Vermin

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There are flies everywhere.

They’re not swarming, or humming, or moving. They might be rippling if there were any air in here. The floor is crisp with them and crunchy; a carpet of flies, while overhead hang paper-strips thick with bodies.

One small new soul drones on with an intense whine, as he flails against the stick of flypaper, taking an obnoxiously long time to die.

Through the abnormally thick windows, like some poor kid’s milk-bottle glasses, the sun stumbles into the gloom hitting, who knows how many, years of grime. If you swiped those windows with a finger, you’d never get clean, but stepping into that room itself; would never leave you either.

I walk a carefully constructed passage-way, across this carpet of death, carcasses crackling to dust under my heel. The room itself isn’t a crime scene. It’s as clean and white as any good exhibition space. There is not a hint of blood to be found. There are no bodies marauding around the corner, although there is a sense that there could be. Unlike some cheap carnival ride, it wouldn’t be a man in a skeleton costume jumping out at you, it could be untold horrors. Horrors you couldn’t grasp.

Horrors you didn’t want to see.

If you sneezed tiny fly carcasses, or what was left of them, would scatter in some grandiose and disturbing ripple effect, coating everything with their remains.

It wasn’t just the windows daubed with grime, or the outpost that was this ‘gallery’, or the fresh fly dying; a soundtrack played underneath that, something cinematic; tense. There was a general sense of unease, like you were a voyeur on something tragic, but unknown. You’d walked in on a scene after it had been cleared of nearly all the remnants of despair, save the flies, and even they were dead.

You had missed it all.

Was it due to negligence, ignorance or fear that you hadn’t seen what had happened here?

This was the artist playing tricks with your mind. You hadn’t missed anything. She had constructed this scene. She’d daubed the floors and ceiling with bloody flesh and left it to fester with flies.

All these tiny creatures had suffered for the artist’s vision.

She was the cruel one, not you.

This was only the first room, there were many. It played on your mind that it wasn’t so hard that she would graduate from flies to something larger. The fruit fly itself has roughly 75% DNA equivalence to humans. In terms of genetics; the previous room was a human massacre; a genocide.

In the next space, I found myself walking past endless freezers on either side of this narrow corridor-like room. Clean, clinical – they almost blended into the white of the exhibition space. They were all waist height, save for two large American-style freezers at the end of the room, near the doors.

Half-way through one door was left ajar. A small glow of light rippled from its interior, a slight puddle at its feet, a soft drip against the tiled floor.

At some point it would spread across the room, fade into corners and crevices, coat the floor, while whatever was hidden within slowly leaked out.

Everything else was uniform.

This single open door was something I could easily walk past.

No need to question it or probe further, I could walk on and leave it there, hanging like a question mark. If I were someone else I might open every freezer door, delve into everything available in this room.

It was just the one door that bothered me. I tried to leave the room, but instead hovered at the doorway.

I’d made myself come this far, and I was certain I would never visit this place again.

Once I left it would be final.

I edged back the way I came and bent down to look at the drawers. There were four, iced over and stiff. I had to wrestle to get them to open. Within were multiple plastic bags, packed tight. I wriggled one free and pulled it up to the light.

I gasped at what I saw.

A silly theatrical gasp. The thing was frozen and couldn’t harm me.

A rat, packaged in a freezer bag and stored in there for perpetuity.  Having pulled it free from multiple others, I grew uneasy.

Only one freezer door had been left open.  I stood and looked around at the sea of white-goods around me.

Was this the only sight that was meant to make me stumble, to question what might be hidden in here?

Or was this a careful ruse, so that I with a frozen rat in my hand didn’t question what might be hidden in every other freezer in this room.

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