A few days ago, I read a story online about killer hornets in China that are scaring the living bejeezus out of the locals. And killing quite a few of them, too. The Guardian also had a look at these beasts yesterday. The press descriptions of these monsters is like something from the dark, clammy depths of HR Giger’s imagination.
Want to see these bastards in action? Think very hard before you click this link.
The Independent helpfully points out:
Hundreds have suffered from anaphylactic shock and renal failure after being stung by their toxic sting, which measures 6mm in length and injects a potent venom.
Just looking at the photos of these abominations gave me the sweaty palms. They’re like all my nightmares come to life. I have feared all winged insects since I was old enough to move my head. My entomophobia is strong and very, very unhelpful.
If it’s smaller than my balled fist, it scares me rigid. Lions, tigers, boa constrictors? Nothing. Wasps, spiders, assorted winged what-the-fucks? RUN!
On TV and in the cinema, I’ll actively seek out movies featuring large, vicious aliens. I’ll really think twice about anything featuring insects or insect-like beasties.
Some important context: the first time I saw this story earlier this week, I was in Madrid. Now. No matter how much travel – and personal growth – I’ve managed since my youth in Dublin, there remains a part of my brain that associates the (European) Continent with danger.
All the things we didn’t have in Ireland live on the Continent…snakes (danger!), rabies (lethal!), killer spiders (run!).
You see the pattern?
So the combination of a warm Madrid evening, video coverage of what look like poorly-made special effects from a cheap sci-fi movie and lack of sleep on my part made for some spectacular insect-related nightmares.
In one, our apartment in London had been infested by a nest of these things. The noise of their beating wings was how I found them. They filled the wall cavities, waiting to sting me to a horrific, painful death. I spent most of the dream running away from them, screaming as their acid-like venom dissolved my limbs.
In another dream (last night), I’d somehow managed to bring some of them home in my luggage.
Rinse and repeat…I’m once again running away from them in my apartment, abandoning any shred of credibility as I screamed through the streets of London.
You’d think I could avoid all this once I was awake.
Getting into the shower this morning, the jets of water dislodged a small ball of fluff from my t-shirt that had stuck to my chest. This blue fluff landed at my feet and swirled around in the water. Instead of marvelling at the ability of my chest hair to collect cotton fluff while I sleep, my brain activated all self-preservation alarms and all I saw was a massive killer hornet at my feet.
Run! Death is Imminent! It will kill you!!
And so forth.
Three minutes later and my heart was still thumping. Damn you, Nature. Damn you and your horrific creations.
You too, brain. For something so magnificently complex, you’re so easy to fool.