I can hear them scratching – almost ticking, always clicking, as they move around inside my head. It’s maddening. Their tiny feet always touching, testing, feeling their way about. Each hair-coated limb sliding between the soft tissue and bone – scuttling through the crevasse in between. Feeding off the fluid…growing.
Sometimes, when I’m looking in the mirror, in the worst moments, the moments where I have to hold onto the basin to support myself and can barely catch a full breath, I swear I see a shadow scuttle behind my eye. The quick darting of a grotesque form moving swiftly past before I can focus on it. My own visage in the mirror is a horror in itself; long hair a greasy tangled mess, cheeks sunken and hollow, skin a sickly yellow hue from their rancid poison. Sinking to the floor, scratching at my face to be rid of them, I gouge my eye sockets with filthy, ragged nails. Will they find their way through the opening if I offer one? Covered in the blood oozing from destroyed tissue around my eyes, forehead slashed bare, with flesh caked beneath my fingernails, I crawl on hands and knees to the bed where I cower beneath the covers seeking refuge, hoping to hide. But there is no refuge, nowhere to hide; they are always with me – inside me, there is no escape from what is inside…
I would have thought knowing they were inside me would be the worst part, but it’s not – the mind adapts to such things; it’s feeling their movements, their scurrying back and forth beneath my skin that is the most repulsive part. I don’t know how they were able to gestate inside me; they seem maddened at not being able to get out. Their constant frenzy keeps me up at night – I’m getting no sleep; it keeps me sick throughout the day – nourishment something I’ve not known in weeks; a prisoner in my own home – I’m terrified to go into the light, I look the part of a monster – a filth ridden hag.
I wonder: will they roast in the sunlight if I let myself burn in its glorious blaze? The sun beating down upon me, turning my skin the blistering red of cracked paint on canvas. Perhaps I should wander to the basement and embrace the furnace with its searing hot metal, cooking myself like meat thrown upon a hot skillet. Or simply douse myself with open flame; does it matter at this point? Tempted to try such things, my mind wanders to the possibilities: what if they panic from the heat and start to run, cascading in a black surging mass from my ears and shrieking maw? Nowhere for me to go, no way to escape them – more still coming, an endless flow continuing their frantic evacuation. What if they are no longer only in me, but all over me? The thought alone drives me beyond the limits of this tenuous sanity I now grasp.
God, the cacophony of their humped bodies sliding between the soft tissue of my brain and the hardness of my skull is deafening. I have to find a way to get them out! Nails gouge once more; I rip chunks of skin from my body sending fresh streams of puss and blood down my face, past my eyes – my mind shuts down and I feel no more.
Oh God, I think I threw one up during the night. It’s lying on my pillow, but it doesn’t look like I expected it would. It’s far too elongated, thin and withered as am I, almost a milky grey color. Covered in mucus, mine or its own, I cannot say.
It twitched! I know I saw it twitch, I didn’t imagine it. Frozen in fear, I stare wide eyed at the collapsed carcass of the thing on my pillow, hoping it was my imagination. It twitches again; not my imagination.
I leap up, tangled in my own covers, screaming wildly. It still lies there making a feeble attempt to move; I think it’s dying. There is a sloshing in my head – I moved too fast, screamed too loud, they are scuttling insanely about inside my skull. I retch, and retch again. Vomiting up more, I realize they are no longer only in my head but have found a way to travel into my throat! The thought makes me retch yet again. They are agitated by my convulsions; I can feel their vibrating urgency to quell their host. Oh God, please get them out of me!
The pounding in my head is beyond bearable, the heaving of my starved body uncontrollable; afraid to breath yet terrified I won’t, panic begins to set in as my body spasms of its own volition.
They are larger now, no longer simply sliding through the minute fissures of my skull. I feel a piercing pain with each stab of their clawed legs as they dig in and drag themselves forward. I can barely inhale for the number of them clinging to the walls of my throat. Coughing blood and eight legged bodies, I feel them holding on with their barbed legs so as not to be ejected with each contraction.
Swallow or vomit my only choices, I grab a bottle of water from my nightstand and begin to gulp the warm water. I can feel it sluicing over their swollen bodies like lesions grown from my esophagus, not just the intruders that they are. I vomit more, pulling one or two free that refuse to be expelled. The others grasp tighter, puncturing the delicate pink tissue of my already mutilated gullet. These, the ones spewed onto the bed, seem different, more frantic as they dance about. Their color more dense, darker – their bodies harder in form. Clearly blind, they dart in sporadic circles, slowly growing more sluggish, more translucent; collapsing like the first one I saw.
It seems they die quickly, they don’t survive long outside my body.
Scratching my ear, I feel something long and thin move away from my finger. Something covered in fine wisps of hair, something that slithers backward and draws into itself, much the way I have snatched my own hand away, clutching it with its blood covered finger to my chest.
Crawling again to the bathroom and scaling the sink, I open a drawer and reach for my scissors intending to cut away a chunk of hair to more easily see inside my ear. As I grab a handful of hair, I realize that the clump I’m clutching is slowly pulling away from my scalp with a slurping sucking noise. Tendrils of a thick sticky substance adhere to the skin for a brief moment before slopping to the side of my face. The exposed tissue is raw, puss covered and stings – small globules of fatty tissue clinging in place.
