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February 16, 2018

9. Musca domestica

There was a fly on the wall. The occasional buzz signaled its omnipresence.

In the room there was laboratory equipment of all shapes and purposes. Experiments were scattered everywhere. Chemistry paraphernalia stacked precariously around. A Bunsen burner gurgled a liquid.

A lab-coated person was sitting on a stool. Their eyes were glued to a microscope and unaware of all things except through the tiny lens.

The average lifespan of a housefly is twenty eight days. Less than one month from birth to death. The fly’s compound eye was receiving and processing many perspectives at once.

From behind a door opened and someone entered. This startled whoever was already in the room. “Hey, what are you doing—” the voice ended in one last exhale as three bullets fired from a gun in staccato pops. Peace was restored. The fly buzzed around in agitation. What a strange creature.

A few steps were heard approaching. Another person made a noise, frantic it seemed, confused. Some glass broke and another series of three gunshots. One exited a window—more broken glass. Splintered pane scattered the floor.

A phone rang until no one answered. The fly escaped through the broken window. The Bunsen burner continued to burn and boil.

A trash bin was overturned in the alley. Perhaps there is something for the fly. It circled the air, testing and scouting. Finally it perched on the cold, textured grip of a discarded semiautomatic pistol.

Light travels faster than sound—except when it is red and white ambulance sirens screaming down streets. Tires screeched sporadically closer to the scene. The fly only buzzed around and landed back where it was: focused on a tear in the plastic of a trash bag. A stray dog passed by. Police cars came next, four in all.

The fly did not care. The world hummed on.

Musca domestica is the Latin name for the common housefly. Flies are disgusting but this was inspired by taking a “fly on the wall” approach to a simple story.

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