There, a sharp shard of light still filtering through the thin curtains. It irritates me more than it should. I had closed those myself. My own fault for being sloppy, and half-asleep and sick. I’m not getting up, not yet. My feet still feel soft, full of sand, and the carpet’s cheap itchy shag. I’m easing myself down the slope of consciousness at this point. Almost a week and still the most interesting thing in my world are the pill bottles beside me on the bedside cabinet. With every passing day I come up with a new slew of metaphors, a small pamphlet of similes; soldiers, sentinels, towers, lighthouses. Prisons, grain silos, alarm clocks and amplifiers; every morning the sunlight filters through their stubby amber-plastic bodies, dulled to a hazy glare. I wonder how long it’ll be before I start to dream in pill bottles. My gaze had slid to the sloping ceiling, following the dented curve as though my eyes were on a groove, rolling back every time they hit the walls. Fever and drugs are still rattling behind my eyes, but the clamour is receding, giving way to an almost inviting blankness.
I look back at the pill bottles, and see him squatting on the lid of the nearest one. He’s incandescent in the dimming light, outlined in shimmers of green and blue. As his wings twitch he rubs his face daintily, looks up. I swear he stares at me good and hard, and for the briefest instant I am terrified.
Half-hypnotized I follow him around the room with my eyes as he dances away from the perch on the pill bottle, jinking upwards to the naked light bulb on the ceiling. He briefly lights upside down and ambles in drunken circles before dropping to zig-zag, whining, above the floor, as I lose sight of him. Almost as soon as I do his friend makes himself known. He’s more hesitant, moving in twitchy bursts across the wall before committing himself to the stale air. He heads for the opposite wall, collides with his brother, circles and hums upward in a dizzying spiral.
The others sneak forward as I watch the dance. The curtains move despite the lack of breeze, and the multitudes swarm in.
They don’t come in single file, or all at once. It seems to me that they diffuse into the room on crest of a wave made of their own bodies. The droning that has been steadily building peaks to a roar that drowns out my own scream. There is a touch of jackhammer in there, thunder and drill too, but mostly one pulsing, throbbing hideous buzz that rises and rises and smothers me as the flies settle.I’m not conscious of each individual fly as it lands – it is one entity, descending piecemeal on me over me, taking its sweet, sweet time. At this point all I am aware of is the noise, the noise and the heat, all of it shattering, surrounding me and melting me into the mattress. I can’t move, and if I’m still screaming, the noise is lost in the buzzing chaos. I dimly recognize movement on my tongue. They’re in my mouth.
Now everything is black, and I’m vibrating in time with the drone. Everything recedes, even the heat. The final piece of the puzzle settles on my face, and it is done.