's 2019 Horror Write-off:

A Living, Breathing Beauty Mark

Submitted by Daniel Hale (email)

I’ll show you, but you’ve got to promise you won’t tell anyone. Like, anyone.
Seriously. Not Alice, definitely not Cathy, no one. If it gets back to my
parents, I’m screwed.

            Ok. There. On the back of my neck,
right under my ear. See?

            Don’t touch! Yeah it hurts, what do
you think? It’s supposed to. Steve—he’s the guy who did it—Steve says it’s
gonna be tender for a while, but it should go numb when it’s about to happen.
Before that it’ll be sort of itchy and ticklish, but when it’s ready to pop I
won’t feel a thing.

            What kind? A cellar spider. Yeah,
just one. I wanted to have, like, a bunch of tiny ones, but Steve said it’s a
wasted effect if you’re not getting them on your face. Cellar spiders have long
legs, and on this one they’re supposed to get really long. When it happens,
it’ll start probing the inside of my skin, feeling its way along until it can
cut its way out. You’ll just see these long, thin spider legs pulling
themselves out of my cheek and kicking crazily out the side of my face to try
and find a grip.

            Yeah, it’s gross, loser. That’s the
point. It’s called a statement. Steve says nesting is the ultimate act of
existential rebellion a millennial can choose to perform. Our parents and their
shitty, capitalist leaders have left us with nothing but a decaying corpse of a
world and expect us to be grateful. When we aren’t, they treat us no better
than some pest species making their nice clean home all filthy. By nesting, we
embrace our fellow vermin and give back to the earth something purer.

            Yeah, Steve’s pretty cool. He breeds
his own spiders, you know. And roaches, and ants, and crickets and pretty much any
gross bug you can think of. He’s got a whole room with special
temperature-controlled tanks. He used to keep lizards, but he started breeding
the insects to use as food, decided he liked them better. You barely have to do
anything. He says they keep coming and coming and you can’t stop them.

            I don’t know what he did to the
lizards. Sometimes someone asks about using them to nest but Steve says it
doesn’t really work. He sold some eggs to this one girl a while back. Said she
wanted to hatch them in her stomach. They never did but she said she could feel
them crawling insider her, eating her alive. She ended up knocking back ipecac,
kept taking it and taking it because she still felt the lizards crawling. Died
of dehydration. So Steve won’t sell lizards anymore.

            No, it didn’t work. She was crazy.
Live lizards wouldn’t be able to survive in stomach acid, even if they did
hatch. She was just crazy and stupid.

            Because you can’t just swallow them!
And you can’t do it with just any kind of egg. It has to be something small
enough to survive, and it has to go somewhere on you where it has a chance of
coming to term without being disturbed. That’s why the smallest things survive
the best, Steve says. Like demodex.

            They’re the really tiny bugs that
live in your eyelashes.

            Hell, yeah. There’s bugs all over
you. In your eyelashes, crawling itty bitty mites in your skin, too small to
see. Why do you think lice do it?

            Oh! Lice. That reminds me. I
saw this video of this one nester who stuffed his whole beard with lice. He
started collecting used combs and just kept brushing with them till the whole
lower half of his face was jumping.

            Ooh! And this video, I think it was
on a medical scope or something? Where it showed the inside of a girl’s nose,
and it was full of grubs. Big, long,
fat green-and-yellowy looking things, slapping and wriggling their tiny black
heads together. There was this one comment that said it was faked but—

            Ooh. That felt…did it move? The
bump, I thought I felt…a kick.

            Haha! I sound like a mom.

            That’s kind of what this is about,
you know? Giving birth? Bringing in a new world, Steve says. And birth is
always a risk, and sometimes it can be a fatal risk, but you have to try
anyway. You have to give back to the world and hopefully make it better. Steve

            What? Oh, god. Out with it. He’s a
smart guy, ok? Yeah, I’m seeing him. Mom and dad threw a shit fit but so
fucking what? They do that about everything. Not like they’ll actually try to
stop us. I’m thinking about moving in with him after the birth.

            Anyway, Steve says nesting is about
making a better world, either by getting the shit-headed capitalists to raise
their fat heads out of the troughs and pay attention, or by helping thee
ecosystem adapt to all the horrors we’ve inflicted on it. Spiders don’t
normally lay eggs in people, you know. Not even the scary ones. They eat flies
and gnats and are pretty much the most useful things to keep in your house, and
yet they’re usually the first to get killed on sight.

            So hopefully this we’ll teach them
to be a bit more versatile in their choice of habitat. It will take time and
generations but maybe that’s how evolution works. Stick them somewhere weird
and new and maybe they’ll settle down, a generation or two down the line, and
move on from there. Maybe one day, when the sky is too black for the sun and
they’re all drinking sludge, our dumb, wasted descendants will burst apart into
one glorious birth, and billions of spiders—faster, stronger, more capable and
bolder than those that came before—will inherit the earth.

            You sure it isn’t moving? It
feels…how does it look?

            No, I’m not going to get it checked
out, what the hell do you think? What, do I just tell the nurse my spider feels
weird? Is she gonna induce me? Use your fucking head.

            It won’t go wrong. Steve timed it
perfectly. He kept the egg frozen for me, so it would be ready in time for
commencement tomorrow. I’ll walk across the stage, all smiles, reaching for my
diploma…then I’ll scream so fucking loud. I’m thinking I might say some
prophecy shit too, you know? Something like pestilence
is coming,
or they’re crawling and
crawling and we will crawl beneath them!
Ooh! Or how about our babies, they’ve eaten our babies!

            It won’t go wrong. No, I don’t care
what you fucking heard, it isn’t like that. That dumb bitch with the hairdo
didn’t get her brain eaten by bees or whatever. It’s just a story they made up
to make us look crazy. And don’t get me started about that ‘Rabbit Lady’ thing
the news was freaking out about. That wasn’t about nesting, that’s for sure.

            What are you looking at? I feel
fine, I…I’m fine.

            Look. I don’t care. So what if it
goes wrong? My mom is a shrieking bitch when she isn’t sleeping off the wine
and pills. My dad’s a loser, trying to make more loser by screwing every
meth-scented white trash whore he can find. I want nothing to do with them.
This is my life, and I can either spend it trying to claw my way to a room of
middle-aged, sociopathic perverts who can’t see past my ass, and compromise
every conviction I have before downing a cocktail of merlot and Vicodin decades
and decades in the future after I helped kill the planet just a bit more, or I
can go out making some stupid, entitled, future consumers shit their pants and
think twice about being stupid, shitty and entitled.

            And it will help Steve. It will show
them all…

            It’s kicking again.