© Sean G. O’Leary 2019

Inspired by Edgar Allen Poe

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. The author and publisher do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by the fictional addressing of sensitive personal or social issues. This book is not intended as a substitute for the advice of medical professionals. The reader should regularly consult an appropriate, recognized professional in matters relating to his/her physical and/or emotional health, particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or attention.


Being a fly in a world with an ever-increasing percentile of obsessive-compulsive neat freaks was difficult. Now, I have nothing against obsessive-compulsive neat freaks; honestly, I was very much one myself. I would fastidiously, and continuously, clean each of my four legs, both arms (actually, pretty much legs also), mandibles, wings, eyes (yes, I cleaned my eyes)… You get the picture.

I could not begin to tell you the number of neuroses I had related to keeping the crevice between my head and thorax clean. That thing had supernatural dirt-attracting powers that defied both physics and chance! If you have ever gotten a crumb stuck in there, you know what I am talking about. All of a sudden, you can’t turn your head to see where you’re going. If it weren’t for compound eyes, I’d have died at a much younger age.

I was a House Fly. And, for the record, whoever came up with that disgusting moniker, “Shit Fly”, should be buried in it! Oh, and “Blue-Ass Fly”, is just, simply, unimaginative.

In my final days, I shared a spacious apartment with a young man who was almost as clean-obsessed as I was. Being an experienced adult who‘d lived a long life, 24 days of age; I’d developed some very impressive skills to find food in the cleanest of environments. Also, I’d perfected a technique of flying stealth that was almost soundless. We all adapt, don’t we?

As I got older, my concentration suffered, impairing the execution of my cloaking technique. This being the major contributor to the circumstances that led to my death. But, I won’t bore you with too many details.

I was drowned in a teacup as it fell on me, upside down. Well, really, it was the impact that actually killed me. Well, not really, it was the impact that caused the injuries that killed me; but it did feel like I was drowning. It all happened so fast!

I was trapped in a small amount of liquid when it hit the floor. The cup burst into pieces and the heavy bottom section broke away from the rest, descending on me with its momentum, breaking my wings and crushing my thorax. Two of my legs were torn off as it slid across the floor, with my body underneath it. And there I died, covered in a delicious sticky sweetness, almost instantly. Well, I did consume as much of that sweet substance as I could within the confines of my lack of mobility; but died very shortly after that.

Virgin jokes aside; the only regret of my long life was that I never reproduced, and, so, never passed on my skills to the next generation.

Chapter 1 – Visitor

Timothy Darling was not a neat freak, per se. He did like things orderly and neat. But, really, any cleanliness attributes he had were born out of the suppression of any possibility of a fly population in his immediate environment. He hated flies! That meant, removing any organic garbage directly after a meal. That meant keeping the surfaces clear of food debris. No standing water, no moist rags, no unclean used containers, etc. Daily bleach rinse of the kitchen sink and pipes. Auto-dispensing disinfectant in the toilet. Squeegee cleaning the bath area after use.

Other than that, he often considered to himself, regular cleaning chores were preformed on a less rigid regime. Vacuuming and mopping every other week, laundry on weekends, etc., like a normal person. Over the years, he had been successful at eliminating his nemeses from his life and had grooved into a very workable routine regarding their prevention. But today, this Wednesday evening… the unthinkable happened…

zzzzznnnt, zzzzzz, zzzzznnnt, zzznt.

Nothing had changed in his routine! How was it possible? He knew for certain that he had not lapsed on his tried-and-true methods. He checked the regular garbage bin, the organic garbage bin, sinks, drains, toilet, bath tub, counters, floors, etc. All the while thinking how senseless it was to even check, so sure he was of his diligence. Maybe he had imagined the sound! Whatever the mental equivalent is of shaking one’s head in disbelief; Timothy’s mind was seized by it.

His heart was racing; a bad sign for someone diagnosed with angina pectoris. And in Timothy’s case, diagnosed at 9 years old. He took a small metal container from his pocket, where he kept a few extras of his heart pills and took one. Though he had taken them with each meal already today, he didn’t want to risk any chances with his most vital organ. He felt calmer directly after taking it; even though he knew it didn’t act that fast. But the security of knowing it was in his system was enough to belay his stress-induced symptoms.

He stomped determinedly to the bedroom, then directly to the closet and rummaged out an old box of odds-and-sods. From this, he fetched a plastic fly swatter. Brittle with age, and suffering cracks in its yellow webbing, it was still a trusty sword for the fly-slayer. Timothy performed his best fencing moves and chuckled at himself in an attempt to discharge some of his tension. “It’s not a big deal,” he said to himself, “I can handle this.” Still, a cacophony of mixed emotions blared in his mindset.

He felt a little sad that he had to resort to direct engagement. He felt slightly disappointed in himself that he had slipped up in his vigilance in some unknown way. He felt angry at the violation of his space. His mind raced through scenarios of losing to the enemy; fruit flies in the kitchen, house flies in the bathroom, wasps on the balcony. Being woken up in the middle of the night as a fly attempts to navigate his nasal passage. Feeling something on his skin while sitting on the toilet. Detecting some unexpected texture in his mouth while eating.

“Stop!” he shouted mentally. This was a particularly hot summer with record rainfall. It was not outrageous to think that a single fly, or even a few, may have made their way into his home. He assured himself that they wouldn’t live long in an environment so barren of their survival necessities. And in the same mental breath, reassuringly complimented himself on the years of fly-free living he had enjoyed as a result of his dedication to routine. He surmised that this was some new set of circumstances that he had not previously encountered. That he would investigate, understand and work out a solution for it. He told himself that he had not been slack and this would represent a learning experience that would allow him to seal a crack of which he was not previously aware.

Chest out, weapon in hand, Timothy scanned the room as one might when facing multiple opponents. He pointedly included attention to his peripheral vision, as flies can sometimes be better seen out of the corner of one’s eye. He stood there for some minutes, head slightly tilted forward, eyes looking out, and level with his head. His body perfectly still, his awareness stretched to include eyes in the back of his head; like a ninjutsu warrior, able to detect 360 degrees of threat. He could perceive no movement in the room. He poked at his clothes in the closet; he slapped the bed comforter; he swung the bedroom door on its hinges; nothing! Timothy exited the bedroom, slowly scanning the space on his way out. Almost pirouetting in the process with one smooth motion. He headed for the kitchen.

The kitchen was empty of life as far as Timothy could see. Swatter at the ready, he opened and closed each cupboard door with a quick, sharp motion. Waiting a few seconds after each, to see if any quarry had been disturbed. He truly looked like a ninjutsu master who had also been trained in ballet. His approach to the cupboard door handle was lightning-fast but stopped instantly, just before touching it. Then grabbing it, his head bobbed slightly as he opened it, not with an arm movement, but with his whole body moving away from the counter with the handle in his hand. This so that he could get a wide angle view of the gaping cupboard and so that his weapon was at a perfect distance to land a killing blow. Nothing!

Timothy inspected, rustled, pushed, prodded and nosed every nook and cranny of his home in this disturbing mix of lethal grace. Nothing. Again. Nothing. Again. Each round through the apartment attendant with sharper, quicker motions. Each ready-to-pounce stance got gradually tighter and more tense. Then grimacing facial expressions made their way into what now became a visage of angered desperation. Next, audible groans were escaping his throat after each attempt failed to produce his prey. Then came the pacing between rounds.

This went on for some hours.

Finally, Timothy marched to the bedroom, dropped the fly swatter to the floor and threw himself on his high bed, face down. Beating it with both fists, simultaneously. His shut eyes hurt, and he could see small grey and white dots in little explosions on the backs of his eyelids, as his fists landed blows. Finally, he cried himself to sleep.

Chapter 2 – The Plan

Timothy woke up on Thursday morning, starving and thirsty. His mouth was exceptionally dry and his tongue felt two sizes too big for it. He realized he hadn’t had his usual bedtime snack the night before. Nor had he had anything to drink during, or after, his bout of incursions into the cracks and crevices of possible fly dens. And with that thought, the troubles of the body paled against the barrage of possible plans demanding next steps in his war of attrition. He pulled rein on the galloping horses in his mind, which were beating a path to some very dark places. He forced himself into practicality:

First was to send a text to HR that he needed a sick day. Next, clean and feed the body, with the same routines as if nothing had happened. Hoping that the familiar patterns would be calming and put him in a more rational state of mind. Then he’d address the elephant in the room.

After a bath, breakfast and heart medicine, Timothy felt clean, sated and ready to take on the world again. The routines had the desired effect of settling him down. But it was short-lived, like a band-aid in the shower. While sitting with a cup of tea in the kitchen, he heard it again:

zzzzznnnt, zzzzzz, zzzzznnnt, zzznt!

His heart jumped to his throat and his stomach dropped to his knees. His face flushed red, his upper lip made two corners that rose up to meet his nose, which was being pushed down with its wrinkled bridge. He bolted up out of his chair, knocking his tea cup, and most of its contents, on to his lap, then the rest across the tiled floor. He cursed himself for this and banged his head with his fists. He scanned the kitchen with a blood-thirsty, chilling gaze. Nothing!

He looked down at his jeans, slippers and the floor; tea with milk and sugar mixed with ceramic shards from the broken cup was everywhere. He stared at the floor. A section of the side of the cup with the handle lay at his feet. His knee-jerk thought was to pick it up along with the rest of the larger pieces and clean the area immediately; though, the desire to do that was severely muted by the raging red fire of revenge burning in his head.

Then he had a bright idea, completely counter-intuitive to his initial wraith of a thought. He’d leave the mess as bait so he would simply have to wait here in the kitchen until the fly came to feed! He was almost giddy with his stroke of genius. He skipped into the bedroom and retrieved the fly swatter off the floor next to the bed. He pranced back to the kitchen to make another cup of tea and mind his trap; leaving the sugar bowl uncovered on the kitchen nook table as added bait.

