PARTICULARLY NASTY ARTHROPODS
by Richard Karsmakers
It was a perfectly ordinary summer's day.
Perfectly ordinary, of course, except for the fact that it was
exceptionally warm, clothes clung to bodies, sweat formed beads
on foreheads, and armpits really stank awfully.
Er...quite ordinary, thus.
I came in from the balcony. I always liked sitting on the
balcony. It's one that's built on the north side, so it's got a
nice temperature as long as the sun doesn't shine on it - the
latter usually only happens during the early evening hours.
I came into the kitchen and opened the fridge for a refreshing
bit of Coke to quench my thirst. I put the bottle to my mouth and
took a large swig.
It was then that I saw them for the first time.
Little black flies with quivering wings that seemed to stroll
leisurely and slowly across the ceiling. Two of them.
I burped, took something to hit them with and hit them. I got a
piece of paper to get the red blood stain off the ceiling, after
which I put back the Coke bottle and got back outside.
The sun had yet to appear at the north side of the flat, so the
temperature was bearable. The weather made me refrain from
reading any stuff other than comics. Some kinds of weather
probably have not been designed with heavy reading in mind, and I
estimated this kind of hot, oppressive weather to be one of
Besides, comics are a lot of fun to read, too, even though they
may not stimulate the mind or imagination a lot.
Who cares? It's warm, the wind barely blows, a blanket of damp
heat perpetually caresses you. Comics are fine. Reading "Lord of
the Rings" would cause you to faint due to the physical exercise
involved in keeping it at eyes' level.
Barely an hour later, when the sun slowly but certainly started
to appear on the north side of the appartment, I decided to head
for cover inside.
I opened the fridge to get some Coke again. I took a swig,
causing my eyes to wander across the ceiling again.
Damn. Two more of those particularly nasty arthropods.
Could this be some kind of plague we got on our hands?
I decided to examine them from a somewhat closer distance. I
knew my dad had a book about insects at home, and I guessed I
could give him a description accurate enough for him to find the
species in that book. At least then I would know something about
their habits, food preference and actual degree of danger, if
any, to humans.
They were about half a centimetre long and pitch black. Not
black like a blackened end, or not even black the way regular
flies are intensely black, but a kind of black that made your
eyes want to look away because of lack of valid impulses. I did
not have the impression I was merely looking at a black fly - it
was more like looking at the ceiling with a patch of black hole
with wings on it.
The wings, now I mention them, where quite different from
regular flies' wings, too. They were transparent, but they were
attached to the body by what seemed like a little arm, a more
solid and sturdier part of extrement that was designed to do a
task far more taxing than just moving those fragile wings with
the odd black patterns across them.
I looked one of the flies right in the eyes. It had stretched
its hind 'legs' so that it was tilted towards me. It was then
that I felt a very odd sensation. I felt as if the fly could
actually see me. And not only did I feel like it could see me - a
gripping feeling around my guts told me the fly knew I was a
threat, as if it said "Fuck off, you big oaf" in a telepathic
Ordinary flies are stupid. Try to hit them and they will fly
like a raving madman in a raving mad chopper, trying to crash
through the nearest available window which they can't.
This patch of black hole with wings on it did no such thing. It
seemed to look straight at me, or even through me, and it
menacingly quivered with its wings, like a bird or a butterfly
that tries to look bigger to scare off an enemy.
Feeling this about a silly fly made me feel nauseous.
I grabbed something with which to hit them and hit them. I took
a bit of paper to clear away the patch of red blood, threw it
away, put the Coke bottle back in the fridge and called my dad so
he could have a look at his insect book.
I could have predicted this. The book didn't mention anything
like them. My description had been too poor or the book too
superficial. Either way, I still didn't know. It might be some
kind of mutant insect that ate humans.
No. That was a positively ridiculous assumption. I normally
regard myself as a rather sensible person with enough in the
brains department, and I was startled to notice me making such
But these flies did have red blood. The colour of the blood is
caused by haemoglobin, the stuff that transports oxygen through
the veins from the lungs to all the bits of the body. Insects
don't use their blood to transport oxygen. They only use it to
transport food. Oxygen is distributed by an intricate network of
trachea, air channels that flow from multiple little openings in
their skins to the relevant bits of their body.
Then why did these flies have red blood? I knew gnats seemed to
have red blood, but that was actually the blood they had sucked
from humans or other animals.
