Insane in the Membrane

So, one of the things I love is swimming in lakes. I also love swimming in oceans. I have never tried swimming in a sea, but I’m sure I’d love that too. We’d spent the day kind of at the beach. The boys were all fishing, and the water was so clear that I could point to schools of fish and say “there’s a school of pickerel heading your way; huge jackfish, two o’clock”. I think I even saw a sturgeon, but it’s tough to tell because it was pretty deep in that particular part of the lake. It was as clear as the lake in Prince Caspian; as clear as Thoreau’s Walden Pond. And it was golden in the sun and emerald green out where the sturgeon hid.

And I have to tell you, the guys were awesome. They’d rigged up a rather intricate (for beach-side horsing around) pulley system by which they’d drag us on an inner tube through the water, via an ATV on the grassy shore. We had…a considerable number of collisions. Nobody seemed to mind. I was the only girl there. And in case you’re wondering if the fellows from Duck Dynasty are as awesome in real life as they are on teevee, I’m here to tell you that they most certainly are.

After our day at the lake, we went back to Phil and Miss Kay’s house where everyone was staying for the summer. In the middle of the night, I woke up because I had to go to the loo (owing to all the water I drank at the beach of course, and throughout dinner), but I didn’t want to wake anyone by flushing so I snuck outside to use the biffy in the back. Of COURSE they have a biffy in the back. Have you even ever *watched* that program?

Well at one point, I walked by a tree that was covered in cobwebs. I didn’t really mind; I skirted around it, but by the time I was on my way back, I was in an alley and the tree was in the middle of the alley and there were high, dense caragana bushes to either side of the tree so the only way I could get past it to get back to the house was to duck underneath it. On the one side was a ridiculously enormous spider that kept *looking at me* every time I considered ducking under its web. It looked at me with malicious intent. It was all “go ahead, emmer-effer. Walk under my web. I mean, this spider was GIGANTIC. At LEAST the size of both of my palms put together. And it was sentient. So…

I didn’t want to take my life into my hands, so I examined the other side of the tree. It was covered in cobwebs, but it looked a lot safer, so I blasted through and began brushing the cobwebs off as I walked up the path to the door. Under the orange glow of a sodium lamp, I noticed that bits of the web were still clinging to me. I tried brushing them off, but they moved. It didn’t take long for me to realize I’d walked through the spider’s nest. I was now covered in millions of baby sentient spiders.

Some people would have the wherewithal to somehow strike up a favourable relationship with the spider babies. I, however, began making that half-croaking, half-whining sound you make when your legs are about to turn to jelly. It’s the “I skipped all the preliminary parts of the flight-or-fight response, and now I’m just going to lay down and die” part of your monkey brain fighting with the “eff that noise, I’m’a light myself on fire first” part of the lizard brain. I managed to get into the house, figuring that all I really needed was a scalding hot shower and that would drown the frigging spider babies. I did not feel the least amount of guilt at annihilating millions of sentient life forms, and I thank you for that, Captain James T. Kirk.

But because Willy and Jase Robertson and I had been out drinking the previous night (after the beach)…well…actually, they were the ones drinking. I was just watching their beards…the lavatories in the house were all…occupied. The only one left open was Phil and Miss Kay’s private lavatory. I didn’t want to wake them, and I knew they’d been watching television (I’d seen it through the window out back as I went to the biffy), so I snuck into their master bedroom and into their en suite.

With the lights on, it became apparent that it wasn’t spiders I was covered in, but millions of strange black beetles with hourglass-red markings on their carapices. Yes, I realise that normally that would be a black widow thing, but these were beetles. I could hear the clicking noise their chitin made as they shuffled their wings. And when I brushed at them, they’d fly away and then land on me again. That’s when they started to bite.

I got my shirt off without all of the bugs getting in my hair, and I managed to shimmy out of my shorts and underthings (I don’t know why I was sleeping fully dressed. It was, quite honestly, the weirdest part of my dream). Just before I was about to step into the shower, the door began to open. I leapt behind it and peered around to see Phil Robertson standing there, scowling his scowly scowl.

“I went outside,” I told him, near panic tears. “And walked through a cobweb and now there’s all these beetles, and they’re horrible and…”

He lifted an eyebrow, glanced at my pile of clothes crawling with beetles, and looked back at me.

“Also, I’m naked. I don’t know if you care about that sort of thing. I don’t.”

He half-shrugged, walked over to the counter and opened what I thought was a cupboard. “Get in here,” he said. “I’ll fix this all up.”

I didn’t think it would be prudent to argue with Mr. Phil Robertson, so I ducked inside this cabinet, which turned out to be cramped, but not entirely uncomfortable. The doors were a smoky glass, kind of like a sauna. I heard a popping sound, then a hiss, and the little room began to fill with smoke. Somehow, I could breathe just fine, and I watched as the beetles began to fall off of my body and writhe on the floor. Some had attached themselves to my flesh, and I had to scrape them off with the side of a piece of wood. I pulled out the ones that had attached themselves to my scalp, and to the back of my neck, taking chunks of flesh with them.

I stayed in the smoker box until all of the bugs were dead and off of my body. When I got out, I showered off and asked Phil how to clean the smoker box out. He just shook his head and said, “don’t worry about that, now”, and shooed me out of his room. I headed outside, eager to sit in the sun. And to my surprise, discovered that the Robertson house was situated on a college campus. A college campus with a large Roman stone amphitheatre. A college campus with a large Roman amphitheatre which was currently being used to produce Monty Python’s “King Arthur and the Quest for the Holy Grail”. Through which production I was now walking.

Knowing much of that particular production by heart, I recited some of it with the actors as I made my way across the stage. At the other side, I found my co-worker, and we sat down together to have coffee. She took one look at me and commented on my somewhat harried appearance. This was when my legs began to itch. I leaned down to scratch them and found that the skin was coming off.

Not in little flakes, either. The skin on my legs had been thoroughly cooked in the smoker, and was now crackling like turkey skin and coming away from the dermis beneath. Underneath, my dermis was pink and tender. I crackled the skin and slid my fingers beneath the rough surface to separate it from the new skin. I noticed, however, that the joint around my knee had come apart – not unlike what happens to joints of meat when they are roasted – inside were several pieces of tinfoil shoved into the joint itself, and the meat around the joint was teeming with maggots.

“Oh, hey, look at this,” I said to my co-worker. “My leg is full of maggots and tin foil and my skin’s coming off! Isn’t this cool?”

She did not think it was cool.

cenobyte is a writer, editor, blogger, and super genius from Saskatchewan, Canada.

i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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