxed. Didn't take long for me to slip into a deep sleep.
As I was sleeping I felt something on my arm. At first it was a tickling feeling, then it was like a needle prick. I opened my eyes to see a small beetle on my right arm. The beetle was about the size and shape of a ladybug except for jaws that were almost half the size of the rest of its body. The beetle's body was a bright red with shell like casings protecting the thorax of the body. I attempted brush it off but both my arms felt like they were asleep and were very slow to respond to my request. I watched with some shock and even some wonder as I saw the beetle bite into the skin on my arm. Suddenly I realized the second bite had stopped even the slow response to move.
I watched in horror as several other insects appeared from behind my arm. These insects were different they looked more like large ants except they were bright blackish blue, their eyes glistened with a brilliant blue, and at the rear end of the insect's thorax I could see a sharp tip that reminded me of the stinger of a bee or a wasp. The beetle bites into my skin again and began to pull at the skin, the pain was very intense but again I could not respond, not even with a twitch. I watched as my skin gave way to the pulling beetle until a hole in my skin was formed. The blue insects appeared to almost be dancing around the beetle, touch it and at times grooming the beetle's outer shell. Then one by one the blue insects reached into the hole made by the beetle. I felt small needle pricks each time, followed by the blue insects pulled something out of the hole in my arm and scurried off out of sight. With each prick into the open wound I felt myself fading into a deep sleep.
I woke with a start and sat straight on the couch. I remembered what had happened and checked my right forearm, I only found a small red spot, but the tips of my fingers of my right hand tingled. I rubbed the tips of my finger against the left hand, the fingertips felt numb. I took a deep breath and wrote it off as a bad dream. I made and eat my supper, relaxed watching TV, but a nagging feeling kept coming back to me. If this encounter with the beetle had been a dream, why did my fingertips go numb?
Later that night I went to bed with an uneasy feeling, I found I was reluctant to go to sleep. I got ready for bed but I sat up and read for a while. I last remembered seeing the clock reading quarter to midnight, and then I guess I fell asleep, despite worries about having that same dream again. I had always had intense dreams and I could usually recall the details for a short period of time. This was different, or was it?
A sharp prick woke me, I tried to sit up but everything was in slow motion. I opened my eyes to see the same black and red beetle sitting on my forearm. I watched again as the beetle bite into my skin and I instantly felt my body go numb. The beetle again pulled as my skin with those over sized jaws and again the blue and black insects came marching over my forearm from somewhere. I cried out, but no words or sounds came out. The insects stopped moving around for a second and I watched their little head turn to meet my face. Then they continued they work. I tried to move, I muster all the strength I had but I couldn't move an inch.
Again they approached the hole made by the beetle, and again they sent sharp pain through my arm as they cut into my flesh. Bit by bit I watched they carry tiny pieces of me away, over my arm and out of sight. Deeper and deeper they reached and torn at my flesh. The pain was horrible each bit felt like a razor cut. My mind raced, why couldn't I move? If I didn't have the power to move, how could I be feeling so much pain? Why was this happening to me? How could this be happening?
As my mind was raked with these questions I watch on and on, then the horror took a worse tone. The insects had taken so much flesh that they now had to climb under the rim on the skin, they were inside my arm. Inside I could feel them crawling around and biting the razor cuts continued. I could feel my mind numbing and I was fading back into sleep. I fought to stay awake; I fought to stay conscious. With out knowing I had fallen asleep I awoke with a start. I sat up in my bed and checked my right forearm. The area was covered with red spots and scratch marks; the skin had been rubbed raw. I looked at my left hand and I found blood and material I assumed was skin, my own skin. My right hand felt numb, more than before, it had moved up to the palm of my hand now and when I tried to feel with my fingertips, I felt nothing. I though to myself that I must have been scratching my forearm in my sleep. It still itched and I wanted to scratch it more, but I knew I shouldn't I needed to stop the itching and more to the point I had to stop the cause.
I took a nice long hot shower and that seemed to easy the itching, at least until I dried off, then it started again. I rummaged through my medicine cabinet until I found some anti-bacterial lotion and a large bandage and tape. I applied the lotion and the bandage, and then secured it with the tape.
Now, to take care of the cause, those insects and that beetle. I called the exterminator and made arrangements to have them come in that afternoon. I then called a nice hotel on the other side of town; I made arrangements for a room for a couple days. For some reason I felt the need to tell the poor man on the other end of the line that I was having my house exterminated and that was why I needed the room. I'm sure the guy could have cared less but I just blurted it out.
I finished dressing, the numb hand made it difficult but I managed. I then decided to wait outside in the drive for exterminators to arrive, when they did I wasted no time giving them their instructions and I headed for the nice safe hotel.
