FICTION: Eyes Flies by Jake Teeny



The first one I smacked sent a spray of maroon guts across the refrigerator. It had been fat, lumbering through the air like it knew it was a Sunday morning. The other two, also gorged and bobbing, also flattened easily beneath my old Fruit Loops box.


This day there were six of them, all above the stove and each as vapid as before. Two flies actually bounced into one another. With the same cereal box (soon to be an abstract collage of wings and thorax juice), I squashed every one of these flies, too.

Two days in a row, I had no idea where they’d come from. Three of us shared the apartment, and we all washed our dishes (mostly) and had the windows and doors closed against the January frost. The nasty little creatures had simply…emerged.


On the third morning, there were exactly thirteen of them. It was all you could see in the kitchen, a superhighway of flies. They were on the faucet, on the apples, looping above the microwave, their hairy legs scuttling across glasses and fork tines—

My gag reflex quivered into my teeth. The idea of their tentacle-mouths all ov—

I took an empty Kleenex box and crushed all thirteen of them, too.


Online, I read that flies would sometimes bury their eggs in the cracks of windowsills and then crawl upward into your house like Hell leaking. Usually, the emigration happened in the spring, but because we had a few winter days in the 70s, their little neurocircuitry thought it was May.


Six days back into the unfettered cold, they still kept coming.


It wasn’t that I didn’t want to tell them, or that I feared they’d leave if they found out, but I just thought: If I can take care of the flies before they wake up each morning, I’ll count it as a dash of altruism to complement my coffee.

There wasn’t one that I missed. I was judicious. Honest. I had accepted the duty of killing them and become the perfect sunrise vigilante, saving his citizens from the horror that such a thing even existed. I tucked their bodies in napkins methodically pushed down the trash, or I scooped them into Solo cups and spread them between spider-webs like Santa Clause. Would it really matter if my roommates knew? What could they do besides witness the nausea?

I was plucking nightmares from dreamers, and who could ever fault me for that?


On the thirteenth day I thought something crazy might happen. I mean, after the third day (when 13 of them first appeared) there were always 13 of them every morning, so I thought maybe I’d get a sign or something on that day. But it was just another 13 pairs of compound eyes.


Occasionally they’d be out and bumbling when I turned the corner into the kitchen; each one trying to get the others to follow his lead. I watched them sometimes, marveling at the absurdity. Was this how the gods saw humans? Bugs just flying around, shitting on everything beautiful they created?

Killing them had become easy. A ritual. My own little universe I could blacken with old cardboard. My morning meditation.


My new record was five. Five strikes to kill all 13. Five swats of 2s and a final swat of 3. I had to cheat a little on the last one, guiding them together somewhat, but I still think it counts.


It’s not sadness that I feel exactly; it’s more like trying to crack a knuckle that won’t pop. Sometimes, I’ll come around the corner and the kitchen will be silent and still. And I think, Is this it? Is it over? I’ve stood there before, waiting a reasonable amount of time, but as soon as I pass the blender, they erupt like a surprise party. A buzzing high-note as they cartwheel into the air.

I enjoy killing them more this way. It helps remind me that even evil knows how to smile.


And then one day, I woke to that familiar buzzing in my room.


I opened my eyes at the same time I found my finger digging in my ear. An antenna or a leg was lodged beneath my nail.

They were on the sheets. On the ceiling. Hundreds of them. A soundwave painted black. A film of sewage for wallpaper. My crumpled boxers, inside my shoes, on the pens I chewed while working at my desk. I scooped them from my bed like handfuls of buzzing pennies and chucked them at the wall. The stupid creatures didn’t even get a wing up before they smashed into the others.

I whipped my sheets and they sprayed like mist from a foul wave. Then I rose to my feet, feeling them between my toes before their six hairy claws crawled across the top of my feet.

I screamed.


They took me to the crazy house after that, not because I’d hallucinated the whole thing, but because I started suffering PTSD. I could tell my roommates wanted to ask why I hadn’t said something earlier about the flies, but they saw my room. They understood why I now met with Dr. Peck on Mondays at 3:30.

Most people assume I need therapy because I feel flies in the dark or see those insects everywhere now. And they’re right in a way… People’s faces aren’t the same anymore: pairs of compound, refracting eyes, a long labellum instead of a nose, buzzes instead of words. And when I see that, I feel it—that urge. To pull out a wooden paddle and smash every single one of them. Swat the maroon guts from their head, while they stare at me with their twitching antennae, quietly wondering: Was it something I did?


Jake Teeny

Jake Photo

Jake Teeny is currently pursuing his PhD at Ohio State University, where he studies the science of persuasion. Be careful. Continuing to read this may convince you to check out his website,, where he has links to his other published fiction as well as his weekly blog teaching psychology to improve everyday life. Or don’t. You’re free to do whatever you want…

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2 comments on “FICTION: Eyes Flies by Jake Teeny”

  1. Brilliant read. Loved the pace, the build up, the drawing me in. The end was always coming and a part of me knew what it would be but I still felt compelled to see it through to the end. Awesome!

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