Y'all know how @mr-heavendrops-bastard-version made their own statements for TMA? Yeah, it was fun so I did it too.
Here's my statement, completely fictional. I'm obviously not a biologist and Armistead is definitely not my last name. Enjoy!
CW: blood, bugs, dirt
Statement of Zarah Armistead, regarding their work as a field biologist. Original statement given May 24th 2013. Audio recording by Jonathan Sims, Head Archivist of the Magnus Institute, London.
"Your desk is dirty. I can feel the dust sticking to my skin and clothes. When did you last clean it?
I'll try to bear it for now, just in order to tell you what happened to me. Or "give my statement", as the archivist lady told me. My penmanship is ugly, I know.
I spent 3 years at Reading University studying biology and entomology. The biology part was planned but the entomology wasn't. It's not that I didn't enjoy my specialty, I very much did. But my original plan was to get my degree and work permanently in a lab. Dr. Maria Saar's class is why I decided to go into entomology and field studies.
When I was in my first year of uni, I needed to pick a class for my elective. I spent 3 days deliberating whether I wanted to take Fundamentals of Physics for Medicine or Metabolic Biochemistry, but in the end I settled on Dr. Saar's course - Basics of Entomology. It just felt right in the moment. But God knows I regret it now.
I didn't know much about entomology. Sure, I'd played with bugs as a kid, but they weren't interesting to me as an adult. And yet, that first day I stepped foot into the classroom, everything made sense. Dr. Maria Saar was the kindest woman I'd ever met in my life. She had a warm smile that erased any doubt in my mind about where I was supposed to be. She was short - a bit shorter than me. Short black hair reaching to her shoulders. She said she was from Estonia. She was about 50 but she had such a pep in her step that you'd mistake her for a student. Not threatening in the slightest bit. Dr. Saar told us that she was normally a field researcher but decided to take up a few classes at Reading to fill her time while she found a new group of entomologists to conduct field tests with. With each word she showed off her deep smile lines and I felt the most comforted I have in my whole life.
Basics of Entomology wasn't a hard class, quite the opposite. Most of it was field exercises. Every Tuesday Dr. Saar would round all 16 of us up and we'd leave uni grounds together. We would pile up into a bus that would take us to Nuney Green. We would then pick a random direction, walk in it for 5-10 minutes, choose a spot and set up our equipment. Then for the next roughly 6 hours it was just us, sixteen 19 year olds and one woman in her fifties, crawling around on the ground in search for bugs. Dr. Saar would give us instructions and tell us what to look for as she herself searched for insects. Hours later, we'd march on back to the classroom, carrying containers filled with bugs, covered head to toe in mud and soot, yet beaming with joy.
Whenever we went out Dr. Saar would constantly be on the lookout for her favourite insect - the green rose chafer beetle. Cetonia aurata, or as she called them, "her babies", are a common species in England. They have a green iridescent colouring on their backs and look stunning when the sunlight shines on them. They were always pretty easy to find and when one of us got one we'd hold it up to Dr. Saar and she would smile from ear to ear.
Despite the fact that we all contributed equally when we were out in the field, I felt like Dr. Saar praised my classmates way more than she did me. So I tried harder and harder to please this woman that I really looked up to. I would be entirely focused on bringing as many specimens home as I could and that seemed to make Dr. Saar happy. And I was happy.
Every year I signed up for Dr. Saar's class and so did every single one of my original classmates. It was the sixteen of us with her for 3 consecutive years. We got to know each other very well. We were like family. The class was no longer Basics of Entomology, we'd moved on to harder material. But we were all acing it, despite spending most of our time out in the field. It was something about that big luxurious classroom covered with posters of rose chafer beetles, mayflies, rain worms, locusts and other insects that relaxed us and tuned our senses to Dr. Saar's frequency.
When it came time for our big finals that determined whether we would actually graduate, we studied our heads off for every class except Dr. Saar's. She brought us coffee and food when we had class together and considering we were a bunch of tired uni students cramming desperately for finals, we couldn't have been more grateful. In the end all of us passed. Some with flying colours, some barely skirting by, but we passed. All 16 of us graduated. And as soon as we had left the ceremony, Dr. Saar approached us. She said that she was retiring from teaching and going back into the field. She wanted to offer us all positions on her team. She was practically our mother these last three years, how could we possibly say no?
So we went off and became true field biologists. We were going out with Dr. Saar multiple times a week, all over the country. With each outing we were getting more and more overjoyed to be working with our mentor. She asked us to call her just Maria, but it felt odd to call someone you consider a parent by their first name. Despite that, my previous classmates one by one started calling Dr. Saar "Maria" and I was the last one to still call her "Professor" or "Doctor". And my new coworkers seemed just so much more in their depth when we were outside than I did. But how could that be? We'd all gone on the same exercises, handled the same exact bugs. Yet they seemed much more at home amongst the creepy crawlies we were catching.
