Today’s Miles: 31
Total Miles: 1,825
Past Ramshyttan – September 24, 2016
The first one landed on my shirt and I tried to wave it off like any other bug, but it stuck, clinging even when I brushed at it. Frowning, I pinched it between two fingers and held it closer. Brown color, three round segments to its body, six legs, light wings that broke off in my fingers.
I’d never seen it before so I flicked it away without a thought. Another landed. And another. They felt like heavy drops of rain hitting me, one or two at a time, then crawling, marching up my body and clothes. I flicked them away one by one. More came to replace them.
They didn’t seem to be doing anything. Just landing and marching. I found another and another. They felt like ticks moving up me. I shivered and flicked them off my skin. They landed on my head, tangled in my beard, and marched onward.
I pulled, flicked, and crushed them away. They came without fear, without a thought. They landed, they marched across me, they died, always one to replace the last.
Their wreckage lay scattered on my clothes, little pieces of wings, legs, guts. Then I found one on my arm. On my skin. It wasn’t marching. It sat there still, crouched among the hair, clinging to me.
I smashed at it and saw a small smear of red. Blood. My blood.
A flush of panic rose up at the sight of it. The red color touches something deep in your psyche, something lodged in our minds since the dawn of evolution.
“They are eating me,” I thought.
I stumbled forward, my hiking sticks useless as I brushed and picked at them every step. My hands smashed at every hint of movement, sometimes real sometimes just the wind or a branch brushing against me.
What are these things? What do I do? I yanked out mosquito repellent and sprayed it over me, but on they came, ignoring it, landing, marching, crawling, and dying. I could only brush and walk and pluck and crush and hope not to see a smear of red in their wake.
Then I felt something on my stomach, something underneath my clothes, something where I never thought they could reach. I pulled up my shirt up and looked down. The bit of skin between my hip belt and pants crawled with them, dozens of them, moving, some marching forward, some still, all clinging to me.
I threw off my pack and clawed at my stomach like a madman, crushing them away, running my hands over every inch of my back and neck, feeling for them, pulling them our of my hair, smashing and scraping until I felt only skin.
That was three days ago.
They come in the heat of warm days when there isn’t much wind. I’ve learned to tuck my shirt in, to pick wider roads when it’s hot, to check all the folds in my clothes and patches of exposed skin. I still don’t know what they are, why they started, or when they’ll end, but they come all the same, come for my blood, come for my sanity as I crush, smash, and scrape them away.