Aaron R. Davis
Back at the beginning of summer, just as the college was wrapping up exams and the kids in the apartment complex were following the ritual of weekly parties to celebrate surviving the year of rolling out of bed at noon to attend classes two days a week, my apartment was invaded by flies.
As my wife and I sat watching television on a pleasant evening, the window open and the first nice breeze of the year sailing in, she looked over and saw, with increasing horror, that there were gnats above our lamp. A lot of gnats.
I want to take just a moment here. “A lot of gnats” sounds like it was, maybe, five or eight gnats swirling around over the standing lamp in our living room. But it worse.
It was Lovecraftian.
Dozens and dozens of gnats were congregating in my living room. A horde of them milled about on the wall and ceiling over the lamp, and there were still more on the lamp itself, from bulb to base. This lamp is almost six feet tall. And there were gnats just … living on it with total disregard for civilization. It was like living inside a goddamn Dario Argento movie. Just this primal moment of pure revulsion.
All night, we were killing these damn gnats and trying to figure out what the hell happened. Where did these things come from? How did they get in? It’s not like we just had a fruit cart rotting in the kitchen or something. As the man of the house, my job of course was to watch in gaping horror as my wife killed bug after bug and then helpfully troll the Internet trying to figure out what happened. I had horrible visions of some exterminator coming in here and pulling back a section of wall only to find a thick coating of gnats all over the wood.
What I found out was this: at night, gnats will be attracted to light and, yes, they will fight their way through a screen to get to it. So these little fuckers were just squeezing themselves between the tiny holes in the screen that were meant to keep them out, flying in here with purpose, and hanging out with a soft bulb like it was just an open invitation to come on in and gross me the fuck out.
Seriously, it was the most gnats I’d ever seen in one place, and I played in the woods all the time as a kid. Just try not seeing a rotting animal corpse when you play in the woods as a kid.
So I did the only thing I could do: I didn’t open the damn window again all summer.
Now, we’ve come full circle. As I’ve said before, summer is my favorite time of the year because the college alcoholic population dwindles nicely and things are very quiet and pleasant. The pool’s open and traffic is less hairy, and I stretch out and enjoy, to the extent that I do, living in the world. But all things must come to an end, and now the idiots are back and having painfully white parties where dorks crank up the greatest hits of 1965 and loudly sing along, off-key, to “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Sorry, but when the drunken white dudes start singing along, your party has reached the suck point and you should leave.
Yes, the kids are back.
And so are the goddamn gnats.
The other night, we started noticing the occasional little fly in here. We’d do our best to kill it, but every day there’d be another couple of the little fuckers, flying slowly and drunkenly in the air. At the same time, I started to feel really sick. It was at its worst over the weekend, when my guts suddenly caught fire. For an entire afternoon, I felt like I’d been poisoned and my intestines were turning to lead. It was a terrible pain, and I was relieved when it was gone.
That evening, my wife made a horrible discovery.
Gnats. In the kitchen. On the package of sandwich bread.
On the inside.
Yes, when she went to brush them off the package, she saw that the little assholes were inside the goddamn packaging. That plastic was keeping both my honey wheat sandwich bread and an infestation of gnats nice and fresh.
Now, I wish I could say that I hadn’t eaten sandwiches with that bread, but, well … you do the math. Gnat bread. Stomach pains. Yeah … I ate rotten gnat bread. Peanut butter covers the taste of so much, apparently.
Urgh, I feel sick again.
My wife threw out the bread immediately. I have this image of her chucking the damn loaf into the dumpster like a disease-carrying football. And our gnat problem is disappearing as we pick off the last ones. And even the grossed out feeling is going away, along with my taste for sandwiches and my desire to ever shop again at the supermarket where we bought that bread.
So, yes, summer really feels over. The temperatures have dropped, the kids have moved back for classes and the pool is closing. All of the usual things that indicate the change of seasons here.
But I sincerely hope that next year my summer isn’t bookended by eldritch, demonic manifestations of gut-rotting terror and primordial disgust. Just the change in temperature will be fine, thank you.
Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.