I’m being haunted by invertebrates.
Invaded by ants this spring, my kitchen is currently infested with fruit flies. We get house centipedes during warmer months and spiders all year round. On the patio we had caterpillars rappelling from the leaves some months ago but now see numerous bumblebees mining the downed florets off our tree for nectar. While such events are too regular to constitute a proper haunting (we occupy a basement in a community that was once cottages) they do reinforce recent circumstances.
Invertebrates also obsess my palette – a dietary adaptation perhaps evolved by my ancestors in Newfoundland. Shrimp, lobster, crab, escargot, mussels, oysters, and squid populate my undirected pleasure fantasies second only to fruit. I regard it amongst the greatest oppressions of poverty that I cannot afford them.
I haven’t had oysters since my cousin treated me while I visited in Toronto. They were such a pleasure I’ve craved them ever since. Recently, I developed a fascination with pearls, like so many representations of beauty, comfort, and luxury that have fallen in and out of fashion in my imagination unrelated to reality or intention. Recently, I did some research on oysters, focusing particularly on farming them and whether it would make a suitable fantasy profession.
I reported to the Ottawa Surrealist Group a striking quote by Jonathan Swift, “He was a bold man that first ate an oyster,” and it ended up spawning a game. I also noted that oysters are sequentially hermaphroditic, reaching maturity as males in the first year but breeding as females thereafter. The thought of an animal that resembles a vagina, is delicious to eat, has the life-cycle of a transwoman, and spits out pearls is no doubt superior to many inventions of mythology. Come to think of it, a clam with a witch in it played a prominent role in the lengthy game we played the meeting before, too.
My bike got a flat on the ride home from the meeting so my wife had to rescue me from Remic Rapids where, for over half an hour, I was eaten alive by the river’s abundant mosquitoes. I was reminded of my childhood designs on genociding their entire genus heedless of however many ecosystems it would collapse.
Jason has, for some time now, talked of his association with Mattias Forshage of the Stockholm Surrealist Group, who happens to be an entomologist by profession. Jason boasts many such contacts but speaks of Mattias in particular, whose critiques of my work I have occasionally heard second-hand – including a dream partially inspired by an article of mine.
Apparently Mattias recently found my old blog, which fascinates me because I published it with the expectation of it going unread by anyone but Jason and my wife. I have read several things by Mattias, too. That we are knowingly reading each other with no intervening communication is a very strange and unprecedented relationship in my life.
This shroud of mystery exaggerates his importance in my mind. I see a man akin to a wizard who sits in an office plastered with engineering blueprints of wasps and dung-beetles as though they were mechanical designs whose software was programmed using magical incantations developed with reference to a library of surrealist texts. The influence of a bug-wizard would explain much.
The haunting itself began, perhaps, with the discovery by my wife of a beetle inside our home of an unknown species and enormous size. While this discovery surprised and interested me, it was not quite shocking and remains an edge case.
Earlier this week, I stepped out our kitchen door to grab our compost bin, which we keep there to mitigate the fruit flies. I could not tell immediately what my startling discovery was but feared it might be poo (which I have a phobia of). It turned out to be a slug, more enormous, perhaps, than every wild specimen I have ever seen locally put together. It was as much as three inches long. Estimating this measurement, it strikes me this is the same size of my penis when erect, owing to the atrophy I experience as a castrated eunuch.
Could this have contributed subconsciously to my apprehension? What came to mind was the scene in the director’s cut of Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus where Crassus attempts to seduce Antoninus by musing that the preference for eating snails rather than oysters was not a question of morality, but of taste, and confessing his appetite for both.
The strange apparition was so seemingly unreal I genuinely questioned whether I might be experiencing another schizoaffective episode – I could not help but consider the slug pregnant with significance.
Indeed, no amount of physical prodding could persuade the animal to detach from the spot it affixed itself to on the compost bin so that, loath as I was to kill it, I was forced to refill the receptacle with the slug firmly attached. This grim determination in the face of mortal danger won my deep respects, as I feel strongly for the obsessed.
Sometime after I replaced the bin outside, I decided to check if the slug was still there, only to discover it had decreased in size by fully a third with another, tiny, pink slug beside it. Could it have given live birth? I thought slugs laid eggs. That a bizarre and unreal hermaphroditic animal as long as my erect penis would be found fixed immovably to my garbage and apparently give birth against the laws of nature must certainly constitute a haunting, but it was only a harbinger.
I was composing a surrealist text according to an exercise I’d recently adopted to relax me before I got to work. My methodology was to allow myself to edit my current line to my heart’s content without touching previous ones or forming any preconceived notions of what was to come – accepting whatever impulsive thought or image occurred to me however, strange, stupid, gratuitous, or cliched, and rejecting only content I’d previously imagined as retreading a previously formed plan. I accepted the first image that came to mind and made it up as I went, rationalizing what had come before.
I found the exercise so pleasurable – more than any work I’ve done writing or drawing in recent years – that my planned diversion of some minutes came to occupy hours at a time and my youthful love of daydreams was rekindled against every fear that I would never enjoy such blissful fantasies as I once did.
The hardest part of writing these fragments each day was the rule that I mustn’t return to them, however much I may prefer them to my habitual work, for I must resolve to begin anew each day and reaffirming my commitment to fresh innovation.
The story I wrote that fateful night was as follows:
The Summoning Spell
I’m sitting in the long teal grass of a sandy gray cemetery lighting the candles atop a cluster of tombstones roughly arranged in a circle. I have a grimoire with me in the dirt I’m practically playing with as though it were a small dog – it doesn’t hurt that it’s panting and slobbering like one and making a yapping sound like muffled computer noise.
