Attack of the Kamikaze Worms!
By Martin Holland, Expedition Leader
They came in droves. Silently and apparently randomly they attacked our team without warning or provocation. Where did they come from? What did they want? And more importantly – what were they?!
Rusty was the first victim, but soon Holli, James, Lara and Tim had been struck too. Even Ian, who was now hundreds of miles from Camp Foyle on his way back to England, had been hunted down. Only 3 of us remained unharmed, torn between the desire to help our stricken friends and the burning instinct of self-preservation.
I speak, of course, of the worms!
These curious little creatures were burrowing through the sub-cutaneous layers of over two thirds of our entire non-indigenous team. Rusty’s began to multiply – one on his leg, his little finger, even his chin! Holli’s followed suit and between them a small army (well, eleven) was being amassed. Tim got one on the tip of nose!
Were they storming the beach? Were there more cats in the area than we suspected spreading the curse through their faeces? How were they infecting us? What harm would they cause beyond the constant itching and slightly nauseating trails they left as they explored the bodies of our team members, and what could we do to stop them?
We tried everything to no avail. We were stranded, surrounded, without hope. We could, I suppose, take courage from the fact that these are a particularly stupid species of worm, and would eventually die a pointless death while inside us without reproducing.
Not one of the Indonesians was infected. Aspor seemed impressed that I was still free of the invaders. “Bapak orang Kalimantan, pak Martin!” Determined to keep my reputation as a fortress against worms I valiantly taped up every little leech bite, and heroically plastered even the minutest of cuts and scratches, following my theory that they were exploiting the chinks in our armour to gain access to our insides.
I walked around camp like a hypochondriac child, convinced that the plaster on his belly would cure his tummy ache.
For two weeks I fought them back in this way, while more and more worms appeared in ever stranger places on the bodies of those infected. Capable of growing up to 3cm a day, they create a thin, winding, looping, exploratory ridge of red skin a millimetre wide as they go about their unwanted business. Holli had some on the sole of her foot which were particularly irritating, while Rusty’s pinky worm stopped him from bending his finger.
The only cure was a medicine which would be brought out by two German researchers who were joining us for a couple of weeks. I became complacent, knowing that soon we would be rid of this scourge.
One of my plasters became loose while paddling in the river. For a nano-second a fresh leech bite was exposed before I could cover it up again. I knew there and then that I was doomed.
For two days I guiltily watched and waited for the thing to show itself and begin tracking it’s way up my leg, leaving etch-a-sketch trails of my own flesh as it went. Like the victim of an zombie bite not seen by his friends, convincing himself it would be alright, I kept the incident secret and hidden, though I knew I would turn into a walking wormery soon.
The day before Jan and Carsten arrived with the meds, the worm came alive. My theory was proven correct – the worms were entering through cuts in the skin – just in time to deliver mine a steely blow in a tablet form, and come clean to the team about my infection.
I had joined a club of dubious merit, but would never again be called an orang Kalimantan.