By Casey Douglass
as part of #fridayflash
It started as a tinny rustling sound, like a small plastic bag cavorting in the breeze. I looked outside my flat but could see nothing snagged or drifting across the small communal garden. Thinking it might be something on another resident's balcony, I did my best to ignore it.
A few days later it got louder. It sounded like a can of pebbles leisurely rolling down a grass slope. I struggled to hear the TV over it but again blamed the neighbours.
After a week, I managed to get an appointment with my doctor. He hummed and haaah’d and referred me to the hospital.
Things moved quickly after that.
Now I’m sat in a white sanitised room, large sections of plastic sheeting flowing from ceiling to floor on all sides. The machine next to me beeps now and then but I don’t always hear it. It can’t compete with the crackling inside my head.
Some kind of parasite they think. Probably came over in a shipment of bananas from the sub-continent they said. Horrible luck they whispered, eyes looking at the floor beside my bed.
A specialist came the other day, said that as far as she could see, the bugs reacted to stress hormones. The more stress hormone in my body, the more voraciously they reproduced. I asked if there was any kind of medication that would help me curb the hormone. She shook her head and said that it had to be an ‘authentic reaction’ or the bugs wouldn’t buy it. I asked if I relaxed enough, would they leave? She shrugged.
Now I lay and try to relax, calling on every technique I can to calm my body and unwind my mind. The slightest shock to my sensitised system, like a door slamming somewhere down the hall, causes such a jolt of agony that I pass out for minutes on end. On the plus side, my hearing is fading so that kind of stimulus will be no threat soon.
The relaxation seems to work but I know that in my heart, I am trying too hard to relax. It’s like trying to accept something horrible in the hope that it will go away. That’s not true acceptance. You should be able to accept something whether it goes or stays. It shouldn’t matter.
My head buzzes with the movements of the larger bugs now, new generations hatching and chewing on my brain with every passing hour.
I saw the orderlies install more sheeting around the doorways and windows yesterday. Nice to know they are planning for the best!
All I know is that I’m tired now. I feel annoyed to go out this way but I’m sure there are worse. I’m going to stop trying to relax, stop hoping that I will recover, give up the dream of recovery. I think it is a genuine acceptance I feel now but who knows. All I know is I’m done with the struggle and whatever happens happens.
People condemned to death usually get a last meal. It is rare indeed that they are the last meal.
Bon appétit bugs!