This unmistakably implied that these little flies with their
menacingly quivering wings sucked animals' blood, too. I didn't
like that conclusion. It made me urge to make silly assumptions
that in turn lead me to think I was stupid.
I looked at the ceiling. No new ones had appeared, even though
the phone call and the making of silly assumptions had taken up
its fair share of time.
They had probably flown in through the kitchen door that had
been open all day. As the door was closed now, they couldn't
enter any more.
Yes. That thought was a whole lot more consoling that the
previous ones. Consoling enough to get to bed and fall asleep
quite quickly, without ever waking up of having strange
nightmares involving little black holes with wings on 'em that
Next day started off like an ordinary, albeit particularly damp
and hot, summer's day usually does. The first rays of the
morning's sun were already hot on the face as I opened my eyes to
the new day.
Before doing anything else, I had to satisfy my curiosity: Would
there be any new flies in the kitchen? Whereas my sleep had not
been interrupted by any flies (or even gnats), my being awake was
immediately haunted by them.
I opened the kitchen door. Slowly. If there were any there, I
didn't want to arouse them which might cause them to fly to other
locations in the house.
Three little black dots that moved slowly across the ceiling
confirmed the dark sense of foreboding I had had ever since I got
woken up by the sun's warmth.
I went closer. They were the same kind I had seen yesterday.
They walked around with slowly quivering wings, although they
could not have sensed my presence yet. I got something with which
to hit them.
The problem was that they were somewhat apart now. I couldn't
possibly get them in one blow. I discovered I was afraid, which
immediately urged my subconsciousness to inform me of the fact
that I was being stupid.
There is something very odd about people. They are not afraid of
ordinary flies because they know they don't bite or something.
They are not afraid of a large Saint Bernhard dog because of that
very same reason. But people are afraid of wasps. Wasps are
hardly bigger than flies but they can sting. People are afraid of
a rabid pitbull, even though it's lots smaller than a Saint
I didn't know what this fly could do. It looked menacing enough
to be able to do something vicious, and I didn't particularly
want to find out what it might be that it could do. For all I
knew it was something unimaginable that was far worse than what
any wasp could get up to.
I was being silly. Very much. I decided to hit them with the
thing I had fetched for that purpose.
I got two in one blow. The third one kind of fell to the ground,
but halfway down it started to fly. I jumped off the chair I had
been standing on, not caring about red stains on the ceiling.
The thing with which I had hit the other flies fell from my
The fly didn't fly like an ordinary fly. It seemed not to be
used to using its wings for doing anything else rather than
quivering them. It flew very awkwardly, as if deciding upon
another course every few wing beats. It reminded me of a rather
A bloodsucking bat. A vampire! Raaah!
This rather upsetting analogy caused me to duck quickly, causing
the black threat to my temporary sanity to miss my head by a
couple of inches, so that it could fly a bit further and settle
itself on the opposite kitchen wall, close to the door that I had
I was being very stupid. I needed to convince myself of that
fact or I was going to perform some irrational behaviour pretty
I walked, no, I stalked up to the dratted little creature. It
seemed to be panting, for its body rose and sank regularly with
the approximate speed of my own breathing. Its wings still
quivered menacingly. There was no way to see its deep black eyes
in its deep black body, but I knew it was looking at me. It was
looking at me angrily, for I had disturbed its morning peace and
killed two of its fellows - possibly even two of its brothers.
I was being stupid again. Very.
I turned around to get the thing with which I had killed its
brothers, only to turn around and stare at a rather empty piece
of wall that had just before been occupied by something black,
small and menacing.
Instinctively I ducked, suppressing signals of my brain that
told me I was now beyond the stages of simply being stupid. I
wielded the thing with which I could hit it, carefully scanning
each square inch of the kitchen for the presence of something
I did not have any problems finding something dark.
Two black things had appeared on the ceiling, as though out of
nothing. It was then that I noticed a small hole in the ceiling.
It was one of those lowered ceilings of wood, with about two or
three inches' space between it and the actual roof. Out of the
little hole, even as I looked, another black thing came.
I left the kitchen, brushed my teeth and took a shower, after
which I went to the local supermarket to get whatever they
stocked to get rid of insects. Unfortunately, it seemed that more
people had been having problems with insects lately as the insect
sprays and repellents were all gone. All I could do was get a
couple of fly traps - those long, sticky pieces of paper one pins
to ceilings where stupid flies die horrible, slow, cruel deaths.
I came back home minutes later.
