• Alice LeFae

The Hounds

The fly buzzed faintly against the naked lightbulb that hung in the middle of the room, sounding a good deal louder than it actually was in the heavy silence. At that particular moment, the fly was thinking of exactly nothing. This ran in direct contrast to what the young woman sitting at the brown, slightly decomposed desk below him was thinking, because she couldn't seem to turn her thoughts down. Were they animals, she imagined they would be hounds that hadn't eaten in several days, had gone quite mad, and were now chasing hallucinations. It wouldn't be long, she knew, before she took the place of the hallucinations. At that point, she was aware that the hounds would gnaw her down to bones and further.

But only if she let them, which she decided she would not do.

Minutes passed. They passed sullenly and unwatched, because the young woman had no clock with which to watch them. The minutes did not like this, so they stopped passing and sat in a corner instead.

The young woman was waiting for something. She wasn't sure what she was waiting for, and she wasn't sure how she could wait for something to happen when waiting required time to pass and a vital part of time was now pouting in a corner, but she knew it was important and that she must wait.

The hounds made the waiting harder. The minutes began to play hopscotch.

Something knocked at the door. The sound was clipped and urgent, and the young woman felt the weight of something more dangerous than the hounds behind it.

Opening the kneehole drawer in the desk, the young woman pulled out a paintbrush. The paintbrush was a little confused, because it had been seated next to a pair of scissors inside the drawer and thought perhaps the scissors would be best for the job that needed doing, but it did not argue. The desk thought nothing because it was a desk and did not have thoughts.

Walking toward the door with slight caution and great determination, the young woman gripped the paintbrush a little tighter than it was comfortable with. The minutes stopped playing hopscotch and watched.

It occurred to the doorknob that the young woman's fingers were unusually warm, but it turned and opened the door nonetheless.

There was absolutely Nothing in the hallway outside the door. The young woman looked to both sides of the door, and Nothing felt slighted as it became clear that she could not see him.

The young woman stepped into the hallway. The hounds stayed in the room. Nothing snorted derisively as she walked through it and out of the building. The minutes began to follow, but realized the young woman didn't need them.

Nothing ambled into the room and closed the door behind him.

The fly's lifespan complete, he dropped to the ground. The minutes resumed their game of hopscotch.


© 2023 by Alice LeFae