The sensation of burning, as simple and yet utterly infuriating as tinnitus, struck me even before I was properly awake. As my eyes opened and I took stock of my surroundings and my person I jumped at the sight of my own skin, my flesh red and swollen, as if I’d been brutally assaulted by an army of voracious insects.
I held my hand up before my eyes and examined it. Up close, the wounds were Y-shaped incisions, with each spoke or arm or tine, whatever you want to call it, being about a quarter of an inch long. I poked them, hesitantly at first, and then with more irritated curiosity. They did not. They just itched, maddeningly so. I sat up in bed to find them all across my upper body in a pattern that matched the way the blanked and the bedspread had covered me: both arms, a wavy curve across my back and my left side and my chest, the left side of my face.
Not bed bugs, I thought. More like mosquitoes, although I’d never seen a mosquito that left such a bite, nor a spider, nor a fly, nor anything else. The wounds were too neat and orderly, more like extremely shallow incisions than anything else.
A thought came to me unbidden. Vampire bats have razor sharp teeth and anti-coagulant in their saliva. They feed by cutting their prey and lapping up its blood.
Another: mosquitoes don’t just subsist on blood, but extract estrogen from it to aid in the development of their own eggs.
Another still: some species of wasp parasitize other creatures by injecting their eggs directly into the host so that the larva can feed on it from the inside out once they hatch.
A final one: the itching! I needed a shower!