Maria’s Extra-Credit Assignment

slug

When I was in college, I dated a biologist named Maria. Well, a biology undergraduate. She was a lot of fun, albeit slightly odd. Being a bit odd myself, we hit it off right away. Our first date lasted almost 12 hours – the entirety of which was spent talking as we sipped terrible coffee in a 24-hour diner.

Maria told me she wanted to focus on entomology after undergrad, then started to regale me with passionate stories about the local banana slug.

I was familiar with the banana slug. Everyone on campus was. They have an unfortunate habit of falling out of trees and landing on the heads of unsuspecting students and faculty. Being around 8” long and remarkably disgusting, having one plop on one’s head is pretty close to a living nightmare. My first month on campus, one missed me by inches and splattered on the concrete. I was picking slug out from between my shoelaces for a week.

So, once Maria told me about her slug fascination, I became a little wary. It was a shame, because I liked her quite a bit. She could sense something was awry, so I admitted to being terrified of the things. All bugs, really. Instead of mocking me, which I’d grown to expect after years of asking women to kill spiders and centipedes for me, she held my hand. It was the first real physical contact we had together. Right then, I knew she was special.

We dated for a few weeks and our chemistry was phenomenal. It felt good to have such a steady, positive presence in my life.

As the school year progressed, though, it became obvious Maria was struggling with her work. It wasn’t that she was slacking or not studying; quite the contrary – she was studying so much that I’d only see her once or twice a week. But despite all the work, she was on pace to fail her biology course – the subject most important to her.

After a miserable few days when she was positive she’d get thrown out of school for poor grades and never have the opportunity to be the scientist she’d wanted to be since she was a little girl, her professor gave her a lifeline: an extra credit assignment.

The project Maria was given was simple: she’d incubate banana slug eggs in different environments to learn how microclimatic variations affect hatch rate and survival beyond one day. She received permission to use several spots on campus: the wellness center, the gym, the chemistry building, the biology building, and, yes, my dorm. So strong were my feelings for Maria that I allowed her to place a shoebox breeding-ground under my bed.

Yes, I had nightmares about slugs crawling up my bed and laying eggs in my mouth. Who wouldn’t?

Unfortunately for Maria, the project didn’t go well. She either hadn’t prepared the shoeboxes properly or had started with bad samples in the first place, because all but one site yielded dead eggs. The wellness center location produced a few live slugs, but they died within 12 hours.

Maria was devastated. I did my best to console her, but there wasn’t much I could say. We both knew she was going to fail the course. She’d talk to the professor in the morning and see if there was any chance of redoing it. Without much hope, we went to sleep.

Maria got up early and visited the professor in his office. I waited anxiously for her to come back, and about an hour after she left, she texted me with great news. He was letting her try again. He had sympathy for experiments that went wrong.

More shoeboxes, new setups, new spots. Well, almost new. She used the spot under my bed again. I didn’t have the energy to complain.

To Maria’s profound joy, the experiments worked. Within a space of 36 hours, the shoebox hatcheries did exactly what she’d hoped. “Five out of six were a success!,” she exclaimed, and hugged me. “I’m going to pass the course!”

I was so happy for her. It was a huge weight off us both, and in our excitement, one thing led to another.

I’ll spare the graphic details, so here’s a summary: she went down on me, I went down on her, and because it was a special occasion, she decided to swing her leg over my head and we got to work doing some mutual fun stuff with our mouths.

Toward the end of the act, she was getting pretty into it. She’d stopped working on me and had straightened up and was grinding against my face while I held on for dear life. As she climaxed, I felt something…different.

Something, no, some things, oozed out onto my lips and tongue. And they were moving. I shrieked and pushed her away and ran my hand across my mouth. Small, wriggling banana slugs clung to my skin. I screamed again and ran into the bathroom. In the mirror, I saw tens of inch-long baby slugs in and around my mouth. I vomited with a violence I never realized could be possible.

“Oh my God, I’m so sorry!,” she cried, as I gagged and tried to scrape the slime off my tongue with my fingernails. I didn’t reply, I just looked at her. She stroked my hair in an attempt to comfort me. It wasn’t working. She started to say something, then stopped.

“What?,” I choked out, still retching.

She was silent for a minute, then said quietly, “It’s just…well, I guess it’s six out of six. I thought they’d all died.”

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