A museum display, corded off in a corner, poorly lit, as if a janitor’s tool closet rather than a presentation : a fifty gallon steel drum, a cement cauldron as from a yard garden for goldfish, some plastic buckets of different sizes, a brick façade wall painted over grey, accentuating the dimness of the room, with a high rectangular window lit from the other side like sunlight the entire scene being damp and containers filled with water, churning with brown and white speckled mosquito larva constituting a farming of them – is what you can expect to see on entering the Old House, as it had been known before, prior to the objects and events of its exhibition.
Now, it was The Museum of the Mosquito Queen. It is perched on a hill of a long unfurrowed field at the outskirts of town.
Another room is full of mature females, and a complicated gulfing of air from circulatory vents assures that they always give the impression of swarming in massive, purposeful blankets as black as the darkest storm cloud, and numbering in the millions of individuals. You risk death by entering here, so goers must sign multiple releases and waivers. Be warned. Now you know.
Outside the door and on the grounds, visitors are accompanied by a simulation of her voice, intoning, “I am the Mosquito Queen and you do what I say,” affected with various echoes and cheap movie effects, and crackling of broken speakers across the unkempt grasslands and meadows of the shire. It was thought she suffered from emphysema, so, the curator made the recorded voice rough and phlegmatic. For a cheap thrill, it was effectively chilling, and, much what it must have been like to be oppressed by her presence in those darker times. So real was it, one might fear a conjuring of spirits.
Anyone local would surely know of the Mosquito plague known simply as Sour Gash. It takes little imagination to understand why this name was chosen. Once bitten by an infected mosquito, the victim would find their flesh opening up randomly in long broad wounds that would not bleed, but rather become opalescent in color and reek out a smell so bad that you could almost see its thick fumes. Hysterical madness and death followed, and not soon enough. To suffer this was inhuman. And who or what brought such horror to the land? It was that queen!
The Mosquito Queen was like the stone or sea, having a fixed nature. She only cared for infliction. It was in her power to control the mosquitos, and could drive the millions of stingers in a swarming black fog engulfing victims in the horrible shroud of bloodsucking and viral infusions.
In the cold of winter, her pets were harbored in old wartime cement pillboxes and underground in caves. They would greet her daily with a buzzy good morning as their hunger grew. She had cast a spell that extended their short lives to immortality. Their numbers grew geometrically by the day. And then, when temperatures warmed, and stagnant water sat, the black clouds were released into the open spaces of the world! A farmer was engulfed as he shouldered his basket of corn, stings drained him as he folded deflated in a pile of arid parts. A mosquito raided a marketplace, and found a victim leaning over bread. One sting was all it took. It drank the blood, and in exchange, it let the virus slip into the host. It wasn’t long before the victim left the store, the body rippling into gasping purple lipped vents. The Sour Gash had struck! Afar, evil joy churned and overflowed. The Mosquito Queen basked.
She has been sleeping now for a hundred, but keep up your guard. Visit her museum!