I arrived home from work and ignored the cat as he loudly castigated me for having the gall to leave him alone yet again. Walking into the kitchen to wash out my travel mug, I looked out the window over the sink. Or at least I tried to look out the window. Blocking my view was a jittering, oily mass of black flies buzzing against the glass. A group of flies is called a “business” and these flies were all up in mine. I dropped my mug in the sink and backed away in horror, frantically trying to remember which of the Dark Gods I had angered this week.
Where could they have all come from? The apartment was fly-free that morning and now less than ten hours later it was host to a plague of the ugly bastards. And they were huge! Each one the size of my pinky nail and I have large hands (yes, it’s true what they say about gals with large hands. I have no idea what that is, but it’s true).
I pointed an accusing finger at the cat. “What good are you? Did you even try to kill any of those things?”
The cat gave me a “Not my problem, bitch” look and proceeded to lick the area where his testicles used to be.
This was a battle I would have to fight on my own.
Because I didn’t own a fly swatter or a flame-thrower and I feared using my shoe would break the glass, I armed myself with enough paper towels to give the Brawny lumberjack the uh-oh feeling. I approached the window expecting the flies to, well, fly, but they just did a skittering juke and jive across the glass. I don’t know if it was their bloated size, but their reaction time was slow for what I expected from a fly. Fortunately, this made them easy to kill. Unfortunately, this also upped the creepy-weird-gross-out factor to eleven.
The flies barely moved as I smashed them, sometimes two and three at a time, with the paper towels leaving greasy, brown-green smears on the glass. It’s like they were resigned to their fate and accepted the dry, white press of death with cold detachment. I was not similarly unaffected. I barely managed to suppress a violent case of dry-heaves as one by one I popped flies against the glass like some kind of Lovecraftian bubble wrap.
About thirty minutes later I had over sixty confirmed kills. I poured myself a quadruple red wine and sipped it as involuntary heebie-jeebie seizures wracked my body. Throughout the rest of the evening, I dispatched a few more flies that must have had a stronger will to live and had flown away from the carnage at the kitchen window. Before I went to bed, I checked each room of the apartment and finding them clear of flying vermin, I settled under the covers and prayed for a dreamless sleep.
The next morning the only signs of life were me and the cat, as it should be. I left for work relieved that my bug gut splattered ordeal was behind me.
Until I got home and found my kitchen window infested with buzzing black flies once again.
I screamed some barely intelligible obscenity and the cat darted for cover in another room. As I smashed flies with hand-fulls of paper towels, I scoured my brain for any possible explanation. None of the windows or doors had been left open, the trash was empty, and I hadn’t smelled anything that even remotely resembled death in the apartment since I’d moved in months ago. What was going on? Did I unknowingly anger an old gypsy woman? Was there a portal to hell hidden in the baseboard?
I stuck a straw down the neck of my bottle of wine and called my sister. “I’m living in a Stephen King novel,” I told her.
She listened to my tale of woe and asked the pertinent questions. “Are they arranging themselves so they form words? Like GET OUT or DIE?”
I took a long pull from the straw. “Not yet. I’m thinking about impaling some of the corpses on toothpicks, you know, as a warning to the others.”
“So far, there haven’t been any in my bedroom, so I think I’m safe during the night.” I saw an errant fly crawling along the living room wall and absently squashed it.
“Keep the door closed. And text me in the morning so I know you’re alive or haven’t been assimilated into their fly society.”
“Maybe we should have a code phrase. So you know it’s me and not the flies pretending to be me.”
I pictured two flies walking across my phone’s keyboard to type out, “THIZ IZZ AMY. NO WORRIEZZ. STILL HUMANZ. TOTES NOT A FLYZ.” Then I imagined them fighting with the auto-correct and the image made me laugh enough so I could go to sleep without feeling phantom
fliez flies crawling across my skin.
In the morning, the apartment was fly-free, but I knew their little routine by now. Coming home from work, I took a deep breath and walked into the kitchen. The window above the sink was populated with only about a dozen flies, not the fifty or sixty I’d come to expect. For most people, a dozen flies would be cause for alarm, but for me it was practically a vacation. I killed them all swiftly and mercilessly then made myself a quesadilla.
Over the next few days, there were fewer and fewer flies until the glorious evening when I arrived home and nary a fly greeted me from my kitchen window. I’d already made myself a paper towel mitten purely out of habit, so I unwrapped my hand and folded the sections neatly so I could use them one at a time like a normal person. Not being forced to begin my evening with mass murder was a relief, however something felt . . . off. It’s not that I missed killing swarms of flies (I’m only blood thirsty in my fiction), but it had become familiar. The evil you know, and all that noise. Now that this trial was over, I couldn’t help but wonder what new eldritch horror awaited me with drool-slicked fangs just beyond the periphery of my current reality.
If it’s spiders, I’m moving.