I was sitting in the living room of a shared two bedroom townhome (which is just another fancy word for apartment, I think, and situated only a quarter mile from campus, which was not bad really) watching WWE Smack Down and eating Digorno's Three-meat oven baked pizza when I remembered about the load of laundry I had put into the washer earlier in the day. I knew that by now the load was most likely done and ready to be tossed into the dryer, which meant another long walk to the town home's laundry mat---a small, nodescript brick building that, along with an ancient coke machine that seldom worked, housed seperate rows of coin-operational May-tag washer and dryers.
But it was cold outside.
I didn't particularly admire the thought of rising from the plush confines of my Lazy-Boy only to walk once again into the chilly air outside. The month of January had thus far proved to especially frigid and if the morning was any indication the rest of the day would be cool and crisp.
I decided that I would wait for a commercial and when one did come on, a KFC one advertising their latest deal on Col. Sander's finest, I got to my feet and pulled on my Dartmouth sweatshirt (passed down to me from an older cousin who supposedly got it from another cousin who had allegedly graduated from the great university summa cum laude, though I'd never been able to validate this) and made my way outside. Jogging over to the laundry mat, the January sun felt mildly warm on my shoulders.
On most days females (hot females) could be found milling around the laundry room, talking with fellow coeds or texting on their cell phones but this time, with the cold weather hemming almost everyone in, the laundry room was deserted. Working with the speed of a veteran laundry maid I transferred my still wet bundle of clothes from washer to dryer, fed the required amount of quarters into the narrow slots and was back to the town home in no time.
Too late I noticed a rather large fly swoop into the living room just as I shut closed the door.
It buzzed and bounced until it found a suitable place on the wall, somewhere off to my left, next to a Vanessa Hudgens swimsuit poster--the wall furnishings of a college grad.
I sat back down and eyed it for a moment, thinking it strange that a fly would be here in January, in such cold weather. I had the brief thought of swatting it with something---a rolled up edition of People Magazine maybe (there were a couple of them piled up on the end table) but the thought passed.
Instead I returned to watching wrestling and working on the remains of my deep dish. On the screen a woman's wrestling match ensued and it was hard to ignore the fact that with every show the skirts were getting shorter, the wrestling tops tighter, the maneuvers increasingly more risque`, leg kicks and acrobatic leaps designed to show more and more flesh.
Because I had made a pledge to my girlfriend that I had eyes only for her and because weeping and high on emotion I had made some sort of vague pledge while attending a church prayer group that I would keep myself sexually pure from the unfiltered trash found on television, and because classes did not resume for another week, and since my shift at Chucky Cheese did not begin until nightfall, and because I was a geek with a rather loose schedule to adhere to, I drifted over to my roommates X-box 360 and popped in a Call of Duty, watching only a few more minutes of Busty Betty vs Raging Rita.
With the game set I grabbed the remote and some Pepsi's from the fridge and I was ready to shoot some Nazi's. As I settled down the fly stirred and launched itself of the wall, across the living room and from the sound of it, it appeared to be headed upstairs, where the only two bedrooms were located.
Strangely enough, the noise generated by the insect sounded heavier (if such a thing were possible) then it had when it had first invaded the apartment and also I thought, as I took a sip of Pepsi, that the fly had looked (from the momentary glimpse I was afforded) bigger, somehow. Just a tiny bit bigger.
I was somewhere in Europe searching for much needed ammunition for my rifle---the last surviving member of a company of men (I had been the company leader when I accidentally got my own men killed by walking them over a land mine). In the game, a soldier who walked around with a perpetual limp named Pigeon had been assigned to follow me around. Pigeon, according to the short fictionalized background provided by the game, had been a farm boy somewhere in the south. Pigeon talked with a real southern accent and spit tobacco and was missing most of his teeth and was generally good for nothing but getting in my way as I tried to navigate the rubble that was now Berlin.
Venturing into enemy territory on purpose, where I knew there to be assassins in wait, I sent Pigeon ahead to procure medical supplies.
Seconds later some shots rang out and Pigeon never came back.
An hour later and hopelessly lost in the visual graphics of the war torn city I called it quits, turning off the game and making a final trip to the laundry room to retrieve my clothes from the dryer. Returning with a basket of laundry more thrown in than folded, I felt the overwhelming urge to take a whiz. Three Pepsi's will do that.