I was settled in to my room and had ordered up a nice diner within an hour of leaving my house. I was already beginning to feel better, knowing those bugs were at that very moment, or soon would be dying at the hands of those exterminators. I enjoyed my dinner and relaxed with my book. Several hours later I put my book away and shut off the light. My hand felt better and itching had stopped I drifted off to sleep with very little trouble. The ordeal had been exhausting but it was over.
Burn! Burning! I felt my right forearm, it felt like it was burning, and the itching had started again. I reached for the light but I must have been half asleep I was moving so slowly. Then I realized, it wasn't being half-asleep and it wasn't a burning or an itching I felt on my arm.
In the moonlight from the hotel room's window I saw the beetle. Some how, some way the beetle had found me again. I watched as it cut into my arm at the edge of the bandage. The beetle cut and tore at my skin and I couldn't move. Soon the insects arrived, they swarmed over the bandage and they soon had it off my forearm. They worked like a small army removing an unwanted obstacle. Soon the insects were swarming over the old wound. It looked sore and bright red from the cuts and from my own scratching.
More and insects arrived, each following in a single column straight to the opening in my arm. Inside each one went and out each one came, and each carrying a tiny red mass of my flesh. I tried screaming, over and over, but no sound came out. The pain was shooting through my arm as the insects stole a tiny piece of flesh. I watched for what seemed to be hours as they came and went over and over disappearing out of sight. The pain grew worse and worse. All the while the beetle sat near the opening and seemed to be glaring at me. At times I felt that I could see its eyes and even a determined grin of the beetle.
I woke late in the morning, someone knocking at my hotel room door. I looked at my forearm, it was not just a hole now, and it was bright red patch covering almost half the distance from my elbow to the wrist. Again the beetle and the other insects were gone. The whole forearm was numb and I couldn't move my fingers or my hand. I ran to the sink and turned the water on full force and washed the forearm.
Again a knock came at the door. Outside a lady's voice announced, "Housekeeping!" I found myself gasping for air as told the voice on the other side of the door, "Not today, thanks". The water continued to pour over my arm, the warmth felt good, what I could feel of it. I could hear the lady mumble something and then begin pushing her cart down to the next room. Soon the good feeling of the warm water faded and I just sat on the edge of the bed wondering what to do next. I reached for the phone and dialed up the clinic near my home. I asked for Dr. Walus and made an appointment for later that afternoon.
2:30 couldn't come soon enough. I had wrapped the forearm in a towel and drove to the clinic; I was there twenty minutes early, hoping I could get in sooner than 2:30. The nurse showed me in to the exam room and went through the normal preparations. When she asked what I was in for I just told her an infection, of course she wanted to take a look but I snapped at her harshly enough she decided it wasn't worth facing my wrath. With my blood pressure and temperature taken she left the room with disgusted look on her face.
Several minutes passed and I sat there trying to decide how to explain this to Dr. Walus. I had been seeing Dr Walus for over twenty years but how could I tell him that I was being hunted and attacked by insects. Before I could decide what to say, Dr. Walus strolled in with his normal ear-to-ear grin. Dr. Walus was a tall white-haired man in his late fifties, well fit and a likeable personality, a well-respected man of medicine.
"Well, James how are we doing today?" The man's grin faded as our eyes met. I didn't even think about it, I must have looked like hell. I hadn't bothered to comb my hair or paid much attention to my disarrayed clothes; getting dressed with one hand was harder than one would think. Dr. Walus looked down at my wrapped arm, "The nurse said you wouldn't let her look at your arm. What's going on?"
I decided to wait and see what he could tell me before I said much of anything. I slowly took the wrapped from my forearm and watched doc's face for a reaction. What I say in his eyes was beyond concern, beyond confusion. What I was a man that went into shock and who was taken back a bit by what he saw. Doc. Placed his glasses on the bridge of his nose and reached out to hold the forearm with one hand and to inspect with the other hand. I looked down to watch the examination. The fore was still bright red around the opening made by the beetle, this time it hadn't closed as it had before. Doc. ran is fingers lightly over the reddened area. "James do you feel this?" I shook my head. Doc touched the skin near the opening, "how about this, do you feel that?" Again I just shook my head.
Doc. sat down on the small stool, "James how did this happen? I stared at him for a moment, wondering if I should tell him what I knew or play dumb for now. If I told him the truth would he believe me? I took a deep breath and stammered out, "I got bitten by some kind of insects."
"Is this the only place they bit you?"
"Yes, just the arm"
Doc took some swabs from a tray and began dabbing the reddened area; nothing came off on the swabs. "Are there any other symptoms?"
"Numbness from the fingertips up past the elbow."
"When did this happen and where?
"The first time was yesterday afternoon, in my study"
Doc. sat there looking dumbfounded. "The first time?"
"Yes I was attacked three times in all."
