I'd been sitting on the park bench reading by book for a few minutes when it started bugging me. I swatted at it a few times but each time, it dodged my book.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you."
My attention snapped to my left. To the man who'd just sat next to me. He had a wild look about him. Unkempt beard, messy hair, eyes that darted from side to side as if trying to spot a predator.
"Do that? Do what, exactly? I'm just reading my book."
"It's not really a fly. If you swat it, they'll fine you and send two more."
"Of course it's a fly."
"It's not y'know."
"Well what is it then?"
"A drone. A little microcamera in a metal insect form. They're everywhere. Watching everyone."
"Seriously? Come on, it's a fly. OK, if it's a drone, who sent it?"
"They" he glanced about in alarm. "They're everywhere. Don't swat them. I've said too much."
He stood and bolted out of the park.
I sighed and shook my head. "Bloody loony."
And then... Wham! "Got you, you little bugger."
I looked at the mess on the back of my book and patted my pockets for a tissue, sighed and stood to return home. "Typical."
The odd thing is, I'm pretty sure a couple more flies started buzzing me as I walked down the street.
Threatened by Fae
When hiking, I don't pay as much attention to where I step as I should. I could've stepped on a snake's tail or into poison ivy, but today, I had stepped on something much worse.
At first glance, it was just a bunch of leaves and sticks next to a tree. I inspected it closer to find that those materials had been put together to form a sort of house, sticks weaved as walls and leaves used as a roof.
Probably just a kid playing around, I thought, carrying on my trek.
I found it a bit odd that a fly was buzzing around my bug spray-doused hat, but nonchalantly swatted it away.
Just seconds later, two more pursued me. I took out my repellant and covered more of myself, but that didn't stop them.
"Hey!" I was flailing my arms at this point, looking rather foolish to the other hikers on the trail.
The flies had decided to land on me now, the largest (maybe the first one to show up?) finding the bridge of my nose. Almost comically, I looked up at the bug on my face, and realized that it was not a bug.
Since I had my own Tinkerbell phase when I was five, I've seen my fair share of fairies on TV and books. But, given that these were horsefly-themed fae, they weren't exactly like the butterfly-winged rainbows I had imagined as a child.
"Wha...what do you want from me?" I repressed the urge to scream as I looked into a set of red kaleidoscope eyes.
She answered in a strained hiss, one of her sharp legs poking at me: "My houssse... Fix it now!"
"Oh." With her and the other fae still attached to me, I begin to retrace my steps.
I find the house in the same spot as it had been before, being slowly mended by other fly-fairies. Without a giant's help, it would take forever for them to rebuild.
Ignoring their agitated jabbing and hissing to the best of my ability, I carefully string the twigs back into their previous log house formation and find fresh leaves for the roof. Despite having fixed everything that I had destroyed on my path, they don't leave my side.
I groan. "What do I have to repay you in? My name? My firstborn child?"
The houseowner flies back from my face, looking at the trail in front of me. "Fix the othersss..."
There, at every single tree's nook and cranny, is a home broken by another hiker. I look around, and, sure enough, the other travellers had moved on before they could also get hassled by the forest's inhabitants.
All I can say is: today was a long day.
The small robot looks back at me. I glare at it menacingly, but it doesn't flinch. Of course, it doesn't. Its imitation bug-eyes look unseeingly, probably scanning the room. If you asked me a few years ago, I would've thought that it would be illegal to have small cameras hiding in homes everywhere, moving and scanning at will.
That was before the Revolution. Our country, in general, had been rapidly deteriorating; politicians on fire with fury, the hubbub about global warming making things even hotter, and the terror of nuclear bombs turning America into an inferno. This was when a secret organization called the Elite rose up from the ashes and "saved" us. But that didn't last long. They turned out to be ruthless dictators. I cannot believe we fell for that. It's like Hitler all over again. He claims to be saving everybody when all he wants is power for himself. Yup, that's the Elite in a nutshell.
I don't want to swat the Fly. It's just instinctual, I swear. But my hand seems to have a mind of its own. I stare at it in horror and strain all of my muscles, but it stops for just a split second before resuming. As if in slow motion, my hand reaches out and smacks the Fly that has been bothering me for the past hour. Instead of dying, a small strip of paper is released from its abdomen and it flies out the open window.
The paper lands softly on my thigh. I pick up and curse when I see that it containes a 100 dunkle fine. One hundred dunkles?! My parents will be be pissed! I crumple the paper, knowing that the money has already been withdrawn from my Virtual Vault. I turn my watch towards me and switch to Holo Mode. A glowing screen appears in the thin air above the watch and I sign into my Vault. Sure enough, one hundred dunkles are missing from my account.