The morning hours passed without a sign of life besides Timothy. During which time he took an inventory of all the possible source and harbour candidates among the stylish furniture and fixtures of his comfy abode. He thought about a time, when a child, that he had purchased a used game with his own money at a garage sale. This later was discovered to have had cockroach nests, inside the device, brimming with fresh eggs. Though all his electronics were purchased new, he wondered what insects might have resided in the various warehouses they frequented on their way to his living room.

So, the home entertainment rack and all its devices, the plush sofa, the cushy dining room chairs, the coffee table with all its little drawers, the book case and its inevitably decaying books. The duvet, pillows, bureau, computer desk and bedroom closet. The rugs in the bathroom, the sink and tub drains. The toaster, the microwave, the kitchen sink drain. Then he considered other surfaces and spaces such as the upper and lower cupboards containing foodstuffs; under the kitchen and bathroom sinks; and the shoe rack in the front closet. He’d have to inspect and clean all these items and areas.

The morning was gone and his stomach was growling for lunch. He laid the fly swatter on the kitchen table and navigated his way around the teacup debris on the floor to make himself a fresh cup of tea and a sandwich. He left the open margarine container and the spent teabag on the counter. He dutifully took his heart pill with his lunch. While eating his meal, he considered what he should do next. On the one hand, he didn’t want to leave the kitchen vigil and on the other hand, the rest of the apartment had to be inspected and cleaned. He’d have to do both, he decided. Crumbs fell off his sandwich onto the table; he watched, in concentration-induced slow-motion, as they bounced on the surface, some careening off onto the floor. “More bait!”, he thought brightly.

Timothy spent the rest of the afternoon alternating between cleaning the apartment and lurking at the kitchen entrance. By evening, he had only completed the bathroom. He had washed the rugs and bath curtain; emptied under the sink of all unnecessary items and cleaned it; bleached the drains; scrubbed the toilet, sink, tub and all other surfaces; washed the walls; and mopped the floor. Still no other signs of life.

During the afternoon, each stint at the kitchen entrance involved a consuming battle between optimism and hopelessness, staring into space for minutes at a time. This proved to be counter-productive to his purpose for standing there. Which, little by little, piqued his rage at the situation each time he “came out of it”, realizing he had just been asleep at the wheel. Such little progress was disheartening and he felt disappointed in himself. In addition to time-sharing his vigil in the kitchen with cleaning, the time in the kitchen was doubly cut short each time he zoned out. Flies could have come and feasted on the bait while he was “not there” physically or otherwise. As well, they could be laying eggs in areas he hadn’t yet cleaned or hatching in areas he had overlooked.

Timothy realized he was drifting off from himself and looked at the stove clock. 18:10 it read. Deciding to eat something, he dug out a frozen meat pie from the freezer and nuked it in a covered container. He took his final pill for the day, sat at the kitchen table and ate while scanning the area for flies. He needed another bright idea. He could feel himself sinking in despair, yet at the same time, he felt driven by a frantic urgency. He needed something big, something way out of the box. Something for which flies had no instinct. He finished up his meat pie and left the used plate on the table. With no new bright ideas, he headed off for the living room.

There he dusted and wiped every book and every book shelf. He dusted and wiped every surface and every device in his home entertainment system; dismantling some and vacuuming their insides. He took each of the small drawers from his coffee table and individually cleaned them, their contents and their slot. He washed down the dining table and chairs, vacuuming their cushions. He removed the bulb shades from the chandelier and washed them in the kitchen. He cleaned the rest of it before replacing them. He washed down the walls. He vacuumed the curtains then cleaned the windows. He vacuumed the couch and its pillows. He mopped the hardwood floor. Timothy was determined to complete the cleaning today. He hadn’t bothered monitoring the bait in the kitchen.

He moved to the bedroom and emptied the closet onto the bed and floor. He washed down the closet walls and surfaces. He dusted and wiped each storage box and its contents before neatly piling them along the back floor and upper shelf. He clapped each pair of shoes together before replacing them on the closet floor. He shook out each piece of clothing before hanging it back up. He emptied each bureau drawer onto the bed, cleaned each drawer and slot; shaking out each item of clothes before replacing them. He stripped the bed and put it all in the washing machine. He vacuumed the mattress and the curtains; and wiped the windows. He cleaned his desk and laptop. He washed down the walls. He got fresh linen and re-made the bed. He mopped the floor.

By this time, the wash had completed, so, he transferred the bedding from the washer to the dryer and stripped naked. He put the effects from his pockets on a small shelf, put the clothes he had just removed plus the contents of his hamper into the washer, and started it.

He marched to the bathroom and started the bath water running. The routine of the cleaning frenzy had totally taken his mind off the real reason he was doing all this. He felt somewhat apprehensive about gearing down and coming back to face his thoughts. He got his prescription bottle from the vanity and took one extra pill for the day. He sat in the tub, letting the water slowly surround him as he adjusted the temperature of it. He realized he had no idea what time it was, though he certainly knew it was late at night. He turned off the water and sank back into the bath, adjusting a white, suction-cupped, inflatable pillow along the small of his neck. The soft rumbling of the washer and dryer carried through the ajar bathroom door. He closed his eyes, and before he knew it, he was in a deep sleep.

Chapter 3 – Dreaming

In his dream, Timothy was much younger, yet he felt mature and it seemed he was possessed of more memories than his short years should allow. But, no rules of rationality govern the dream world. He wasn’t aware that he was dreaming.

He was in his childhood home and his mother was screaming. Young Timothy came running out of his bedroom to find his mother sitting on the edge of the table like she was riding it side-saddle. She was oddly dressed in a 50’s style flared dress; tight fitting, buttoned top with ruffles on the bottom. Her legs were spooned into each other and bent as far as they would go to keep her feet off the floor. One hand was pointing in classic comic-book “eek” style at a spider on the floor and the other clutching her chest.

In the dream, Timothy was unperturbed by the insect and was quietly enjoying the comedy of the situation. He was about to walk over and step on it when his mother’s head whipped around and landed a bullet gaze on him. Timothy’s mind went blank, not a thought could be heard across the landscape of his awareness. Her gaze was riveting and she held him in its pall for what seemed like minutes. He was frozen, as was everything else; her outstretched hand, her clutching hand, the spider on the floor, her locked-in gaze; all motionless. “Go get your father, now!”, she said in a voice that was two registers too low for her and echoed as if they were in a cathedral.

Timothy felt a dread and fear about following that instruction, which was all out of proportion to the simple words of his mother. In the dream, as in real life, Timothy’s father never gave him reason to be afraid of him. Which confused the Dreamland Timothy. What was the source of his apprehension? And why hadn’t dad come running when mom screamed? Where was dad?

He headed off to find him. As he went from room to room in the house, he could hear his mother’s heavy breathing as if it was directly next to his ear. Every now and then, he would hear her scream again, but this always sounded as from the appropriate distance he was from the kitchen. Her breathing sounds acted like suspense music from a low budget horror movie; nonetheless, adding an urgency to his search.

Finally, he found his dad in the garage, reading a Playboy magazine. On the cover was a half-clad woman who looked remarkably like his mother. “Mom needs you now!” said Timothy. His father looked at him with a broad smile and, without turning away, opened up an old suitcase on the workbench, slid the magazine inside and closed it again. All the while, nodding his head and smiling at Timothy. Once his father started to move towards him, Timothy turned and headed for the kitchen, glancing back to be sure he was being followed.

In the kitchen, his father visually followed the line from his mother’s finger to the floor; walked over and stepped on the spider. Timothy had the sinking thought that the spider had already been dead. Then admonished himself for thinking of his mother to be calculating in that way.

His father walked over and picked her up off the table, one arm under her knees and one at the small of her back. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and nuzzled her chin into his neck, all the while, holding Timothy’s gaze over his shoulder. “What would I do without you?”, she piped, and “Timothy has such a weak heart for these things. He really couldn‘t hurt a fly.” Timothy’s stomach tightened and he tilted his head at his mother in confusion-tempered anger. She simply mimicked his look and kissed his father on the neck.

Dreamland Timothy was spinning. Had she planned these theatrics? Was it to “Keep her man”? Or was it to control her son? Why did she want to impose non-existent problems onto him? What did she get out of it? Sympathy from her friends for having a neurotic son? Did she have some variation of Munchausen by proxy, using neuroses instead of illnesses. What the hell was going on here?

“Bath time!”, she sang. Timothy’s father slid his arm out from under her knees and spun around as the bottom half of her body slid down his abdomen, landing on her feet like a professional dancer, his arm still wrapped around her waist. “I know how you can’t stand being unclean, my little darling.”, she said, rolling her eyes at his father. She had added an extra syllable into the word “stand” that gave it a decidedly mocking tone.

She untangled from his father, brushed her hands down the front, then, back of her dress, shook her hair and walked over to Timothy, taking him by the hand. She led him to the bathroom, coquettishly looking over her shoulder at his father. She shooed Timothy into the bathroom with a pat on his bottom. Then turned around, waved to his father and backed into the bathroom, closing and locking the door behind her.

Dreamland Timothy knew he loved his mother; even though, sometimes, he couldn’t determine what was sincere and what was contrived. But the times that he felt sincerely loved by her were worth all the other doubtful times. She was so pretty to him, she always smelled wonderful, always felt warm. She turned on the water to fill the tub. “Let’s undress and get all clean!” she said excitedly, undoing the front buttons of her dress.

