It was early Saturday, when my father and I started four fires to burn the large piles of branches and leaves scattered throughout the pasture. The morning was cool; a light coating of frost covered the grass and trees. We started the fires with old feed sacks from the barn that had been accumulating over the past few months.
All four fires had been burning for while and we bounced between them pitching partially burnt logs and branches back to the top of the burning piles, along with any other debris we happened to cross. When done right, this process leaves nothing left. We typically stacked these piles of brush, branches and logs on top of and around stumps; this works perfect for removing stumps.
We moved to a pile located at the bottom of a hill that had a huge stump in the center from a tree that fell a few years ago. After restacking the remnants that surrounded the hot center, we gathered debris from the general vicinity. I reach down to the ground about two feet from the pile to pull a half buried log from the earth; it came out easily, but then burst open in my arms. Hundreds of insects; ants, spiders and crickets spilled out and scurried about my body. They went up my sleeves and into my shirt! I danced and hopped around vigorously shaking them off, when I tripped and rolled into the scolding hot coals. Water filled blisters arose instantly from the intense heat, in a flash I was back to my feet! With the absence of pain and no apparent serious burns or other injuries, I continued to work. It felt like your average sunburn.
Throughout the evening and all night, my back itched as if the insects were still crawling on me. When I checked my back in the mirror I saw the large water blisters, they dark blotches within them that I presumed were fragments of melted lint. During the night hours, my back became tender and forced me to sleep on my stomach. The blisters felt as if they were boiling; fluid turned and rolled just under the surface.
Sunday morning the tenderness increased and I was barely able to make it to the couch. I preferred to rest on the couch, so I would be able to watch television and recuperate. Finally, I decided that if my condition worsened, I would seek medical attention that afternoon. Ada, my wife, and our kids left for church after setting me up with a drink and snacks to curb my hunger until lunch.
I dozed on the couch for about thirty minutes, when I awoke to a sharp pain between two vertebrae in my lower back and that creepy crawly feeling again. It was different than before! The blisters felt as if they had grown, very large! I attempted to grab my cell phone from the coffee table to call for help; though I could feel, I could not move. Suddenly the blisters popped, two sometimes three at a time. I felt my body sink down on the couch then bizarre insects exploded out from under my shirt! They appeared to be a genetic mixture of insect; I guessed from being encapsulated in some kind of blister cocoon on my back. Some emerged half spider – half ant, some half ant – half cricket, the rest a blend of the three; all were extremely large and perched staring at me! I wanted to squish them but paralysis prevented me. They began biting me; it hurt and swelling instantly inflamed my torso. The last thing I remembered was the intense agony of dozens of them burrowing inside me and the helpless feeling of being eaten alive!