No Such Thing As Lollywogs

Austin Malone

“Do you like chocolate? Well, they do too.
It sweetens the blood of greedy little hogs.
Eat candy at bedtime and they’ll come for you.
You can’t hide from the Lollywogs.”

Scotty glared at his dad. “Nice try, Dad. There’s no such thing as Lollywogs.”

Scotty’s dad had been reciting that tired old poem every Halloween for as long as Scotty could remember. It scared him when he was little, sure, but he was eleven-and-a-half now.

“Besides,” Scotty said, holding up the candy from his plastic Jack-o-lantern bucket. “It’s one Tootsie Roll. Eating one Tootsie Roll doesn’t make me a greedy little hog.”

His dad shrugged. “Suit yourself. Don’t blame me when you wake up covered in Lollywog bites.”

Scotty snorted and started twisting the wrapper open.

“One thing, though,” His dad said, reaching out to halt Scotty’s progress.

“Ugh. What, Dad?”

“I want you to be able to make informed decisions. Why not hold off for one night? Do some investigating.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, you’re not the only kid potentially scarfing down candy tonight. The Lollywogs will be out in swarms after sunset, gorging themselves on the blood of your classmates. What I want you to do is look for the bites tomorrow. If you see them, then maybe I’m not pulling your leg after all. If you don’t, then I’m full of it, and you can stuff your facehole with as much candy as you want. Deal?”

Scotty looked down at the Tootsie Roll, then at the candy bucket. “As much candy as I want?”

His dad smirked. “Did I stutter?”

“Okay,” Scotty said, returning the Tootsie Roll to the bucket. “Deal. But what do Lollywog bites look like?”

“Oh, they’re very distinctive.  The Lollywog’s mouth is circular, and it’s lined with a row of needle-sharp teeth. Look for tiny bite marks arranged in a perfect circle.”

Scotty rolled his eyes. “Okay, Dad. Sure. Bite marks in a circle.”

His dad just smiled, and Scotty shot him one final eye roll before heading upstairs to shuck off his Halloween costume and get ready for bed. Instead of counting sheep, Scotty drifted off to sleep counting the different kinds of candy he’d be eating tomorrow night.

At school the next day, Scotty was dismayed to see other children sporting the bite marks his dad described. They were everywhere. His best friend, Paul, noticed him staring at the circle of pinpricks on his arm. “Ringworm,” Paul said.

In homeroom, a kid across the aisle, had a crescent of welts arcing above his sock. “Ants,” he said.

And Julie, the girl who sat in front of him, had a neat little circle of bites on her shoulder. When he asked her about it at lunch, she said it must be from her new kitten. She’d been training him to sit on her shoulder, a plan he clearly wanted no part of.

Later, after dinner, he reported his findings to his dad, placing extra emphasis on the mundane explanations his friends had offered.
“Now,” Scotty said. “My candy, if you please.”

His dad reached for the bucket, but hesitated. “I’m guessing you didn’t notice the eggs, then?”
“Oh, come on!” The joke had gone far enough, but Scotty couldn’t resist asking, “What eggs?”

“Well, they’re larvae, really,” he responded, easing his hand back from the candy bucket and steepling his fingers. “See, the Lollywog lays its eggs when it bites. The blood nourishes the eggs.”

“Like mosquitos?”

“Exactly! Unlike mosquitos, though, Lollywogs mature super-fast. You’ll usually see the larvae wiggling out of the bites within a day or two. What you want to look for is a spot of white, like a grain of rice or a sesame seed. It squeezes up to the surface of the bite, pops free, and disappears.”

“What do you mean it disappears?”

“Well, you know how chameleons blend in with their surroundings?”

Scotty nodded.

“Lollywogs do too, but they’re a thousand times better at it. They’re effectively invisible. Just about the only way to catch a glimpse of one is to hit it with a bright light. You’ll have maybe a second to get a look at it before its camouflage adjusts.”
Scotty looked longingly at his candy bucket. His dad followed his gaze. “Just give it one more day, kiddo. Look for the eggs. If I’m wrong…”

“I know.” Scotty sighed. “I really don’t like you right now, Dad.”

He trudged upstairs to the sound of his father’s laughter.

The next day, Scotty saw an egg. He’d been sneaking glances at Julie’s shoulder all morning. Then, just before lunch, he spotted it. A tiny white dot, just like his dad said, rose to the surface of a bite. It peeked out, wobbled a second, then disappeared. The bell rang moments later, and Scotty joined his classmates as they headed for the cafeteria, revulsion squirming in his gut.
His appetite wasn’t improved by the gloppy mess he received on his lunch tray, and he was halfheartedly poking at his beefaroni sludge when Paul arrived. His best friend grinned down at him, but his face fell when he saw Scotty’s expression.
“What’s wrong?”

Scotty told him, and Paul slapped him in the back of his head.

“Ow! What the hell?”

“Dude, seriously,” Paul said. “Again with this baloney? Every year I’ve gotta hear you bitch about freaking Lollywogs like a whiny little scaredy-cat. There’s no such thing as Lollywogs. It’s just something your dad made up to keep you from sneaking candy. He’s messing with your mind, man, and it’s not cool.”

