AT LEAST IT COULD GET NO WORSE
First published by Litro, 2012
One day, the flies multiplied. Flies were everywhere. People blamed the government, then global warming, then cities, then humans, the way we destroyed the balance of nature. Words didn’t matter. Buildings vibrated with flies. They covered pavements and lampposts and shopping malls, skyscrapers and stadiums and hospitals. We said this was as bad as it could get. We thought the world was irreparable. And yet, in time, we took to wearing earplugs and goggles, jumpsuits and surgical masks, and life came near to normal.
But then, from nowhere, clouds smothered the sky and everything went dark, so dark, charcoal grey by daytime, and black as a pit at night. Darkness slicked surfaces already obscured by and shaking with flies. In a big city, what could we do? The drain on energy to power lights every minute of every day was astounding. And yet, we still had heart. There was still some glory to life. We bred glowworms and fed them through tiny clear tubes that wove around our jumpsuits. Life glimmered in phantom green.
At least, we said, at least it could get no worse.
Then there came a huge surge and rumble, as though someone had pressed the doomsday button.
Where the fish came from, nobody knows.
Thrumming with flies, coloured radioactive by the worms flowing around our bodies, the fish slapped and flopped and shimmied over everything. The world consisted of fish and flies, glowing green.
We begged for peace.
We took a breath and rallied. At least it could get no worse.