Moth Belly Blues – by Sean Moreland – (Cdn – Ottawa) – Find it here
Premise: A thirteen-year-old girl becomes host to several parasitic caterpillars. This is bad enough, but the resulting storm flutter of moths within her belly makes matters worse, especially since no one, not even her parents, believes her. Worst of all, she infects her first love with a simple kiss. Guilt and remorse and fear of going insane as more and more people shun her are more than a young girl should have to bear. And then things get really bad… really, really bad.
I had a hard time reading this. And not because the premise is absurd. It is a horror story after all, and the reader must always accept the basic premise if a story is to work. First law of reading. Trouble is it works all too well, at least for me.. For most of my life I suffered from an insect phobia so strong I couldn’t stay in a room if so much as a fly or an ant was present. Grew out of it (possibly because of the horrors I met in the jungles of Central America while touring ruins in 1981—Canadian bugs innocuous in comparison), but this story threatens to revive my phobia in all its idiotic glory.
Probably much worse for a woman to read, as it focuses on the kind of fears and feelings the onset of puberty can bring to a girl transforming into a woman. In fact the girl in question consciously equates her moth infestation with all the “other” symptoms of puberty. Rather frightening that. I’m guessing the whole story can be taken as a metaphor for sexual awakening and all the associated doubts and fears and hesitations, but the damned amazing thing is the story works as a straightforward horror story. If you accept the premise, the entire tale is logical and consistent within itself. It works. And it scared the bejesus out of me.
Rating: Entertaining. I want to say “not to my taste” because I hate risking my dormant phobia reviving, but I found it a powerful tale that left me feeling distinctly uneasy. Mark of a successful horror story.