Scotty shrugged, unconvinced. “I guess.”

“You guess? I tell you what. Tonight, we’re going to prove there’s no such thing as Lollywogs.”

“Yeah?”

“Oh, yeah.” Paul’s grin returned. “My parents left town for their anniversary. My stupid sister’s supposed to be watching me, but she’ll be shut up in her room with her boyfriend. You’re going to spend the night, and we’re going to watch scary movies and eat candy for dinner. Then, we’re going to eat candy for dessert. And candy for a midnight snack. In fact, we’re going to eat so much candy that we’ll poop candy. And then, we’ll eat the poop-candy.”

Despite himself, Scotty laughed. “Okay.”

“Glad you’re on board,” Paul said, slapping Scotty’s back. “Seeya tonight!”

Scotty’s dad had no problem with Scotty spending the night at Paul’s. Paul lived down the street, and the boys had been spending the night at each other’s house since first grade. When Scotty grabbed his Halloween bucket on the way out, though, his dad frowned and made him wait while he ran to the garage. He returned holding a heavy-duty flashlight as long as Scotty’s arm.

“Just humor me, kid,” he said, handing Scotty the flashlight. “The flashlight doubles as a club. Spot ‘em, then swat ‘em.”

Scotty sighed, but accepted the flashlight. “Whatever, Dad. There’s no such thing as Lollywogs.”

The next few hours went exactly as Paul planned. His sister, Alia, was nowhere to be seen, and the two boys piled blankets onto the sofa in front of the TV. They ate candy as they kicked off the night with a Nightmare on Elm Street movie. Then, they ate more candy while watching Poltergeist. Scotty, feeling queasy after the second movie, abstained from a third candy-eating round as Paul loaded The Ring into the player. Somewhere around the halfway point, Scotty nodded off.

He woke later to the sound of Paul’s snores, and a crawling sensation on his leg. Half-asleep, he brushed at the spot with his fingernails, and his fingers bumped against a spongy, wriggling something. Stifling a yell, he threw the blankets off. Squinting down at his leg in the dim light, he could make out a faint circle. A feather-light tickle skittered along his upper arm, and he slapped his hand against the spot. An audible pop accompanied the sound of the slap and his hand, when he pulled it away, was wet with blood. Whimpering, he fumbled for the flashlight, becoming increasingly aware of every tickle, twitch, and itch along his body. His legs were the worst, his back running a close second. His hands closed around the flashlight’s handle. He yanked it out from under the blankets, trained it on his legs, and switched it on. They were everywhere. Pale, wriggling lumps the size and thickness of his thumb crawled up his body. One even raised its head and hissed into the sudden beam of light, droplets of blood dripping from its needle-teeth, before disappearing. Scotty screamed, bringing the flashlight down upon his legs, bashing indiscriminately where he thought the Lollywogs might be. Within seconds, the flashlight, his legs, and his hands were speckled with blood.

“Whuzzat?” Paul, roused by Scotty’s screams, started to sit up, scratching idly at his cheek. A red smear formed under his fingers. “What? What’s happening?”

Scotty responded by pointing the flashlight at Paul’s abdomen and switching it on. Paul glanced down, saw a Lollywog slithering under the hem of his shirt, and shrieked as he punched himself in the stomach.

Thudding footsteps sounded on the stairs as Paul’s sister descended. She stopped at the bottom, fumbling for the light switch. “What the hell is wrong with you two idiots?”

She flicked the switch. Scotty didn’t know if she saw the same thing he did in the first second after the harsh, white light flooded the room. The Lollywogs covered the floor like an undulating, fleshy carpet. They crawled along the walls. The windows. Every one of them, and there had to be hundreds, humped with single-minded purpose toward the sofa where Scotty and Paul howled and thrashed. Maybe Alia saw them too. Maybe it was just the sight of her brother and his best friend shrieking and covered in blood. Either way, her voice joined the cacophony of screams. They screamed. And the Lollywogs feasted.




Austin Malone is a short-fiction author who lives in New Orleans. If readers enjoy his work and would like to use their personal summoning-circle to conjure his presence for further discourse, they are urged to use vanilla-scented black candles and only top-shelf rum. Seriously. If you even think about using Bacardi he'll rip your soul out through your nostrils. Just don't. For those who would prefer to enjoy his words at a safe distance, he invites you to visit sippinghemlocktea.com
Carole Lee Oldroyd - 10/30/2016 9:18 AM
That sounds like something my brother would have told me, and that I'd believe to this day!
Amanda McCoy - 10/30/2016 9:21 PM
Lollywogs sounds like something my big brother would tell me, and then he would secretly eat all my candy and blame it on ghosts. I was a very gullible child.
Austin Malone - 10/31/2016 6:07 PM
As an older brother who was once a child, I can confirm the veracity of both the above statements. Thanks for reading the story, y'all. Hope you enjoyed it! :)
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