Fell whispers and grim tidings stalked the aisles of the supermarket that day, pausing only to pop an unpaid grape into their ominous mouths and inquire about the two-for-one pork tenderloin.
They followed me to the checkout, peering over my shoulders, and causing me to finger my stuffed olives nervously when the woman they were troubling spoke.
Theyre everywhere, in the trees, on the ground, crawling, crawling, she said.
Her voice dropped, as if she was afraid they were listening.
She rasped,I can hear the...
Then she made a chittering noise like a mouse attempting to eat a soda
cracker all at once. Or a Tory talking about the environment.
Whichever metaphor works for you.
They are the tent caterpillars that are devouring summers across Prince George with thousands of ravenous mouths opened like Quebec students asking for free education.
The fact they were serenading this poor woman with a symphony of sinister snacking - like a Disney animated short sprinkled with bath salts and crystal meth - is but one example of a story everyone seemingly shares.
There are clumps of them, feeding in writhing masses ranging in size from two-fingers-worth to an orgillious
gaggle about the length and breadth of a football that put down stakes outside the Evergreen Pharmacy.
There are rumours of roads rendered slick and unsafe by - and businesses coated in - the juices of those crushed by car and foot.
Experts say were in the midst of an insect epoch, an infestation that could last another year.
Its a Mothman Prophecy worthy of making Richard Gere say, Geronimo.
Its Biblical, folks.
Yet it doesnt make much sense - in a city that touts sabre-toothed winters, air that punches you in the nose and brontosaurus-sized potholes, caterpillars should rate below broken Hollandaise sauce (too much warm butter, too soon. Oh, wheres Marlon Brando when you need him) in terms of priority.
But theres something so creepy, so Ridley Scott-H.R. Giger Alien about them.
Walking in Forests for the World with my fiancee and her dog (Pepper was being a pain, so it was her dog that day), they werent that prevalent - at least compared to some stories - but they seemed in patches to control every inch around them.
They crawled on the ground, swam in puddles and, of course, dined in those inappropriate fists of furry critter.
At one point I was convinced they were going to start shifting, form a writhing human face out their black bodies and chitter as one, Time to meat you.
The other thing is theyre so innocuous. One moment you see nothing, the next you see them everywhere.
They can fly? said my fiancee after batting her clothes like they were on fire when one dangled in her face.
Theyre hanging on a spiders web, I said. Kind of like a meat on a hook, deli situation for the spider. Its a good thing.
Its like a torture chamber, like Saw or something, she retorted.
Hopefully. Because if its not, then the spiders and the caterpillars are working together.
All the more reason to question the citys stance on spraying to - sorry Dr. Suzuki - wipe these things out.
Its a tough call for the city.
Spraying to kill a pest that might not do that much damage would be expensive, inconvienient and, some would say, luxurious.
But it might just win the people at 1600 Patricia Blvd. some friends.
Just ask the woman who can hear the caterpillars.