"Any idea what kind of bug these were?"
I paused, wondering just how much of this old Dr. Walus was going to believe. "Well, there was a red and black beetle and some blue and black insects that looked like large ants."
Doc. Walus stared at me. I figured I lost him at that point but he straightened up and drew a sterile cotton swab from a paper sheath. "Well, I'll take a sample from the wound area, we'll draw some blood and I think take some x-rays of that forearm. That will be a good place to start." That grin of Doc. returned as he started working on the wound. The cotton swab had to be forced a little through the opening but then sank deeper into the forearm than Doc. or I though it should have. Doc. winced a little but recovered his domineer quickly. He placed the swab back into the paper sheath and then drew blood from my arm. After the blood Doc. examined the wound again. "Was the skin this ridged after the first attack?" I reached over and touch the right forearm. The skin felt dried out and very firm and the texture was grainy like sandpaper. "No, I don't think so."
"Ok, well you sit right here and I'll send someone in to take you to x-ray, ok?" Dr. Walus left the room with his samples as I wrapped the towel back around my arm. A few minutes later the nurse came in and escorted me to the x-ray room. While we walked I apologized to the nurse for my outburst. The nurse only smiled and continued her job. After a couple x-rays the nurse escorted me back to the exam. Room and I sat there and waited.
Thirty minutes later Dr. Walus came back in with the x-rays and some papers. "James the x-rays tell us there's some massive infection in your arm and there appears to be some swelling that has caused some space between your skin and the flesh of your arm." I stopped him in mid sentence with, "It's not the swelling Doc. they took part of me with them."
"The bugs they stole, they took pieces of my flesh out of my arm."
Doc's face turned pale for a moment, "How can that be?"
"I don't know Doc. but I watched them cut into me and take tiny pieces of material out of that tiny opening."
Several moments passed as Dr. Walus stared at me. Then with a clearing of his throat Dr. Walus began to ask me how this happened from the very beginning. I told him everything, everything I knew about the beetle, the insects, the numbing of the arm, the paralyzing bites, everything. Doc. face grew longer with every passing statement. When I was done I found tearing running down my face and a feeling of fear that Dr. was going to call in the straight jackets any moment. I sure wouldn't have blamed him, but the facts were right there for him to see. The question was what was he going to do with them?
Dr. Walus took a deep breath and said, "James if everything you told me is actuate, and I believe it is. I think the next move is to admit you to the hospital, Once you are admitted and we get the rest of the tests back I think we need to take a closer look inside your arm and see what the x-ray couldn't tell us, what do you think?" I was so thankful Doc. had taken me seriously I just nodded and began to sob.
Doc. arranged for 24-hour nurse coverage to observe me, so I got some much-needed sleep. I sleep straight through and when I woke Doc. and another man was standing by my bed. "Good morning James you are looking much better this morning. I see you slept well."
"Ya, Doc. and no midnight visitors either"
"That's great." A slight smile crossed Doc's face as he pulled up a chair beside my bed. "James we got the results of your blood work up back and I found something that could explain a great deal of the conditions that you told me about including the paralyzing bites. I made a few calls and got some answers we needed. One call was to a friend of mine in the field of ichthyotoxicology, that's the field of toxic elements. He helped confirmed that what we found in your blood and in larger amount in the sample from your wound was a substance similar to a toxin know as tetrodtoxin. The main known source of tetrodtoxin is a puffer fish."
I guess I looked a bit confused, which I was, because he gave me another smile. "Now, I know you haven't been swimming with puffer fish lately so I sent a sample to my friend for more exact identify of the toxin could be made. In the mean time the rest of the blood work shows several abnormalities which are closer related to insect poisonings."
"Just what does all that mean?"
"Well, it means that we have narrowed down the possible treatment for your condition. We can't keep you full of drug and pain killers for ever, we need to get to the cause."
So what are you suggesting we do?
Doc. Faked a smile at me, cleared his throat then said, “I feel the best course of action would be that we schedule you for an exploratory surgery.”
I wasn’t expecting to hear surgery, and it stopped me in my tracks. After a couple of minutes I nodded my agreement. I allowed myself to be admitted into the hospital that evening and I had 24 hour nursing care for the night. This was the first good night’s sleep I’d had since this whole mess started, no visitors during the night, except those that I had to fight off in my nightmares.
The following morning I was awaken by the nurse and technician. I tried to be as comfortable with these two strangers preparing me for the surgery. They were careful and gentle as they cleaned my arm and gave me a series of injections. As the drugs did their trick I felt myself fading into a deep sleep.