In August, the year before last one, on the 18th, we were in New Forest National park, somewhere down around Stag Park. It was late afternoon, but the sun hadn't started setting yet. We had brought with us a big container of sugar water to lure in a larger amount of specimens. Everybody had wandered a little ways away from our initial set up site but we were in shouting distance. I was on my hands and knees, examining a patch of glass when something shiny caught my eye. It was a green rose chafer beetle. Dr. Saar's favourite. I hadn't seen one in months and I was excited to go show it to my mentor. I knew it would make her so happy and she would be proud of me. Then I heard one of my colleagues call out "Maria! I found one of your babies!" I gently scooped up the tiny iridescent invertebrate and hurried off to present it to Dr. Saar before they could. But in my hurry I must have tripped on something. I felt my boot catch on something solid and I lost balance. I fell right onto our sugar water container, knocking it to the ground and spilling its contents.
I must've been unconscious for a few seconds because when I woke up a few people had gathered around me. There was blood on my glasses and dripping down my forehead and nose. I must've hit my head on something on the way down. I sat up and looked down at my shirt and hands. They were covered with a sticky orange substance coated with bugs and dirt. That annoyed me, but I knew I could last a little longer until we were done with specimen collection. The beetle was no longer in my hands and that made me feel terrible. I'd lost one of Dr. Saar's babies. I looked up to talk to her and apologize: "I'm so sorry Professor, I found a green chafer and wanted to show you but I must've tripped on some-" but as soon as my eyes focused on her, my blood ran cold in my veins.
She was covered in beetles. Every inch of her skin. Her hair. Her clothes. Coated in green rose chafers. They were swarming her the same way a bee colony swarms an invader. Rushing over one another, blurring into one large iridescent skittering mass. The only visible part left of her was her eyes, now bloodshot and dark. And she was smiling. I looked around to my friends for help. They were now emerging from the tree line around us. They were in the same state as Dr. Saar was. Covered, head to toe, in iridescent insects. The sunlight of the setting sun hit their bodies in such a way that the reflections made me dizzy. They were moving, unlike the professor. Their limbs seemed out of place and broken, torn out of their sockets or simply ripped off. The beetles wouldn't let the blood flow, they were lapping up the fresh red liquid from the wounds they'd inflicted. I couldn't tear my eyes away from them. Then Dr. Saar spoke.
"Are you alright, Zarah?" she said and her voice buzzed like thousands of insects rubbing their wings against each other. Like it wasn't my mentor speaking, but the beetles were speaking for her. My skin started crawling and so did the bugs on my hands and clothes. I panicked and as the rest of the research team started shambling faster towards me, still encased in a solid layer of colourful chitin, I got up and ran. I ran as fast as possible.
I reached some campsite by the time the sun was dipping below the horizon. There were about a dozen people there who saw me run screaming from the forest, still covered in blood and sugar water. I certainly gave them all a fright, but they were kind to me. They gave me a spare shirt so I wouldn't be covered in sugar and helped me wash my hands. One woman touched me on the shoulder and said "Oh, you've got a beetle on you!". I turned to look and she was holding a green rose chafer in her hands. I think I fainted then. One of the campers dialled 999 and about 20 minutes later I got picked up by the paramedics and taken to A&E. The doctor who looked me over said I had a concussion brought on by the initial fall I had taken while out in the field. The amount of blood I'd lost was large, but not worrying as head wounds tend to bleed a lot. I asked if he could contact Dr. Saar and my team to tell them to pick me up, but he said that there was no such woman in the university records. My coworkers weren't there either. It's like they had disappeared into thin air, like molting insects.
I know why they did it. I know that Dr. Saar loved them more than she loved me. She knew that I wasn't worthy of their love. My classmates knew. The beetles knew. They all knew. That's why they tried to feed me to the rose chafers. But I wasn't close enough to them. And now I will never get the chance to join them again. I know it seems like a horrible thing to say and I feel ashamed to say it out loud, but I wish that they would have taken me with them. We could have been family. Closer than we ever were before. And it's all my fault.
I can't take it anymore. I need to take a shower."
Despite the heavy similarities to the Prentiss situation we are currently dealing with, I would say that this case is unrelated. The description Mx. Armistead gives of their professor does remind of the way Jane Prentiss described herself in statement #0142302 and the insect infestation is a shared point. However Mx. Armistead says they got injured briefly before their "supernatural" experience so we cannot say for certain if it was real.
Sasha found the records of their admission to Southampton General Hospital on August 18th 2011. They were diagnosed with a minor concussion, suspected to have occurred due to their fall. They had lost a big quantity of blood, but recovered quickly and were discharged the next day.
I did some digging into the staff and courses of Reading University and there has been no teacher under the name of Maria Saar, nor has there ever been a "Basics of Entomology" course, much less from 2008 - 2011 when Mx. Armistead attended.
Martin was able to track them down and contact them, but the only thing they said was that they were "having more nightmares than usual as of late".