Timothy obeyed and got into the tub as quickly as possible, squirting bath soap into the water instantly as he got in. His mother sat on the edge of the tub with her back to him. “Help mommy with her bra, my little darling.”, she asked. Timothy stood up out of the water to reach the clasp, at which point she turned her head, looked down at his little penis and pursed her lips, “Nothing like Daddy’s yet.” she said sweetly over her shoulder. Timothy couldn’t figure out if he should feel good that “yet” meant there was hope or embarrassed for her pointing it out. He unclasped her bra, she slipped it off, then her panties, and climbed into he bath, kneeling opposite him.

“Stay standing. I want to wash you down.” she said. Dreamland Timothy was happy to get the attention from his beautiful mother. And now, Real Timothy started to impress upon the seams of the dream. Not in the way the one knows one is dreaming, but in the way that what is happening in the dream starts being partially interpreted within the context of one’s real knowledge. Some feelings of guilt crept into the mix, related to the feelings of excitement that his dreaming counterpart was experiencing.

Dreamland Timothy knew the drill; he closed his eyes and leaned his face closer to his mother, who washed it with a facecloth. He stretched out both his arms and she washed them. He raised his arms so she could get to his armpits. He turned around so she could get at his back and buttocks, which she did. She cleaned his legs, then spun him around by the shoulders. She cleaned his penis between two facecloth-covered fingers, with a wide smirk on her face. Timothy giggled and, yet, tried to determine if that was a fun smirk or not. His little penis got stiff and her smirk changed to an expression of feigned surprise.

Real Timothy, ever so slightly in the background, experienced a sick feeling of deep embarrassment. Dreamland Timothy was having fun with his mother, who he loved, adored, and for whom he had no other frame of reference.

Suddenly, the warm bath turned freezing. “It’s cold, Mom!”, Timothy said. “You stay in there until that little thing goes away!” she replied, standing up in front of him, naked, with her hands on her hips. Her playful tone contrasting her looming form. Timothy’s head was level with her midriff and he could smell the natural body odours that he had come to associate with his loving mother. Real Timothy started to impose slightly stronger with a concoction of disgust, licentiousness, embarrassment and excitement.

Dreamland Timothy knew what was coming next, just like Real Timothy did; but their viewpoints about it were markedly different. She moved back a step, bent over, closed her eyes and presented her face to Timothy, “Now, you clean me, my little darling.” she said. Timothy dutifully and gently washed his mother’s face. He expected to be there in the cold water for a very long time, as his stiff little thing was not only not going away, but getting more and more present! Real Timothy, now somewhat “there” in the dream, was conflictingly consumed by the beautiful round breasts of his mother, with their bubbly cold nipples. She outstretched both her arms and Timothy washed them with a loving tenderness beyond his years. She knelt back down in the tub, lifted her arms for Timothy to clean her downy underarms. Then she put her arms straight down besides her breasts and brought them together, pushing out her chest.

Real Timothy, in disbelief of such luck to be having this dream followed by sharp guilt for feeling so, had a meltdown of emotions; the separation between himself and Dreamland Timothy disappearing like a curtain on a stage. Snap! Real Timothy woke up and Dreamland Timothy ceased to exist.

Chapter 4 – Awake

Timothy was freezing! It was still night-time, but in the wee hours of Friday morning. He had fallen asleep in the bath long enough for the water to have gone cold; a good few hours, he estimated. He was uncontrollably shivering, and, despite the cold water, he had a raging hard-on. The image of the dream was still fresh in his mind. Timothy was in turmoil; he wanted to keep that image fresh in his mind and at the same time, wanted to banish it. He hated himself for conjuring it up, yet, he could feel his penis pulse when it went across his mental field of vision. He wanted to masturbate to it but he didn’t want to be that version of himself.

He got out of the tub and dried off with a towel. Despite his own advices, he kept his eyes shut as much as possible, so as not to “wake up too much” and lose touch with the details and images of his dream. He walked over to the toilet and noticed his blue, shriveled lips as he passed the mirror. He looked like a completely different person. He sat on the toilet to pee, but nothing came. Finally he gave in to his desires with a clanging of dependable justifications. And though the songs of guilt and disgust chimed on in the background, he thoroughly enjoyed it. He sat on the toilet for ten or more minutes until the blood receded and his urethra freed up. Aswim in images of his naked mother.

Unlike in the dream, his mother had never worn a dress in her life, as far as Timothy knew. But she definitely was a case of Munchausen by neuroses! Always diminishing him in front of friends and family, “Timothy’s got a weak heart.”, “Timothy couldn’t hurt a fly.”, “Timothy doesn’t know how to talk to girls.” Yet, when they were alone together, their world was wonderful. All the slights faded away when she would take his head in her hands and kiss him all over his face. He worshipped her for those times. It was a cult of Her, with one member.

As an adult, Timothy could see the machinations she had orchestrated for what they were: pitting he and his father against each other; minimizing him in front of others yet providing a safe, loving space when they were alone. But knowing that, intellectually, had no impact on his feelings of love and devotion for her.

Though, sometimes he thought that he was too young to know the difference, in his heart of hearts he knew that he was complicit. In some ways, he surmised, he was controlling her by backing up her story to the outside world, while having her to himself in their private one. In sharp contrast to this was an ever lingering sense of shame that he could never shake. It ruined the fond memories of her innuendo laden bath times or the hundreds of times he helped her “try on some outfits”; threatening to make them perverted instead of the fondest memories of his life.

Timothy padded off toward the bedroom to go back to sleep. Secretly, to himself (if such a thing is possible), he wished he would dream, again, about his mother; picking up where he left off. He felt a little tingle in his loins at the thought. As he passed the kitchen, he stopped in his tracks. He had completely forgotten about the crisis at hand.

He took in the very unfamiliar view of his kitchen: foodstuffs on the counter; a crusty, sticky mess on the floor; unwashed dishes and a fly swatter on the table. But, still no sign of insect life. The euphoria of his mother’s memory was bluntly clobbered by the scene in front of him. Timothy’s hate for his arch enemies simmered up to his awareness as thoughts of his mother boiled off in a vapour. His dream haze vanished and, along with it, his desire to sleep. The clock on the stove read 4:45.

He went back to the bathroom, arms swinging like a man on a mission. He started cleaning the bathtub and area. The cleaning routine wasn’t having its usual calming effect. His swiping motions were violent and abrupt. His nose was crinkled and his lower jaw was involuntarily jutting out. The bait had not lured the fly out of hiding; cleaning had not rustled it out… where did it come from; what attracted it; where could it be hiding?

These, and other, questions slapped him in the face, over and over. His internal battery of queries turned louder and took on a nagging tone. He started answering these in a snide and berating manner, and out loud. Though he wasn’t cognizant of it, these were the same things he had mentally screamed at the public version of his mother. Dealing her out as good as she could give; mirroring her derisions. But in his distorted anger-funk “awareness”, he, himself, was the target of his cutting retorts. His conscious mind had no idea that he was hammering home, drumming in, and effectively indoctrinating himself with Public-Mom’s very words.

From the viewpoint of physics, a body can’t be in two places at the same time; its corollary, of pertinence here, is that two bodies can‘t occupy the same space at the same time. Many Sci-Fi stories have ruptured the space-time continuum in the process of breaking one or the other forms of this cardinal law. Psychologically, two versions of the same person can’t exist at the same time without commensurate rupturing of the mind’s continuum. And so it was with Timothy. Buried, deep below his love for his mother was a level of resentment that he never really confronted; and in fact, couldn‘t without mentally catastrophic results. Certainly, he was aware that he disliked Public-Mom’s antics, and that he chose Private-Mom as his frame of reference. But what he wasn’t aware of was the fantastic amount of energy he unwittingly spent maintaining a smoke screen over the resentment and hate that he felt for Public-Mom.

Compounding this, and as a direct result, Timothy was juggling two versions of himself. If the mind requires considerable energy to hide an unresolved version of another from itself; one can only imagine the subconscious overtime required to maintain another, hidden, version of oneself!

Timothy’s anger-driven retorts were having an exponential effect on his psyche. Each snap, unthinking, response to his own questions to “himself” acted like a feedback loop, picking up energy from what was subconsciously behind them. This, in turn, weakened the barriers he had so expertly, and so “unknowingly“, built around his impossible-to-resolve sentiments. Giving more energy, and truth, to the “long forgotten” slights that were coming out of his mouth. As his barriers had their energy siphoned off with his expressions of the very feelings he was hiding, Timothy Darling began to collapse in on himself; becoming a puppet to the hate he had suppressed for so long.

But, never to underestimate the power of the mind to protect itself and its constructs; Timothy’s psyche had one more decisive trick up its sleeve.

With squeegee in hand, Timothy slashed at water particles on the surface of the bathtub, like he was wielding a whip. Beating away the thoughts that threatened his sanity. Yet, ironically, voicing them with every lash. This convoluted and contradictory assault on the tenuous balance of his mind left the psyche no other option but to shut it down. As his barriers crumbled, Timothy’s mind broke for a second time in his life. And at that very point, he “slipped“, striking his head on the edge and falling into the empty tub; limp, out cold and dreamless.

Chapter 5 – Living Through Death

To understand the scope of the precarious emotional balance Timothy found himself in, at present, one has to frame his already conflicted history in that thing that originally broke him. The thing that is most hidden, the thing that takes the most invisible energy to keep it so. And, it follows, that thing which threatens to release the most havoc if compromised or exposed. Not unlike nuclear fission, the energy used to maintain a balance in any system will be released if destabilized. The potential violence and destructiveness is proportional to the amount of energy holding it all together coupled with the trajectory of its release.

Timothy’s aversion to flies didn’t start at a young age, it was precipitated by the most traumatic event of his young adult life. The discovery of his mother’s days-dead body in the bathtub of the family home. Covered in flies!

The week before that scarred Sunday, Timothy had completed his college exams and had spent a weekend on a celebratory camping trip with his classmates and profs. He had talked to her on that Friday and was sheepishly happy to hear that his father would be away for the next week.

