I think we've all heard the expression “my flesh crawled” in connection with some horrifying experience, and after last night, I can tell you that it really truly literally happens.
What happened was, it was the deep dark middle of the night and I woke up. A minute later, stumbling back to bed from the bathroom, I heard someone breathing right around the corner. My wife's away on business, the friend renting the basement room would never come upstairs in the middle of the night, and the three-year-old was fast asleep, if he wakes up in the night he hollers for Mommy and Daddy, he prefers room service to wandering.
The breathing around the corner was quiet and calm. My flesh, just like it says in all those books, crawled. The effect is not subtle; it felt like I had three thousand ants creeping around on me.
I stood and listened. I wish I could say that I speculated about what was going on, or that, like the protagonists in novels, I had a plan in place combining craftiness and extreme violence. Instead, I just felt like a weaponless caveman must have when the cave turned out to have a sabre-tooth in it. Standing there was useless, so I stepped around the corner.
It was the kid. For the first time in his career, he'd gotten out of bed and decided to make his own expedition to the bathroom.
So I wondered what crawling skin feels like from outside, and I put my hand on my chest. Bonus skin/fear cliché! I had goosebumps, another unsubtle effect, it felt like touching an iguana.
I wonder how all this epidermal drama would have increased the survival chances of the hunter/gatherer in the wild?