I had had visions of the entire place crammed with little black
flies by now, but fortunately this turned out to have been a
figment of my over-active imagination.
I cursed as I discovered I had left the kitchen door open before
I left. I went into it, looked at the ceiling and saw no more
The lack of their presence somehow seemed more startling than
them being there.
I climbed the chair again and attached two fly traps to the
sides of the window that was closest to the ceiling part with the
little hole in it.
It didn't take much of my imagination to think of dozens of
little black holes with wings on them to roam in the space
between the actual ceiling and the lowered wooden bit. The little
hole was as dark as the creatures themselves.
It was large enough to stick my little finger in. Something
weird inside my mind told me to try it, but I could suppress the
urge. What's the use of sticking your finger into a wasps' nest?
I eyed the hole conspicuously, waiting until some of the little
flies would come out.
The thought of intelligence in these nasty little insects dawned
upon me again. I had felt they saw me as a threat. I had sensed
awe when one of these creatures tried to scare me off by
stretching its hind extrements and quivering its wings
And I had seen red blood.
The image of dark red spots on the ceiling and the conclusions I
had attached to it made me feel sick in the stomach. I could
blink my eyes as much as I wanted. Each time I closed them I saw
the dark redness on the insides of my eyelids.
"Damn! I am being stupid!" I cursed to myself.
The only answer to this statement, apart from the echo that came
back from the flats on the other side of the green, was a little
black thing crawling from the hole.
It walked directly to the bit of the ceiling adjacent the
window where I had attached the fly traps. It seemed to examine
the chord on which a fly trap hung, quivering with its wings as
if it was probing the air for something. It walked slowly around
the chord, then left it be and did like all of them usually did:
It started walking rather aimlessly across the ceiling, seeming
to shift its goal at every few centimetres. Regularly, it would
stand still and intensify the quivering of its wings, as if
listening, or touching. Sensing something.
I started to sweat a bit. I wasn't sure whether this was because
of the heat or because of the fear I somehow felt for these
little insects I didn't know anything about.
The fly started to walk quicker. Another fly would have flown to
wherever it wanted to go, but this one just walked. The quivering
of the wings with the black patterns on them quickened even more,
as if the thing sensed it came closer to a target - an
intensifying of the scent it seemed to be searching the source
It was smelling me. It had caught the scent of sweat. It had
caught the smell of fear.
The quivering now nearly caused it to fly in its particular,
awkward way. It stretched its hind 'legs' again when it was
precisely above me on the ceiling.
I didn't dare move. I was afraid it might see me and lurch for
me or something. I was rooted to the spot, and I was determined
only to move when...
The little insect started to fly and descended.
I moved quickly, ducking. My mind no longer sent signals that I
was being stupid, and this alarmed me even more than the actual
fly descending upon me.
During my quick movement, however, I had lost track of where it
was. I looked around. It was nowhere to be seen. I got scared
shitless when an itch manifested itself on my arm - but it was
only a hair suddenly finding it necessary to get erect.
It had found ways of vanishing, much in the way its fellows, or
brothers, had done during my short visit to the supermarket to
get the fly traps.
Only this one had not disappeared from the kitchen. It had
merely disappeared from sight which I found out mere seconds
later when I felt a stinging pain in my throat. I grabbed for the
foul beast, nearly choking myself, but I was too late. I could
see it fly off in its awkward way in the direction of the little
hole. Within a matter of two or three seconds it had disappeared
There was blood on my hands, which could only bring me to one
conclusion: The arthropod had bitten me. It hadn't stung like a
gnat would - it had actually bitten. More blood was appearing
from a little wound.
I went to the bathroom to have a look at the bite.
First thing I saw wasn't the blood. First thing I saw was that
my complexion had paled almost to grey - as if I was a corpse or
something. I flexed my fingers. They still moved fine, so there
wasn't any rigor mortis.
Then I looked at the bite. It was minute on all accounts, but
its edge was of purest black, and with each heart beat a
little trickle of blood pulsated out of it.
I was never capable of facing my own blood.
When I came round, I immediately felt there were a lot of
reasons to pass out again. My skin seemed to feel as if it was
pulsating at various locations on my face, neck and back.
Carefully, I felt with my fingers. I felt something tough, a bit
like a wart, at the spot where I had been bitten a short while
ago. Bleeding had stopped, but the little wound still felt wet
and slightly sticky, like a wound that is in the latest stages of
producing the bitter, yellow blood suppuration fluid known as
pus. The edge of the little wound was the bit that felt tough,
almost like the edge of burned flesh.
