U Bug Me: A Short Story
Updated: May 2, 2019
Over the years, I've written pieces to share with my students. Because of my interest in horror, they always want me to tell a scary story. I teach 7th graders. It can't be too scary or I'll get phone calls. The story below is one I wrote to creep them out just a little. I took something that gives me the heebie jeebies. Beetles. Gross. I also drew from that scene from The Matrix when the tracking bug gets comes out of Neo's belly button. Double gross. Enjoy this story about the danger of being a bully. Beware, you might not want to eat chocolate after.
U Bug Me By Christina Hagmann
“Go away, Angelina. U bug me.” Doug, my best friend, urged me to pass the note to Angelina, the queen of the bugs. I only wrote it to make Doug laugh. Now, Emma, one of the most beautiful creatures in the 8th grade, was standing over me. Emma didn’t strike me as the girl to like this kind of stuff, but she was smiling, so I had to go through with it.
I flipped the note to Angelina. She unfolded it, and I watched as her eyes passed over the words. Doug was snickering, but I kept a straight face. It was a mean note, seeing as Angelina couldn’t go away. Mrs. Worcester assigned the seats, so we were stuck next to Angelina the weirdo for the next four weeks.
When we were younger, Angelina brought bugs to every show and tell. After her mother died, she became even more obsessed with bugs. The teachers urged her to quit bringing them because they noticed the rest of us making fun of her. It wasn’t only the bugs. When Angelina stared at me, I felt like she was studying me like I was a bug.
Angelina folded the note and slipped it into her pocket. She kept her head held high and didn’t make eye contact with me, though I thought her eyes looked glassy like maybe tears were forming. Doug slapped me on the back. “You crack me up, Kevin.” I put my head down, now wishing Doug would just shut up and forget about the note, but when I looked up, Emma smiled at me.
When I arrived at class the next day, there was a small box of chocolates on my desk. With it, came a folded letter. It was Valentine’s Day, but long gone were the days when we brought each other Valentines. When I opened the letter, my heart pounded in my chest. The note was from Emma. She asked me to be her Valentine. I heard Doug’s voice as he entered the room, and I shoved the letter and the chocolates into my binder. I needed more time to study the letter without Doug peering over my shoulder and giving me a hard time.
I couldn’t concentrate on class. I was eager to look at the note, and Mrs. Worcester was yapping on about Russian spies. I kept stealing glances at Emma, but she was concentrating on Mrs. Worcester. Near the end of class, I caught Emma’s eye. I smiled at her and she smiled back. Doug caught the exchange and smirked at me.
At recess, Emma’s friend approached me and asked if I wanted to “go out” with Emma. I said yes, but the bell rang, so I didn’t have time to talk to my new girlfriend. When I got to my locker, I popped a few of the chocolates in my mouth before rushing off to my afternoon classes.
That night, on the computer, I chatted with Emma. I thanked her for the chocolates, but she played dumb, denying that the box was from her. I figured it was a girl thing. They didn’t want to show much interest. I went to bed with a smile on my face.
When I arrived at Social Studies the next day, Mrs. Worcester was not at her desk. Doug harassed Emma and me, trying to get us to hold hands, as the rest of the class giggled along with him. But when Emma took my hand, she yelped and let it go. “What’s on your hand?” She asked, backing away.
I looked down. A pod-like thing protruded from my palm. I tried to brush it away, but it stuck in my flesh. Doug stepped closer. “Dude, what is that?” He looked at my hand then cringed at me. “Dude, that is disgusting!” he yelled as he backed away.
“What?” I asked, looking at my best friend then around at my classmates, who were all staring at me. My face itched, and as I reached up, I felt another pod-like thing sticking out from under my chin. I gripped the pod and pulled it out, dropping it to the floor. All the students stepped back, inching towards the wall.
My skin was on fire, and I felt more of the pods pushing out from under my flesh. I grabbed one from my arm and then there was a sudden pain in my stomach. I lifted my shirt to find a dozen of the pods sticking out of my abdomen. Emma screamed just as Mrs. Worcester stepped into the classroom.
“What is going on in here?” Mrs. Worcester asked, first looking at Emma and then following Emma’s eyes. Though she tried, Mrs. Worcester couldn’t hide the look of fear and disgust on her face. It frightened me even more. Then Angelina walked up and picked up a pod at my feet. She held it up to the light.
“It’s a chrysalis,” she announced to the class. A few other girls screamed and Mrs. Worcester knocked the pod out of Angelina’s hand.
