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Recovered from the personal effects of Suri Jenichi, head entomologist of the Yushio Research Center in Kyoto, Japan. Translation by Yuji Takahara. Abridged by Waylon Solaski.

2019, May 5th

It would seem that our expedition was a good idea after all. The exploration team has finally managed to report back after weeks of being out of contact. They claim to have discovered a new species of insect. Our entomologists will finally have something to work with besides ticks and mosquitoes. I know they were getting tired of sitting on their hands. This should keep them occupied and productive, at least for a little while. I must admit, though, I’m curious to see what they bring back. The jungles of Africa never seem to run dry of interesting and unique creatures. Things grow wild and unchecked there. I expect it will be very interesting, for all involved.

Mom called again today. She always worries about me, about my job and my eating habits. I think she just wants someone to talk to. She hasn’t been the same since dad passed. I’ve honestly been struggling, what with the lack of recent discoveries and threats to cut funding, but I don’t want her to worry any more than she already does. With any luck, this latest find will finally get the money flowing again.

2019, May 9th

The specimen arrived last night. It was placed in special containment, carefully controlled to simulate its habitat and ensure its survival. I do think it's a bit much to give one insect so much space to itself; that tank is the size of my office. Then again, I guess it’s not hurting anything. I just wish I could have seen it before they let it loose in such a large space. Komura is still studying it, so it’s under lock and key for the time being. I expect a detailed report in the next few days.

A more pressing matter was brought to my attention, however. Monshina has put in his notice. He claims that he just can’t work with the other field researchers anymore. I was under the impression that they were all good friends. Something must have happened on the expedition. I’m hoping it's just a case of cabin fever, and it’ll all blow over now that they have the opportunity for some time apart. We really can’t afford to lose anyone at this stage. I offered him a week of medical leave. Hopefully, that’ll clear his head, or at least give him time to treat his ivy rashes.

Tara called about an hour ago to set a dinner date. After the day I’ve had, I think some good food and a friendly face are just what I need.

2019, May 10th

No further word on the insect, but Monshina seems to be in better shape. He called almost as soon as I sat down at my desk, apologizing profusely and begging that I void his two weeks notice. I didn’t need much convincing and tossed it in the shredder straight away. I still offered to let him finish out his paid leave. He insisted he’d be back to work tomorrow and apologized some more for the inconvenience. I’m just glad things are back on track.

Last night didn’t go the way I hoped it would. It started off well enough. Tara has been great; still knows how to have a good time. We went to a couple bars, had a few drinks, danced for a while. It was great to catch up. What I didn’t expect was for Shinji to show up out of nowhere, crying and pleading for me to get back together with him. It’s that kind of over-attachment that drove me away in the first place. I felt so bad for Tara, forced to watch me deal with this embarrassing part of my life. It went on for so long, we eventually had to just leave and call it a night. At least she was understanding in all this. She wasn’t even mad, just disappointed that the night was over. If this happens again, I think I’ll need an order of restraint against Shinji.

2019, May 11th

Why couldn’t I tell? Why couldn’t I hear it in his voice? Monshina was NOT okay. He was deranged; a complete psychopath. No one stopped him. No one even thought to stop him. And why would we? He came in like it was just another day at the office, calmly strolled over to field research, and attacked Morishi right then and there. Those marks on his neck; he’s lucky Kaede was there to call security or he probably wouldn’t have made it. But no one knows why he did it in the first place. Morishi was his friend. What could possibly have set him off?

Now we’re down our entire field team, and although Kaede wasn’t hurt, she’s going to need some time to recover. Obviously, Monshina isn’t permitted anywhere near this place until his incarceration. Morishi… we have to hope for the best. I think he’s stable for now, and as long as it stays that way, he’ll probably recover. I just hope Komura is careful with that specimen. We won’t be getting another one anytime soon, and frankly, I don’t think we should even attempt to. Whatever happened out there, I don’t want it in here.

2019, May 13th

Morishi is recovering quite well. I got a chance to talk with his family today before work. They’re all staying hopeful. I’m trying to stay hopeful too. It’s hard, though, seeing him like that. They’ve got a tube down his throat, which they insist is just a precaution at this point. I told his family how sorry I am for what happened, and to let us know if they needed anything. Most of them were very kind and understanding, and a couple of them actually tried to comfort me. I insisted that I was alright, but that didn’t stop them. I did notice a few accusatory looks in my direction. I thought it best to leave at that point.

