The Bore-Worm

By Holly Lisle

4:45 AM. I wake up with an odd feeling in my left ear. I roll over and rub it, and it begins to hurt.

To rustle and hurt.

To move and rustle and hurt.

I make fast tracks to the bathroom, grab a Q-tip, and attempt to remove whatever is in there. Five seconds later I’m in a ball on the floor in the bathroom screaming in pain, Matt is in the bathroom trying to figure out what is going on, and twenty minutes later, we’re in the emergency room and the moving and the pain haven’t stopped, though the agonizing “bore-worm digging its way into my brain” feeling has subsided.

Don’t try to imagine what I was imagining. Every horror movie on the planet had its birth in thoughts like mine. My blood pressure, spiked by pain and fear, was 184/120.

The nurse came in, looking into my ear, said, “You have something moving in there.”

The doctor came in and said, “We’re going to pour a liquid into your ear that will kill it.”

I’m envisioning that bees have colonized my brain, that some sort of mutant is nestled in there. The thing feels enormous. The pain every time the damned otoscope goes into my ear is indescribable (though I’d start with boiling oil and end with a red hot poker if I were going to try). And every time someone pokes around, it moves.

A different nurse comes in, pours lidocaine into the ear. He and Matt lean over me, interested to see what pops out.

What pops out is a fire ant. Very small fire ant.

Matt winks at me and says, “You pansy. I was expecting a Midas fly at the least.”

I laugh. A fire ant is a hell of a lot better than the missing colonies of honey bees taking root it my skull that it felt like.

I drain the fluid from my ear. The doctor comes back in, takes another look with the otoscope. “Sucker stung you right on the eardrum,” he notes with interest. “Wow.”

Wow. No joke.

So that’s what I did this morning. And how are you doing?

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