The man's condition was brought to my attention through a neighbor of his. Entering his house was difficult, as he insisted that the blinds in all the room remain drawn and the lights off, so it took me time to adjust to the dark. I was not aware of what he wanted to speak to me about, but it soon became clear. The man wished to talk to me about an experience he had several months ago, an experience that left him with the belief that his body is slowly being replaced with bugs.
I asked him why I shouldn't open the blinds. He said that if I did the bugs inside would scurry away, taking his arms and legs with them. I...listened as he shared with me the tale of how he got to this point, and I am unsure how to react to it. I will leave interpretations up to the reader.
“I often go out late at night on walks. At least I used to. It helps me clear my head...to focus. I have lived alone for most of my life, and the burden of that can be overwhelming. People don't really talk to me, and I struggle to make friends. I have assumed myself to be an introvert, but increasingly I believe I have simply given up the desire for human contact. Even so, I have at times felt enclosed in this place. And so I leave, usually sometime after twelve, and wander for hours.
That night it was very cold. But I had been in my home for several days straight, after a bad sickness kept me from working...I had only been walking for a hour, up and down the street, avoiding whatever places seemed open. I was walking along, when I distinctly heard the sound of footsteps behind me. I wanted to turn around and look, but the thought made me nervous, and so I crossed the street. But after several blocks I was still hearing the sound, and I made up my mind that whoever it was was following me...
I finally worked up the courage to turn around and look, knowing that I wasn't far from my home if I needed to run. Looking back on that moment it probably would have been smarter to simply head home and not look back. But my curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to look all the same. What had been following me defied explanation.
It wasn't in the shape of a person. Instead, it as shaped like a lumpy ball, with around seventeen thin, hairy legs sprouting from all over its body. Some of the legs were thicker than others, and it were those steps that I had been detecting. All over its body were a series of mouths, far too many to really know. It had stopped moving, its smaller legs repositioning frequently, its body swaying slightly. I couldn't see any eyes, though I still had the sensation it was watching me...
I wanted to run, but I didn't understand what I was looking at. Even if I were to run, I doubted I could outrun something like that. Cautiously, I turned around and began to walk again, unnerved when I heard the thing beginning to follow me again. I walked for a couple of minutes until I made it finally to my house. I began to approach my door, when I heard a ethereal, hoarse screech come from behind me. I quickly turned around, only to find the thing standing right behind me.
I looked around, hoping that someone was going to notice my situation. But the street was completely empty. The thing just stood there, swaying back and forth. In desperation I ran for the front door. It rushed me from behind, and I plunged through the large glass window set in the middle. My arm was in pain, and I could feel many cuts all over my face and arms. I tried to turn onto my back, but I felt it land on top of me, a series of mouths clasping onto my back, its legs cutting against my coat.
I screamed, and after what felt like several minutes I heard police sirens coming up the street. The weight left my back, and soon officers arrived and took me to the hospital.
I do not know what the thing wanted, though I have tried very hard to come up with a reason. Whatever it was, I know it was the cause of all of this. The doctors confirmed the bites, but said the cuts were caused by a knife. They have continued to deny my story. But weeks after I began to feel a tingling sensation in my back. I assumed it was caused by the healing process, but a few days later I was looking at myself in the mirror after a shower. I turned my back to look at how my wounds were healing. One of the wounds was beginning to bleed a little, but on closer inspection I saw a line of cockroaches escaping through the flesh.”
Ekbom’s syndrome is a form of hypochondria, resulting in the belief that the person's body is being infested with bugs. The man has refused all further treatment, and it was only after my assurance that I would not hassle him that he was willing to share. After telling me his story, he promptly asked me to leave as he felt fatigued. I felt uncomfortable around him and so didn't hesitate to shake his hand, leaving through the brand new door. The man is surely sick, and I fear that his wounds are infected. Upon shaking his hand, I noted that the flesh underneath was lumpy.