I was awakened from a deep sleep by a pinprick of pain on my arm. I slapped it, feeling a spot of wetness bloom on the blanket beneath my palm.
"Great." I muttered, "Probably some poisonous spider. Or maybe we have bed bugs." Gracie stirred in her sleep beside me. I decided to leave it alone until morning so I didn't wake her.
Besides, it was probably a stupid mosquito, anyway.
By the time the alarm went off, dragging me from sleep with its piercing wail, I had forgotten about the bite.
The tide of life went on as always, ebbing and flowing around us as we went about our morning routines. Gracie had to leave first, so she took the first turn in the shower.
I made coffee while waiting for her to finish, hoping she'd save me some hot water.
After showering, I began to clean my ears with a Q-Tip.
Yeah, I know the package says not to stick them in your ear canal, but how else am I supposed to clean out all that wax? I glanced absently at the head of the swab as I went to toss it away.
It was squirming with dozens, maybe hundreds of tiny black bugs.
I screamed in horror, flinging it away from me, tripping in my hurry to be as far from those writhing little insects as possible. Gracie raced in, wrapping me in her arms.
"It's ok." she soothed, "Once they're inside your head, you'll never be sad or afraid or lonely again." My blood went cold as I looked up at Gracie. Tiny black dots swarmed in her eyes.