We never even knew to be afraid.
Its name sounded so innocent: Gallinipper. Like a lovable beagle from a 1950s TV show. So when news reports started flowing out of Florida with tales of new super-mosquitos called Gallinippers? Let’s just say I wasn’t cashing in my Disney World trip insurance over a bit of media hype:
Gallinippers, which go by the scientific name of Psorophora ciliata, are said to be about the size of a quarter with a painful bite that’s been described by some as getting stabbed with a knife.
Or as one expert explained:
It’s such a big mosquito, that when it lands on you … it practically breaks your arm.
Arm-breaking? Knife-stabbing? In hindsight, these weren’t exaggerations. They were euphemisms. If I only knew then what I know now.
Because what the news reports hadn’t mentioned was that Gallinippers have quite literally evolved for the apocalypse. Their mummified eggs hatch during floods and eat their siblings first. Some even say they’re resistant to DEET, and since they suck down the larvae of competing species for nourishment, the super mosquitos are immune to biological controls. In fact, if you introduce a competing species to ward off Gallinippers, it only produces more Gallinippers.
Gallinippers are born in chaos, and in chaos they thrive.
Chaos. That’s a funny word, too. I used to think chaos was dragging two sleepy kids through security at an airport while juggling four boarding passes and my wife’s vegan shake mix. Now I see chaos as something more akin to a Norwegian tourist choke-holding Donald Duck to use his soft plumage as a semi-human shield. Donald’s eyes may have been dead plastic, but for a moment, as the Gallinippers descended and found the very human femoral artery underneath his sweaty nylon feathers, unleashing a torrent of crimson upon his sailor shirt, I know what I saw flash inside his painted irises. That was chaos.
My last happy memory? Tough question—the last three months are a haze. It was breakfast with the characters, probably. Little Isabella wore her Cinderella costume and ate a pancake shaped like Mickey Mouse—heh. Mickey Mouse would be the first victim of the attack. Towering above us all in Fantasmic!, what looked to be a fighter drone swooped in from above. Most people thought it was part of the show—someone even shouted "to infinity, and beyond!" eliciting a few chuckles.
A split second later, as the swarm descended, the new order baptized us all in a drizzle of red rain. I remember being glad—what I realize now was probably shock—that I’d bought the fam all those overpriced ponchos.
I’d like to say that was the only time the family got blood on their hands, but surviving in a post-apocalyptic Orlando is no vacation, and my little Isabella is no Disney princess—not anymore, at least. But she’s still daddy’s little girl. And that’s enough.