Note: this is a true story. I may have exaggerated about the food but everything else happened exactly as I describe. This happened a few years ago when One Year Old was still One Year Old.
It only takes 1.2 million mosquito bites to drain the average human body which shows just how dangerous the situation was.
My family - numbering one Wife, one Teenager, one Middle Kid, one One Year Old, one of myself and exactly one Grandmother - had spent a nice day at the Dinokeng Game Reserve and we were returning to the flat that we had booked.
Said flat was situated in a small fenced off area, adjacent two other flats, that was wonderfully secluded from the rest of the reserve. Being the type of outgoing people person that frequents libraries, the back row in church and the corner behind the pot plant at office parties - this suited me fine.
The sun was setting as we returned and the bush was glowing slightly, outlined by golden fire. Wife immediately set about scouring the surrounding area for wildlife. Since we were in a Big 5 reserve that had recently been stuffed to the brim with animals she, naturally, saw trees, grass, more trees, more grass and the occasional stone. This disappointed her. She resolved to rectify this situation by attempting a stakeout and was sitting by our back door scanning the surrounding foliage for any signs of rhinoceros or elephant. They, stubbornly, refused to show themselves; no doubt skulking just outside her line-of-sight playing poker and joking about orangutans (The elephants obviously. Rhino never joke about orangutans).
We attempted a meal by throwing everything we had into a pot, heating it, stirring it when it looked particularly goopy and then eying it nervously. It worked wonderfully because everyone declared that they were absolutely full and couldn’t possibly fit in anything more.
This being South Africa in the summer the temperature continued to rise as the sun disappeared under the horizon. I know that should technically be impossible but it happened.
It was at this point, after the usual struggle to subdue One Year Old, that we attempted to sleep. In order to prevent confusion I have jotted out an outline of events that transpired after we all settled in.
|Time||Moment of Doom|
|11:30||The 101st Royal Mosquito Airborne wing known in the insect kingdom as the “BloodSuckers” regiment arrives on a routine scouting mission.|
|11:31||The 101st Royal Mosquito Airborne wing known in the insect kingdom as the “BloodSuckers” regiment begins an unprovoked attack on the people attempting to sleep.|
|11:32||Large amounts of mosquito repellent released into atmosphere. This appears to annoy the the 101st Royal Mosquito Airborne “BloodSuckers” regiment.|
|11:33||We receive complaints from several prominent members of the 101st who arrive personally to discuss the Geneva convention and our use of biological agents.|
|11:34||Negotiations breakdown. Ultimatums are issued.|
|11:35||Wife hauls out her Emergency Mosquito Attack Kit looking a little smug about having anticipated the current situation. Her Shark Attack Kit, Meteorite Strike Kit and Earthquake Prevention Kit are not mentioned.|
|11:35:30||Wife notices that the special coils designed to repel mosquito invasion require matches. We do not have matches.|
|12:03||The 101st Royal Mosquito Ariborn Wing treat us to a performance of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture done in synchronised buzzing. I begin to empathise with Napolean. One Year old assumes the position. The one known by every child everywhere: she spreads out like a star fish using up more surface area of the bed than any small person should physically be capable of doing. (I swear the star fish pose generates a fractal inconsistency in reality. It’s the only explanation). Wife and I draw straws to see who will attempt to sleep on the remaining 12.3 square millimetres of bed.|
|12:04||Wife wins right to ‘sleep’ on 12.3 square millimetres. We then laugh at the idea that either of us are in any danger of getting ‘sleep’ tonight.|
|00:30||The 56th Heavy Artillery “Leechers” and 102nd Airborne Wing “Donor Drive” regiments arrive as reinforcements. There are now more mosquitoes in our room than outside in the entire game reserve.|
|02:30||We hear sounds from next door. Our neighbours have suddenly become quite chatty and we hear their car door slamming. Wife decides that this is the perfect time to make friends and slips outside to ask them if she can borrow a lighter so we can finally bring our coil defence into play.|
|02:35||Neighbours graciously loan us a lighter. When I asked why the neighbours were up at such an ungodly hour it turned out that they too were under mosquito attack and, being made of lesser stuff, were leaving while they still had their lives.|
|02:36||I notice that the coils are clearly marked as “Not for indoor use”. Wife and I discuss the possibility that we may have to poison our family. We decide that it is probably worth it and light up.|
|02:38||Mosquitos appear unconcerned by coil defence. Visibility becomes poor due to coil smoke and mosquito congestion.|
|03:00||Middle child is being levitated by a breakaway swarm - obviously attempting to use her as a takeaway. Wife and I contemplate rescue but decide that we have too many children anyway.|
|05:00||Scene resembles the aftermath of Stalingrad. Mosquito repellent containers lie strewn about like empty shell casings. Coil artillery is spent. People are making jokes about the number of survivors from the battle of Thermopylae. PTSD has set in and people are showing pictures of their girlfriends knowing they’ll never see them again. Mel Gibson is giving a speech about something or other.|
|06:00||The mosquitos finally start taking heavy casualties as many begin to drop dead from over consumption. Teenager wakes up. Appears not to realise that she slept through World War 3. Not only that but she is miraculously unbitten. We suspect she may be a vampire.|
|08:00||We arrive back at the main camp, haggard and extremely itchy. We mention that our chalet has been destroyed by mosquito stampede and all that remains is burning rubble. The owner does not seem surprised by this.|
And that is the story of the Siege of Dinokeng and how we survived. We feel we’re ready for anything now but next would like something easier, more relaxing. Maybe a Zombie apocalypse.