This is the reconstruction of the last days and death of John Harold Dekker. Following footage is based on a combination of the diary of the deceased, letters between him and Doctor Joseph Franklin and the autopsy report.
Monday March 10th, 2014
After four weeks of silence, I have finally received news of my old mentor and professor at the University of Cambridge, Doctor M.D. Joseph Franklin. As I wrote before, he is leading an expedition through South America. I'm so jealous that I missed this trip due to a lung infection. Now that I'm better, I only feel envy for the lucky bastards who are now wandering through the forests of Brazil. Today, Doctor Franklin has sent me a box accompanied by a letter.
I hope you feel better and that everything is fine. The expedition goes even better then we have hoped. We just returned to our base camp, after a week of traveling through the woods. Our team has recently discovered something I absolutely had to share with you. On February 24th, we found an new insect! We found a group of ants searching for food near the corpse of a tapir. At first glance I should have identify it as Formica rufa, the red forest ant, but their distinctive color, bright blue convinced me that it was something different. Likely a new species. We have named it Formica amazonia after its habitat. We have also discovered it has some unique characteristics.
One of these characteristics is its ability to gender-swap. When a queen dies or if there aren't any queens near, a male ant starts to change, becomes female and grows into a new queen. We have no idea why this had to be male for the transformation and are still investigating this. Formica amazonia appear to be omnivorous, as their diet varies from nettles and leaves to small insects, such as crickets, flies, and grasshoppers, and spiders and even to larger animals as small birds. I wish you could be here to see them. But since you can't, we have decided to collect a small group and send them to you! We have placed a dead hummingbird in the terrarium to make sure they don't die of starvation. Happy Birthday, John!
Joseph Franklin M.D.
My birthday was yesterday but that didn't matter. For a entomologist , this was the best gift someone could send. I took the box and put it on my lap. Throbbing of anticipation, I removed the seal and opened the box. Inside the box, there was a glass container with the corpse of the said hummingbird on a layer of dirt, approx. 2 inch thick. In all other situations I should have wondered who passed this through border security but I didn't care as I saw the blue insects crawling.
They were smaller than I had expected but that didn't bother me much. I had a new breed of insects in my possession. Carefully I walked to a table and placed the container on the surface. First, I took my working gloves from a shelf and from under the table I took an empty terrarium. The Formica amazonia would get a new home. I looked underneath the table, searching for a sack of soil and a trowel.
I filled the new terrarium with the soil and put the box with the ants closer to me. Then, I placed the bird's corpse in the box. The rest of the ants I placed in the ant farm by carefully scooping up the dirt from the container Doctor Franklin sent me and laying it in the ant farm. I tried my best not to bury the bird. I didn't have food for them at the moment and maybe they can use the remains of the bird.
I will be more than happy to throw away the bird seeing as it stinks like hell. It wasn't a typical rotting smell, but something else. I couldn't pinpoint it, and it didn't matter at that point. I had other things to take care of at the institute. They would be jealous if they knew what I had.
It was a good day, but now I'm going to sleep. Tomorrow I will remove the bird and give them something fresh to eat. My only concern is they will not eat insects that they aren't used too. These are concerns for tomorrow.
Tuesday March 11th, 2014
Just bought a box of living crickets for my new friends. As I fed them, I noticed that they were very quick in attacking their prey. It seemed that they had no problem with circling the bugs and killing them in an orchestrated attack. While they were busy devouring their prey, I took the dead bird out of the box.
The condition of the bird was very puzzling. The humming bird wasn't decaying, or at least, not as fast as one would expect. Its left wing was missing but other than that and the empty eye sockets, nothing too dramatic. The smell has worsened since the night before. I tried to keep it away from me as much as possible. My first thought was to bury it in my garden. But after spotting a cat sneaking through the bush, I then changed my mind. A cat would dig up the bird and eat it. While it wasn't visibly decaying on the outside, it was quite possible the inside was filled with maggots or bacteria.
The smell would normally warn the feline, but nothing is sure with cats. No, it would be animal abuse, giving them the chance to get it. I could throw it in the trash, but that posed the same problem as before but now with raccoons (even more unpredictable). I decided to burn it. It was a bad idea, as the smell was even worse. What the hell was I thinking when I burned it? I had to use a whole can of air refresher to make it go away… I burned it on my balcony! Come to think of it, I better buy me a new barbecue… What was I thinking, man!?
As I returned to my ant farm, I noticed something strange. The worker ants had yet to make a new nest in the dirt. They all scattered around on top of the dirt heap. I provided them with some nettles, maybe they needed the nettles to build the nest for their queen. I will investigate this further.
Wednesday March 12th, 2014
There is something wrong with the ant colony. After three days they still haven't started to build a nest in the dirt. Providing them with nettles didn't change a thing. As far I can see, the population seems to be diminishing. I don't know how much longer they will be able survive. I don't understand why though.
I have done everything to mimic their natural environment. I provided them with food and hunting opportunities. I shall send a letter to Doctor Franklin if nothing improves by tomorrow. It would be much easier if he was a modern man who used e-mail… Then again, can you open e-mail in an outpost of Brazil? Anyway, for now, it is time to feed the remaining ants…
I took the box with crickets, grabbed a few and set them in the terrarium. For some reason I forgot my gloves and was reminded of this mistake when I accidentally touched one of the remaining nettles, one of the only things still infested by the ants. I felt a painful sting in the back of my hand and when I pulled it away, I saw three little blisters. I disliked nettles and I cursed myself for not wearing gloves. The pain eased quickly and I continued the care for my diminishing colony. Though now I have the insight to use gloves…
Thursday March 12th, 2014
I woke up with an unbearable pain in my left hand. It felt like bees were stinging constantly. The stings of the needles were now bright red and my hand was irritated. I decided to put up some salve on the wound and bandage it. I used a salve for insect bites, it worked with nettles as well.
