I remember when it first happened.
I must have been about five. My grandparents’ house, in Bowdon, Cheshire.
At first, I lay with my thoughts. I wasn’t uncomfortable. I wasn’t bored.
But the thoughts ran out, repeated, repeated. Boredom. Frustration. Fuzzing my head.
Still awake. Awake more than daylight hours; tired more than any tiredness I’d known.
Midnight. 1AM. 2AM. 3AM.
My head kept popping.
At 4AM it happened.
My memory says 4AM; who knows? Memory plays tricks.
In my memory: crepuscular light, a grey I’d never seen before.
That’s when I could no more ignore the beetles.
They’d been there a while. They made the fuzz, they made the pops. But dawn’s blue vanguard threw them into contrast.
Blacker than the fading night.
Sharp spindles, dark carapaces. Cluttering my view.
Pierced corneas; chittering. Covering everything.
Always moving, never stopping. Beetles. Embedded in my visual field. Beetles.
Rift in my oculus. A horror movie in my head.
Closed eyes did nothing. That horde kept crawling. On, always, cross everything.
I tried waking parents, sister: they didn’t see them.
No-one could see them but me; feel the scratching. Hours, I suffered alone.
Gradually, dawn came. The beetles receded.
All day a subtler thing replaced them there.
Heightened awareness; unstoppable jittering; brain in perpetual motion.
Restlessness. Seventh sense.
And then, tomorrow, normal again.
Two decades, those tessellating insectoids neglected me.
But now, in adult life, again return to me from time-to-time.
Always follows a sleepless night.
Heralds days of scattergun mind.
New and manic ventures; the start of a mood cycle.
Last night the beetles came again.