On that Sunday evening, he returned home in anticipation of celebrating with his mother. Gliding up the front steps to the house, Timothy felt like he was riding a magic carpet, getting a wide, bird’s eye view of his life and all its potential castles. Opening the front door, pulled that rug out from under him with swift and shattering shock. His knees went weak from uncertain, dreadful premonition. Vertigo descended on him; the feeling of falling hopes threatened to plummet him to the ground. He stood at the open doorway, in a stupor for some minutes. Then strained his ears to gather the slightest sounds of his mother’s dancing gait. But all he got was the buzzing of flies. And with the recognition of that sound, his other senses kicked in.

That smell! Timothy had no experience with the smell of death, but to say he didn’t know what he was smelling wouldn’t be accurate. His nostrils and throat constricted to prevent any of that dour air from entering his body. His stomach followed suit and felt like it had shriveled up into a tiny ball in the middle of his abdomen. He called out to his mother, but all that came out was “Mughgh”. Without his involvement, his body pulled in a great breath of air through his mouth, causing his chest to stick out and his back to straighten. Feeling some of the bravado that his body was involuntarily mimicking, he called out again with a clear, commanding voice, “Mom!”. Even though he knew he was not going to get an answer. Something terrible had happened, of that he was sure.

He walked into the house and stood at the base of the stairs. Staring up, without moving his eyes from the top landing, Timothy rummaged in his pocket for his pills and took one.

He knew she was up there. Somewhere in his animal brain was the perception of the subtle changes in the intensity of smell, sound and density of fly presence; though, they were everywhere. He wasn‘t aware, but his nostrils were now flared, the skin of his scalp pulled tight and his eyes were dilated. He let his instinct move his body in the direction his mind could not fathom going willingly.

He ascended the stairs quickly, briskly, even. But from his viewpoint, it was painfully slow. His sense of time was distorted and he couldn’t really feel his body. At the far end of the hall was the bathroom, with its door slightly ajar. Timothy’s eyes arrived at that door, subjectively, long before his body did. As he walked towards it, it perceptibly never changed size, only his peripheral vision shifted, of which he didn’t take notice. When his body reached the door, his eyes were watering from the intensity of the thick, foul air escaping that crack, though he himself was oblivious to the smell now.

Standing at the bathroom door, knowing his mother was on the other side was a physical circumstance with which he was deeply familiar. However, the emotional associations of it were, now, forever changed.

He pushed in the door and entered. There in the half-filled bathtub, on her side, askew, was his naked mother. Her skin was grey and sunken into her cheek and rib cage, her visible arm muscles hanging from her bones. The exposed part of her head and cheek were covered in flies and blood, as was the dank water covering the rest of her.

Floating in the bathwater was a yellow, plastic, fly swatter.

Timothy didn’t have to be a detective to extrapolate the series of events culminating in the scene before his eyes. What had happened here clicked instantly into place, with full understanding. Much like a bucket of cold water in the face.

What he could never have extrapolated were the methods and devices his already damaged psyche would employ to come to terms with the trauma engulfing him. More akin to water-dripping torture.

Two people had died in that tub. One of them, Timothy might well have been relieved to put to rest. The other’s demise had ripped a chasm to his very soul. Both sentiments existed, both were valid, both could not be maintained in his mind. And so, the ultimate avoidance technique of millennia of the human experience proved to be the first step to his “recovery”. He targeted something outside himself on which to focus the energies streaming off his emotional reactor, about to blow.

Timothy, trance-like, walked over to the tub and fished out the fly swatter. In a matter-of-fact manner, brought it over to the sink and washed it. Smoke, figuratively, billowing out of his mental stacks. He dried it with a hand towel while staring off into the mirror; registering nothing that his physical eyes were seeing. Then, the “controlled” meltdown commenced.

He cursed and slashed every living fly in that bathroom. At first, it felt like a losing battle, but he was undaunted. As the numbers decreased, he shooed them off his mother’s lifeless body and executed them where they landed, with triumphant howls. Bellowing slighting insults, regurgitated from his library of unacknowledged resentments.

This went on for hours. Timothy had no real sense of time or space. He wasn’t in that room swatting flies; he was in his mind swatting every hateful thought he ever had about her. Re-programming his targeting towards the flies, against which he was now in selective rage.

When there were no more alive, he pummeled the dead ones. Proclaiming their deserved justice at the top of his lungs.

Finally, he felt someone’s palm on his shoulder and whipped around to see the concerned face of a police officer. His physical environment came crashing into his awareness and he went limp. She extended her other arm around his other shoulder, and, almost cradling him, walked Timothy out of the bathroom, down the stairs and out of the house. Though his body was almost lifeless, he had a death-grip on the yellow fly swatter.

Chapter 6 – Preparation

Timothy came-to, slowly. At first, it simply felt like waking up. But as his head started to ache and he noticed small dark spots dancing before his closed eyes, he knew something was wrong. There was a faint smell of blood, his body position felt contorted and there was an uncomfortable hard surface against which he could painfully feel the bone of his hip and the side of one knee. He kept his eyes closed and shifted his body to relieve the pressure he was feeling on his joints. With this, he recognized he was in the tub. But so disoriented was he, that the import of it escaped him. He lay there as the events of the last couple of days bubbled in the cauldron of his mind; smelting up the crusty slag of his new reality; sealing everything else off.

It was WAR.

Timothy had wanted a new bright idea; something big; something way out of the box. This was it! Wartime rationale was brutal, unforgiving. “Win at all costs.”, was its mantra. And he had his own, personal, propaganda machine running, double-time, in his mind. Pumping out slogans to put the most infamous dictators of history into an amateur category; crafted from the depths of his conflicted past. Spinning a story of the enemy that would inspire the unthinking violence that was the backbone of military might.

No passive thought was safe from the expert, subliminal slant his psyche wove into in its propaganda capers. He was the hero here. Saving decent life values from the vile and base ones the enemy hoped to force upon his world. Not on Timothy’s watch!

He tried to open his eyes, but only one responded; the other had a crusty film of dried blood keeping it shut. He pulled himself up out of the tub, ignoring the sharp pains from his hip and knee. One of his legs was numb and when he landed that foot on the floor, a thousand needles penetrated it. Keeping that leg straight, he limped over to the sink to assess his damage and clean himself up. Genuinely looking war-torn.

He cursed himself for having been so clumsy. He must have struck the edge of the tub with considerable force to have broken his skin like this. He washed the dried, black, blood from the wound with an angry hand and reopened the break in his skin; fresh crimson blood trickling down his face. It’s sharp smell, stinging his nose. He pressed the facecloth to his head and stood fuming at himself in the mirror. After some time, he removed the facecloth to get a better look; nothing fatal or requiring stitches, in his opinion.

He thought of shaving, but dismissed the idea as a waste of time. He cleaned the bloody sink, grumbling insults at non-existent flies who would feast on the remnants of his pain. Each time he would catch himself in the mirror, he screamed at the image, “Fuuuuuuuuuuuuk!”, as his head oscillated atop a motionless, tense, stiff body. He went back to the tub; cleaned it of blood and showered both fresh and old from his hair and body.

He swallowed two pills from his prescription bottle and headed towards his bedroom to dress. On his way, he grabbed his effects from the small shelf in the laundry closet. As he passed the kitchen, he looked at the stove clock. 11:00 it read. He took a detour through the kitchen to the front hallway, where his phone was docked on a small, shallow table there. He pushed the power button on the dock to wake it up. It was still Friday morning, he confirmed. He had been unconscious, he now calculated, for something around six hours!

The notifications on his phone indicated five missed texts and fifteen missed calls. He ignored them.

He went to the bedroom and dressed in a snug fitting, black track suit and black sneakers. He distributed his effects among his pockets. He put on a black baseball cap, backwards, so as to optimize his peripheral vision. The occidental ninja was ready for action.

He felt hungry, but the thought of eating made him nauseous. In fact, he felt slightly nauseous no matter what he was thinking. But, not when he thought of the disgusting, dirty, scavenging and parasitic enemy. No haven must be allowed them, he thought. No nook for their hungry, clamouring young. Children of that species were born evil! No maturing was required to develop their self-proclaimed right to occupy and devour, despite ownership. Nor their insatiable, incestuous, drive to reproduce. No, no, no purchase must be allowed them in Timothy’s world.

Without thinking anything through, and with his new found brisk, military efficiency, Timothy started to dismantle his apartment. First, the living room and bedroom curtains came down. Dragging them behind him in a march, he left the apartment, boarded the elevator, and brought them to the dumpster at the rear of his building. There he found an abandoned shopping cart, which he seized and brought back with him.

He spent the next hours running loads of anything that might provide THEM harbour. Effectively, he thought, removing the enemy’s fodder and laying them bare to his righteous vengeance. He tore down the home entertainment system and bookshelf, piece by piece and load by load he vanquished their availability of camouflage. The coffee table, dining table, the dining chairs and every pillow from his plush couch.

He went to the bedroom and stripped the bed down to a single sheet and pillow, then, moved it to the center of the room. He emptied his bureau onto the bed and broke it into pieces small enough to fit in the shopping cart. He did the same with his wooden computer desk. He emptied the closet of boxes, old shoes and any clothes he hadn‘t worn lately.

Each load to the dumpster represented a tactical step in the strategy of their demise.

He retrieved a utility knife and a hammer from a tool box he kept in the front closet and stood in front of the skeleton of his living room couch. Chest out, back straight and chin up, he looked down as an evil, mad, smirk came over his face. But, before he had a chance to notice how similar it was to that which he had imagined of his enemy, it changed to a darkened angry grimace. He slashed the seams of the couch’s material and hammered it into pieces. He disposed of this final carnage in the same manner as the rest.

