A moth of mythic proportions(or a myth of mothic proportions)
I grew up with a brother who was obsessed with butterflies and moths, and bugs in general so I learned early not to show fear or I’d find something in my bed. In time, I stopped being terrified of spiders, and now rather love them, but I have been surprised by the number of people who while loving butterflies, loathe and even fear their nocturnal cousins, moths. But then, I think knowing a lot about something tends to dissipate fear.
At one time staying with my brother might mean sharing a bedroom with Indian Moon-moths, as the spare bedroom was the hatchery. Ghostly, pale, furry wings six inched across would flap slowly across the room, lit by the lights from the street outside. They didn’t bother me. It was better than his room which was lined with tanks of various species of tarantulas. They still have the power to make me wary.
So when I was writing The Moth’s Kiss, I asked him about the moth that is said to drink tears, assuming it was a myth of a moth. “No, it’s very real,” he said, and sent me links to it. This is a moth that derives its nutrition from the tears of sleeping animals and people. More than that, it pokes the eyes to make them water. “It also spreads dangerous diseases,” he said, and then added, “Isn’t it marvellous?”
I shuddered. The idea of such a thing coming to you in the night, unseen and unfelt was horrifying but there was a certain frisson of ghoulish wonder about it. Truth can indeed be stranger than fiction.
The Moth’s Kiss was written as a side exercise, while I was writing a novel, a sequel to The Bet. The novel required that the main character become aware that he was being observed, stalked, not just by one person but by several, and to help me focus this idea, I wrote a number of extra sections, from the point of view of those stalkers, knowing that while I would not include those in the novel itself, they would deepen the experience for me. There’s nothing quite like building back story; it’s like method acting for writers. But when I wrote The Moth’s Kiss, I saw it could stand alone and unsupported because it touched on deep fears many of us share.
All of the stories in this little collection are intended to tap into those collective fears, that primeval jolt of terror, that is beyond the rational and yet even for us today still hold the power to unsettle and disturb us. We might not believe in ghosts, or demons or black magic, but most of us still have fears we’re not aware of till the hairs on the backs of our necks stand up on end, and rationality runs out the door.
I’ve encountered many experiences over my lifetime that might well be dubbed paranormal and spooky, and on the occasions I’ve been persuaded to do some live story telling, there’s been few listeners who haven’t at least enjoyed a frisson of fear.
Anyway, the collection of ten stories, some that have appeared here and some that have never seen the light of day can be found lurking in the darkest corner of Amazon, here and here.
I’d advise reading them in daylight, if you are of a nervous disposition.