Monshina’s trial date has already been set. I guess it didn’t take long to prove his guilt. The case was pretty open and shut. We provided security footage and several eyewitnesses. What’s proving difficult, however, is figuring out why he did it. The police gave a brief public address in which they made it clear that Monshina was entirely unhinged, incoherent, and inconsistent. He maintains his innocence above all else though. It seems he’s going to drag this out as long as possible. It’s a bad idea, and it’s not going to work. I almost hope they call me in to testify. I’ll make sure he goes away for as long as possible.

On a less disturbing note, I’ve just received Komura’s initial report on the insect recovered from the expedition. His examinations indicate that it is likely a distant cousin to the bombardier beetle. Its coloration is bright, navy blue, with green stripes running down the length of its wing covers. It has a similar defense mechanism to the bombardier, but what it sprays still needs further testing. Komura hypothesizes that it could be a mild irritant or toxin with a foul taste to dissuade predators from eating it. It sounds so colorful. I can’t wait to see it.

Mom sent money today. Maybe she saw the news and is just concerned for me. Maybe she knows how deep into debt I’m getting. Still, she should keep this for herself. I know she’s being nice and that there’s no malice behind it, but I feel bad taking her money like this. If things weren’t as bad as they are, I’d send it back.

I hope this bug was worth it.

2019, May 16th

I don’t understand our court system at all. The trial didn’t take very long, and I was fortunate enough not to be called to testify. He was found guilty of attempted murder and sentenced to prison. But his sentence only extends 10 years, with possibility of early release. The system took pity because he’s lost his mind, overlooking that he tried to kill his friend in cold blood. I don’t understand how that’s considered fair to the general public, never mind Morishi, Kaede, and their families.

Komura is pretty much finished analyzing whatever the beetle uses to defend itself. Apparently, its been spraying the stuff all over its habitat over the last few days. It leaves a mottled red stain on whatever it sprays; at least, that’s what Komura says. He’s fairly certain that the spray is harmless to humans, just mildly irritating to the eyes. A pair of goggles should be enough to avoid that. Hopefully, he’ll finally let me see the beetle.

2019, May 17th

It smelled so sweet in the beetle’s tank. The enclosure was so big, I had to step inside to have any chance of seeing the bug. It was a bit larger than I expected, about 4 centimeters from end to end, but otherwise exactly as I pictured. Its colors were striking and vibrant, navy blue and neon green. But the smell was best; all-encompassing but not overbearing, and tinged with floral and fruity scents. You could tell exactly where it decided to nest because the smell was strongest there. I think Komura wanted me in a full mask to keep all that wonderful smell for himself. I wonder if Tara could synthesize a perfume from that stuff. It’d certainly turn heads tonight at the bar. I guess it’ll do to have some of it linger on my clothes and in my hair.

2019, May 18th

Last night went so much better than last week. How does Tara find all these amazing places? Good drinks, great food, and the best company I could ask for. We danced for hours on and off, and there were even a few guys that really wanted to dance with me. That beetle worked a minor miracle. I thought about telling Tara about it, but in the end, I decided to keep it to myself for the time being. Can’t let her have all the fun, and besides which, I think she’s upset with me anyways. She kept glaring at the guy I was dancing with. Maybe she knew him from somewhere, but I’d never met him before. Even after we left, she kept giving me weird looks, and our conversations were short and awkward and staggered. Something was clearly bothering her, but I didn’t want to ruin another night out, so I let it be.

I don’t have to go in to work today. It’s a rare luxury that I intend to take full advantage of, just as soon as I get back from the police station. Shinji has been texting me all day, giving me all this nonsense about us getting back together. I need to put my foot down. This needs to stop. I’ve already blocked his number, and I’m filing for a restraining order.

2019, May 19th

I can’t get enough of that smell. I know it’s supposed to be a defensive measure from the insect, but I honestly can’t figure out how this stuff helps it survive. I’d think every animal in the jungle would be flocking to get a whiff. I must have spent an hour in its tank, at least. The smell is so soothing, I didn’t want to leave. Komura’s become much more relaxed about wearing masks around the thing. It’s pretty obvious it’s harmless; just a cool new bug doing what it does.

