Parasite

I’d been scratching that part of my upper chest, where shoulder meets collar bone, all morning.  It had been driving me crazy as I worked around the house.  I reached up to put a box on a shelf and I felt my shirt snag on the part of my chest that had been itching so bad and was now almost burning.  I felt for the area that itched and it was wet.  I wondered if maybe I’d scratched too hard and had broken the skin, but that didn’t seem likely.  I looked down at my T-Shirt and, sure enough, there was a bloodstain where I’d been scratching.  I looked closer and I saw something that looked like a thick, black follicle of hair poking through my shirt.  It was way too thick for hair though, it looked more like a thin wire or maybe surgical thread.  My chest really hurt now and the bloodstain was growing so I grabbed the hair/wire/thread between my thumb and index finger to see what the hell it was.

And that’s when it moved.

I took my shirt off and went into the bathroom to get a closer look at it in the mirror.  I touched it again and, again, it moved.  I could feel something as it slowly undulated and, looking closer, could see the outline of whatever it was under my skin.  Very slowly it started moving upward, in the direction of my throat.

I screamed and punched at it, and felt the most intense pain I’d ever felt in my life.  It kept moving slowly toward my throat.  I knew I had to get this thing out of me right fucking then.  The hair had sunk back under my skin so I clawed at the area of my chest I’d been scratching all morning, and ripped my skin open.  I pressed my thumb down onto my chest in order to block the path of whatever the fuck this was and slowly started to force it back toward the open wound I’d just created.

Suddenly, my thumb felt like it was on fire and I looked at it in the mirror and saw five of those thick, black hairs poking through the skin of my chest, piercing it.  The pain was almost unbearable but it had only traveled an inch or so since I’d first noticed it and it was almost to the hole.  I slammed my head into the mirror, trying to focus on anything other than the pain in my thumb.  I felt blood dripping down into my eyes and, screaming, slid my thumb that last quarter inch.

I pressed down on my chest with my other hand, trying to force it out through the open wound.  I saw it as it began to exit the hole.  It was pale green and silver, covered in scales, and wet with my blood.  I gave it one final push and it was entirely outside of my body.

It was a fucking fish.  A small, sickly looking fish, maybe an inch long with thick, black tendrils running down it’s spine.  It was wriggling violently, held in place via the tendrils still piercing my thumb.  It appeared to be trying to reenter the gaping hole in my shoulder area.  I grabbed a wash cloth and pressed it against my wound.  I yanked my thumb up and away, taking a little skin with it.

The fish was still attached to my thumb.  I violently shook my hand, but it was hanging on with everything it had.  I ran into the garage and grabbed a pair of vice grips out of my toolbox.  I clamped them down on it’s slimy body and yanked as hard as I could, succeeding in removing it from my thumb.

“You fucking COCK!” I screamed as I threw the grips on the floor of the garage with what remaining strength I had.

Then, whether it was due to some kind of toxin that had entered my body or revulsion over what I’d just been through, I sank to my knees and vomited up every meal I’d eaten for the last forty years.

After a short while I got up and I went to the bathroom to temporarily bandage the wound on my chest.  I grabbed a new shirt and my wallet and keys.  I wasn’t bleeding any more but I needed a nurse to take care of that wound for real and, there was no doubt in my mind, a whole shitload of tests to find out what the fuck was inside me and how the fuck it got there.

I went back into the garage to find the damn thing so I could give it over to the doctors and when I finally found it, it was still in the vice grips and it was still alive, writhing around, trying to escape.  I wondered how a fish could live that long without water, but then it occurred to me it had been living inside me for who knows how long and there wasn’t any water in there either.

And that’s when my left bicep started to itch.

About

Tim Hatch lives in a secret volcano headquarters somewhere in the South Pacific, where he controls the world economy and writes confessional poetry about his disappointing childhood.

His poetry has been published in MungBeing, East Jasmine Review, The Pacific Review, The Vehicle, Touch: The Journal Of Healing, Apeiron Review, and he is the recipient of the 2014 Felix Valdez Award.

He finds writing about himself in the third person to be an overtly seductive invitation to tell lies.

He once captured a French Eagle at Talavera.

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