With a terrified grimace, I turn my head ever so slightly to allow the light to shine on my ear. There! Just like the shadow scuttling behind my eye, something quickly moves further into the darkened recesses of my ear canal. Barely able to stand on quivering legs, weak from hunger and brought to the brink of insanity by this infestation, I pull my long tweezers out of the drawer – the medical ones, and with a shaking and still bleeding hand, I begin to reach into my ear hoping to extract what is hiding there.
A sharp nip warns me to go no further; I drop the tweezers and my other hand slips off the slickened sink as I crash to the tile floor. The coolness of the stone a brief reprieve from the molten pain I feel in my head and throat. The smack upon my skull barely noticed above the crunch of crushed bodies.
I wake in a sticky patch of drying blood on the bathroom floor. Disoriented at first, I wonder how I got here, but the first subtle movement reminds me as they begin to rummage through my decimated body. Glancing downward, I can see the shape of one as it moves under my skin making its way across my abdomen and down my thigh. They’re crawling throughout my entire body now. They seem to be making their way to the cooler surfaces that are in contact with the tile floor I lay upon.
They relish the cool feel of the stone as much as I do. The clutter of them must have moved while I was unconscious. There is a pregnant hum to the silence, almost an anticipation of retribution should I try to move yet again.
The more aware I become, the more I come to realize that they are not all seeking to be dormant – not all moving toward the cool floor. The smaller ones still crawl through me, using their clawed legs to move in and around my organs. My body spasms from the pain, and I feel the frenzy of awakening. They nip in vague warning for me not to move, poke at my tender innards with their pincers and jab with hardened claws.
Exhausted from not eating, from the loss of blood, and the horror of knowing my body is their only source of food, I reach out towards the edge of the bathtub. As my hand closes around it, I feel their carcasses crunching between skin, tendon and bone. They bite and scrabble frantically to escape; I can’t help but feel a smug bit of satisfaction at this. Others awaken and join the fray, biting and stabbing with abandon at their host; my body. But I refuse to be coerced, I have found strength in their terror. I will drag myself to the bathtub – its cool surround offering a coffin of reprieve.
I manage to pull my torso up and over the edge. God do they hate this. The moment my abdomen is bent in two, head dangling in the tub, I begin to spew blood and small black bodies. Fatigued from my efforts and unable to go any further, I lay bent over the edge and watch as their slickened bodies scurry about, unable to find purchase on the smooth surface. Too drained to do more, I collapse in a heap half in, half out of my enamel coated salvation as the malformed creatures desperately crawl up my limp hair, trying to enter through ears and mouth that others are still using as a route of mass exodus from my traitorous body.
Pressure, there is so much pressure building behind my eyes. My head feels like it’s going to burst. So many of them have returned to my skull – I feel them packed in there like the woolen stuffing of a doll. For some reason this thought makes me laugh. Stuffed like a doll I am with crawling monsters gnawing away at my insides. More laughter, hysterical this time. I hear it as if from a distance, but know it’s emanating from my own cracked and swollen lips, my own cracked and damaged mind. The laughter gives me energy, makes them crazy. I can feel their panicked agitation escalate with the flow of what little blood is left in me.
Heaving the rest of my body into the tub, my swollen and infested carcass is wracked with uncontrollable convulsions. A stream of small creatures emerge with the spittle that I cough up. They scurry for the darkness of the drain. Lifting one foot, I manage to flip the hot water tap. Immediately they begin to scale my body and climb my flesh to escape the torrid flow.
Twisting, contorting and clawing my way around, I manage to turn my body so that my head is closer to the near boiling stream. It is excruciating; gloriously agonizing. I rip handfuls of my own hair from my head, and stuff them into the drain effectively clogging it to trap the scalding water in the basin with me – with them!
Delirious as I am, a small voice in the back of my mind whispers that I may be imagining all of this, but as my flesh peels back from bone and sinew, and the smell of steaming meat assaults my nostrils, I can’t help but feel that I have finally won. They will die along with me in agony and pain. My final act – to slide shut the glass doors, trapping them in the swiftly filling watery grave I’ve chosen for us all.
~ Nina D’Arcangela
© Copyright 2012 Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved.
37 thoughts on “Inside”
OMG Nina, that was excruciating, I squirmed like a champion. It was like a Pen Of The Damned initiation ceremony, I’m still scratching! Great horror 🙂
Hi Abbie! Happy to make you squirm & itch!! I’m glad you enjoyed it – thank you 🙂
Reblogged this on and commented:
INSIDE by Pen of the Damned’s Nina D’Arcangela
Thanks for the reblog, Jon! 🙂
Inside left me shuddering, Nina. I’m still scratching at my head and arms.
Ahhh… don’t worry, Jason – there will be more of the little critters scuttling around your imagination when you lay down to go to sleep tonight. I hope you enjoyed it! 🙂
Holy shit Nina! That was disgustingly EPIC. I couldn’t pull myself away from it. I loved it! The beginning was very reminiscent of something “Poe-esque” Well done, truly well done.