His pace was unstoppable. His excitement and sense of accomplishment, peaking. He swallowed two more pills from his little metal container. “Let’s get all clean!“ he thought. He went to the kitchen to get rid of the bait he had left the day before. He bent down to get the larger shards of the broken teacup. He grabbed the piece with the handle still intact; it was stuck to the floor, as were the rest of the shards. When he finished dislodging the larger pieces, he spayed the area with cleaner to loosen the sticky mess. While it soaked in, he swept the dusty evidence of his destructive “preparations” from the floors of the living room and bedroom. Then returned to the kitchen, swept the wet sludge into the garbage; and cleaned the broom and dustpan. He cleaned everything off the kitchen surfaces. Then he mopped every floor in the apartment.

He stood in the front hallway, near the slim side table, from where he could survey his front. Down the hall, he could see part of the living room, it’s sliding glass doors to the balcony and part of the empty shopping cart he had been using. To his right, the kitchen, which had an opening in the wall it shared with the living room; through which he could see the dangling dining-area chandelier. Through to the far end of the kitchen and across the interior hall, he could see his bedroom through its open door. He touched the power button on his phone dock to wake it up and see the time. 17:30 it read.

He grabbed his keys and wallet off the hallway table; locked up and exited the building. He got into his SUV and drove to the nearest DIY store in the city. In Home Furniture: he bought a new couch that had a solid steel, chromed frame; draped over which were slats of leather, serving as seats; a coffee table that had a glass top and a matching frame; and a small computer desk from the same collection. In House Wares: four sets of stackable plastic storage drawers, each with three drawers; an “econo-pak” of ten hanging garment bags; and an “econo-pak“ of four multi-coloured fly swatters. In Kitchenware; a fly swatter with a magnetic handle. In Appliances: an electronic bug zapper with wall mount feature.

He put it all on credit, rolled out with his purchases on an industrial-sized shopping cart, loaded them into his vehicle and drove home. He carried as much as he could in his hands on the first trip up to his apartment, then returned three more times with the shopping cart to retrieve the rest.

He deposited his keys and wallet onto the hallway table and wasted no time tearing the packaging from everything he had purchased. Then he assembled and arranged all the furniture. He placed a fly swatter on the coffee table and one on the hallway table. He hammered a nail into the wall, near the sliding glass doors and hung another. He did the same near the bedroom window, beside his new computer desk. Above it, he mounted the bug zapper onto the wall, plugged it in and turned it on. In the kitchen, he placed the magnetic handled swatter onto the fridge door. Grabbing the yellow fly swatter from the table, he headed to the bathroom. There, he drove a nail into the wall, within arm’s reach of the tub, and hung his old, cracked, trusty, yellow weapon.

Finally, he loaded all the packaging waste into the shopping cart and brought it back it to where he had originally found it.

He went directly into the bedroom on returning to his apartment. Timothy put all of his hanging clothes into garment bags and re-hung them. Then, he placed the clothes that he had left on the bed into the plastic storage drawers and stacked them in the closet.

Looking at his bare bed, he realized how beat he was. He hadn’t eaten since yesterday evening! But he didn’t have the energy to do so now. Though he didn’t bother to check the time, he knew it was long past midnight and into the small hours of Saturday. He took one more pill for the day and let his tired, hungry body fall to the bed.

Chapter 7 – War Games

Timothy woke up feeling chilly. Cold sweat was lining the track suit he was wearing, making the chill unshakable. Aches on one of his hips, one of his knees and on his head vied for his attention. His arm, leg, and back muscles burned with the aftermath of over-exertion. Hard pangs of hunger and subtle waves of nausea alternated in his stomach. Morning wood strained his bladder and a full colon prohibited flatulence. But, despite the confused prattle of his physical ails, Timothy’s mind was singing a single, clear anthem of deadly intent.

He picked up his hat from behind the pillow and went to the bathroom to relieve himself. He washed his sweat-dried face and brushed his thirst-dried teeth. After gargling a glass of water, he drank three in succession. Then a fourth, chasing down his first pill of the day.

Running his wet fingers through his hair, he noticed Friday’s stubble had turned into Saturday’s brush. His head wound had not reopened overnight, he observed, thankfully. The track suit had absorbed the final traces of his night-sweat and his chill was gone. “You have to eat.”, he said to the rugged, battle-scarred soldier in the mirror, as he put his cap on and adjusted the bill along the back of his neck.

In the kitchen, the stove clock read 10:45. He would have slept for about 6 hours he estimated, since it was 3 to 4 o’clock in the morning when he finally laid himself down to rest last night. He made himself breakfast, ate it and cleaned up. Considering he had missed his regular breakfast time, he took another pill.

For all the normalcy that a fly on the wall might have thought it was perceiving (had there been one), what was really going on in Timothy’s mind this morning was very far from normal! He was going to have his war. And if the absence of the physical presence of the enemy was a problem, his, now, twice-broken psyche would chip in and “help”.

Outwardly calm, for the moment; Timothy considered that the most likely hiding place for daytime, enemy troops would be the dark and moist environment of the bathroom. He considered, tactically, that if the warm summer weather had evaporated the barrier water in the drains’ p-traps; they’d have two escape tunnels available to them there.

With that thought, he turned the water on in the kitchen sink, slowly letting it trickle, only, into the drain, then turned it off; making sure that escape route was sealed. With a paper towel, he dried the small sprinkles that had bounced wide of his target and kept it in his hand.

His pace was slow and steady, and as he headed to the bathroom, his body language betrayed a dread determination. When he opened the bathroom door, it was completely dark inside except for the dim daytime light he let in though its crack. He flipped the light switch on and could have sworn he saw a swarm scurrying across his field of vision, then disappearing. “No rush.“, he said out loud. There he performed the same sabotage on the bathroom sink and tub drains; wiping each dry with the paper towel. He took the yellow fly swatter off its nail, near the tub, and stuffed it into the waistband of his track pants; handle out. Then he left the bathroom, turning off the lights and closing the door behind him.

He got a towel from the laundry closet and stuffed it in the crack at the bottom of the door. He grabbed another and did the same to the other bathroom door off the bedroom.

He returned to the kitchen and made himself a cup of tea. Putting the damp paper towel and the spent teabag into a zipper-locking plastic bag and then that bag into the regular garbage container, closing the lid snugly. Biding his time, he thought, as the cowering swarms in the bathroom were lulled into a false sense of security in that dark, inactive, and now, sealed, arena. He ruminated over different plans of assault as he sipped and savoured his hot drink.

When he finished his tea, he cleaned and dried the cup and returned it to the cupboard. Then he headed off to patrol the apartment, hand on the handle of the fly swatter sticking out of his waistband. No insect would escape his wrath today. However, he could see no sign of them, in the mid-day light of the, now, sparsely furnished apartment.

He stopped in front of the small mirror above the slim table in his front hallway and picked up the fly swatter he had placed there yesterday. He practiced his smiting blows, flattening the imagined, frightened flies on the surface of his own image. With a dark, satisfied look on his face, he laid down the weapon and patrolled on.

Into the living room, he stood in front of the sliding glass doors, taking in the view of the city. He felt like “king of the hill“. He reached over and removed the swatter hanging on the wall. Again, he practiced his technique.

Standing completely still, he snapped the imagined enemy on the window with violent speed. Then, pacing back and forth along the floor-to-ceiling glass with a general’s swagger, he randomly cracked his swatting whip. The speed of his blows was incredible, yet his pacing remained steady and calm. A powerful presence of deadly unpredictability. He played out this military mime for almost an hour. Gathering invigoration, confidence and conviction. Feeling a sense of triumph at each imagined “kill”. He ceremoniously placed the swatter back on its nail. With one hand behind his back and the other gripping the handle still at his waist, he sauntered Napoleonic toward the bedroom.

Timothy was liking this practice! It was lifting him up and giving him a sense of control. He felt cocky and sure. Drill, drill, drill was the vital underpinning to all successful manoeuvres. Drill, drill, drill until the core motions can be executed with the slightest of thoughts. War games, war games, war games until deadly strategy and tactical technique became second nature.

Standing, now, facing the bedroom window, Timothy imagined a war game scenario of his own creation. He imagined the enemy sending suicide drone after suicide drone into the exact same spot in the center of the window. Imagined hearing the collisions against its surface. Each strike, chipping away at the glass. He unhooked the fly swatter off its nail, and, reaching out his arm with its handle in his hand, he positioned his body that exact distance from the assault point. Then took one-half step forward and waited attentively.

Finally, they had broke through, creating a tiny hole in the middle of the pane, but only large enough to allow one fly at a time. Through which they commenced sending reinforcements. Timothy swatted each one as they attempted entry. Spreading bloody trails of their broken bodies in the wake of his strike. He swatted and splayed; left, right, up, down and diagonal. But they kept coming!

After a little over half an hour of this, Timothy was genuinely getting exhausted. He imagined he had heroic stamina toward a sworn duty to prevent the enemy ingress. This thought fed new life to his actual, strained and burning muscles. And, so, he fought on for 15 or so more minutes; until he felt he had pushed through his wall at a time when it was needed most. Finally, no more troops were available on that flank. The hole in the pane was filled, packed and sealed with dead carcasses of the fallen enemy. Radiating pride, he returned the swatter to its nail, about-faced and headed to the kitchen.

The stove clock read 15:50. Timothy cooked an early supper and ate. He took his mealtime pill, then cleaned up. After making some tea, he sat down to take stock of the day so far. He felt finely tuned and ready to produce some actual casualties of war. The zero-body-count patrol bolstered his certainty that the real enemy must be covertly assembling in the dark haven of the bathroom. The only place that he had even thought he had seen any.

That’s where the conflict would take place. He may have to wait them out; surprise them with the lights; catch them in the act. Multiple skirmishes might be required to wipe them all out and win the war. He took another pill and washed it down with the last of his tea. Not being able to predict how long this would take, he wanted to be sure his heart rate would be under control and nothing would interfere with him bringing this to a victorious close.

