My amygdala took over and twisted my head up and to the left -- my eyes turned skyward as my fingers clawed into my ear. Something seemed to fall from the far edge of my peripheral vision but I couldn’t be sure what it was. I stood and wondered: What had hit me and where was it now?
I lay down on the couch and kept very still trying to recreate from memory what had just happened. I was alone. Only the laughter of little children splashing in the nearby lake disturbed the quietude. Then I heard something: a soft rustling sound at first, it amplified steadily to a scratchy clawing until it sounded like the movie soundtrack to a cheesy horror flick -- and it was inside my head.
And then it moved. I jumped off the couch and begin pounding the left side of my head in the foolish hope it would pop the tormentor out of my right ear. It stopped moving. I lay back down, outwardly calm but inside my head Lil Ed and the Blues Imperials played “Compact Man,” raw and hyped-up, manufacturing adrenalin and preparing me to jump again. I remembered the “Twilight Zone” episode in which the earwig crawls into a man’s ear and eats it way to his brain. At least my new friend was still a couple inches from gray matter and trying to exit, not enter.
What could I do? Who could help? It was a Sunday. I was alone, and in the back woods ten miles from a small town hospital. The emergency room seemed like the only option, but I knew I’d be in line behind ten guys who’d cut off limbs with chain saws or OD’d on homemade meth. I opted for self treatment.
The next six hours were characterized by periods of relative calm alternating with full out panicked frenzies every time my new friend begin to back his way out of my ear canal. I don’t know how to describe the emotions triggered by knowing something is trying to crawl out of your body, but I can tell you that it concentrated my mind wonderfully, and brought to full bloom what little “man-as-tool-maker” DNA I possess.
The cottage is filled with the remnants of 50 years worth of kitchen and household implements and I adapted a number of them into the cause of locating and extracting the varmint. Many of these tools were sharper than my elbow and would not have received approval for my uses from even the Bush era FDA. You don’t want to know more I promise you. I also flushed my ear with some peroxide solution which I believe eventually drown the visitor. Finally, the beast stopped moving.
Several more hours passed in which I employed more tools and flushes, and finally around eight that evening the bugger emerged, dead but intact, stuck to the end of a Q-Tip that he matched in size. He was perfectly preserved in a waxy glaze that accentuated his prehistoric black and iridescent green exoskeleton. His big, dead, bug eyes focused everywhere and nowhere at once.
I don’t go in for blood sports, but no fisherman ever felt more pride in his catch than I in mine; no hunter every bagged a more satisfying buck. My prize was too small to stuff but I’m keeping him in a plastic sandwich bag -- forever -- unless the dreams don’t stop soon.