I hate summer. I question the sanity of anyone who says they enjoy summer. Two nights ago, my father and I went out for a meal to commemorate the death of my mother. Every year we followed this tradition and despite living on opposite sides of the country, we always made time for this occasion. I was told my mother died from MRSA after contracting it from a routine operation. I was not allowed to visit my mother in the hospital under strict instructions from my father as he told me to remember her as ‘the person she was before she began to rot away’.
Regardless of what anyone else thought, I was happy with his decision. I wanted to remember my mother as the loving, vibrant woman she was, not a withered corpse on a hospitable bed.
My father had chosen the venue for the meal tonight. A tiny, budget restaurant on a backstreet outside of the city. Now, before you think my dad is some sort of hipster prophecy, he’s not. There was a good reason this restaurant was out of the way. The food was disgusting. I wasn’t hungry before we got there anyway, it had been a long journey for me and the summer heat had evaporated any hunger my body felt. Looking back on it, it was probably a good job too. I managed a few mouthfuls of my ‘chicken’ noodles before realizing how foul the meat tasted. I pulled apart the next piece before putting it in my mouth and inspected the contents. Completely raw in the middle, and what’s worse, the meat was all kinds of rotten. My dad had already devoured his meal and was eyeing up mine before I informed him about the state of it. He offered to ask the waiter to replace it, but common sense told me that if a place was willing to serve a dish at this standard, I shouldn’t hold out much hope for anything else on the menu.
We settled the bill and dad drove us back to his place.
We reminisced about mum on the way home. We shared old stories, as we usually do, and held back the tears through smiles and jokes. We were about five minutes from home and my stomach began rumbling with a force that could only be compared to a war-band of horses galloping into battle. Great, food poisoning. Anyone who has had food poisoning before will know it’s not a great experience to have, you vomit out of both ends for a couple of days but you eventually get over it. Inconvenient, but worse things happen. I notified dad of the impending doom, to which he laughed and told me to hold it in until we got home.
I spent the remainder of the night worshipping the porcelain god as dad sat on the side of the bath dishing out sarcastic encouragement. Not exactly the night we had both envisioned, but with our track record, not entirely surprising. A few hours later my body just about gave out and dad helped carry me to my childhood bed. He put a bowl by the side of the bed and told me if I miss, it’s my problem to deal with. Thanks dad.
I woke up the next morning feeling, unsurprisingly, awful. Dad was up and frying bacon and sausages for breakfast, but the smell alone was enough to get me reacquainted with the bathroom floor.
‘I heard you from downstairs’ he greeted me with. I didn’t dignify it with an answer. He told me I could stay until this left my system and he would drive me back home if I missed my train. I smiled, thankfully, before turning my head and continuing my dry-heaving. I knew the worst of it was already over but I was in no state to travel yet. As I said before, I was no stranger to food poisoning, but there was a new aspect this time. My skin was itching profusely. Now, for you sunburn victims out there, have you ever had something called the “hell’s itch”? If not, lucky you. Hell’s itch is a phenomenon where your skin feels like it’s being eaten from the inside by fire ants. I won’t try to describe the pain and irritation of it, because words will never do it justice. Trust me when I say that suicide seems a viable option for its victims though.
I couldn’t remember getting sunburned. I’m always overly-cautious about it due to the aforementioned hell’s itch. I wondered if it was an allergic reaction to something? I wasn’t aware of any allergies I had, but then again I’ve never eaten meat that was rotten to that degree before. We live in a country with free medical care so after a few hours of convincing, dad drove me over to the A&E clinic. We were seen by a doctor I recognised, but didn’t know by name and explained the symptoms to him. He concluded that it sounded like a mild reaction, but nothing severe due to the lack swelling of the throat or face, and gave me a couple anti-histamines to knock me out until the ordeal was over.
Back at home I tried to get some food down my neck so I wasn’t dry-having the rest of the day. I noticed an odd smell and checked myself over before notifying dad. I showered before we went to the hospital, I might be ill but I’m not a degenerate. I asked if he was able to smell it too, and he notified me that all he could smell was my body odour, with a huge grin. Thanks dad. I put it to the back of my mind and went back upstairs to occupy my spot at the toilet. I took my iPad with me so I wouldn’t get bored whilst sitting there. The sickness was few and far between now but I didn’t want to risk not making it, should I need to pay my respects. The hours rolled on and the smell worsened. Ever been close to water treatment plant? I was experiencing a mild version of that. Combined with the insufferable itch, I caved and took an anti-histamine. I sent a text downstairs telling him not to wake me and just let me ride it out.
I slept longer than I thought. I woke up at 2am the following day. My whole room stank of sewage and the itch was worse than ever. I didn’t want to deal with this. I chalked it up to mild hallucinations. My body was deprived of water and food, and the heat, even though it was the middle of the night, was still cooking my skin. I immediately took another pill and laid my head down to rest.
I woke up to my fathers eyes spread wide on a ghost-white face. He was attempting to roll me over. I sleepily asked him what the hell was going on, met only with him raising his hand and pointing to my torso.
Hundreds of them. They were burrowing into my skin. I immediately flipped my shit before screaming in horror. I was too afraid to try brushing them off and risk them getting stuck half way inside of me. My dad was in a state of shock. I tried pulling at one, but my skin pulled with it. It was clamped in tight. Staring at myself in complete shock and wondering what the hell I should do, I noticed something. They weren’t burrowing INTO my skin, they were eating their way OUT. I barked orders at my dad to get me to a hospital to which he took no notice. He was too stunned. I phoned myself an ambulance. I couldn’t sit and wait for them to turn up whilst maggots ate their way out of me, so I did the only thing my brain thought logical, ran a hot shower. My thinking was that the steam would soften the holes and the maggots would fall out. I was wrong. The steam only exasperated the situation. I could see more and more of these little abominations appear at the surface.
The ambulance arrived. We were loaded into the back and tore through the city to the hospital. The van had a very neutral temperature which was oddly satisfying considering the situation. It seemed to calm my skin and stop more of the maggots rising to the surface. I’m currently waiting for surgery, my body is bandaged to stop me looking at them. A futile attempt to console me, but better than nothing. My father also mentioned a strange anecdote to me, “that was the last restaurant I took your mother to”. Thanks dad.
Credit: Summer Hatred