The following is my entry for the LitStack Flash Fiction Challenge #2. Writing at 5am... not so sure how this will read later today, but here goes...
For what seemed like the millionth time in his career (if you could call it that) Miles pressed a chloroform soaked cotton ball to the top of the vial and waited for the Drosophilia melanogaster to still. The fruit flies dropped to the bottom, dead. Miles carefully tipped them onto a tray and began preparing a slide.
And so began every dreary day: Alarm, coffee, car, beltway, flies, flies, flies, car, beltway, tv, bed - and then it started all over again. Daylight hours spent, not in actual daylight, but under the artificial light of the lab. Miles felt a bit like a fruit fly in a vial himself.
He gently lifted one of them with his tweezers and placed it carefully on the the glass. Miles could do this by rote and his mind often wandered. In his fantasies, he was floating untethered, completely unbounded in space. He imagined his limbs buoyed and soothed by weightlessness, his spirit calmed by the absence of walls and infinity of the universe. But today Miles was stirred from his daydream by a noise never before heard in the lab. A soft, but clear hum.
Miles put the tweezers down and looked around. All of the other technicians were still hunched over microscopes, seemingly oblivious. He listened again, there it was. Miles slipped out of the lab. Now on high alert, he followed the hum down the hallway. Surely something in the utility area, he ought to just call a custodian. But when he turned down the next corridor there was an opening, what looked like an air shaft missing its grate. The hum was louder and seemed to be calling to him. He slipped inside.
The shaft wasn’t much larger than Miles, and for a moment he panicked. But the hum was now more of a buzz that came from somewhere ahead. He felt the vibrations under his hands and knees, and crawled faster. After what seemed like hours, the shaft gave way to a tunnel in which Miles could almost stand. It was odd, but he felt freer in this cramped tunnel than he’d felt anywhere in years. He walked on, feeling his way through the near darkness until he eventually reached a larger tunnel, which finally gave way to a huge cavern. What was this place? Did his supervisor know?
The hum had by now become a deafening roar, and as Miles peered across the cavern, he saw an enormous glowing oval, made up of smaller, geometric rods. Mesmerized, he walked closer and reached up to touch them. Miles suddenly realized what they were and stopped. These were ommatidia, and this was an eye. A behemoth of an insect’s eye. Welcome, he heard it hum. Welcome home.
Miles looked up, and around, taking in the vastness of this eye and its owner. He reached out his hand again, this time extending it right into the radiance. He smiled, and in an instant he was gone.
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