Timothy did a final, but cursory, patrol around his apartment, flipping the lights on in the late afternoon light. Without any sightings, his reconnaissance all but confirmed the soundness of his suspicions. He headed off down the interior hall to the bathroom and stood outside the door for a moment, solidifying his tactical plan.

Chapter 8 – War

The well fed, well medicated and not so well rested Timothy pulled the towel away from the bottom of the bathroom door. With it in his hand, he opened, entered, closed and stuffed the towel along the bottom crack of the inside of the door. There he stood in the dark, scanning the invisible front. He closed his eyes, tight, hoping the deep darkness behind his eyes would speed up the process of his pupils dilating, so he could see better in the dark. He opened them wide and could still see no silhouette or outline in the windowless room.

Slowly, though, he started to see faint white trails, streaking across his field of vision. He considered his enemy must have quieted down, on detecting his initial incursion, and were now becoming active again as no new movements from his quarter were detected.

This didn’t explain, however, how it was possible that he could see their flitting souls in the dark. He had read stories of wartime snipers being able to pick off two or three sleeping enemies, hours after they had doused their campfire. Had they enjoyed a heightened state of lucidity that spilled over to their physical senses; allowing them to locate the sleeping bodies of their prey by the spectres of their souls? Was he experiencing some kind of transcendence in perception? Timothy rubbed his eyes and looked again. Still seeing the trails of his milling enemy, decided not to look his gift horse in the mouth.

Slowly and soundlessly, he lowered a hand to the handle of his weapon at his waist. He moved his other hand along the wall until it touched the edge of the light switch plate. He noticed no change in the movement patterns of the flying evil before him, though he was certain their airborne numbers had increased since his first sighting.

He estimated, from memory, the distance between where he stood now and the vanity across the room. Two to three strides, he figured. He pulled the swatter out of its makeshift scabbard and raised it up and out from his body. In very quick succession: he flipped the bright lights on; raised that hand up and out, equal to the other; and charged at the vanity.

This tactic was well thought out by Timothy. Firstly, providing the maximum surface area possible on the charge presented the enemy with a force of fearsome and overwhelming size. Secondly, the larger the surface area, the larger the body of air he would push in front of him; corralling them toward the vanity as their only escape route and their path of least resistance.

In two great long strides he arrived at the vanity. Now he could see his enemy as a multitude of dark dots against the diffused bright light of the bathroom. His face, in the mirror, bared teeth and wild eyes. Throngs of small black entities hovered between he and the silver glass. And he swatted them out of existence! Over and over, forward slashes and back. Unrelenting and tirelessly.

Their numbers were not diminishing, despite his blows landing unequivocally true. They were replacing their fallen with reinforcements as fast as he could strike them down. They were removing their dead from the battlefield as fast has he could pile them up. Maybe he had underestimated their military prowess; what was happening here represented considerable organization and cooperation. Something he had considered below this uncivilized species.

The speed with which they replaced their number was their attempt at overwhelming him. And, removing all casualties from the arena was intended to deprive him of his sense of accomplishment. But the drilling this afternoon had prepared him against such dispiriting circumstances, and, so, his savage strokes never missed a beat. He called on his righteously fueled stamina to keep him going until he could wipe them all out.

Timothy found himself experiencing a very odd sense of peace amid his violent onslaught. Of course, it wasn’t the “conflict free” type of peace he was experiencing. It was the quiet mental landscape of pinpoint focus on the task at hand. Only two non-conflicting thoughts rang out: 1. They all must die. 2. I can kill them all. In hugely significant contrast to his usual confusing babble of mother issues and insecurities.

Timothy wanted to stay in this head space. He felt trouble-free and productive. He fortified his position by hooking up his dual mantra to his forward and backhand smiting strokes. First in his mind, and then out loud. This was not particularly deliberate; it was more like a progression of waking anger-mesmerism.

He continued like this for hours. Gloriously free of his troubled past and uncertain future. Eventually, the small, dark dots of his enemy decreased in number; and finally, disappeared completely. Timothy splayed on for some minutes out of sheer momentum. He didn’t really want to stop, but they had obviously evacuated in retreat; dead and all.

Physically drained but mentally elated, Timothy was ravenous and thirsty. He gulped down two glasses of water where he stood. He walked over to the door, kicked the towel away from the bottom of it and exited the bathroom.

It was night-time now, he could see, from the darkness filling the apartment. He flipped on the interior hallway light. As he entered the kitchen, he read the digital clock on the stove: 21:57.

Although he had spent some hours, basking in that calm sense of focus amid his violent physical exertion, the calming was a mental phenomenon only; his body was far from calm or focused. His heart rate was racing and felt uneven; he was winded, fatigued and slightly nauseous. He took the last two pills from the small metal container in his pocket. He went back to the bathroom and restocked his pill box with four more from his prescription bottle, then returned to the kitchen.

Timothy was tired and hungry and though he felt he could muster the energy for cooking, the queasy feeling in his stomach suggested that a full meal might not stay down. Instead, he made himself a cup of tea and rummaged out some chocolate covered digestive biscuits from his cupboard. As he laid six of them on a small plate, “Timothy’s got poor digestion.”, flashed through his mind. Spoken in his mother’s voice, dropping in pitch and elongated on the last syllable, imparting a snide tone. His nausea flared at the intrusion. “Timothy has a weak stomach.”, said her voice; this time, in a matter-of-fact manner.

He didn’t want this now! He was deserving of praise on the tail of his victories, not slight or ambivalence. These particular biscuits were always a comfort food for him. He didn’t understand. Where were the soothing words of his loving mother, nursing him and his upset tummy? And even thinking about this so explicitly produced none of her warming platitudes, of which he never tired. His dependable device for settling himself was not working. He ate one of the biscuits, hoping that the taste and smell might trigger the warm-and-fuzzy he usually enjoyed from simply thinking about eating these. “Timothy ruins his supper with treats.”, she admonished.

Something was very wrong, Timothy thought. It was like something in his psyche had been erased and replaced with its inverse. Comforting memories weren’t producing comforting feelings or thoughts. Was the method with which he maintained his equilibrium broken? “Think a good thought, feel a good feeling.”, was the advice of his child psychologist. Advice that he had followed ever since; and most enjoyably in relation to thoughts of his mother. “You’re not going anywhere until that little thing goes away.”, she scolded in his mental ears, eliciting a twinge of guilt and shame.

Things had been going so well when was engaged with the enemy. Though it was only this afternoon and this evening, Timothy reminisced about the single-mindedness he had enjoyed on his battle front. Albeit, single-minded rage and viciousness, he had felt stable and in control. “Timothy wouldn’t hurt a fly.”, sang his guilt-inducing mother’s voice.

He wanted to ignore it, but, truth be told, he thought; except for the last couple of days, he had never really exhibited any outward violence or aggression. And he did feel a little bad for the overt destruction he had laid on his enemy’s head. Though he fully wanted to shake that feeling; hadn’t he been triumphant and victorious in maintaining the stronghold of his domain? But it wasn’t going anywhere. “Timothy is not listening.”, his mother pressed, cancelling his parade and returning him to her will.

Chapter 9 – Remorse

He continued eating his biscuits and sipping his tea. He tried to move his attention off his Mother’s deriding comments. Deliberately changing his mental subject, he wondered what those dead flies might say if they, too, had voice in his head. “We were only fending for our young.” they’d probably say. Or, “Take me, but spare my child.”, they’d plea. Vignettes of pregnant mothers wailing over their dead young swarmed in his mind.

And another: of a mother fly standing above her baby child as the swatting death blows landed from above like bombs in a sally; her legs straining against the weight of fate that came crushing on her back. In slow motion, low pitched groans escaped her mouth, and her body teetered from side to side and vibrated up and down in her exertion to bear the brunt for her child. Locking her knees with the final light of life left in her as the core of her body disintegrated to dust under the striking force. Leaving the baby fly on its back, legs up and flailing; framed on either side were the two dead halves of its mother’s husk, legs still intact and stiff.

Timothy tried to pump the brakes on the runaway car of his mind; to no avail. His intellectual pondering was banished to the back seat as this new driving force took the wheel. Denied even the perk of shotgun. He might soon find himself in the trunk of his consciousness, tied and gagged. Being driven over a cliff or into oncoming traffic, without any control.

A crumb of biscuit itched the back of his throat and he washed it down with some tea. “Get that dirty thing out of your mouth.”, snapped Mother. Timothy noticed that his leg, arm and chest muscles all tightened; and that the room got subjectively brighter. What he didn’t notice was that his face had just turned sheet-white and he was breathing heavily through flared nostrils. The bulk of his blood had evacuated to his extremities in response to a large, autonomic dose of adrenalin that had dumped into his system. Though his mind and body had already reacted, it only slowly dawned on Timothy’s objective awareness that he may have just swallowed a fly. The dark thought debilitated any rationality. Timothy found himself in a quiet focus that he, most certainly, did not enjoy.

Dead still and thoughtless for some seconds, that felt like minutes, Timothy suddenly launched himself out of his chair in the direction of the kitchen sink. His muscles, so primed with blood and oxygen, landed him in front of there in zero-time. One hand turned on the cold water while the other entered his mouth to stimulate reverse peristalsis. His self-induced retches produced nothing but saliva since there was nothing substantial in his stomach. But that did not deter him from dry-heaving until his throat was sore.

He went back to the kitchen table and sat down. He stirred his tea with his spoon, turning over its contents under his attentive gaze before taking the, now, lukewarm cup into his hands. He sipped the tepid tea, visibly shaking. He took another of his pills, then robotically cleaned up all evidence of his snack; putting the teabag and remaining biscuits into the zipper-locking plastic bag that was already in the regular garbage container.