I erected myself and found myself looking at my own mirror
image. A mirror image with about two dozen little wounds on neck
and face. I didn't need to have a look at my back. The slightly
uncomfortable, pulsating feeling told me there were at least
another dozen there.
A sudden feeling of dull nausea becrept by stomach.
Obviously, a couple of dozen of the little buggers had had a go
at me while I was out cold.
I ran to the toilet and vomited. It seemed like long minutes
before finally my stomach felt it was empty enough. The feeling
of nausea persisted, however. It seemed to find a limitless
source of energy from whatever those nasty insects had injected
I thought about calling the doctor.
No. I was probably exaggerating. It would all be gone by
tomorrow, like gnats' bites. The feeling in my stomach worsened,
and extended itself to my lower abdomen and head.
I had to vomit again.
It seemed as if I had ended up in a perpetuum sequence of being
sick. Each time when I thought about what had happened to me, I
felt my gullet starting to work backwards. Bending over the
toilet, looking at what I had vomited earlier, did the rest -
Was this nature's way of getting even with me after I had
tortured and killed ants and stick insects during my childhood?
I mustered all my power, flushed the toilet and got up. I felt
awfully dizzy, and I was afraid I'd run into something and break
a leg if I didn't lay down quickly.
I fell on the bed and passed out again.
Dozens of dark little spots hurled themselves down at me,
seeking a bite out of this big lump of meat that lay prostrate on
the bed. It was as if the clouds turned into flies, crashing
down like a torrent of rain that was alive. Alive, hungry, and
pitch black. I felt them bite, but I was too weak to react. I
felt them suck blood, but to my mind it was as if they sucked my
very life force away. I became more weak and frail by the minute.
There would not be a lot more than bones and skin left in a
couple of minutes if these creatures continued like that, but I
felt too limp to move, too tired to get rid of all these
parasites that preyed on my body. I wanted to shout but couldn't.
Opening my mouth merely resulted in those damn insects getting a
go at the soft inside of my oral cavity.
My lips got stuck. Exploded into a load of blood, pus and mucus.
I was no longer capable of closing my mouth. My teeth fell out as
the flesh got torn, eaten, bitten, stung. So much for brushing
your teeth twice a day. I felt the first batch of 'em enter my
digestive system. I was helpless. I was doomed to die. They would
feast on my innards, get off totally on the fresh blood in my
heart and lungs.
"No, God damn! No! I don't deserve to die!"
I was bathing in sweat as I woke up from this nightmare.
Outside, darkness had fallen already. The room still echoed the
scream I had uttered.
I felt my neck and face.
Part of this nightmare was real. Sticky, with edges like burned
It must have been morning when I woke up again. I wish I could
tell I felt refreshed, but I didn't.
I didn't need to touch the spots - I could feel they were still
there. They pulsated like one's head seems to throb with every
heartbeat after running. The morning seemed real, everything
seemed real. But the spots didn't. Was I still locked in some
kind of horrific nightmare?
The sound of kids playing outside tore me out of this line of
thought. I had never had nightmares that payed enough attention
to detail for me to hear kids playing outside in the summer sun.
This was reality.
I crawled out of bed. I was feeling like a dry version of a wet
towel, but at least I could walk. At least my body seemed to have
been able to get to grips with the spots - something my mind
I felt a morbid desire to look in the mirror. It's a bit like
when you have a headache. Shake your head to see if it's still
there, if it still hurts. It usually does, effectively
increasing it a bit. Pull a scab to see if the wound has healed.
Curse at the blood when it hasn't.
I looked, and was startled.
The spots had grown. Not much, but enough to be visible. Each
one of them now occupied a somewhat bigger part of my skin, but
they also seemed to have grown out of my body. Like warts. Black,
shining warts with crumbly edges where they seemed to have
appeared from under the very skin, like volcanoes erupting in
infinite slow motion.
I moved closer to the mirror.
There were things moving in the warts.
An acute feeling of intense nausea struck.
Living things were presents in things that were partly encased
in my body. They reminded me of almost mature frogs' eggs I had
once seen floating in a pond. These warts, however, looked like
infinitely evil versions of those frogs' eggs, deeply blackened.