Thank you, Christopher! I’m glad you enjoyed it so much – I think I’m going to add disgustingly EPIC to my vocabulary! 🙂
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I am glad to be of service, Nina and I never get anything but the most Epicness from your writing.
See, now I have to adopt you, lol – but don’t open the shower! 😉
lol 😉 I generally don’t leave many doors unlocked, but I keep the creepy crawlies locked away in whatever container I can get them in. Although I would love to see what that shower looks like six months later when someone comes looking *evil grin*
EPIC gruesomeness? lmao! ;]~
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Ye Gods, that was HORRIBLE. But GREAT.
Horrible + Great = Goooood!! lol – I’m glad you enjoyed it, Karen. I could feel the little buggers crunching between my teeth when I wrote it. I think that’s a good thing… Thanks, hun! 🙂
Wow! What can I say, Nina, other than that was one wild ride of horror! This is by far your best story yet. Like many others who read this, I will be scratching all night long. No sleep for me tonight. 🙂
Where this tale came from, I have no idea, but I am eagerly looking for more. This story nudged the fire breathing cock roach movie from my head. Your nasty critters are far worse.
LOL – thanks, Blaze! I have written a lot of this type of stuff – I just don’t usually publish it. But I’m happy to see it’s giving you (and others) the creepy crawlies. I’ll admit that while I find the piece lacking, it does have a certain ick appeal. Thank you for the kind words, Sir Blaze!! 🙂
Reblogged this on theowlladyblog.
Thank you for the reblog!! It’s very much appreciated! 🙂
What a visceral read, Nina! Reminded me strongly of the imagery from the televised version of Guillermo del Toro’s ‘The Strain’, which I have recently started watching. There are some nasty critters in there that appear to slip and slide underneath people’s skin, too.
Ahhh… that bastard stole from me! lol – I wrote this back in Oct. of 2012 for Coffin Hop. Critters inside me have always been a fear since I trapped a yellow jacket in my ear with my hand as a child. So this overly descriptive funky, creepy, ‘GET IT OUT OF ME’ feeling is one that I remember exceedingly well. Thanks for the kind words, Tom! (BTW – I’m recording ‘The Strain’ to watch once the season finishes) 😉
Reblogged this on From Bright Minds Come Dark Things and commented:
What a great frickin’ story!
Thank you for the reblog, Craig! 🙂
I loved this story, Nina! You really brought your critters crawling from the page with this one. Great job, once again 🙂
Thank you, Craig, for the kind words! I happy to see that everyone is enjoying my critter tale! 🙂
What a deliriously agonizing story in the best way possible, Nina!! If after reading your tale INSIDE one person can say that they didn’t get the heebie-jeebies or creppy-crawlies all over their skin, then they are complete liars! 🙂 I always love your style and delivery of horror stories, and INSIDE simply continues delivering the goods that I’ve come to appreciate. I’m still swatting at the back of my neck and rubbing my ears as I type lol Excellent story, Nina!! 🙂
Hi Joe! Thanks for saying such wonderfully creepy things about ‘INSIDE’. It’s definitely intended to provoke a little swiping, itching, or icking from the reader (a cheap ploy, I know – but sometime you just have to go there). I’m glad you enjoyed it, and thanks again for the kind words! 😀
I totally love this Nina! Excruciating and terrifying and funny and sick! Really well written and delivered, excellent work 🙂
Thank you, Magenta! I initially wrote it for Coffin Hop 2012… I don’t know about funny, maybe quirky – there is a bare element of dark humor to it as a very subtle undercurrent, but mostly it’s just a ick nightmare. 😉
Wow, amazing tale, Nina! I loved every grotesque moment of it! I will now question every itch, every ache and pain that arises. Sleep tight everyone, cause I won’t! Awesome!
As you always should, Tyr!! lol – never trust that they haven’t gotten ‘inside’…
Thanks for kind words, I’m glad you enjoyed this depraved little romp!! 😉
Reblogged this on Glor's World and commented:
Another great horror story from Nina D’Arcangela of Pen of the Damned.
Thank you for the reblog! 😀
Nina, this was such a bitching tale and I’m sorry it took me so long to comment! Damned fine writing. The anguish and torment were palpable. I felt the anxiety and the sense of impending lunacy and doom as if it were happening to me.
Such a sweet story!
Zack! I’m sorry I missed your comment! 50 lashes – for both of us! 😉 I’m pleased to have dragged you though it with impending doom, TE. While this isn’t my favored style of writing, it is effective, and fun both during and after. Gross everyone out – check! Mission accomplished! Thanks, Zack!! 😀
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Brilliantly done, as always! I think it might be a while before my heart slows down a little. You do know how to weave a tale … and I’m in awe, as usual.
Thank you, John! I wrote this for the 2012 Coffin Hop in seven parts, thus the seven days of renewed torture and ick factor. It was a fun piece to put together. Thanks again for your kind words – they are greatly appreciated!! 😀
Nina, gives me the creeps.
A horrific parasitic journey. The enamel tomb choice is fabulous.
I’m catching up on posts I haven’t commented on – where was I? Oh probably with an infested computer 🙂