Let's play a little game. I'll give you the role of a fictional character, and I'll play out your little life story. I'll start with a short summary of your life (and conflicts), then go deeper into your mind and determine how you solve the "problem". Imagine all this happening to you. Picture yourself as this character. Immerse yourself in his self. But for now, I want you to sit back… relax… and listen carefully.
You are a doctor.
Your knowledge of medicine is second to none.
You know the name of every bone in the body. You can diagnose precisely without consulting reference books.
Your attention to clinical detail extends even to your personal life.
You know exactly how long you have been having an affair with your best friend's wife: one year, ten months, thirteen days.
You know exactly how long you have wished him dead: one year, ten months, twelve days.
You have a foolproof plan.
It came to you one evening while you were enjoying your hobby.
You collect insects. You kill them and mount them. You derive great satisfaction from this pastime. You hope someday to discover a new species and have it named after you.
You are drawn especially to exotic winged creatures. Butterflies, moths, and… other things. You know of one species unlike any other. You are aware that in its larval stage it is a parasite with disgusting capabilities. It has been known to seek out the warmth of the ear's recesses. In blind insect fashion, it gropes even deeper, tunneling through the brain, seeking exit through the opposite ear. It feeds on the soft tissues and fluids that make up the brain. The female of the species lays its eggs in the wall of the tunnel she creates. And when the hatchlings emerge, they mimic the parent: tunnel, feed, reproduce. There is no cure for this parasite- only death of the host.
You know all this from descriptions of animal autopsies in the clinical journals you subscribe to. You don't know anything about this insect's effect on a human being, because the few known victims were mercifully killed and their bodies destroyed before the worst damage from the infestation occurred.
You suspect it must be a horrible way to die.
You know where this insect lives.
You know your best friend is traveling there.
And you have worked out a scheme to dispose of him. Quite ingenious, this plan is. You will offer to give him the physical he needs to travel overseas. You will expose him to the larva when he is not expecting it. By the time you diagnose his symptoms upon the return, it will be much too late.
You know that acquiring this creature as a living specimen violates all customs and importation laws.
But you have friends in high places.
Your plan proceeds smoothly. Your friend appreciates you taking shortcuts to expedite approval of his and his wife's vaccination schedule.
You assure him, after the examination, that he is medically sound and will return the same way.
You wish him bon voyage. You kiss his wife good-bye, and, with a wink, admonish her to take good care of him.
You wait and count the days, ever so patiently.
You check up on him upon his return a month later. You assure him that he looks perfectly fine. You listen to his complaints of dizziness and blame them on jet lag. You tell him they will go away with time.
You see him three weeks later. You express concern that he is having severe headaches. You ask him if he was exposed to any unusual allergens on his trip. You give him pain that ease his pain and mask the ravages of what is going on inside his head.
Poor guy, you think. But you've always been one to follow through with a plan.
You rush to the emergency room three days later and express alarm that he is bleeding from his eyes and ears. You say that even someone with your well-known expertise encounters medical enigmas that he cannot explain.
You take a complete medical history, and you shake your head in puzzlement- frequently.
You run a routine series of X-rays and concur with the technician that there is no visible evidence of anything amiss. You administer stronger medications that have little effect on your friend's constant suffering.
You wring your hands conspicuously.
You finally order sophisticated diagnostic studies. You ask the radiologist if he has ever seen anything resembling the faint, swollen track through the brain his computer-enhanced images have picked up.
You help restrain your friend when he begins convulsing.
You step back in well-rehearsed alarm the day the insect emerges from the other ear. You crush it beneath your feet as it tries to escape and enjoy the charade of crude medical triumph.
You soothe your friend's teary wife before your astounded medical colleagues with the assurance that the worst is now past.
You study your medical books when his condition does not improve.
A week later, you tell him about the eggs the insect laid in its tunnel. You make sure he understands the implications of what you are saying. You prescribe a sedative when he begins to scream.
You eat a sumptuous meal that evening.
You check in on your friend periodically and try to comfort him.
On the day he lapses into a coma, you tell his wife to make preparations.
You are present in his room the day he dies. You were right about it being a terrible way to die.
You do your best to mask your smile of eagerness and success.
You are the attending physician, so you sign his death certificate. You smile inwardly as you attribute his death to "parasite infestation of foreign origin".
You resist the temptation to order an autopsy. You are curious to know what your friend's affliction looks like clinically. You are, after all, a doctor. You would like to examine him directly, to see the corruption he has become a vessel for. You know it might generate a publishable article. But you are also a very cautious man. You want to ensure that nothing can be traced back to you.
You help the family make your friend's funeral preparations.
You spend the evening enraptured with his wife.
You attend the wake the next day. You have recommended a closed casket.
You deliver the eulogy at the prayer service. You sing the praises of your friend. You shed tears of admiration for his dear wife's fortitude.
You support her on your arm as the two of you approach the casket. You kneel and pray with all the fervor you can pretend.
You pause momentarily as the mourners throng about the room. You could swear you heard a sound issuing from the casket. You steal a glance at your friend's unreacting wife.
You startle when you hear the sound again. You think it sounds like something scratching from within.
You wonder if it isn't just your guilty conscience.
You genuflect and rise, reminding yourself how unlikely this explanation is.
You stand in consultation at the back of the room with your friend's wife and the priest. You exchange banalities about what a good and decent man he was.
You hear a stirring from the front of the funeral parlor. You stop what you are doing when the thumping begins. You crane your neck above the whispering mourners to see the commotion up front.
You glimpse the coffin bouncing on its gurney. You watch it rise and fall again, and then again. You wonder what the hell is going on.
You hear the sound of splintering wood. You see the mourners stumbling over one another, fleeing. You could hear their screams as something thrusts itself through the coffin lid.
You can't believe your eyes.
You think you see the reticulated joints of an insect's leg. You know there is no insect leg the size of a man's. You watch another leg force a hole through the coffin lid. You stand mortified as they plant themselves against the wood and flex upward.
You see the lid explode up off the coffin. You feel detached from your body, as in a dream.
You see something huge and ghastly crawl from the interior. You note how it shucks off the skin of your friend's desiccated corpse. You think it looks like nothing so much as a butterfly emerging from a cocoon.
You know this is no butterfly.
You see it flaps its wings, then jump toward you. You note its stinger dripping venom on the carpet. You hear two sets of mandible clack asynchronously. You see four multi-jointed legs clutch in your direction. You sense a wind from rapidly beating wings. You see your face reflected in two huge obsidian eyes. You know the eyes reflect sheer malevolence.
You marvel at the new species you have brought into being- the one that by rights should bear your name.
But as the creature swoops down upon you, you realize there are some abominations so horrible that they cannot be named...