The Flies: A Love Story
by David Endre Feaman
Miranda is the last woman in the world. Already her skin’s crawling, rippling. Already her eyes are rolling back in their sockets. Already she’s starting to stink. She coughs and a dot of blood spits out and streaks her face. John dots the blood away quickly with the damp rag.
It won’t be long. They both know. All John can do to keep her quiet, comfortable, before the end is to dab her forehead with the rag. He’s seen it happen before, to men and women and babies. He’s seen the flesh all over their bodies bubble up like heat blisters and split. He’s seen the shiny black baby flies crawl out, hungry, ravenous. He’s seen the infected shrivel inch by inch as the newborn swarms devour them from the inside out. It stinks like rotten pork. It sounds like the horrific buzz of downed power lines. By that point the infected person is too destroyed to even scream in pain, too well eaten to even writhe in agony.
John dabs her forehead. “Close your eyes, Miranda,” he whispers.
The basement is dark and steamy. The bed is wet with Miranda’s sweat. Outside the basement door John can hear the buzzing. When the flies have eaten Miranda they’ll dig into John’s eyeballs and crawl into his nostrils. The long, slow torture will begin with him. When they’ve eaten John, there will be no one else. The streets outside will be littered with the bones of people and animals. The slow decay of the world of man will begin and in a thousand years there will be no trace of humans left. No skyscrapers. No cars. No superhighways.
Just the flies. Just billions and billions of flies. So thick in the sky that the vast blackness of them would blot out the sun and all of the Earth’s plant life will wither and die. John hurts with the thought. He’s sick with the idea.
“Tell me a story, John.” Her voice is pathetic.
“I’m no good at storytelling, Miranda.” He looks away.
“I look like shit, don’t I, John?”
“You’re as beautiful as I remember you. As beautiful as you’ve ever been.”
She sobs slowly, silently. The sound is muffled. The flies are incubating in her diaphragm. The larvae are feeding on the soft tissues of her vocal chords. John presses his fists against his ears to close out the sound. Somehow it still manages to break through. “Once…” He talks loudly to drown out the sounds of her sobbing. “Once there was a girl named Miranda. And a guy named John.” The blisters bubble on her neck and chest as he talks. Outside the room the buzzing swells. Flies squeal from the crack at the base of the door. The stink grows stronger and more pungent.
“They met and fell in love. This guy John, he loved her so much that the thought of being without her was murder. It terrified him, that thought. Scared him so badly that he took her hand and ran. He ran with her as the rest of the world fell apart. The two ran forever and ever.”
She coughs and a stream of blood spews across her face. Hastily, he dabs the blood away. And the blisters begin to split.
“Do they—do they ever—stop running, John?”
The excruciating pain takes her and she’s dead silent. Her eyes are white marbles in her head. Her muscles seize and she’s completely frozen. The baby flies crawl out of her body and buzz and gorge on her flesh. He doesn’t mind the slow torture, he’s already died.
“They stop running, Miranda. They live happily ever after.”