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They called me a "Jack-of-all-trades", and I guess that was right. I was willing to do a lot of things for pay, and manual labour popped up a lot. So when Old Miss Lithebe asked me to help her move, I was glad to help. I got money, she didn’t have to pay for an expensive moving crew, we all win, right?

But the place she moved into was way out of town. I had to drive three miles off the beaten path of these woods to reach this place, then load all her crap in through this tiny log cabin’s door. When I was finally done, it was dark and cold outside, so she made me chop firewood for her. I didn’t complain at the time, since she was still paying, after all. But in the process, I ended up with a few nasty splinters all over my hands.

Glad to finally be done with that job, I went back to normal life, and my extra pocket money was gone within a couple of weeks. The splinters, however, were not. I tried plucking them out with tweezers, but the little bastards hung on. At first I thought nothing of it, but they started to look pretty bad after a while. I guess they got infected, because they started oozing all types of liquids. I needed to have them in Band-Aids most of the time, just to avoid disgust.

I finally caved in and went to a dermatologist, and he recommended the usual. Neosporin, peroxide, washing my hands, stop picking at them, et cetera. But after a week of following those instructions, my fingers just looked worse, not to mention hurt like the devil.

Instead of that idiot dermatologist, this time I went to a real doctor. The guy seemed interested, and took some samples of the pus oozing from my skin. He told me he’d get back to me after a while, so I waited. Well, guess what. My fingers were now so swollen that I could barely do anything with them. And no hands means no work. So I had to live off what money I had left, cursing myself for ever working for Miss Lithebe. As if that weren’t bad enough, they still hurt, more than splinters should. I had them wrapped up a lot, and I doubt I could even move them anymore.

Finally, the doctor got back to me. We got around to meeting each other again, ‘cause he said he wanted to show me something in person. What he ended up handing me was a printout from some webpage about a rare parasite that I’d never heard of.

The thing crawls under people’s skin, and starts eating away at their muscle tissue, generally causing hell for its host. As soon as it gets big enough, it lays its eggs in the host’s blood stream so the little baby parasites can get all over the body.

The worst thing about these bugs is that they’re really tiny. So tiny, they could be mistaken for a splinter.