“So… Are we ready yet?” my friend asks. She’s straddling a brightly colored plastic orange pumpkin wearing the purple vinyl witch outfit I like her wearing during long nights of fetishistic sex. I’m in the French maid outfit she ritualistically forces me to wear even though I like it.
“We’ve been ready five minutes,” I reply. “I thought you were still prepping the chicken blood.”
“Nah, it’s good!” she squeals, removing the lid off the pumpkin, “the charred herbs kind of stink though.”
“That’s not going to be a problem, is it?”
“You’re the one who’s gotta get hard.”
Suddenly, I’ve got her in my embrace. I’m pressing my tongue through her glossy purple lips and fondling her breasts as I reach around to support her back. I like having sex with her better than anyone I’ve actually dated – we always have so much fun!
As we proceed to doggy style, the blood in the pumpkin slowly begins to drain, vanished away to our bodies from which it oozes like thick brown sweat. Soon we are a mass of panting and laughing black liquid. We are merging together. Ox horns are growing from my head as her hands turn to mantis claws. Just as planned, we finish transforming into a monster at the point of mutual orgasm.
We are a new us now, content to have been born of such a happy friendship.
The grimoire yaps at us, apparently disturbed as though by a stranger. Not wanting to deal with it right now, we place it in the kangaroo pouch we found we’ve grown, compressing it firmly so that it remains harmlessly immobile.
Hungry from our ordeal, we eat the candles flame and all, coveting the rich tallow. Then, we collapse lying on our belly, ready to sleep. We doze off, flapping our golden brown moth wings a couple times before stretching them wide.
The groundskeeper wakes us up early in the morning, trying to plaster us with a massive talisman he has printed off on tractor-feed paper using a dot-matrix printer. He has misjudged us for a demon, which says a lot about the kind of graveyard he keeps. We swat him away with my mantis claw and he runs for the hills screaming. While grooming the massive mane of flaxen hair sprouting from our head, we begin to wonder what our new body looks like.
We scamper towards the forest we used to play in as children, knowing that in this season there will be a shallow pond we might catch a glimpse in. Sure enough, we see the monster we have become. We look a little like a cross between a lion and a moth, but our face looks almost a bit like a deep sea angler’s – it delights us that we have become such a marvelous creature.
The question remains, what shall we do with this new found power? Who shall we eat and where shall we trespass? Moreover, our personality is such that we wonder what such a monster has sex with. Perhaps there’s another couple such as ourselves that might appreciate an orgy.
We howl with excitement and the scream that issues forth sounds like dozens of squalling birds and babies crying out as one. First we shall dig a nest to lay some eggs in – in case the worst happens and our original bodies need somewhere to be reborn to. We leave three eggs behind, just in case, before covering them with dry grass, twigs, and mud.
Spreading our dusty wings, we take to the sky with a radiant buzz, anxious to sail on the wind.
Finishing the story, I got up to go to sleep but saw something on the curtain of my canopy bed.
“What the hell is that?” I thought. “Is it poo?” – you begin to see the nature of my phobia.
No, it was a moth, and with the moth, a fibrous white bundle – perhaps a cocoon, or an egg-sack, or nest – I cannot say, for I had no experience of such things, let alone them occurring here, in my bedroom, where they certainly cannot belong.
You can only imagine the gasp of horror that issued from my mouth upon realizing what was going on. It was as though the magic of the story had spawned the thing, without warning or precedent. Even the most far-fetched coincidence could hardly yield an event I would otherwise have believed implausible. My reality had been broken by bugs two nights in a row!
Worse, still – that cousin I ate oysters with in Toronto? – I visited her then just as she was recovering from an infestation of moths. The vicarious experience of the horror story I heard this time last night came flooding back and I became paranoid lest an invasion were imminent. This was my bed, after all, my sanctuary ritually sealed off from the world’s corruption, where I take refuge at my most vulnerable, alternately sleeping and masturbating. Were a swarm of flying vermin covered in filthy dust to assault this bastion it would mean nothing less than infernal wrath.
I went to take a better look at the moth and it excreted a smattering of tiny orange beads out of its abdomen as I adjusted the curtain. This, I decided, could not be accepted as real. I did the only sensible thing and ignored the matter entirely, retreated to the kitchen, and made a smoothie out of fresh mango, lychee, and banana that turned out to be too sweet.
Fortunately, the moth and its bundle fell easily to a straightforward attack by the crumpled tissues I keep by my bed. It turned out not to be the vanguard of an invasion. I threw its body in the compost bin outside (which bore no further traces of the slug) and went to sleep, exhausted.
A couple nights later, both me and my wife, who received a full report, each had independent dreams concerning a pair of moths. My wife pointed out this meant that two days later, two people had had two dreams each involving two moths – to say nothing of the bilateral symmetry of the moths themselves and the fact I’d had two hauntings in two days. Are all these pairings, perhaps, suggestive of a kind of sexual liaison?
In my dream, I was in a bathroom with two white moths assaulting me. One of them spun itself into a cocoon in seconds to instantly crawl back out as a caterpillar ejecting more orange globules. In my wife’s dream, the two moths were dark and light respectively and loose in my canopy bed with her trying to catch them to relieve me of my hysterics.
Could any of this be influenced by the entomologist-wizard in Stockholm? How might he be connected to the magic in my story? What are all these omens of animals trying to tell me about my sex life?
To be honest, the only creatures I really want to deal with anymore are sexy ladyboys and effeminates.