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Zweibel's Metamorphosis

Observant readers of this paper know that the first week of August is traditionally set aside in the Zweibel household for the scald-cleaning, acid-etching, and shriving of my iron-lung, and this year was no different. Last Sunday, Doc McGillicuddy arrived in my bed-chamber and, with the help of the stable-boy Augustus and a pair of swarthy roust-abouts from the village smithy, removed my time-blasted carcass from its tomb. An audible hissing pop accompanied the loosening of the last bolt, and at the sight of my leprous fore-arms and the great plates of scabrous horn which have overgrown my chest, the roust-abouts screamed like a pair of God-damned fat ladies. Doc McGillicuddy, seeing that I was apoplectic with rage, filled my veins with the laudanum and transferred me once again to the wheeled death-bed that is my temporary resting place on these occasions. Exhausted from the effort, I fell into a fit-ful sleep.

Upon awaking this morning, after a night of uneasy dreams, I found myself help-less in my bed, as if I had been transformed into a monstrous insect! I was lying on my back, which was no longer ulcerated but as hard as if it had been armor-plated. And when I lifted my head, I could see that my slug-like gray belly had become divided into stiff, arched segments, on top of which the bed quilt could hardly keep in position. My arms and legs, which have always been pitifully thin compared to the rest of my body, waved helplessly before my eyes!

"What has happened to me?" I wondered. Yes, I had been given an ample quantity of the laudanum, but this was no dream! My room, a typical human bedroom filled with stacks of Liberty dollars and oil-paintings of the Kaiser, lay quiet between the four familiar walls. My eyes turned next to the window, and the overcast sky–one could hear rain-drops beating on the window gutter–made me feel quite melancholy. I considered sleeping a little longer and forgetting all this nonsense, but I am accustomed to sleeping on my right side, and in my condition, I could not turn myself over. However violently I forced myself toward my right side, I always rolled onto my back again.

Now I can hear my man-servant Standish playing his violin in the next room. I cannot get up and join him and the others. And even if I could, they would just hurl apples at me again! At least I can now eat and digest wall-paper. That almost makes up for it all.

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