There is a mosquito in our apartment. Ordinarily, I would not bother to document such activity. But this mosquito’s methods are so cunning, and its purposes so inscrutable, that I feel compelled to leave a written record in the event that something mysterious and inexplicable happens to us, leaving only a void of questions without answers.
It began four nights ago. I was awakened shortly after two by a fiendish itching, emanating from two locations on my upper left arm and a third just below the elbow. It was one of those I-know-I-shouldn’t-scratch-or-it’ll-just-get-worse-but-oh-my-lord-this-is-unbearable kind of itches, and after ten minutes of hapless writhing, it eventually propelled me from my bed in the direction of the kitchen, where I found a wrinkled tube of Cortaid in the back of a cabinet and applied it to the fingernail-sized welts rising on my flesh. It took me ninety minutes to get back to sleep.
So what, right? It happens. And that should have been the end of it.
But the next night, the mosquito struck again. This time, the victim was my wife. This was highly anomalous. Bugs tend to find me pheromonally irresistible, usually to the exclusion of all other available targets. In well over a decade of marriage, there had never previously been a documented case of my wife being bitten by anything, ever, as long as I was lying next to her like a honey trap made flesh.
So, kind of odd. But certainly nothing worth getting all excited about. Although my wife did get sufficiently agitated to roam the bedroom for forty minutes at 3am, wielding a magazine. She found nothing.
We were both groggy the next day. Even so, not a big deal. Yet.
Night fell again. This time, the mosquito came for my ten-year-old. Morning found him in a state of itchful agony, with prominent bites on either side of his face near the jaw line. He lathered on enough Cortaid to tranquilize a small animal and went to school once his argument that this was grounds for staying home and watching TV all day was politely rejected.
Outwardly, my wife and I remained calm. But now we were on our guard. Over the course of the day, an exhaustive room-to-room search was conducted. Aside from a fleeting, unconfirmed sighting on a bedroom wall, it proved fruitless. A subsequent google search of “mosquito lifespan” yielded the unfortunate news that this could potentially go on for two weeks.
But surely it wouldn’t. Surely, after three nights, this was the end.
Then the sun went down, the moon rose, and my seven-year-old woke up this morning with a welt on his arm as big as one of those impractical European coins. The Cortaid tube came out again. At the victim’s request, a Band-Aid was applied.
It’s now the morning of the fifth day. The house is in a state of siege. It’s not just the duration and the severity of the attacks. It’s that they’re so unnervingly methodical. This mosquito clearly has a plan, which it is executing with a pitiless and terrible precision.
The pattern is clear. We know the twelve-year-old is next. And yet, short of evacuating him to sleep at grandma’s (which we would have done, except she’s out of town), we feel powerless to protect him.
And the worst thing about it is the lack of motive. We can only guess at this mosquito’s intentions. Manhattan being what it is, it’s possible he has his eye on our real estate, and hopes to drive us into exile in the suburbs while he snatches up our apartment for well below market value.
But this is just a theory, offered up in a panicked attempt to bring order to the chaos, and useless as a road map to our possible future.
The fear lies in the not knowing.