“Kevin, come with me. We’re going to the office.” Her arm hovered around me but didn’t make contact, and as I walked, I left a trail of pods down the hallway.
We arrived at the office, and the secretaries stared at me, horror registering on their faces. Everyone rushed around the office. The principal approached, but there was nothing anyone could do. I felt the pods dropping down my pants legs, coming from who knows where, and I cried.
The ambulance came and whisked me away. The men in the ambulance wore face masks and gloves. When we got to the hospital, they ushered me into a private room. Doctors rushed in and out, extracting the pods and taking them to a separate room to study them. They set up a plastic barrier around me, only entering to remove more pods. At one point I saw my parents eyeing me through the glass in the door. My mom waved, and I could see her eyes were a blotchy pink color.
When the pods stopped coming as frequently, a doctor came in. He pulled his face mask down to his neck as he approached my plastic bubble. “Kevin, how are we doing?” My skin felt oozy and raw, but I didn’t say anything. “I just wanted to update you on your condition. We found a new breed of insect has nested inside you. I’ve never seen anything like it. We’ve contacted specialists from all over the world and they’re as baffled about this as we are. Do you remember coming in contact with any strange bugs?”
I shook my head, and he continued. “Well, right now we’ll wait until the insects push their way out of your system. These insects grow at a rapid rate. Some have already hatched, so we don’t believe that this will continue for too much longer.” The doctor placed his hand on the plastic. “So just hold on, pal.“ I nodded as he left the room.
I pulled pods out of my skin and dropped them to the floor. When the door opened again, it surprised me to find Angelina approaching. She had a box in her hand. She stepped up the plastic barrier and peeled the flap back.
I squirmed in my seat. “What are you doing here?”
She dropped the box on my lap. “We have to be quick.” She glanced at the door. “You need to take these, Kevin.”
“What are they?” I tried to push the box away.
“They are an insect repellent that the human body can digest. It won’t kill the bugs, but it will flush them out of your body. Think of yourself as a nest. When the bugs are almost ready, it expels them to hatch. Some in the form of a chrysalis, but some are probably out and crawling around inside you.” I felt nauseated. “This will push them all out. It will be painful, but it should also be effective.”
“How do you know about this?” My voice broke, fighting back sobs.
“I gave you the chocolates, Kevin. It wasn’t Emma. Those chocolates contained the eggs of a new bug I was experimenting with.”
I sunk back in my hospital bed, trying to distance myself. “You’re crazy. You expect me to believe that you are some kind of mad scientist that created a species of bugs to get revenge on a school bully?”
“Don’t flatter yourself. I didn’t create them for you, Kevin. It was something I was working on. I like to mess around with stuff like this.” She shrugged and looked up at me. “I have a lot of time because my dad is never home. He works a lot. And when I am home, he doesn’t notice me.”
I stared at her, wondering if she expected me to feel sorry for her. “You did this and now you expect me to take something else from you? Do you think I’m crazy? You’re trying to kill me.”
“Kevin, don’t be so dramatic. If I wanted to kill you, I could have poisoned the chocolates. Anyway, if you don’t take the antidote, the bugs will just eat their way out.” Angelina gave me a devious smile, “Now, I gotta go before someone catches me in here. It would kill my social life.” With that, she left.
I stared at the door for a moment and then studied the box. I didn’t have much to lose, so I opened the box and popped the antidote in my mouth. My flesh immediately burned and itched. I was hot, hotter than any fever I have ever had. I ripped at my skin, trying to scratch, but the itch was within. Angelina would kill me. I should have apologized. I groaned, and the nurse came in. She glanced at me and ran out the door. “Please!” I yelled after her.
When the doctor came in, I raised my shirt and watched an antennaed bug, inch his way out of my bellybutton. There were various spots on my body that wiggled and twitched with the digging segmented legs of insects. I screamed, afraid to touch the bugs. A second doctor arrived with a camera to record the event.
The bugs finished hatching two hours later, leaving small holes where they exited my skin. My parents weren’t allowed to stay, but they stopped to tell me they loved me. The doctors gave me something to help me sleep.
After a few weeks when were no traces of the open wounds, not even scars left behind. I could return to school, but it scared me. Things changed. Even though my friends were happy to have me back, they were different, a little uneasy around me. Emma was dating someone else in the class. And Angelina was gone.
“Where did Angelina go?” I asked during recess.
“I don’t know. I think she left to be homeschooled, something about kids being mean.” Doug smiled. “At least we don’t have to worry about her bugging us anymore.”
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