I've never swatted a Fly before, but I've heard the rumors. And I'd known about the fine, too. But the rumor that I hadn't been so sure about was that the Flies could manipulate you with their robotic eyes. Now I believe it. What my hand did was unnatural.
My thoughts are interrupted by a buzzing near my ear. Not again, I think helplessly. As soon as the Flies come within my view, my hand, the snake that it is, snaps out and swats them. They seem to laugh as they drop their papers and zip away.
After that, I barely get seconds in between the Flies coming and going. Eventually, the old flies stick around, giving me more ammo against myself. I just keep swatting against my will.
Soon, the new flies have stingers, spikes and miniscule torturing devices. They come at me ruthlessly and without pause. I just keep swatting, tears streaming down my face. I wonder why nobody has ever told me about this part of the Flies. Maybe because nobody has ever lived through it, said my evil voice in my head. No! I thought back, ...maybe? I am suddenly uncertain, but I haven't much time to dwell; another wave of Flies comes and starts their attack.
I am in a sea of black and silver Flies. Their buzzing encompasses my being, and their small metal bodies encompass my body. Wouldn't it be nice to just take a nap here? Maybe it will be so peaceful you won't have to wake up again, says the evil voice.
My eyelids drift shut slowly, the evil voice lulling my brain like a lullabye. I snuggle down into the sheets of paper, each printed with a fine of a small fortune, and some not so small. The pain recedes to a dull throb, and I shut my eyes completely, content.
Operation: Clear the Air
After the success of operation “Water the Country,” the CIA implemented “Clear the Air” in 2019. This information was made public to the population, but mistook for trolling so largely went unnoticed and unhindered for over 20 years. The report read: All insects of annoyance (i.e. Linnaeus, Meigen, and Apocrita, etc.) will be exterminated—as a means of improving public health, economic stability, and national security— and replaced with nano-recording devices. Operation “Clear the Air” was only taken seriously in 2029 because a CIA intern accidently “tweeted” (i.e. the act of “posting” (i.e. typing a message and placing the information on the internet or social-media platform) on the social-media platform Twitter) a link of the operations database. The intern would have faced severe legal percusion, but a quick google search revealed that the database has been public since operation “Water the Country.”
Imagination or War?
I always liked spiders. They are facinating creatures, and the amazing things they can do, works of art! As a child I took up a habit of finding dead flies in the windows, and placing them by webs hidden in the corners of my livingroom. Since my father was miltary and we moved about quite a bit I suppose I was 'making friends' in my own kind of weird way. I became disapointed when I found that my 'offering' wasn't accepted. As an adult I can guess that the little flies were dried up from expsure in the sunlight. From time to time when I swat a fly I think back on my spider excapades and wonder if a fresh kill would be accepted.
Is that really safe though?
My imagination can be powerful at times.
What if there is an on going war that is taking place on a global scale? All this esponage would be going on within the mintaure world of insects and arachnids. Surely my interference would be taken as a decleration of alliance with the eight legged creatures?
Is that so bad? I perfer spiders over the pesky flying insects anyday.
They're just flies! Surley if I kill one or two nothing bad can happen.
So why did I find my kitchen floor covered in maggots? They're every where! It's like killing one attracted more, are they actualy mutated shark flies? As I murder them with my vacume cleaner a small part of me can't help but think I'll wake up with the creepy white maggots crawling across my body. As I scream the adult forms would be flying above me in droves. Some how they're black bodies will come together to form a message. "Take no sides." I shiver. My imagination was hard at work driving me mad.
However, the idea can't leave my head. It's too vivid a daynightmare for my liking. If there is a war going on, let's let them battle it out on their own. Best to keep to myself.
That night I make sure nothing is flying around my room, before I shake my head at the silliness of it all. Suddently I am dreaming, in my dream I lay on my bed, there are no flies, but dark shapes are crawling across the walls. They scuttle through the window, along my floor, across my sheets, down my head board, they dive into my hair and crawl across my skin. I feel their many legs poking at my ears, my nose, my mouth and I wake up screaming. I pat myself down, turn the light on and lift up my pillows and blankets to see if any spiders are hiding. None, it was all a dream.
Still it's a long time before my body calms down enough to rest. The next day I swat a fly with my book, picking it up, I place it near a web.
My imagination isn't scary...its terrifying at times. Strangley I still prefer spiders.
That night I place fly strips about my room. Better safe then sorry.
“It’s not really a fly. If you swat it, they'll find you and send two more.