Upstairs to the bathroom. I stood relieving myself with the barthroom door open. That's more of a man thing---taking a leak with the door open and since my roommate was currently working a double shift at Pete's Bar and Grill, I had the liberty to do so.
Whistling out of sheer habit while doing the deed, I stopped when I heard the unmistakable buzzing noise of the fly.
This time the fly shot from out behind the drawn shower curtain and into the short hallway that connected the two bedrooms. It went in the direction of my room, which at the moment had the door open.
A tingling feeling ran up the base of my spine. Again, because of the speed and suddenness with which the fly had flew out of the bathroom, I had only caught a brief look at it, but this time I was sure that the fly that had sailed out of here was much bigger than the one I had seen downstairs. My business done, I walked tentatively out of the bathroom, as if a monster lay in wait around the corner. The room in question was practically within arm's length.
I stood at the doorway looking in. The room was quiet. Not immediately spotting the invader I quickly pulled shut the door---the easier to later kill you, my dear. Whatever it was, it was trapped. Its extermination could wait, I thought.
I busied myself putting away the laundry. Fifteen minutes later and back downstairs I found a basketball game on. I collasped into the Lazy-Boy with a stale bag of Cheetos, pulling over my body a chenille throw I had somehow, for some reason, at some point in time, gotten from my mother's house. I had plans to return it someday.
It was two minutes before the half and Lakers were ahead of the Celtics by twenty. I tried to concentrate on the game but my mind kept returning to the fly and why there seemed to be a reluctance to confront it. Could one even confront a fly? No, of course not. It was silly. All you did was smack it with whatever was nearby. What was there to confront, exactly? What was there to fear? It was just a fly. Soon I would have to go up there and kill it. I would have to go into that room.
Drowsiness began to creep in at one point and I caught myself nodding off when suddenly I was jolted fully awake by an immense drone that hummed and vibrated through the couch I was on. The noise was not unlike that of a chainsaw's.
I sat up, my hear racing and beating dangerously against my chest. I listened carefully. It was coming from my upstairs. Like a bad actor in a bad horror movie---like a scared sissy, I grabbed a knife from the kitchen counter.
I came to the foot of the stairway and slowly, ever so excruciating slowly, began climbing the steps, curiostiy and dread compounding in my gut with each degree of ascension.
Upon reaching the summit of the stairs, I discerned that, yes indeed, the chainsaw like resonance was originating from where else but my room, from the other side of the closed door. My mind conjured up a hundred images, no doubt pulled from an endless supply of horror movie reels I'd watched over the years. The one that stubbornly persisted was that I would open the door and find a maniac with a hockey mask and a bloodstained chainsaw running at full throttle just for me.
The whine behind the door waned in silence and pitch but at this close distance was distinctly louder. The doorknob felt like ice. Something propelled me to turn and run, to turn and beat it out the door. Instead I threw open the door and when I did I was almost staggered by what I saw. My jaw came unhitched. I wanted to speak---to scream and shout obscenities, to cry out in disgust, to utter insane things at what I now saw but my words---indeed my very breath was caught in my throat.
The fly had grown, had mutated to enormous proportions, to an abominable size nature had never intended it to. Towering over me, it sat in the center of the room, black and grotesque, its eyes having grown to the size of model earth globes---the kind school teachers often used in the classrooms.
Its huge membraneous wings hummed and beat at the air but proved no longer sufficient of lifting its giant bulk off the floor. The behemoth fly made a hideous smacking sound and as its spindly legs shot out with blinding speed and grabbed hold of me the long delayed scream finally came tearing out of my mouth, long and loud and to late and---
I woke with a start, the can of Pepsi I had apparently fallen asleep with spilling out of my hand and staining the carpet. Except for the voices of the play-by-play announcers looking cheerfully into the camera and telling the audience at home what the Celtics could have done differently to avert defeat at the hands of the Lakers, the apartment was silent.
A deep sigh of relief escaped me. It had all been a dream. Just a dream. I gave a stiff, short little laugh in the small, quiet living room.
The spilling Pepsi could not be neglected. I found in the kitchen a roll of Brawny paper towels under the sink, next to an unused can of Pledge that had been left over from a previous tenant. Two sheets proved sufficient for the job. A fresh can of Pepsi and the start of another game---this one between the Pistons and Spurs, and I was good.
I didn't forget that the fly was still up there. Still in my room. I would have to go up there and kill it.
I would have to go into that room.
I would have to.
Well, maybe not.