Morishi says he should be back to work in a few days. It’s good to hear. We need as many people as we can get. Kaede has been doing the work of three people for the past week. I’m sure she’ll be happy to get some help. Honestly, just hearing his voice again was enough for me.

I saw on the news today that Monshina died in prison. The report was nonspecific, only mentioning a debilitating illness of some kind. It all sounds fake to me; a way to cover up how he actually died. My guess is he tried to strangle someone else and was beaten to death. It’d be no less than he deserved after what he did.

That guy from the bar hasn’t called me back. I know I gave him my number. Maybe he wasn’t interested, but it definitely seemed like he was. It’s too bad; I really like him. He couldn’t dance very well, but I felt like I had his undivided attention. He definitely would have at least sent a text by now.

In the meantime, I’ve gotten about a dozen calls from home. I really wish those would stop already. I know how to take care of myself. I’ve been out of the house for nearly twenty years. I know I’m in a rough spot with everything that’s happening, but this isn’t helping. I haven’t mentioned these issues to anyone, not even Tara, and for good reason. It’s private, and I’m handling it. I don’t want charity, and I don’t need sympathy. I just need to hold out long enough for that beetle to pay off. Maybe I should talk to Tara, see if her company and mine could work together and start a perfume line. It definitely wouldn’t hurt at this point. Maybe then, dad would drop the idea of me moving back home.

2019, May 21st

I decided to call Tara and tell her about the beetle and my idea. She wasn’t very enthusiastic at first, and I can’t really blame her. I mean, I’m talking about turning the stink juice of a bug from Africa into a perfume that people willingly put on themselves. But I think my persistence wore her down because she agreed to ‘sample’ the smell before outright denying it. At least Komura didn’t take that much convincing. He’s in the same financial boat as me. He knows we need all the help we can get. Tara will be in tomorrow. I have no doubt we’ll be in business once she smells the stuff.

Komura had a hypothesis about why the spray is so sweet and fragrant. He guessed that, rather than being a deterrent for predators, it instead was used as a guide for its young. The idea was that the beetles eat fruit and flowers, and the spray is supposed to emulate those smells. That way, the hatchlings learn how to find their food. It does make a lot of sense; at least, it makes more sense than the idea that this wonderful smell was supposed to drive things away. It’s kind of cute, though. I’m already going there every day to hang around this beetle. Now Komura wants me to bring it flowers and a fruit basket.

Morishi is back in the office and eager to get back to work. We welcomed him back with hugs and a cake. He’s been in a great mood all day. I noticed that Kaede wasn’t very comfortable around him. Maybe she’s still upset about what happened to him. It wasn’t her fault, it was Monshina’s. He sped through his light and slammed right into them. Just because she was behind the wheel doesn’t mean anyone blames her. She’s lucky she wasn’t hurt too.

2019, May 22nd

I knew bringing Tara in was a good idea. She was a little worried at first, but changed her tune as soon as we opened the tank. We had to take out the flowers and fruit. I guess it wasn’t very hungry, or we just gave one insect too much food. She wandered around its tank, taking in the fragrance. Her face lit up, just as I’m sure mine did when I first stepped inside. She spun around to face me and said it was the best thing she’d ever smelled. That’s a huge green light, coming from a beauty product designer. I could see the wheels in her head turning. She talked about perfumes, shampoos, scented face wash, even essential oils and incense sticks.

But then she said that the smell would be really hard to replicate perfectly. If we wanted to really start this, we’d need to use the real thing for a while, until they managed to make a suitable stand-in. Her expression dropped when I told her we only had one beetle. She asked if we could get any more, but I didn’t think Kaede and Morishi would be up for field work so soon. I had to turn her away. It was so frustrating. Komura is looking into other solutions to this problem. Hopefully, he finds something soon. My mailbox is full.

2019, May 23rd

This is not good. The beetle just died on us. I don’t know what we’re going to do now. That was our last hope, and it’s gone. I didn’t want to force the expedition team back out this soon, but I don’t think we have another choice. Without that bug, we don’t have a way to bring in enough money to stay open. Komura’s working overtime analyzing everything about the beetle. I’m putting all of my faith in him. If he doesn’t find anything by tomorrow, Morishi, Kaede, and Monshina will have to make a return trip to Africa and secure more of them.

