Fly Paper by Matthew J. Gleason


I seldom wear clothes anymore. I’ve found it to be unnecessary. Since dad died and left me the house and the money, I’ve found most of life has become unnecessary. I eat and sleep, shit, piss and masturbate. I shower often enough so as to not be too sticky. I brush my teeth enough to keep them. I order food through delivery apps. The trash piles up and forms great mountains of plastic, paper and mold. I didn’t mean for it to get like this. It’s all gotten totally out of hand.

When you live alone, it’s easy to let standards slip. It was never like this when my folks were alive. That is for fucking sure. Now that the house- which is much too large for one person- is mine alone, it’s only natural that things would become less tidy. It’s not just the mess from mail. I’ve stuffed it with boxes and empty cans of soda and the like. There’s a dusty fish tank here or a bad piece of taxidermy there. It’s like you would expect. There’s more books and VHS tapes and newspapers than you could possibly be bothered to count. I always say to myself I’ll do something about it someday. Someday doesn’t come. There’s no point. No one sees it and it hardly does me any harm. If anything, all the junk makes things more cozy than they would be otherwise.

What has become frustrating, however, is the flies. They’re not the little buzzing fruit flies you’d get just about anywhere. No, these are huge hulking horse flies, and they bite like demons right out of hell. In an effort to rid myself of this nuisance I am at this very moment hanging long strips of fly paper along the walls in the TV room. The sticky yellow stuff shines slightly in the light of the flatscreen. I catch my right hand on the paper briefly. It comes off with minimal effort. Any fly that happens to land on the substance will not be so lucky. I take a seat in my recliner. I slide into the sweaty indent of my ass’s past with ease. The chair is torn in places and the cheap imitation leather is falling apart and faded. Still, it’s served me well over the years and I will not part with my one loyal and constant friend. I grab a bowl of boneless wings covered in bright red hot sauce. I toss one into my mouth and bite into it.

Too late I realize that it is not in fact boneless. A tooth cracks shooting flashes of pain through my body. The still mostly whole wing slides halfway down my throat. It feels wrong. Panic sets in. I try to cough it up. It isn’t working. I pound a fist furiously against my upper chest. Nothing happens.

I can’t breathe. I can’t even inhale enough to cough. It dawns on me that I’m choking. Fuck! I’m really choking. I think I’m going to die. No, I’ll get out of this. I have to. There’s so much more to do. My vision is getting dim and narrow, my throat is starting to go numb and I’m losing the energy to fight what’s happening. My last thought is frantic and desperate like the final sparks of a dying fire. It’s simply “Fuck”. I fade out.

I’m in some…. strange place. It’s vast and dark like a cave or Godzilla’s closed mouth. There is the feeling of comfortable familiarity, like sitting down in my recliner, that I have been here before. Everyone has been here before. We all go here from time to time. It’s full of voices, all speaking in whispers. There is no ground. There is no up or down. There is nothing and everything. It’s all encompassing. I’m there for maybe a million years or less than a billionth of a second. I can’t be sure. I can’t be sure of anything.

Suddenly and without warning, I exist again. I am a ravenous maggot burrowing through rotting flesh. The flavor is superior to anything I tasted as a human. It is divine. It’s pure. My mind is preoccupied and defined solely by consumption. Eat. Eat. It is only later, when I grow and become a fly that I look down on my feast and see it for what it is. I recognize it. It’s the body I once occupied for more than forty years. The skin is sloughing off, I see the holes I ravenously tunneled through it with my maggoty body. The eyes are milky, and without a soul. Of course they are. I am the soul. I always was.

I crawl inside my own nasal cavity. It feels right to be inside myself. Afterwards, I zoom around the interior of my home. It is an immense cathedral of decay. There are two rats passionately fucking in the sink. It’s beautiful. Through kaleidoscope-like eyes, I can finally see the many wonders surrounding me. It grows more and more apparent that life as a fly is superior to anything a human existence might offer.

I’m drawn to a spot near the ceiling by a faint pleasant aroma. It’s undetectable to humans. At first I don’t realize what I’ve landed on. It is only when I attempt to fly away that I’m faced with the problem. I’m stuck. I try again and again to free myself from the fly paper. My beautiful wings tear. My tiny legs snap. It is agony. In the final long moments of this second life, I do what I’m best at and give up. I stare out, into the milky dead eyes of the body I once occupied. There is a strange sort of comfort in the absurdity. It fades away. I rot. I move on.


Matthew is a 24 year old writer born and raised in the great state of West Virginia. Recently, his story “Unicorns” was published by The Big Purple Wall. His story “The Family Body” is scheduled to be published in The Sirens Call eZine this October. 

Published 10/13/22

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