Inspired by science fiction, parasites and summer vacation, Katharina Mayrhofer created facebugs. These mutated sea creatures crawl out of the water and attack bathers lying on the beach, stealing their will. Once they have penetrated their host, they can link infected people with one another and control them externally. The captured human bodies roam aimlessly through the area and look for other potential hosts.
The objects, made from recycled garden hose and cable ties, are painted black and rest on white marble stones.
Short story about the objects:
The road on our way to the campsite was marked with warning signs on the side. The journey seemed endless to me. The kids were sleeping in the back seat and my husband was exhausted at the wheel of our car. For twelve hours we had already been on the journey with the car and the tent trailer. The navigation device recommended us to turn left to finally get to our destination.
We have been coming here for eight years now, on the small peninsula, which is easy to reach by car ferry. When we arrived I noticed that there were hardly any vacationers at the site. The whole area seemed somehow neglected. As if nobody had taken care of the parking spaces and the paths in between for a long time. Nevertheless, we checked in and were happy to finally be able to set up our tent.
Meanwhile, the children slept on while I and my husband collected stones to weigh down the tarpaulin. We only hammered pegs into the rocky ground in the most important places. From our regular seat, number 20, I had a direct view of the white beach and the indigo blue sea.
After the long drive I was looking forward to swimming and the warm shower that followed.
Taking advantage of the moment, I let Julian know. He was supposed to stay with the kids while I quickly grabbed my bathing suit from the overcrowded trunk and shuffled down to the sea in my sandals.
On the way there, I saw a guest I knew from afar, who, like us, always had a pitch reserved at the campsite at the same time.
I recognized him immediately by his faded purple swimming trunks with the words “milka” on them, which, like every year, slouched around his hips. I wondered how many times had he changed the elastic, or if he owned multiple pieces? It must have been a giveaway. Regardless, I greeted him friendly from afar.
But he didn’t return my greeting. As I got closer, I noticed that he was barely moving. He just stood there. And when I looked at his face up close, I saw that his skin had blistered red, completely disfiguring him.
Irritated, I walked past him and looked for a rock on the beach where I could put my towel. Besides me, one vacationer settled down. There were no other bathers, but there were plenty of towels, weighted at the ends with stones to defy the wind.
I enjoyed the salty breeze that caressed my body for a moment and sat on a rock to stare out at the water. The colors are what make me come here every year. You look at the blue water and feel how your body fills with energy. The sight inspires me.
I am suddenly snapped out of my thoughts.
In the corner of my eye, I see that the vacationer from earlier is kicking her legs like mad, but she stops abruptly. My gaze wanders over her body. I wince in shock. There is a black animal on her head.
I can’t say what it is exactly.
is it a fish is it a jellyfish In any case, it must have crawled out of the sea and attached itself to her face. Long black antennae are wrapped tightly around their heads. The rear part of the animal rests on her bosom.
It’s very quiet, I only hear the wind and feel it ruffle my hair. My gut feeling keeps me from helping the woman. While my thoughts are still circling, the strange creature suddenly lets go of her and rolls into the sea. With the next wave it is already submerged again.
I move towards the woman. She lies there motionless. I check her pulse and realize with relief that she is still alive. When I try to talk to her, I fail. Her whole face is badly burned and covered with red blisters. It’s impossible to get an answer.
I’m running Back to the pitch. Back to my family to call the rescue team on my cell phone. Once there, I delegate my husband around. He should immediately put the children in the car, who just woke up and were playing with a stray red cat. I reach for my bag, making sure there’s enough cash and my cellphone in it, and urge my family to get on board right now.
It’s only now that I realize how remotely controlled all the holidaymakers are here. What the hell was going on here?
We race up the road in the car, which leads us directly to the check-in point. There I get out and in my despair I yell at the campsite operator: “What the hell is going on here?” It strikes me for the first time that his face is completely scarred, just like burn victims do. He answers me in a staccato-like language that is unfamiliar to me. At least it’s not Croatian. I slowly and backwards walk out of the check-in.
“Out into the open and straight back into the car,” I think. Exhausted, I drop into the passenger seat. Then I look in the side mirror. The operator and the few holidaymakers of the campsite are closed and only a few meters away behind our car.
As if on command, they suddenly move quickly in our direction. The tank is half full, my husband presses the gas pedal, the children scream and we set off.
Photo credit: Kerstin Kieslinger