Hello readers. I’m writing this because a few hours ago I woke up from a nightmare and there’s this… Really weird coincidence, but I’ll get to that in a minute. The dream was about this story I read in, I think, 2001 or maybe 2002 I can’t quite remember, on a forum I used to go to called bourftforums.net, which was a forum built around this Norwegian indie band called Bourft. Their songs were okay, but I hardly ever listened to them. I only went there because my older sister did, and I stayed because the forum itself was full of awesome people. Sadly the forum no longer exists, and I can’t find any sites that have archived it. I met most of my current friendgroup there, so it was a really big deal to me when it shut down. Anyway, I’m kinda getting off track, so back to the story.
There was this thread entitled “Campfire Stories,” where we would post whatever spooky little stories we knew. It was mostly just silly little stuff like hookhanded hitchhikers and bloody mary. One day there was a new post in the thread by this guy (or gal?) who’s username was Redgrowth. This was their first post, here in this thread, and damn did it creep me out. I mean, not to overhype it or anything but I’m still having nightmares a decade later.
I’m going to try to paraphrase the story Redgrowth told.
Our story opens in a public park in Kentuckey. The sun is bright, the grass is green, and there’s not a cloud in the sky. A young woman sits on a park bench babysitting two lovely kids. (She had a name but I can’t remember, sorry.) Everything’s fine, the kids are playing, no one’s getting hurt. The kids are happy. She’s happy. Everyone’s happy. Everything’s perfect.
Suddenly she feels a sharp pain on her left arm. Just a bug, she swats it. No big deal. The rest of the day goes well, the kid’s parents pick them up, the woman goes home and sleeps calmly, ready for the next wonderful day.
In the morning she awakes. Bit of a rash on her left arm. No big deal. Bug bites do that sometimes. She tired various rash creams, balms, and herbal remedies, but nothing really made any difference. She goes about her business, back to her job as a babysitter. Everything’s fine. Everything’s perfect.
Three days. The rash is still there. The patch of skin on her arm is soft, mottled red against pink. The odd thing about the rash is that it doesn’t itch. Not at all. She expected it to but it didn’t. On the fourth day she got a little worried. The rash was getting bigger. Redder. More swollen. It’s wasn’t getting any better. She was worried, but everything was still fine. Everything was perfect. So her arm is a little swollen. So the kids stare. So what?
Two weeks. She had the rash for two weeks. Every day she’d think about it, hoping it’d just heal up. But it didn’t. She got more and more worrisome. She wore long sleeved shirts just to hide it. The kids she babysat were scared of her. They thought it was gross and possibly contagious. She assured them it wasn’t, but secretly she could really only hope.
Four weeks. The rash had, at this point become a part of her daily routine. Get up, make coffee, apply rash cream, eat breakfast, go to work. It was normal for her now. She stopped worrying about the rash. It didn’t itch or hurt. It didn’t get better, but it wasn’t getting worse now either. She could live with this. Everything was fine.
One month after the bite. She awakes in a cold sweat in the middle of the night. She had horrible dreams about hideous insectile mouths. Exoskeletal limbs writhing. The blood on her arm from the bite. She got up. She went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. There’s her rash. Still a red mess. Puffy, ugly, soft, terrible. And now she had these little red dots on her eyelids. Tiny, like pinpricks. Hardly noticeable. She tried to get more sleep.
She made a doctor’s appointment. She shows up to the clinic. The sterile white walls, the medical apparatus. The smiling face of the receptionist. She showed her rash. The doctor recommended a pill to reduce swelling and help her body fight it back. She was relieved. She’d finally be rid of this thing.
Four months. More nightmares every night. The rash is still red, and more swollen than before, but she hadn’t really noticed. It doesn’t itch. It does nothing. She hated it. She’d cover her arms in public. She’d take the pills the doctor prescribed. They did nothing. She didn’t go out much. She didn’t pay as much attention to the kids. She started forgetting things.
She couldn’t remember the kid’s names. She had trouble paying attention, and a kid got hurt really bad. She got fired for negligence. She didn’t care. She hated those kids.
Six months. She’d casually slump around her apartment, scratching her rash. Living on her parents’ money. She hated herself for it, but couldn’t find the motivation to find a new client or get a new job.
She’d been back to the doctor a few times. Nothing new. Just medicine that doesn’t work. Nothing works. The doctor said he’d reviewed the photos of her rash. It was getting worse after all. Just slowly is all. The rash used to be a little pink area on her forearm. Now her whole left arm was red and disgusting. She’d gotten so used to it that seeing her arm as it used to be was shocking.
Eight months. Her rash has started to itch. It’s horrible. She scratches it until it bleeds. It hurts like hell. She hates her rash. She hates her life. She hated everything. Her eyes are red and puffy. Her voice is pained. She vomits up most of what she eats. Every waking moment is hell, and every sleeping moment is worse. Every time she closed her eyes she’d see them. Hideous, terrible, crawling, evil bugs. She was haunted by terrible dreams. Dreams of the kids she babysat ripping their skin to shreds to reveal a grotesque insectile interior. Dreams that her arm would strangle her in the night. Dreams that every inch of her body was being gnawed by tiny, hideous jaws. Dreams filled with otherworldly noises that she knew were nothing she’d ever heard, but felt like bloodcurdling screams of agony.
She barely felt the cold steel of the gun in her scarred swollen hand. Every day she’d pull the trigger, forgetting it was empty. Every day she’d scream at the walls, not knowing what she was saying. She kept passing out in the middle of the day and waking up screaming.
Her landlord got fed up with the noise and came into her apartment one day, shocked at what he saw. He looked around the apartment for his tenant. Blood smeared on the walls. Festering piles of vomit everywhere. Everything was tossed on the floor. He crept slowly through the eerie rooms, the bathtub was coated in dried blood and bits of flesh, the bathroom mirror was shattered and bloody, all the furniture had bite marks in it. He looked but she was nowhere to be found. The police were called. The building was condemned. The young woman was never seen again.
Well, except in my nightmares. I think I got some of the details wrong, but there it is, Redgrowth’s campfire story. I wish I could find an archive of the real one, but this will have to do for now.
Alright, now that odd coincidence I mentioned earlier. I woke up with this weird little rash on my leg. Here’s hoping it’s nothing.