I Heard a Fly Buzz

I Heard a Fly Buzz image 5
I Heard a Fly Buzz
~ A Short Story by Allen Kopp ~

I’m in a dark place here and always searching. What I’m searching for isn’t always clear in my mind. Sometimes I’m searching for a way out (or in) and other times I’m searching for something else, but I can’t always say what it is. There are other people here, just like me, but they are also searching and seem just as confused as I am. I bump into them sometimes in the dark—that’s how I know they’re here. Sometimes I try to speak to them, if only to apologize for bumping into them, but I can’t seem to form the words, as if I’ve forgotten any language.

The darkness here is not like darkness anywhere on earth. Sometimes there is flashing green light from above that is like lightning, but isn’t lightning because there’s no thunder and never any rain. I stumble along; sometimes I can see where I’m going and sometimes I  can’t, so I’m always running into things that I can’t see—or can’t see very well. Occasionally—very rarely, though—I see a few seconds of light that is like daylight. I call it daylight, even though I’m not sure it’s light from the sun, and it always lifts my spirits and makes me think I’ve found what I’m looking for, or that finally I’m going to be able to leave this place and go to a better place.

Sometimes I hear sounds but I don’t know where they’re coming from. I hear voices, nearby and far away, but I can never make out the words. I hear music, but when I try to find out where it’s coming from it turns into something else, like a wolf howling or an elephant trumpeting. A lot of confused sounds. When I hear gunfire, it scares me and I think I need to take cover, but then the gunfire stops and I hear screaming and crying, worse than the gunfire.

I know why I’m here. I did a bad thing. I went up to the attic and committed suicide by hanging. As soon as I stepped off the table with the rope around my neck, I knew I had done a foolish thing, but it was too late to take it back. In those few seconds while I dangled at the end of the rope, I struggled mightily to undo what I had done, but the more I struggled and tried to make the rope release me, the tighter it became around my neck. They say when you are hanged you die of a broken neck. My neck wasn’t broken, though. I died of strangulation, pure and simple, which means I was deprived of air enough to go on living. In two minutes I was unconscious and in four minutes my heart stopped beating and I was dead.

What I was seeking was Oblivion. The Great Void. The Divine Nothing. What I got instead was an absolute awareness of what I had done and that I was in a place of torment and confusion. I’m not sure how long I’ve been here because here there is no time; words like “hour,” “minute” and “day” have no meaning here.

One day (or night) when I was crossing a field to God-knows-where, I crashed into a tree trunk. Crashing into a tree trunk was nothing unusual for me, but this tree was different because it was lit by a faint light from above—just enough light for me to see a sign hanging from the tree at eye level. Printed on the sign were these words: Keep going to Wind Mountain and you will find a way out.    

I can’t know who else saw the sign, but I was sure it was intended only for me. I didn’t know where Wind Mountain was and had never heard of it, but I would keep going until I found it. Maybe there would be other signs along the way to guide me. Maybe I would meet another person and could ask for directions. Anything seemed possible. For the first time since coming to this place, I had hope.

I traveled for what seemed like years looking for Wind Mountain but might have been only hours or days. Whenever I tried to ask the people I crashed into if they could direct me to Wind Mountain, they only looked at me in terror and tried to get away from me. They were no help at all. I was beginning to think that Wind Mountain didn’t exist and that the sign I saw on the tree was a hoax or just another cruel trick.

At the end of a long, weary road, I came to a  man in a dark cloak with a hood covering his head. I couldn’t see his face or any part to of him but, since he didn’t recoil from me, I got the distinct impression he was waiting for me.

“I’m looking for Wind Mountain,” I managed to say, and I knew they were the first words I had spoken in this place that made any sense.

The road I had been walking on for so long ended here. The man in the cloak pointed upward and I knew there was a mountain here and I was meant to climb it, even though I had never climbed a mountain before and wasn’t sure if I had the strength.

I turned my back on the man in the cloak and looked up at the mountain. “That’s a big mountain!” I said. “What happens when I get to the top?”

But when I turned around again the man was no longer there. He had disappeared as completely as if he never existed or as if I had just imagined him.

I began climbing. It wasn’t easy because I was weak and tired. When I looked up, I could see light up above, but it was still dark down below where I was. I heard music then, faint and faraway, but unmistakable. I felt fresh air on my face and hands that didn’t have the smell of damp earth or decay. I began climbing faster, getting closer and closer, I believed, to that thing for which I had searched for so long.

It took me years to climb Wind Mountain. When I finally came to the top, there was an opening through which I could see blue sky and white clouds. When I emerged from the opening—like being born—the glorious sunlight blinded me. I covered both eyes with my hands and that’s when I knew I no longer had human hands and arms but the appendages of a different species altogether.

I tumbled clumsily away from the opening and that’s when I saw, rushing toward me, others of my kind. There were five or six of them. They laid me out flat on the ground, either to give me aid or to pluck the gizzard out of my body. I asked for a drink of water in the only language I knew and they looked at me uncomprehendingly. It was going to take some time, I could see.

Copyright © 2021 by Allen Kopp    

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