The Crawling


It started about a year and a half ago. I was on the internet reading about Libya, Gaddafi and the Arab Spring when I felt a sensation on the back of the neck. At first it was just a slight itch but it progressively became more and more intense. It felt as if a little itty bitty ant was crawling up and down the back of my neck. The only way to stop it was to slap the back of my neck. Sometimes it felt like it was burrowing into my skin. Once it burrowed in, I had to itch it away or else it would keep going deeper. Nobody else could see it but I could certainly feel it.

Some days would be horrible with an itch every 15 minutes while other days I could distract myself by watching TV , reading a book or talking to a friend. To make matters worse, the Crawling moved to other areas of my body. I would feel it on my arm, my thigh, my lower back and the dreaded foot, because I could not scratch it if I was wearing shoes.
I awoke one night to find I had scratched a huge gash in my thigh while I slept. My sheets were covered in blood. My dad rushed me to the ER where I received stitches for the wound. I told my Dad and he thought I was just “under a lot of stress.” My parents had recently divorced so he undeservedly took responsible for the accident.

We went to my physician and he sent me to a range of specialists: neurologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, dermatologists, rheumatologists and so on. Nobody had any answers. The psychiatrist gave me OCD medication but they didn’t decrease the Crawling. The meds just made me loopy and sleep all the time, so I stopped taking them. The psychologist gave me mittens to wear and told me to rub the Crawling instead of scratch it. I just wore the mittens when I met the psychologist. The Crawling required scratching. They all said trite, condescending things like,” Well, it must just be all in your head.” The rheumatologist diagnosed me with a “rare form of fibromyalgia” only to say there was no treatment.

Biomedicine was no help to me so I decided to go the less traditional route. I went to acupuncture, Zen meditation and a “cosmic detoxing session,” all to no avail. The Crawling still persisted. I started to feel helpless, depressed and isolated. Maybe it was just me. Perhaps everybody had these feelings but I was just too weak and couldn’t deal with them. I cut my finger nails once, so I wouldn’t cut myself, but then I wasn’t able to alleviate the Crawling when it came. It was the worst at night; I couldn’t sleep knowing the Crawling would soon torture me.

I was drinking my Dad’s whiskey one night and I felt it in my left arm just below the elbow. I stumbled to the garage and started my Dad’s table saw. I figured I had whatever was causing the Crawling isolated in one spot and I better take advantage of it. I was going to get rid of the crawling once and for all.

The blade was warm at first, and then immensely painful. I screamed in agony. Blood squirted everywhere, painting my bike and sled a dark red. My Dad burst in. He was in shock when he saw what I had done. I started to feel weak in the knees then everything went fuzzy and dark.

I awoke in the hospital with a stub below my elbow. For that first night I was elated because I didn’t feel the Crawling. I had finally beaten it! However, I awoke the next morning and felt it again except this time it was in my left arm, the arm I had just removed. It is in my phantom limb now. The Crawling burrowed deep inside and now, I cannot scratch it.

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BubblyShip avatar
3 years ago

I feel like the story was a bit rushed. We didn’t properly get to see just how terrible the crawling was to the main character, like we didn’t get to see them start crying because there was no cure and it felt like they were a bit dull on emotions. It feels like the crawling is just ‘happening’ instead of it actually affecting them by taking them from work or class, making their friends uncomfortable by how much they start to scratch themselves, or how terrible they must have felt when they learned there was no cure. It feels like the reader is just moving from one location to another in the story and not really getting any effect of just how terrible this crawling was to the character and their environment as a result of them having it.

Slayer200 avatar
5 years ago

This story has me feeling things now it did a good job but was too short for the plot line. I was actually hooked and wanted to keep reading 100/100

Chaseti127 avatar
6 years ago


Crystal07 avatar
6 years ago

He just made the condition worse…

DarkPrinceOfPasta avatar
7 years ago

Great story! *Scratch Scratch*

JustAvoid avatar
7 years ago

Amazing, 11/10!. Keep up the good work!

7 years ago


OliviaRomineD avatar
7 years ago

Wow, that was a great story! I absolutely loved it!

9 years ago

When I needed morphine, I would always get an uncontrollable itch

9 years ago

Wonderfully creepy! I have Multiple Sclerosis and one symptom I exhibit is a sudden feeling that something is crawling over my skin. It freaked me out for a while, I’d suddenly slap at my arm or leg, sure that something was on me. Now I look before I slap. Anyway, thanks for the nightmare fodder!