01 Feb I’m an EMT, This Call Still Haunts Me
We’d gotten the call to head out one evening, multiple in fact about a man falling at a front yard barbecue, seemingly losing his breath and passing out on-scene. Knowing how dire the situation could be, we ran to the ambulance and sped down the road to the house arriving 5 minutes later to a scene of frenzied spectators and the mans wife crying as she sat on the ground next to him.
It’s quite amazing the level of detail the brain picks up during traumatic times. You may take notice of the strange rocks that litter the ground, the way the grass sways in the mid afternoon breeze, or the clothes of an onlooker.
When Harold Williams died, I noticed the way the sun was casting its final rays across the open street, warming the backs of the spectators as we performed our inspection of him, ensuring he was dead and not in a state of arrhythmia. I noticed the pale blue of his lips as they blended slowly into the ever paling and ever cooling white of his face; a few shades softer than the piercing blue of his eyes. Suffocation, no doubt. Although the noises of the world were blurred to me; I noticed his wife, wailing her final remorseful goodbyes; screaming it wasn’t fair, that there were signs of anything. He simply dropped. Her tears traced down her elegant smooth face, dripping onto both her baby blue dress and the dark asphalt below. I noticed the other EMTs moving to the ambulance to grab the heavy black body bag that would be the first case for Harold’s now deceased body. Their movements slow and deliberate, as they carried themselves; losing themselves in the tasks so as to not think about the life we’d lost on this night. I noticed police moving onto the scene, anxious to begin their questioning while witnesses still lingered and the body was still fresh. They moved with purpose; their forensic counterparts moved slowly, their eyes scrutinizing every detail of the scene as though it would give them a better answer than anyone present could.
I knelt over Harold and was moving my hand slowly, up to his eyes, eager to close them so they could no longer look unfocused into the orange sky above. My eyes caught movement, however, the flickering movement of his tongue in his mouth. A remnant muscle spasm or something else. My hand stopped as it moved again. I moved my hand over to his mouth and pulled it open with my thumb and forefinger. There was nothing there, yet the tongue moved yet again. Using my other hand, I grabbed the tip of his tongue and moved it up towards the roof of his mouth. A gasp escaped as something gave way and I realized why his tongue had been moving.
The gasp turned into a scream as thousands of spiders flowed out of his throat and onto the street surrounding us. I heard screams from the spectators and a horrified wail from his wife. I scampered to my feet fear clutching my heart as I stared in abject horror at the scene unfolding in front of me.
The spiders continued in their stream from the mans mouth, flowing on the ground around him; they moved as a solid mass. By now spectators were screaming as they ran and his poor wife was backing up slowly, still crying as she watched the arachnids flee from their host. They were large by standard means, not as large as tarantulas but not as small as a common house spider. They had shiny black bodies that shimmered in the light and had an oily texture.
Nausea rose in my throat and I could feel the bile beginning to rise. I threw up several times before my fellow EMTs were able to calm me down. But they weren’t close when it started, they didn’t see the way that the spiders pulled out his tongue as they ran, they didn’t see how some of them were covered in blood and viscera as if they’d been digging through his body to escape. They didn’t see his abdomen sinking as they flew out of his mouth.
The rest of the day kind of blurred by, my mind was unable to get over the scene I’d witnessed and the fear had still clutched in my chest. It’s by far the strangest call I’d ever received and I never got any answers about it. A lot of times you don’t hear about if your patient made it or not, you drop them off and away you go. With deaths it’s even fewer, they go to the morgue and you don’t hear about the autopsies.
Looking back now, the familiar question enters my mind once more. How did they get there?