I am not giving up. We will get through this. I’ve had to block dad’s number. His negativity isn’t helping me. I need to stay positive, remain calm, and just think this through. There has to be a way.

2019, May 24th

He did it. I was on my way to field research when he called. He saved us. Sort of. Not yet, but there’s hope on the horizon. The mottled red left behind on the trees wasn’t the spray like we first thought. It was a sheet of eggs, and they're going to hatch soon. The beetle had both sets of reproductive organs. It can reproduce without a mate. The one we recovered was almost two months old, which puts their reproductive cycle at a similar rate. Within the year, we’ll have thousands of them to work with, maybe millions. Shinji really came through for us on this one. Once this is all sorted, he’ll be getting one hell of a raise.

I can’t wait to tell Kaede about this. She’s going to lose her mind when she finds out. People are going to pay thousands for her necklaces once they see the beautiful beetles inside. We’ll both be rich beyond our wildest dreams.

I wonder if that guy still wants to go out. I think I’ll give him a call. It’d be nice to have someone on my arm for a change.

2019, May 26th

I don’t know what’s going on with Tara. She’s been going on and on about not using the insects like this, about how it’s inhumane. She tried telling me that the beetle was dangerous. I’ve heard enough of her lies. I have half a mind to fire her for this. Trying to back out at this point; I can’t tolerate that. We both need this, or we won’t be able to make ends meet.

Kaede understands. She knows how reliant both our businesses are on this panning out. I brought Monshina with to the club yesterday to celebrate the good news. Kaede acted like he was diseased or something; didn’t talk to him, barely looked at him. Has jealousy finally caught up to her? I knew she was always envious of us, but I didn’t think it was this bad. Maybe Monshina did something to her. I tried to talk with him about it at home, but he was just as clueless as I was.

I guess it doesn’t really matter. Our beetles have started hatching. We’ll be in business soon enough, and all our problems will go away.

2019, May 27th

When they hatch, it smells so nice. They start off tiny and red, like a little velvet blanket moving around on the trees. I fell asleep in there. When I woke up, they were all over me. They tickled a bit. I didn’t think I’d be able to feel individual movements that small. I love these things. Maybe it wouldn’t be right to use them for money.

It’s too bad about Suri. The stress must have been too much. Why else would she try to stop me from going into the tank? We’d been on such good terms up until now. Why would she pull me away? I honestly thought she ripped my shoulder out of socket. Hopefully a few months away from here will bring her back to her senses. I’d be very interested to know who ‘Monshina’ is. Clearly, she’s lost it if she can’t remember my name. Extended medical leave was definitely the way to go.

Morishi will have to keep me updated on the nymphs. I know he doesn’t work here, but his cosmetics business is relying on these little guys. I told him to keep me posted on what they’re up to while I’m gone. I must have brushed against some ivy on my way home from the club the other night. My legs are so red and itchy. I should only be away for a day or two.

2019, May 28th

Suri is doing such a good job watching the beetles. She may end up taking my job one day. After seven years of working there, she’d deserve it. She told me that the beetles are eating. They eat wood, it turns out. The first one probably did too, we just couldn’t tell. They’re being very selective about which parts they eat. The closer to the nest, the more they eat. They burrow, which is really impressive since they’re so small. I guess they get bigger way late into life.

I’m going to be out a little longer than I thought. My rash is going away, but I think I’ve caught the flu in the meantime. I’m feverish, my chest hurts, and it’s hard to breathe. I don’t want to have to go to the doctor, but if this keeps up, I may need to. Tara has been so nice, taking time off work to stay home and take care of me. I love her so much.

Suri Jenichi was found alone in her home on June 2nd, 2019 at 10:37 PM by Tara Kanomi. Large sores perforated her skin in several places, and autopsy revealed a parasitic infestation had ravaged her body. Her cause of death was determined to be internal exsanguination. Kanomi reports that she was on her way to Jenichi’s home to celebrate the successful launch of a new women’s fragrance line. The insects discussed in this journal, though recovered from Jenichi’s corpse, were not recovered from Yushio Research Center. Their whereabouts are, as of yet, unknown.

Written by TheWizardOfTheWoods
Content is available under CC BY-SA