I was lost in a foreign country, and had just climbed into a taxi. Inaddition to the cab driver, I was sharing the cab with a thousand insects,mostly crickets and grasshoppers which wasted no time attaching themselves toevery inch of exposed skin, and clambering into every orifice of my body. Theywere everywhere: lining the floor, swarming over the walls and windows likelittle bedouins on their way to Mecca. They dripped from the ceiling,shimmied up my pant legs, crawled into my nose, and scratched their waythrough my hair on brittle little legs. I watched as they summoned oneanother to the bounty with excited antennae. The driver too was coated invermin, only he didn't seem to mind. It was as if he had lived amongst theinsects all his life, and considered them as natural a presence as the air hebreathed. I, however, was a panicking wreck, waving at everything in sight.But no matter what I did, nothing could dampen the insidious attack.
After a few minutes, the driver realized I wasn't going to give him any coherent instructions and took off, driving without direction through a hopeless tangle of streets with neither beginning nor end. I had only one concern now, and that was being able to breathe. The bugs had discovered the warmth of my ears, and were luxuriating in the moisture of my throat. I tried to cough them out of clogged lungs, but the inhalation succeeding each hack only sucked them deeper into my body. I felt like a bug-ridden corpse, only I was cursed with having to remain alive. The taxi driver never turned around, never offered suggestions, or attempted to see if I was okay.
I began to get the distinct feeling the driver was taking advantage of my fear in order to milk me for the obese wad of money I had stashed in my shoe. He knew that if he just kept driving the meter would keep ticking, and there was not a thing I could do to stop it. He also knew that I knew he was doing this, but this knowledge had no effect on him. Strangely, I did not despise him. In fact, I had no feelings whatsoever about his Machiavellian tactics, neither of love nor hate, interest nor disdain. When he finally grew bored with the game, he pulled to the side of the road, turned to me, and in an almost cartoonishly ridiculous accent, said "That will be $225.00 please."
I raised my foot up from the floor of the car to slip off my shoe and pay him. But when I brushed the carpet of insects from my shoe, I realized that it was no longer a shoe I was looking at. Instead, I found my entire foot encased in a mesh of slowly ossifying fish bone. It was as if every fiber of canvas in my shoe had turned into a fine thread of fish rib, slightly soft and translucent, but strong. The ribs were growing together before my eyes, transforming themselves into an impenetrable web of calcium which kept my foot -- and my wad -- impossibly out of reach. I tried to slip the sheath off my foot, but it was locked into place, and bugs were constantly being trapped beneath my fingers. As I inadvertently crushed them in my throes, they were transformed into a slime more slippery than olive oil, more putrid than death. I began to panic, stopped to claw a cricket from my eye socket, and looked up. The driver was turned toward me in his seat, body stock still, his eyes vibrating side-to-side with a bottomless fury.
Dreamed by: Scot Hacker