I spent some time in Melbourne at the end of last year. In the later part of the visit my sleep cycle was slightly more messed up than usual, and just recently I found this in my notebook from about that time.
The insomnipede does not reflect light. It is a matte grey like dead cloud, like the metal of a streetlamp pole. When it moves the click of its carapace is muted, gluey, the sound of scissors being softly closed under water.
When we sat and ate together it was hanging plated against her back, like a second set of vertebrae, its head buried in the base of her neck. When it lifted its face clear of her skin at the scent of me and climbed down she only winced a little. I don’t really think she noticed. Insomnia leaves all your senses slow and dull.
I didn’t like the sensation of it snaking around my legs. Those little ticking sounds from its armour and its feet were at once muted and unnaturally sharp. But I didn’t think it was interested in me, and I was proud of how I didn’t show any fear of it.
When we hugged goodbye at the top of the station steps I realised I’d made a mistake. It snaked out from between her shoulders and nipped me, very gently, just below the hinge of my jaw.
I slept four and half hours that night, and noticed the little nodule while I was shaving the next morning. I was exhausted but still only slept three hours the next night, and the nodule on my neck had grown. Two hours last night. I can barely think. And I’m frightened of what will happen when it hatches.