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The Attack of the Mystery Bug

Yesterday, I was kept from leaving the house because of the fact that my lower back hurt like a bitch in heat, which cemented my decision to keep away from sit-ups, and stick to crunches. As a result, I had to stay and work from home - which I have begun to mind, because my home time is when I work on my stories and watch the multitudes of media I gather, since I am sans television. I'd rather work in an environment like the office, where the air is made of nothing other than work, and serves as a cocoon from the reality of the world.

Fortunately for me, Lia was more than understanding, and let me conduct my homework (so to speak) at peace.

I was going to go to work today, to make up for the lost day yesterday. Unfortunately, sometime this morning, a series of rather unfortunate events happened that I will now relate.

So there I was, sitting at the only chair in my house, typing away and trying as hard as I could (and utterly failing) to keep myself seated upright without damaging my back any further. I'd already finished with one of my tasks, and I was now working on something unrelated to the office. It was nearly time for bed, and I was winding down.

I'd noticed earlier that there were plenty of bugs zipping in and out of the only open window in my apartment, but I paid that no mind. Bugs were pretty common in this part of the city (countryside?), and I usually just let them be. I only went after cockroaches and ants, and the occasional threatening giant spider, those arachnids with leg spans as big as your open fist. If they didn't bug me, however, I didn't bug them.

Around thirty minutes before the time I'd alloted myself to brush my teeth and zip to bed, I felt something strange, some palpitating thing at the base of my arm, near the elbow joint. I swatted at it, thinking it was just another one of the bugs that had gotten a little too curious. It went away.

For a while, anyway.

I'd encountered a rather annoying virus sometime during the night, and I was hard put at finding a solution. Juggling that and updating the spreadsheet that was supposed to show my workout schedule were two pretty absorbing tasks, and all of my concentration was diverted to at least one of the two procedures. I was used to manually removing virii from my computer - it was all a matter of removing the files that generated them and the registry entries that made them possible, and so long as I knew what to tinker with, I could extract the bloody bastard from my system and gloat over my new accomplishment.

This was, I understand, far from being a hotshot programmer, but for someone who did rather badly at C++, it was pretty exciting, as if it were something straight out of a cyberpunk novel.

Finally, I had to give up, and went with the most promising solution at hand. I emptied the C:\windows\prefetch folder, and restarted my system, plunging it into safe mode so that I could thoroughly scan the computer without the benefit of most system processes - which could be the source of my problem. Since the antivirus technically had more files to scan at safe mode, I settled in for an hour-long wait.

I poured myself three fingers' worth of brandy, and watched AVG do it's job.

Sometime after I started the system scan, the sensation I had earlier felt in my arm returned. Since my hands were free, I decided to check it out. What I saw did not do anything to make my dour, virus-ridden mood any better.

When you see a welt, you will assume one of two things. Firstly, you will assume that either you had been bitten by a bug, such as a mosquito, and will either scratch to your heart's content, or apply a salve of sorts. Some people rely on isopropyl; I, on the other hand, believe in the healing powers of Caladryl.

Secondly, should the bug be improbable, you will assume that you had ingested something that didn't exactly agree with your system. Just as with mosquito bites, this was not something alien to me. I had been allergic to crustaceans like shrimp and crabs for the longest time, and as a child, I would develop maps upon maps of rashes throughout my body after eating a single baby shrimp.

Now, since I was only talking about my arm, it would be rather easy to assume that the situation, therefore, had to be number one. Since - yes - I was, upon investigating the palpitating thing on my arm, looking at a rather angry-looking, circular welt. It was engorged, it was radiating heat, and it was itchy. I wanted desperately to scratch it, except that now that I had been alerted to the sensation, multitudes upon multitudes of other similar sensations were now making itself felt throughout my body, sending itchyness messages through the nerve endings of my skin, cultivating an electric signal that barged from synapse to synapse at speeds faster than light, telling my brain that it was itchy and demanding - DEMANDING - for the soothing sensation of an unloving, yet relaxing, finger scratch. Which directed evidence to situation two.

Since we were talking about multiple marks throughout my body, I immediately decided that it was something I ate that day, and while I dug through my bags for my diskhaler, which was the only antihistaminic agent I had on hand, I dug through my brain for what could possibly have caused the outbreak. I had a risotto this morning, button-mushroom risotto, which wasn't something I wasn't used to eating. And then it was stir-fried corned beef later that night. A cheese sandwich.

It was nothing I was allergic to, to say the least. So it had to be number one. But where was the bug?

After taking a dose of the Seretide, I decided to take a bath, to help keep the burning sensation at bay. While I was undressing in the bathroom, however, I found, while going through my hair, the remnants of a rather squashed bug. I had squashed it while I was running my hand through my hair.

Like most of the bugs in this region, I didn't know what it was, or if it was poisonous or capable of administering allergens in any way. But then, I didn't know if any of the creatures in this neck of the woulds even bit. So I decided that my outbreak was caused by the mystery bug. A good bath, the Seretide, and a good night's sleep should take care of it.

The bath did soothe the welts a little, and was refreshing enough to help me live with their presence and prepare for bed. When I checked on the computer after bathing, the antivirus hadn't found anything, so I shut it off, rolled into bed, and promptly fell asleep.

When I woke up, however, at around eleven in the morning, I was feeling decidedly terrible. The welts had, if anything, multiplied in numbers, and I was having trouble breathing. To top it all off, the back pain was still there.

I decided to email my boss later in the afternoon that I was, again, absent, albeit for a rather different reason. I made myself a cup of coffee, which was another good antihistaminic agent, turned on my computer, and prepared for a long day at home.

When my computer turned on, the antivirus bleeped. Another infected file had been found.

The mysterious bug had struck again.

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