I felt my mind clearing slowly as the medication allowed me to realize that I was in the recover room and that the surgery was over. Even through the medical I could feel the pain in my arm, as it seemed to touch every part of my body. I itching was back and the sharp bolts of damaged nerves tore through my arm up to my chest and straight into my mind. My eyes began to focus on someone standing next to me; I strained to see the face. Slowly I recognized the face of Doctor Walus. The grim look on his face told me long before the good doctor could find the words.
I made eye contact and said, “It didn’t work did it?”
Dr. Walus cleared his throat before speaking, “Not the out come I had hoped for.”
”The pain is still there, it’s there anything we can do?”
“I’m afraid that what you’re feeling is what we call a fathom pain.”
“Son, we couldn’t save your arm. Once we started the exploratory we found the damage was far more extensive that we had once thought.”
“That’s impossible, “I told him, “I can feel the arm it hurts like it did before, if not more.”
The doctor nodded to a nurse standing on the other side of my bed, “Nurse would you give me a few minutes alone with the patience?”
I nurse nodded back and left the room.
Dr. Walus began telling the detail of what he had found during the exploratory. When they attempted to make the first incision the ridged skin of the forearm had caved in exposing the network of nerves and nerve endings and the raw bones that once were my arm. The small amount of muscle and fresh that still remained was laced with what Doctor Walus called pods. It took me some time but I finally convinced
the doctor to tell what kind of pods they were. The doctor had found what he thought, or at least appeared to be egg pods throughout the forearm. With the damage that was already done to the arm the doctor had amputated just below the shoulder.
What pain I was feeling was just as the doctor told me it was fathom pain, the minds unwillingness to accept the fact that limb had indeed been amputated. It took several minutes and what like nerves I had left at that time to look down at the short stud the surgery had left me, what was left of my arm. I stared at it for a long while, trying in my own mind to come to grip with the finality of what those insect attacks had done to me. There were so many unanswered questions, so many fears that still clouded my mind and my soul.
That night I was dosed with heavy drugs and pain killers, a nurse sat at my bedside all night long by order of the doctor. The doctor’s friend, the doctor of ichthyotoxicology was due to arrive in the morning to help with a further detailed examination of the tissue samples from my arm. I for one was glad in a way to free of the presence of the limb, it was no good to me now, and I had come to accept the fact the doctor made the right choice. My nightmare was finally over.
In the morning the doctor’s friend a Dr. Elaine Brown had accompanied Dr. Walus to my room. Dr. Brown had already looked at the tissue samples and had made a initial observation. The chemicals in the tissue was a compound substance of Tetrodotoxin, a powerful poison and Tomentella, which is a spore fungus. Dr. Brown however could not explain how these two substances could have come to form a single compound stance, because they are found together anywhere in nature. Dr. Brown also couldn’t explain how this compound had been introduced to my arm by a insect and, or a beetle. All in all I had no more answers than I had, had before. Dr. Brown promised she would continue to study the samples and keep me informed.
Two weeks later I was released to go home. That was when I took Dr. Walus up on an offer to get away from the city and rest up in his cabin in the woods. Last night was my first night here, and my first night without a nurse at my bedside. The fathom pain in my arm was for the most part gone. I had learned to get along very well one handed and I was trying very hard to put this all behind me.
I had fixed a great diner and I was enjoying the peace and quietness of the cabin. I had been looking forward to my first night of being totally on my own. After my meal and walk in the last few hours of day light I had gone to bed to dream more pleasant dreams then I had since the whole mess started.
I was awaken with a startled shot of pain in my left arm. I looked down at my arm in the moonlight streaming in through a window. I tried to scream, but nothing came out. I tried to move, but my whole body felt sluggish and unresponsive. There on my left arm was the beetle, it sank it’s over sized jaws into my skin again and again. The beetle tore at the skin, making a hole that produced a bead of blood. Then I saw the column of dark blue insects march up over my arm, they fed on my blood and then began tearing at my fresh. The horror was back, they marched past the beetle and out of site, carrying with them parts of me. The beetle stared at me, its eyes shiny black beads. I knew then that the nightmare would never leave me. I had some how been marked and there was no way to get away from them. They had already cost me one arm and now my sanity.
When I awoke I found the same hole I had that first time, the area itched and my finger tips were numb. I couldn’t go through with the pain and the nightly visits again. There was no way I was going to let them do this to me again.
This is why I have taken the time to write down the details of my experience, I hope that someone will fid this and it will be able to help the next person, and I’m sure there will be a next person, if there isn’t already.
I devised a way to make sure that my body will never ever again be used by these insects for their plans, what ever they be. I have set the cabin to burn to the ground approximately two hours after I fall to sleep. The high over dose of sleeping pills I was given will make me unaware of the insects attack and the fire. I only hope the beetle and the other insects will be in the cabin when it goes.
To Dr. Walus and Dr. Brown I hope you find an answer. To my friends and family I hope you understand. I love you all, goodbye!