I had taken my cardigan off when I felt something move.
The average human might have considered the movement to be my t-shirt resettling once freed of the weight of a cardigan, but I knew better. You see, in Laura World, if something can happen that will leave me emotionally scarred, terrified, nauseated, grossed out, or humiliated, that is the thing that will happen. Like, I won't just fall down a flight of stairs, I will fall down a flight of stairs and have it captured on videotape.
The movement was slight, only a tickle really, and could have easily been a random hair. I have lots more hair than I used to, I've grown it out and it's quite long by my standards, long enough to brush my arm randomly while still being attached to my head.
But it wasn't a hair.
I yanked the sleeve of my shirt up over the top of my arm and saw the little, flat, black form of that God-Cursed Fiend. And I did what any other self-respecting adult would have done.
I screamed like a little girl, slapped my arm repeatedly, and, when this was unsuccessful, flicked the Satan-Spawn until it flew free of my arm and pinged off something in the far corner of my room, possibly my television.
IT was now loose.
Those of you who know me a little will realize at this point that the Vector Itself was actually a tick.
What did I do then?
Then I, slowly, snuck back into my room so as to sneak up on the creature, before I realized that there was no sneaking up on that thing, as it was directly connected to the Powers of Darkness, and it was getting its commands from Hell Itself, meaning it would Know what I was doing as I did it, courtesy of its Demon Powers.
Then I thought, "What if IT wasn't alone?"
I will let you picture what happened next. The result, though, was me in pajamas fresh from the laundry which I had shaken out violently and inspected prior to wearing.
Also, I had combed through my hair and then made Mom comb through it too, even though she had much more of a reason to be horrified than me.
The reason, you ask?
Mom was taking Darcy for a walk. Darcy, her phobia in full-force, is now afraid to go outside, or at least to leave the pavement, for fear of picking up ticks and having to see the most feared object of all time: the tweezers.
Darcy, though, soon found the outdoors too exciting, and armed with her anti-tick/flea/mosquito stuff, Mom thought Darcy was safe from the Creatures in question. So the two of them crossed the street and started walking in their favorite spot, the field across the street.
Darcy bounded along as Mom followed behind her, in a Rockwell painting of idyllic perfection, until Mom happened to look down, that is, and saw her pants crawling with ticks. The two immediately left the field, accompanied, undoubtedly, by many New Friends. Then, Mom went about de-ticking herself and Darcy, who had them crawling all over her (and it was hard to find them, because Darcy is mostly black).
She told me the story while frying bacon for dinner, telling me it was the worst moment since The Rambler Incident with Tasha, who had been my aunt's dog at the time.
The Rambler Incident: Mom, her sister, and Tasha went to a lovely picnic spot and parked the car, took out a blanket, and ate lunch. As they did so, thousands of ticks dropped free of their hiding places, seeking out the heat-source they sensed.
What was the heat source? The black Rambler. Of course, the Rambler's windows were wide open. Oh, and there was a dog too, so they jumped all over Tasha's fur (also black), and made camp there.
These were the days, Mom says, when tick medicine did not exist outside of those little collar things. And those, according to Mom, only worked around the collar.
My aunt sat with tweezers, scouring her dog for hours on end before she found them all. Meanwhile, the Rambler was filled with them. Still.
Mom never did tell me what happened to that car. I can only assume it was considered contaminated by the family and shunned after its first engine trouble following the disaster.
When I arrived home from work, I discovered two more ticks on Darcy that Mom hadn't found, and the second one was in Phase Two of Tick attachment, which means it had gotten...
I can't say it.
It's too nasty. It makes me want to puke.
Mom made Paul get that one off, and she stood at a safe distance. When it was over, Mom flushed the tick. Then I threw up.
Then, we had dinner.
We walked Darcy after dinner, and I found a tick walking on her back. Who knows where that one came from.
Now this, mind you, is following the application of medicine that is supposed to kill these things and has done so in the past. We're talking SuperTicks, not regular ones. The kind that will survive a nuclear holocaust.
So when I found my tick, I had already been through enough during the evening that I had been made paranoid. Overexposure to ticks is not good, and I saw my epidemiology text book in my mind's eye, listing the number of diseases and parasites ticks so lovingly disperse.
Meanwhile, Darcy was afraid of the outdoors, her dog bed, and being inside. Outdoors, she picks up ticks. Indoors, she gets them removed. And she found one in her dog bed...so it was tainted. Kind of like I considered my bedroom.
Darcy was terrified of something else, too. Her own legs.
Darcy is black, mostly. But she has this cookies-and-cream ice cream effect on several of her paws. They are white with little black speckles.
Darcy now believes these speckles are potential ticks. When she sees her paws, she has to examine each spot repeatedly before she thinks her legs are safe to keep around. But looking at them still makes her nervous.
You would be too if you were a long-haired dog who has fur so fine it gets caught in tweezers, even when the tweezer person is being very, very careful. Plus, there are still the ticks.
I went through every inch of my dog, every inch of myself, every inch of my bed, and every inch of my room before we went to sleep that night. My family, meanwhile, watched me with concern, certain that the time to call the White Van People was growing near, since soft restraints cost good money that could be used to fog the property with tick killer.
I wonder how much that would actually cost us...