Even an inkling of a possibility that he had consumed a fly was so over the top of his limit to encompass that words easily fail to express it. The most succinct statement would be that Timothy didn’t know what to think. If one’s mind could be in a trance and racing at the same time, this would be a good starting point in describing what he was experiencing.

His level of disbelief was so intense as to shoot burning flames into his inner eyes that landed the slightest glance at entertaining the thought. Add to this, fear of health, violation, indignation, disgust and hate. Then, mix in a horrifying re-evaluation of everything he had eaten over the last months, tallying unforgiving odds of him having nests of these vengeful creatures already matured inside him.

And these racing thoughts, if one could possibly imagine, were not the worst of what he was feeling. The worst was the fact that at the same time, he felt a strikingly unfamiliar, completely out of place, and deeply potent sense of sympathy for them. His inability to grasp the strong presence of this sentiment produced the trance factor in his complex reaction to these (real or imagined) events. It was like a mountainous presence though which the racing train of his thoughts was traversing a long, winding and seemingly, endless tunnel. It didn’t matter what turns his thinking took, it was there, weighty, looming, dark, larger-then-life and immovable. Threatening to collapse in on him, putting a stop to all and any movement of thought.

But it had not collapsed, and his train kept rolling on. He tried to extend his awareness to the insides of his body. Straining to detect any foreign sensation or motion. He felt a warm agitation, deep behind his pelvis, possibly in his large intestine, he thought. He pulled up his track suit top and looked at the area, confirming there was a slight discoloration of the skin in that vicinity. This could mean nothing, but could also be an indicator of internal hemorrhaging.

He examined his hands. They felt chilly and slightly numb. Under his nails were purplish and the pads of his fingers, whitish instead of pink. These phenomenon were general indicators of impaired blood flow. His feet also felt chilly, and though he didn’t examine them, he suspected they exhibited the same discoloration symptoms as his hands. The fantastically remote thought of them being in his bloodstream began to form to solidity. Adding fuel, and so velocity, to his already runaway train of thought.

Somewhere in the back of everyone’s existence is that quality of awareness that is the most omnipresent, the most observant and the most intelligent. It is generally identified as the true, or higher, self. It is present in us all, but the degree of presence varies in intensity from person to person; and from time to time within the same person.

Timothy’s true self was aware that he was losing it, but the intensity of that awareness was very dim compared to the raucous onslaught of bombs his psyche was dropping on him. Nonetheless, it punched through in the form of a memory from sessions with his childhood psychologist. Wherein it had been suggested to him that he write poetry to express those things he found difficult or impossible to relay. Thinking that his might be a way to quiet the relentless clanging engine in his head, he seized upon the idea; he couldn’t have been more wrong.

He got up, retrieved a pad of paper and a pen from the “miscellaneous drawer”, there in the kitchen, and sat back down at the table. What he wrote was definitely something difficult for him to express, and writing it did provide a type of codifying summary to his chaotic state of mind. But the higher self’s influence ended there. He wrote about his regurgitating fears and a path to his demise. The end result had much more the tone of a suicide note than a therapeutic communication.

He signed his work and removed the sheet from the pad. He returned the pad and pen to the drawer. The exercise had left him feeling rushes of sadness. This being a new movement in the dire orchestral manifesto building in his mind. Most in tune with the oppressive sense of the sympathy section and in counterpoint to the hate and disgust of the bass voice. And all movements played on, interweaving their disparate melodies and syncopations into a separate and unique message of its own.

Chapter 10 – Solution

Tears were coming from the outside corners of Timothy’s eyes. His fugue of hate, sadness, remorse and longing shared the only common physical manifestation available to its diverse characteristics. No other expression could resolve the fusion of emotions besetting him, and, so, no other expression visited his countenance.

He rubbed his eyes to empty his ducts and wiped them with the sleeve of his track suit.

They had returned. Zigzagging between he and the table he now looked down upon.

So discordant were his feelings that if his body was allowed rein to express them, the incompatible muscle groups would literally tear his face apart.

Timothy picked up the poem and yellow swatter from the table and walked down the interior hallway toward the bathroom, one in each hand, arms dangling by his sides. To the cursory eye, he looked like he was hypnotized. On closer examination, nano-ticks fired randomly over the surface of his face. Micro-twitches, almost imperceptible, displayed the incipient motions of his head twisting on his shoulders, his head bowing, his shoulders raising, his shoulders slumping and his hands clenching then relaxing. The conflicting signals sent to his body through the filter of his irreconcilable emotions made any of them impossible to complete.

As a recurring major chord progression gives signature and punctuation to a symphony, so one theme of thought played out most often and recognizably loudest from Timothy‘s emotional pit:

The kind of fear that many people have experienced only during childhood; and many, never. A fear founded in a certainty about something heretofore never to have been proved to be true or existing, nor false or non-existing. Limited (or suppressed) knowledge blurs the boundaries of possibilities. A high-powered imagination coupled with this allows belief in the existence of improbable, impossible things with such conviction of potentiality as to approach, and emulate, certainty.

Timothy was “certain” his body was host for the sustenance of populations of living flies and the incubation of future hoards. The monsters were not under his bed, they were under his skin. And he had to get them out!

The entourage of tiny black beasts he saw before his eyes followed him closely as he walked down the hall. Like they were aware their compatriots had taken up inside him. Maintaining a constant distance from him all the way. Respecting some tacit protocol towards the colonies they knew he carried within him.

Timothy entered the bathroom, closed the door behind him and walked over to the vanity. There he laid down the contents of his hands. He went to the toilet and did his business. Deliberately averting his eyes as he closed the lid and flushed. He laid the poem on top of it.

At the vanity, with a nail cleaner as a tool, he disassembled a disposable razor, retrieving three skinny blades edged with plastic, and tossed the rest. With these and the yellow fly swatter, he walked over to the alcove and stepped up on the platform of the staged bathtub.

Unwittingly, Timothy had done a dress rehearsal the night before last. Almost re-enacting the sad tragedy of his mother’s death. Tonight, the performance would be a variation of necessity, presented and choreographed in a story of escape, themed as a tribute.

The flies kept their distance, not a single one had lighted on him; maintaining a respectful gap like a civilized audience. Timothy had the sickening feeling that he may have judged them too quickly; pigeonholed them unfairly.

Maybe the flies he had slaughtered were decent, theatre-going folk like these; not like the parasitic scourge flowing in his veins and nesting in his organs. A self-abasing note of remorse wailed out from Timothy’s pit; like a single, long cry from a violin. Tears welled up in his eyes at the thought. As the surface tension of the liquid broke, streaming down his cheeks, the bow changed direction and started another note of louder, deeper pain. Urging a new well of tears from his ducts and a new soliloquy of culpability from his heart.

Awash in blame, Timothy experienced a level of sorrow that he hadn’t even considered to be possible. It physically hurt his heart; his hand found its way to his chest as if he could radiate some kind of invisible comfort through his body. It dawned on Timothy that the gesture was not founded in theatrics but based on an involuntary, and hopeless, attempt to apply pressure to a wound that could not be reached.

Timothy, heart in hand, stepped into the tub. Resolve and ceremony exuded from the way he carried himself and lowered his body onto the hard, white porcelain; as though he was reclining on a soft, white, lining of silk. He laid back on the airy pillow at his neck and exhaled with a finality that no actor in history could have even approximated.

There comes a point in any fatal, freefall descent when an understanding is achieved that flailing and screaming serve no purpose. It is a turning point, where all animal instincts become moot and any monitoring of rationality becomes unimportant. The full power of arriving at the concept of inevitability is manifested in the dissolution of all concern for interim consequences.

Even Timothy’s higher self would have to take a seat in the house. His psyche had written this final act of tribute the moment he, already damaged, laid eyes on his mother’s dead body in the tub of his childhood home. The dialog and circumstance leading to this climax were coached and improvised from the wings. But the final curtain would fall on a scene chiseled, grown over and scarred into the living flesh of his weak heart.

The quiet power with which Timothy Darling laid his body down was profound. He no longer needed reasons for his actions. These and his animal instincts had been dissolved in the acid-wash of inevitability.

His misunderstood audience flitted quietly in his peripheral vision.

His true self watched on, immobile and rapt.

With the yellow fly swatter gripped in one hand, Timothy lifted a blade with his other and began cutting. No longer needing reasons of release, escape, revenge, remorse or atonement. No longer feeling pain, reflex or flight.


Detective Hann was of a quiet demeanour, though not from lack of character, confidence or vocal cords. More from a kindly resolve as a result of observing the unhinging effect he had on people from his mere presence. He was simply, unapproachable huge in a Frankensteinian way.

He had had his left cheekbone disintegrated by a near-fatal gunshot early in his career, which also took a large portion of skin with it. The facial reconstruction never really balanced out his eyes nor returned symmetry to other facial features. The doctors had used polytetrafluoroethylene materials to rebuild the cheekbone and this altered the acoustics of his cranial cavity; giving him a tendency to over compensate for impaired resonant feedback by talking louder and deeper than necessary. A swatch of grafted skin on that side of his face extended up to his temple, leaving a hairless patch not reciprocated on his right side. He also sustained a bullet to the knee in the same early-career incident; the reconstruction of which, left him with one leg shorter than the other. This caused him to limp with the unmatched length and the poorly bending joint; despite the help of cordwainers and physiotherapists.

Congenitally, Hann’s heart had a small defect that, in recent years, had manifested in a stable, manageable form of angina. He was easily winded, and even his heavy breathing boomed resoundingly deep and loud. A personification that Mary Shelley may well have approved were she still alive and casting for a stage version of her masterpiece.

But what he lacked in desirable social cues was triply made up in mental capacity. His sharp mind, composed of equal parts deduction, empathy and imagination, rarely failed to reduce a set of circumstances down to the truth.