The warts itched, especially the ones on my chin. I scratched
one of them. Carefully at first, but soon more intense as the
itch increased. With a sickening 'pop' it burst and a tiny,
black, maggot-like thing dropped out of the torn wart into the
sink. Pus seeped from the opening in my skin. I could see exposed
flesh where the wart had been. The itch had transformed itself to
pain. A pain that seemed to echo through my jaw, and concentrate
somewhere in the middle of my head, creating quite a headache.
I looked at the maggot in the sink. Like the creatures that had
brought it forth, it looked like a tiny black hole. The
difference was that it didn't yet have the quivering wings and
that it was worm-like in shape. It seemed to suck at the sink
like a leech.
The thought that many of these horrible little creatures were
located on my body worsened the feeling gnawing my stomach.
I turned away from the mirror.
At least I wasn't turning into a fly myself. Wouldn't that have
been quite an awful cliché? Somehow, the lack of cliché didn't
make me feel better.
I had to get out. Out of this place where it all had started. To
ascertain me this was no nightmare I had to get out. Gauge
peoples' reactions. What would the neighbour say?
Holding the latch, doubts entered my mind. Wasn't I just heading
for things I would not like? People that would look at me,
horrified. Children that would run away, screaming and crying. A
cast-out of society. A freak-out of nature. A helpless case.
I'd probably have to be put down. These maggots might not remain
that small. They might grow and devour my flesh and innards. Once
released onto the unsuspecting world, they might invoke damnation
I was just in time to notice I was emotionally spiralling
downwards again. I had to stop these thought before I would do
something to myself that society and posterity would frown upon
forever. Some way or another, I had already walked to the kitchen
and taken a meat knife from a drawer.
I startled, dropping the knife on the ground.
The damn warts started itching again. I couldn't refrain from
scratching. Just for a short time. Stop before it starts hurting,
but I continued.
Pain. Feeling of pus oozing from wounds. Little crawly things
dropping down my neck and back. A maggot fell on my leg. It
attached itself. Mutely I saw the flesh around it turn black, dry
and crumbly as if burned. I forgot to feel the pain of the maggot
digging into flesh until I saw blood pulsate from the little hole
through which it was apparently eating itself.
Existence felt like nill. What was I to do? I saw the knife. It
had a sharp point. I could cut the warts off. Yes. That seemed to
be the only solution. Intense pain on my back and neck told me
the other slimy, crawly creatures had found ways, too, to attach
themselves to me, slowly but surely eating inwards.
The pain was excruciating, like a dozen hot knitting needles
slowly being stung into my body.
I grabbed the knife and sat down, trying hard to block out the
pain. I cried out when I inserted the point into the wound where
the first maggot had burrowed. Blood started to flow more
plentiful. There it was. I cut the vile creature out of my flesh
and threw it away.
How was I going to remove them from my back? I'd never succeed.
Damn! I paniced. "Don't panic". How absurd. The one that was
digging in my neck would have to be next. I went to the mirror,
afraid of what I might see.
My complexion had turned even more grey, like a dead man's. For
all I knew, I could already be a corpse. But I moved. I breathed.
I felt pain, lots of it. I bled. A lot.
I inserted the knife point into my neck, where the other maggot
seemed to be eating its way inward. I had to be careful. It was
damn near the carotid artery. No. The maggot seemed to have
caught the scent of the vein. It shifted its direction. Damn! I
had to be quick. Quick and careful. Impossible. And what about my
back? I flinched as the pain there suddenly grew beyond
endurance. Had one of those damn maggots entered the vertebrae?
The flinch caused the knife to dive into my neck, slashing
through the artery.
It dropped from my hand as I saw myself in the mirror. It looked
like some cheap horror movie. With each heartbeat, blood gushed
from my neck. I felt my life flow down my shirt, down my
trousers, in my shoes. I think I wet my pants.
I didn't even try to stop it. Mutely, I looked at my
reflection in the mirror. I saw myself grow even more pale. All
of me seemed pale, except for the dark red that appeared in
regular beats. At least the pain was bearable now. It was getting
less and less. The world seemed to turn around, even smile at me.
Leaving a trail of blood and gore, I stumbled to the kitchen. I
felt weak, sleepy. Someone was crying outside.
In the kitchen, I looked up to the small opening in the
ceiling. I smiled at something that looked like a little black
hole with quivering wings.
"You won," I muttered.
I fell forward onto the stone kitchen floor, probably splitting
open my skull in the process. But that was no longer my concern -
rather that of the people that would have to clean up the mess.
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.