The Bluebottle:

by | May 13, 2024 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

He eyed the six legs spread out below the chunky iridescent abdomen, covered by the two lace wings.

He saw it out of the corner of his eye, as he opened the door. Like a bird in the sky, flying past the window. Only it continued beyond the frame of the view outside, the little black dot. Not so little, he thought. He’s a big ‘un. Then it was gone. Had he imagined it? Was it a bird and the shape, like a raisin flicked from between the thumb and forefinger of a villainous child, had continued in his imagination?

He put it to the back of his mind. After all it was a minor aberration in the scheme of things. There was enough to worry about without a plump black insect invading his sleeping space. He thought about the day and how, once again, he’d managed to get through it, by some kind of miracle. All he wanted to do now was sleep. Distraction was exhausting, whatever form it took.

Then came the paranoia. How did it enter his room? Had someone let it in? After all they were all over the house; feeding off crumbs and sugar crystals on the kitchen table. They flew into every window, making a soft tapping sound like fingernails on the table top. That was it. The burglar had let its accomplice in as proof of his intrusion.

“It could have come down the chimney.”

“What? Wearing a tiny red suit and cotton wool beard?”

There it was again. This time in the room with him. There was no doubt about it. The window was on the other side. The winged piece of dried fruit zipped by his right ear, the bad one. There was no sound, very unnerving. He tried to follow its trajectory but it vanished as fast as it had appeared. As they do, he thought with annoyance.

”There. On the wall. Look.”

“Oh my God, it’s massive!”

 More like an airborne prune. He eyed the six legs spread out below the chunky iridescent abdomen, covered by the two lace wings.

“They’re more frightened of you than you are of them.”

“That old addage?”

Far from being afraid, how could it be, it was an insect, it carried on with its daily activity. He was mesmerised by the mechanical way it preened itself. The front two legs, (or were they arms?)  carefully caressing its head like an old man washing over an enamel basin. All the while, the wings were twitching in a hypnotic dance.

It hadn’t noticed its host yet as it was not bouncing erratically off the walls and window. There was still time. He took the peak of his baseball cap between thumb and forefinger and steeled himself. If he missed, he would be in for the long haul and a sleepless night. In a flash, he whipped the hat from his head in the direction of the animated insect.

Had he got it? If so, where was it? On the floor? Under the bed? Out of sight was not out of mind. The absence of the creature opened a pandora’s box of thoughts in his head.

“OK, so it’s a bluebottle. They’re harmless, right? They feed on rotting things.”

 “Yes, like dead bodies, roadkill, human faeces.”

“Great, thanks for that.”

“No problem, you’re welcome.”

“I was being sarcastic.”

There’s nothing like a good conversation with yourself to ruin a perfectly good evening. One can’t ignore the devil inside oneself. 

He began to imagine the fat fly gorging itself on some unmentionable substance. It wasn’t pleasant.

Anyway, it was probably dead now. He was sure he’d swatted it before it’d had a chance to take flight. Nevertheless, they had lightning quick reactions, even for a rudimentary creature. He put that down to millions of years of evolution.

“They’ve been here longer than we have.”

“Shut the fuck up David Attenborough.”

What was that? Out the corner of his left eye? The accompanied buzzing in his good ear confirmed his false optimism. He flinched and a shiver ran up his spine as the creature dared to activate a second sense.

“How many left?”

“Three. Touch, taste and smell.”

“I didn’t ask you.”

He gagged at his own answer. This was the kind of distraction he could do without. The big light was switched on. This was war. Man against insects. Newcomer against survivor. The next five minutes were bluebottle free but crammed with more graphic images of the absent pest’s previous locations.

“A dead hedgehog.”

“The curled mound of the dog’s dump.”

“A cake in the baker’s window.”

His salivary glands began to work overtime, suppressing  the inevitable urge to vomit. His tongue unilaterally tried to leave his mouth, triggering the gagging reflex again.

“We have to get it. I’m not sleeping here with that fucker fl]ying around. What happens if it decides to land in my mouth when I’m asleep?”

“They’re attracted to death, so unless you croak in the night, you’re safe.”

“That’s very comforting.”

Look. A shadow in the shade of the bedside lamp. Bloody Hell, it is massive! At least he’d found its hiding place. How was he going to dispatch it without collateral damage? Neither the room or the lamp were his to ruin. He stared at the enhanced shadow like an image from a Hitchcock movie. The previous movements on the wall were magnified in a macabre improvisation on the illuminated shade.

He leaned over and tapped the fly’s incandescent sanctuary, the thought of it entering his snoring mouth still lingering. His adversary  made a run for it, or should we say  fly for it. A solid swipe with the cap sent the creature, mid flight, into the wall opposite. It came to rest on the desktop next to the laptop.

Stillness, hunter and hunted.

A wriggle of the legs and a spinning of the body parted him from his trance. He picked up the first thing to hand, a glass. A faint crunch and the magnified image of the creature’s  demise appeared under the base of the glass. What was that white stuff? He’d often wondered.

Guilt.

Why hadn’t he opened the window? It would have made its escape to gorge on the shit we can’t stand. He’d read somewhere that they were in fact good for the environment. Flies and bluebottles pollinated more fruit and vegetables that all of the bees put together.

As he pulled the duvet over his shoulders, he thought about the poor little mite in its glass tomb.

“Murderer.”

“Goodnight.”

“Sleep well, murderer.”

“Shut up Attenborough.”

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