Hann liked Sunday morning crime scene calls; everything was quiet, with few people around; either still in bed, nursing a hang-over; gone to church; or at some high-visibility restaurant “sharing” brunch. It gave him the opportunity to really observe and breath in the details, uninterrupted. What he was called in on this morning was a suspicious, male, death.

A father had reported that he had not been able to contact his son over the last few days, neither at work nor at home. He wasn’t answering his texts or calls and hadn‘t shown up at church this morning. The father of the man convinced the landlord to let him in, to make sure he was alright. Mentioning that he had called his son’s phone and heard it ringing inside. The landlord had him do that again to hear for himself; and opened the door only after a rousing 10 minutes of knocking. They called the police after discovering the body. Fortunately, the landlord had the presence of mind to compassionately stop the father from touching his dead son.

The forensics team had already made an initial pass, taking photos, and were now waiting in the hallway for Hann to do his walkthrough of the “untouched” apartment.

One of the rookies on the team opened his mouth, about to impart some nugget of observation. Hann’s hand snapped up like a seasoned traffic cop and he shrank back among his colleagues. The team leader entreated the rookie, turning out her hands and tilting her head. She then gave Hann a pair of blue vinyl gloves and a pair of blue plastic booties, both of which he expertly snapped on.

Hann looked into the apartment; noticing the lights were on. He demonstrably looked up at the bulb in the hallway ceiling, then half-turned to the team leader, questioningly, who simply nodded in response. Meaning to Hann that the lights were originally on when they had entered earlier. A small detail that meant nothing to him at present, but may link some disparate facts later on. He trusted that the rest of the conditions of the scene were undisturbed by them.

To his right was the kitchen and straight through the short hallway, was the living room. Between the door and the living room was a slim table, below a mirror, containing a wallet, keys, docked phone and a fly swatter. Hann opened the wallet and noted the driver’s license, signed by one, Timothy Darling.

Splattered across the mirror were small, barely perceptible, streaks; likely from that fly swatter. Hann touched the power button on the phone dock; ten missed texts and twenty-five missed calls.

Looking toward the living room, over the pristinely clean hallway floor, Hann could see the hazy cityscape through sliding glass doors at the far end of the apartment; mentally noting that there were no curtains. He moved forward into the apartment. The glass doors across the room were in worse shape for tiny, colourless smears; more visible with the daylight behind them. Hanging upside-down on a nail in the wall was another fly swatter. The hardwood floor was impeccably clean, shining, even. Hann walked to the doors and observed they were locked. Turning around, he faced the living room.

An uncomfortable looking couch made with sheets of leather draped over chrome framing sat empty, without pillows. A glass and chrome coffee table sat in front of it; empty also, save, yet, another fly swatter. Both the couch and coffee table were dust free and shiny clean. There was no other furniture in the room. In one corner a small chandelier hung, also turned on. Above the couch was an opening in the wall that shared the kitchen. Hann went around to the left of the couch and went into the kitchen, noting that these lights were on as well.

The counters, fridge, stove and nook table were all spotless. Another fly swatter was hanging on the fridge with a magnet in its handle. It dawned on him that each one he had encountered was surgically clean, despite any evidence of their handiwork.

The cupboard contents were neat and clean. Under the counter were regular garbage and organic garbage containers with snug fitting lids. Opening the regular container, Hann noticed that many garbage items had been sealed in plastic zipper bags before being put in it. A mildly neurotic tendency he shared at his own small apartment; a prophylactic against flies. The organic garbage container was empty; either never used or cleaned with the same fastidious hand that maintained the mirror-like tiled floor.

To the right of the kitchen, down a short hallway, was a closed door; no doubt the bathroom. Hann trusted forensics that the door had been originally closed on their arrival and ditto on the crack of light coming from underneath it. Across from the kitchen was the open bedroom door, Hann walked through it and noticed the glowing light on the ceiling.

The bedroom windows were bare like the sliding doors in the living room. The streaks across them made Hann think of erratic wisps of smoke off some incendiary device. That part didn’t make sense to him. It was like each swat landed in the center of the window, flinging its invisible shrapnel outward. Hanging on a nail in the wall was another clean swatter. Above which was an electronic bug zapper; empty of bugs, Hann could see. The window locking latch was secure.

In the middle of the room was an impossibly high legged metal-framed bed; waist-high, with only a fitted sheet over a mattress and a single pillow. No chest of drawers or wardrobe. A small glass and metal desk with a laptop sat below the bug zapper. The closet doors opened on the wall opposite the windows, filled with garment bags and plastic drawer sets. Dim artificial light spilled out of it, barely visible in the daylight from the naked window. Further left, on the adjacent wall was another door – to the bathroom. It had a towel stuffed underneath it.

Hann took a moment to prepare himself. Though, Dispatch knows his penchant to know as little as possible before he visits a crime scene; the gist of a crime has to be conveyed. He was told this was a suspicious death. Though the doors and windows were locked from the inside, and there was something of a suicide note present; the body, in a tub, appeared to have too many wounds with too little blood present for it to be open-and-shut.

Hann thought about how decades on the Force should have hardened him against gore, but the truth of it was, he never really got used to it. Each time, he took a moment to remember that these scenes are the exception and not the norm. An incongruous but comforting thought. Hann walked over and pushed the door in.

The bathroom was blindingly bright! The ceiling lights were 4-foot fluorescents and the bathroom mirror was outfitted with halogen vanity lights. The bathtub was on a platform about 1-foot off the floor and in a type of curved alcove. Four vertical 4-foot fluorescents, embedded in the walls, lit the staged tub. A towel was on the floor between the two doors of the room.

Hann walked over to and stepped up on the platform, looking at the naked body in the tub. Surprisingly, very little blood! However, very faint blood spatter remnants could be seen on the inside surfaces. No blood pooling and almost every drop had found its way to the drain. The sides of the tub were almost clean and Hann suspected this was another surface maintained with diligent domestic furor. What contrasted the lack of blood was the staggering number of cuts in the body of Timothy Darling. A number of slim, narrow blades were on the bottom of the tub. In one hand was a yellow plastic fly swatter, gripped with rigor. On the toilet, lay, what appeared to be, a handwritten, signed note. Detective Hann read the note where it lay.

The ghosts of flies, they dance around, the backdrop of my eyes.
These tiny souls, unsettled that, I’d taken their short lives.

Their dried up husks, now lifeless on, the windows and on sills.
Methinks me of their vengeance plan, as if from gathered wills.

And then the sounds, tap-tap against, my window like a drum.
Boding restitution for the deeds that I had done.

Soon they’re in my tea and milk, and line my sugar bowl.
I wonder if they’re in my food, I’m eating them up whole.

Crumbs in my teeth, grit in my throat, my stomach full of fate.
I’ve breathed them in, and spat them out. No routine is safe.

I fear I’ve swallowed egg-lings. My humours filled with nests.
They’re eating me from insides, out. I swear, it’s not in jest.

A warming in my abdomen, where no conduct should be.
And swarming from my feckless stool, alive, from inside me.

In my tears and snot and piss. I’m a dying incubation.
They’ll not relent, I’m certain now, short of laceration.

And so I leave this dying note, as I step into the bath.
Never underestimate the insect nation’s wrath.
Timothy Darling

Shaking his head, Hann considered that his fellow must have been a fan of Edgar Allen Poe.

Hann continued his walkthrough. He opened up the vanity cabinet and noticed a prescription bottle with Timothy Darling’s name on it:
(60) Ivabradine, 5mg

He took the same medicine for his angina. He opened up the bottle and counted the nine pills left. He looked at the recent prescription date from earlier in the month and calculated that there should be more like 25 to 30 left, depending on if he had any stored elsewhere; or carried a pill container like himself.

Something was nagging at his mind. He was trying to remember what the side effects of his medication were. So he pulled out his phone and looked them up:
⦁ Too slow a heart rate.
⦁ Hypertension, increased blood pressure.
⦁ Atrial fibrillation.
⦁ Phosphenes.

Phosphenes! He looked that up:
Phosphenes are the luminous floating stars, zigzags, swirls, spirals, squiggles, and other shapes that you see after closing your eyes tight or pressing them with your fingers. These phenomena can occur when the cells of the retina are stimulated by rubbing or after a forceful sneeze, cough, or blow to the head. (“And/or chemically.”, Hann mused to himself.) They may be visible while the eyes are shut or open.

And with that, everything came together sufficiently for him to determine that he had enough of an idea of what had transpired here. Though it would have to be verified by the forensics and autopsy results. Nonetheless satisfied with his understanding, Hann walked out of the bathroom, down the hall and headed out through the kitchen.

On his way, a flick of light caught his eye from on the floor under the stove. He took a pen out of his pocket, got on his knees and hooked the glinting artefact out from underneath it. It was a disc shaped remnant of a broken teacup, bottom up. He flipped it over with his pen and a strand of the sticky mess on the inside surface clung to its tip. It was glazed with a grainy, semi-dried liquid; sugared tea or coffee, he thought. Lodged in the syrupy substance was a single, dead, housefly.

Han got up and walked out the front door. With a slight bow, he motioned his hand for the forensic team to enter, palming the team leader’s arm as she passed. “Neurotic suicide after a psychotic break. Likely over-medicated on Ivabradine.”, Hann said didactically, letting go of her arm and heading to the elevator. Blue gloves, blue booties and all.

Her team had stopped just inside the apartment and were all looking at her. She leaned backwards out the doorway and looked down the hall to make sure Hann was out of earshot. Looking back at them, she rubbed two blue-gloved fingers against her thumb. “Anyone?” she asked. No one answered, they all turned and went to work. Except for the rookie, who stood, dumfounded with an indignant expression on his face. This quickly melted under her glare as she pushed past him into the apartment.

The End

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