Drain Fly, by Michael Madden

That Colt was sitting on the floor under all those books. There in the aisle between science fiction and horror fiction. It was the section full of books of odd genre. There on the ground he had a view of the legs that walked by. From their feet up to where their hips stabbed out, he observed. Didn’t matter as much what was on top. In this part of the library furthest away from the medical books he thought about his insides. There was something in there besides guts and bones. He took out a book from the wall behind him. In it he traced the symbol with his finger. Circles overlapping and lines piercing through them. Back when, Colt and Bernard would come to the library after school. They chose a book and took out what they had, mostly just new hair back then, and stuck it in. Closed the book and pulled it out. Books took on a different meaning now.

They were internal. He had the legs for the rest. There on that carpeted floor made up of flowers the book closed. He turned to the stack and the space where it would fit in. The hole went through to what seemed to be the other side. But it was darker and the carpet looked dirty. It could have not been the other side at all, but the backs of the books on the other shelf. In fact there was no movement, no fluttering shadows or bending of light, it was just an image. The heater kicked on ripping through the fabric of the library. The vacuum in which it existed nearly collapsed sending all the books, legs, and librarian spectacles out into space.

Colt fit the book back into place. Down and to the left all the way until there was no where to go was the boy’s room. The light came on when the door opened. The first stall was closed though there didn’t seem to be anyone in it. The next had been soiled, the bowl splattered and the walls dripping. The farthest stall was fine though the toilet was warm. Marks on the wall had been painted over but not well enough. There was a feeling of seclusion, the kind only felt in a library bathroom stall or in the middle of the forest. One of the doors opened but that was it, no footsteps. He took out a pen from his dropped pants. On the wall he traced the symbol from the book. The overlapping circles, not perfect, but enclose, pierced by a pyramid encased in a cube. The sink water wouldn’t get hot. In the mirror the first stall door was open. A coat was hanging on the inside. Colt dug through the pocket and pulled out a ring. Inside the glass ball atop the band a fly was suspended. A drain fly. He put it on. There happened to be no toilet in the stall just a hole in the ground.

The heat had quit roaring but the vents were clicking. A monotonous ticking off beat like a moth hitting a light bulb. There was no legs in sight, no librarians with their glasses dangling to reflect their cleavage, not even any old men creeping the history section. They always walked up and down in their bathrobes reaching for books on the town’s history, like this town was special, as if it needed a whole book on it. Back in the section between science fiction and horror fiction where there were books of odd genre, the book of symbols was back on the ground. Colt went to put it back. But in the space where left for it, the other side had become more visible, the shadows more contrasting and the carpet more defined. The flowers were now the interlocking circles of the symbol. It still seemed so still. Then a flicker, a blinking of an eye. More a skip of film, or a passing of legs in front of a lens. Colt slid the book in.

On the other side, where the science fiction books where stacked, there was no such image. The carpet was the same and the light above as illuminating. Only a stain on the floor was unique. A stain that didn’t have a color of its own but instead changed the color of the carpet. It seemed to had oozed from the books. Above where it would have came from was an out of place book. History of Your Town protruded. Colt leafed through it until a piece of paper fell out. A picture of two Native Indians. They sat in front of a rock which rose from the ground. Colt knew of this rock, now covered in graffiti. The caption read “Certain sacred places allowed the seer to transcend this world becoming aware of the other that exists along side it”. Colt headed for the history section which was a little too close to the medical books. Legs stuck out from the aisle. The feet were bare. The urge to touch was met with the fear of what owned the legs. As his eyes crept up the less human they became. When the top half became visible it was apparent that whatever was attached to the hips was not human indeed. Not anything describable even.

He ran. Through the stacks he headed for the exit but the aisles kept repeating. On each side of him medical journals were stacked. He kept running but the journals got fatter and the flowers on the carpet decayed into overlapping circles. A buzzing sound grew and Colt turned the corner faced by a hole in the ground. Like the one in the stall only with an inside of crawling flesh. The ring on his finger burst, and the fly fell and limped to the hole. He reached for it not wanting to crush it. He wanted to give the ring to his sister. He wanted to make her feel better. The fly flew up between his fingers.

The heat kicked back on. A book was open upside down on the carpet, The flowers now growing from it. Reaching in to his jacket he pulled out a ring. A beautiful ring of cheep metal. It felt smooth but tasted sour. Colt put the thing in the book, some science fiction book that didn’t do anything for him. Nearly broke the binding trying to jam it closed. The stack shook as he shoved in into its place. Screw it. Who ever picks up this book be it some crumby person or a librarian, the one with the nice legs and small feet, they could have it. It didn’t fit her anymore anyway.

-Michael Madden

Featured in Vol. 3 Iss. 3
Featured in Vol. 3 Iss. 3