Eunice can be a bit eccentric at times. They normally just ignore her when she speaks like that.
“Grandma, that's a myth you know that right?” her sister chimes in.
“Grandma let's get you upstairs okay it's time for your bath I put the oils in just like you like it okay. ”
“Jana your so good to me honey.”
“Grandma I'm Jane Jana’s favorite daughter.”
Her sisters eyebrows meet in the middle of her head. “In your dreams, little sis.”
Her sister does not pay any mind to what their grandmother said. She sends the magazine she's reading into the air flailing, the flies buzz dies before it hit the floor.
“Going out for a smoke,” she yells into the stairway after her victory.
She stands her back against the tree outside her grandmothers home.
When she takes the first drag of her cigarette, and a fly zips by. She pays it no mind until she sees another one. Both buzzing as close as a whisper in her ears.
“Thanks, Eunice for jinxing me.”
Before bed, she goes in to brush her teeth. There is a fly on the wall behind her watching like it's on a mission.
“Damn you, Eunice.”
While she's fast asleep, she awakens startled her body drenched with sweat. Her sister is across the room, in a peaceful slumber.
She goes to get a drink of water from the tap in the bathroom. The floorboards creak under her weight.
The fly remains in the same spot as earlier. When she looks back up, she spots another in the shower — watching staring at her.
Do flies stay in one spot for this long?
Ready for another lesson?
That day, Dad was driving the car and I was in the backseat, getting annoyed. Half a minute of that 2 hour trip had proved to be a voyage of self-discovery, however. I had understood sitting there, that two things get me paranoid, bumpy roads and houseflies. And now, sitting in my room with my elder brother, I am reminded of those very moments.
Where did it go?!
My brother is looking at me but I know he wouldn't care of helping. He'll sit there and enjoy the pandemonium I'm in. If I know him well, soon he'll start playing "Vicarious" by "Tool" and then will sing at the top of his voice, "vicariously I, live while the whole world dies", and laugh.
But where the hell is that small shit?!
"That..." I begin but pause since no appropriately harsh word strikes my mind. "That one-paise-worth shit!"
My brother snickers, keeping his head down, focusing on the laptop screen as if he is scoring ten girls there (being him, he might even be doing that) while I angrily pace the room with a rolled-up newspaper in my hand.
There isn't a lot of room to pace, but I manage. Half the room is occupied by the king-size bed. There's an almirah, a computer table, a shelf full of books most of which belong to my brother, a plastic chair on which sits the dirty laundary and a synthesizer on its stand. The bed is covered with my sketch book, colours, newspapers and my spread-eagled brother.
And I see it.
"Don't move!" I shout. "Your leg!"
He doesn't move.
On his toe, like the star on top of a christmas tree, sits my target.
This is one star which won't go supernova, my inner voice says. It'll go flat, on my brother's toe. Flat star theory.
I'm amazed at the quality of the joke I just made.
And then suddenly, it isn't there.
"Huh, what?" My brother asks with an inncocent face, shaking his entire body from top to bottom to move his laptop just an inch to the left.
"Damn! You!" I glare at him while he still shows off his innocence. "I told you not to move! I yelled! That shit is killing me, here!" I wander my eyes around the room but to no avail. The small shit is lost again.
"Damn! I'd have killed it!" My brother is just sitting there however, chuckling, and I realise now. "You knew all along! That fly was on your toe and you knew all along! You were just enjoying the annoyance on my face!" I fume. "Curse you to hell."
He guffaws then but says nothing and goes back to his "girls".
"You're next in line; after this fly."
And it buzzes past my face!
I follow it and find it perched on the computer table on the mouse pad. In open.
"It's not a fly, really." My brother says.
"Won't be, soon. Dead fly." I whisper as my right arm raises with the rolled newspaper while my eyes stay on the fly.
"If you swat it—"
I lift the newspaper and find it. My adversary, no more.
"Yes! Did you see how quick I was?!" I exclaim. "What were you saying?"
"If you swat it, they'll fine you and send two more." He says with as much seriousness as he can muster, looking straight into my eyes.
"Some horror story, you read this from?" I laugh.
"I mean it. The fine is five thousand rupees and one week imprisonment. Really. And they'll send two more." He says. "Watching you will be funnier then." He chuckles.
"Who is "they"?" I play along.
"The government, of course." He says, narrowing his eyebrows.
"Yeah well, I'm in a good form today." I say, picking up another newspaper from the shelf and rolling it in my left hand. "Ready. For. Another. Lesson?" I ask the upcoming flies which will never come.
"Copy cat." My brother snickers and goes back to his laptop.