I was still a bit worried. What if the pain wasn't caused by the nettles itself? I started to fear it was something far more sever. What if these ants were toxic? I hoped I would never find this out. During the day I felt strange muscle contractions in my left arm, along with a terrible itch.
I felt a weird sensation, like something was moving under my skin. Was it the poison or just my imagination? Could a poison really be that slow? I doubted it. I returned to my ant farm and did a terrible discovery. My ants were dead. None of them were still alive. I had them for three days and I killed them. I was devastated. How am I going to explain this to doctor Franklin?
Friday March 13th, 2014
The pain got worse. My arm feels numb now and is painful to move. To make matters worse, the pain spread to my side and my upper legs. Both of which feels a bit itchy. I have to consult a doctor.
The doctor was clear, the pain and the inflammation were due to an allergic reaction. He have given me pills to ease the pain and told me to avoid whatever caused the reaction. That will not be a problem. If I was allergic to the secretion of the ants, they are dead now. As for the nettles, I'm no botanist, avoiding them shouldn't be that hard. When I got home I saw I had another letter of Doctor Franklin. Likely to ask how the ants are doing. If he used e-mail, it would be far easier to explain what has happened. But some people don't want to change. I took the letter and opened it. The letter was short, hasty-written and terrifying.
I have an important message about the ants. You better be careful with these creatures. Three days ago, we met up with a nomadic tribe. At first they were very friendly and polite to us. Until one of my colleagues mentioned the ants. After explaining what he said to the tribe and showing them our discovery, they reacted hostile. They forced us to leave and asked us to never return. They made it clear that if we disobey their wish, they would use violence against us. Something about these ants makes them scared, despite the fact it seemingly can't survive very long in captivity. Remember to be very careful.
Joseph Franklin M.D
I was already in my living room when I was done reading the letter. I looked up at the terrarium, wondering what was wrong with these creatures.
Saturday March 14th, 2014
There is something severely wrong with me. I can no longer move my left arm and I no longer have any feeling in it. My sides and legs feel like they are on fire. I have tried using the prescribed medication but they don't ease the pain. It is clear to me now that this is no allergic reaction, this is something far worse. When I touched it with my other hand it feels stiff and hard, like it has been treated with formaldehyde. I fear the worst and have the feeling that something is crawling under my skin. It's driving me insane.
Sunday March 15th, 2014
For all who read this, there is something wrong with these insects. Don't try to find them, don't bring them to your home, and whatever you do, don't touch them! Being unable to move my legs, my left arm and for that regard most of my body, I finally realized what is happening to me.
I now realize how the ants survived their trip to California but didn't live long after arriving here. I now realize why they didn't made a nest in the dirt. I now realize I was indeed bitten by the ants. I want to remove the bandages around my arm to see that I'm wrong, but I'm too frightened to do it. I know that I'm not wrong, I know that my end is near. Please fulfill my last wish and cremate me once I die.
Autopsy Report. Friday March 24th, 2014
Hello, I'm doctor Mark Galloway, pathologist. The patient's name is John Harold Dekker, age 32 years. The patient was found after neighbors were afraid that something terrible had happened, as they hadn't seen Dekker for a week. They noticed a strange stench coming from his apartment. When the police and the paramedics arrived in the building, they found the deceased on his bed with a diary in his right hand. Besides the defecating of the body, there was no signs of decay. The source of the stench seemed to be coming from the body, a strange chemical smell, like formaldehyde. It still remains unsure how this came to be.
Now is the time to see what has happened to him. I'll begin with a full body check. Bruises and marks can indicate the use of violence that resulted in the death of Dekker. It's strange though, when I feel the limbs of the corpse, they are stiffer than they should be. I see no signs of necrosis, and no signs of violence. The only indication of the cause of death are three little white dots on the man's left hand.
It appears the bite of an insect. I will now remove the bandages on his left arm. What I now witness is something I have never seen in my entire life. It appears that an ant colony has been formed inside the man's body. The insect has created tunnels under the man's skin, flesh and fat tissue. Under the bandages, the skin is gone, exposing the entrances to these tunnels. The arm has the same stiffness as all of his other limbs. I'm scared of what I will see. (noises of a scalpel cutting through flesh and mumbled curses. For a whole quarter it is silent beside the constant mumbling of doctor Galloway.)
(He continues explaining what he sees) The same story with his other limbs, the ants have infested his body and created tunnels in the man's flesh, fat and even his bones. All seems to be conserved, seemingly treated by formaldehyde. It does explain the smell, but how is this possible? No creature on earth has the ability to do this. (Doctor Galloway remains silent for ten minutes, we hear again the sound of scalpel cutting through flesh. Followed by the buzzing sound of surgical saw.)
(As the saw goes silent, he continues talking). As I investigate his organs, I notice a small infestation of the same blue ants. The amount of ants are the lower than in the limbs of the patient. Based on the state of his organs, the patient likely died due the infestation of his major organs. The infestation started in his limbs and after that they infested his organs. The man had become a living ant farm! He was still alive when they ate through his flesh. How is this possible? Ah shit, something bit me.
End audio report
Four days after the autopsy, doctor Mark Galloway committed suicide. He drenched himself in gasoline and lit himself on fire. Police believe that the paranoia, caused after the autopsy drove him to this act of desperation. The body of John Harold Dekker was cremated after the autopsy. Only the pictures of the ants taken by Dekker, the pictures of the autopsy and Dekker's diary with the letters from Doctor Franklin remain. Current whereabouts of Doctor Franklin and his team remain unknown.
Written by Belgiansparten