It all started with a fly, a big, black furry one with eyes that seemed to sparkle in the dim light. Flying around in circles, buzzing like a maniac, the pest seemed to take pleasure zooming in front of our eyes during the pivotal moment of a TV show, entering one of our ears when the other was talking.
It met its end when the fly swatter introduced the insect to the window with a loud smack.
Or, we thought it did...
From the blood splatter on the glass grew two more flies, equally as big, equally as ugly, equally as irritating. They buzzed with a ferocity of World War II attack planes, swopping by our heads, landing on our glasses, flying through the air like crazed pilots, hopped up on amphetamines.
They too met the swatter, the loud smack echoing off the walls, now stained with tiny spots of blood and guts.
But soon after there were four flies, then eight, then ten. Not bugs or anything of this world, but something else, something evil, something which never died, which multiplied, which infested, so we gassed the sons-of-bitches and went to bed.
In the morning there were no flies, no signs of the carnage from the previous night on the windows and walls, only the lingering smell of fly spray. The house was clean, but to make sure, we took out the trash, mopped the floors, wiped down the walls. Rembrandt went out to the garden before coming immediately back in, preferring to do his prowling at night, or in the early morning, when the other bigger cats weren't around to bully him.
All seemed normal, as it had the previous year when there were no bugs in our house, until the sun went down, Rembrandt went out, and the lights came on.
Bzzz... It was the same, black furry beast from last night, although bigger, angrier, the type of insect that could strip the flesh of a corpse before a team of CSI's could investigate the cause of death.
SMACK. Not for long it wasn't, the fly swatter saw to that.
There was a story last week about a pensioner in Ireland who had internally combusted. The medical examiner could find no other reason to explain the puzzling death. Could there be a similar phenomena? But instead of a person exploding from the inside, air molecules collided to create a demonic form of life? What else explained the swarm of flies that buzzed and attacked more like their cousins, the wasps?
Smack, smack, smack. One fly died, four appeared magically in the air, each bigger, meaner than the one before. Rembrandt came inside from his nightly prowl to give chase, jumping until he reached the ceiling, trying to capture the insects in his paws. We swatted and sprayed. But all it did was feed the frenzy. Their numbers grew, filling the room like rhick black smoke, the volume of the buzzing shaking the walls and ground.
We flailed our arms, swatting madly, as they flew in one ear, out the other. Each breath brought the sensation of their tiny wings beating frantically on the roofs of our mouths. We felt them nesting in our hair, their little legs rubbing together like someone about to tuck into a good meal when they landed on our skin.
"Ouch," we screamed in unison. "They bite!"
We dashed up the stairs to the attic, slamming the door behind us in search of refuge. Our arms and faces were dotted red from the sores. Searching for the internet for similar cases, desperate to find a solution for our infestation, we discovered a Gypsy legend and the song to make our problems go away.
The story told of a farmer near the caves of Granada. His wife had suffered from a severe case of arachnophobia, just the thought of spiders had sent her into a panic, leaving her bed ridden, unable to cook or clean like her husband had been accustomed to. To insure that he and his children never starved, the farmer carried out an extermination of all spiders on his land, cutting the brush, burning the webs that he had previously sprayed with insecticide.
The next week the neighbors found the farmer and his family dead, seemingly eaten alive by carnivorous flies.
We looked at each other, our eyes wide with awareness. We said nothing, each of us realizing what we had done, our role in the terror that buzzed downstairs with the force of a hundred chainsaws.
The weekend before, wanting to get the garden ready for the winter frost, we set about pruning back the flowers, cutting the grass, and yes, getting rid of the webs near the patio door, stomping on the spiders who had spun them.
The morning sunlight came through the attic window. All was quiet; we had no marks on us, other than deep eye bags. Downstairs the walls of the living room were clean; the air was still, clear. Rembrandt waited by the door and we went into the garden, with thick gloves on our hands, scouring the trees and the ground for our little eight legged friends. Gathering as many spiders as we could, we placed them carefully around the door frames, near the windows, signing the gypsy's song.
Spider, spider spin your web, make it so big that it catches the sun light, the wind and all the flies in the sky,
We are sorry for doubting, for fearing, for killing you, for without you, the beautiful spider, we will die...It's been a few days now, and there have been no more flies. We watch TV and eat in peace. Although the spiderwebs outside are so thick that we're trapped in our house, only knowing if it's night or day, when Rembrandt cries at the door because he wants to be let out.