Test Your Knowledge of Literature's Greatest Bed Bug Infestations

Identify the work of literature in which each bed bug infestation occurs:

A. In this short tale of mystery and imagination, a man is bitten by a strange gold bug, which leads to the discovery of a cryptograph revealing the location of Captain Kidd's treasure. The story's narrator, who is staying in the man's guest room, is bitten by bed bugs, but that only leads to itchy red marks all over his legs, arms and torso.

B. A Pharaoh refuses to allow the Hebrew people to leave Egypt. To persuade Pharaoh to change his mind, God sends a series of devastating plagues against the Egyptians, including infestations of lice, flies and locusts. Pharaoh finally relents, but after the Hebrews depart God sends an eleventh plague, bed bugs, just to remind Pharaoh who's boss. Pharaoh decides enough is enough and sets out to bring the Hebrews back, with disastrous results.

C. On the eve of his first whaling trip, a young seaman spends the night in a New Bedford inn. He is dismayed to find himself sharing his bed with an infestation of bed bugs. He is even more dismayed to find himself sharing his bed with a massive, heavily tattooed pagan harpooner from the South Seas. However, the two men soon forge a strong bond of friendship as they take turns trying to harpoon the bed bugs.

D. A 12-year-old girl whose name is a homophone for an American president complains to her film-star mother that she is unable to sleep because her bed is shaking. The mother concludes that the girl is demonically possessed and consults a Catholic priest. Further investigation reveals that the bed's vibrations were actually caused by a massive infestation of unusually rambunctious bed bugs, but by then a messy and disgusting exorcism is under way and there's no turning back. In defense of the ritual, the priest argues convincingly that the presence of bed bugs doesn't explain the girl's ability to rotate her head 360°.

E. A Devil's Island convict known for his butterfly tattoo develops a taste for other insects when he spends five years in solitary for attempting to escape. He supplements his meager penal colony diet by eating beetles, centipedes, spiders and bed bugs. Time and isolation eventually chip away at his sanity, and he begins engaging the vermin in conversation. He is surprised to learn that the bed bugs have worked out a foolproof plan of escape. Their breakout is successful, and he and the bed bugs are soon living the high life in Venezuela.

F. Literature's über bed bug: A man awakens in his bed to find he has turned into a bug. His concerned father immediately douses him with DDT and consults an exterminator.

Answers: A: The Gold-Bug, Edgar Allan Poe B: The Bible, Book of Exodus C: Moby-Dick, Herman Melville D: The Exorcist, William Peter Blatty E: Papillon, Henri Charrière F: The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka