Raynard shuffled onto his back and waved the swat to and fro in front of his face, enjoying the swoosh of air as it rushed through the perforations. These flies were driving him insane. And the heat, and the stench of lodged flesh on the bed, like week-old food stuck between two back teeth. Neither of them had moved off the bed in days, except to piss and get another tub of ice cream from the freezer. The last had turned to a warm pink sludge and a couple of flies floated in there, ending their sticky fight in creamy strawberry and vanilla. They didn't come in through the open window though, as one might expect. They came in through the plug sockets. Raynard had watched them in horror as they poured in through the holes in the wall. Just the one empty socket. If the others hadn't been in use, they would probably be pouring their black mass through those too. They crawled on Lydia's back and she didn't even bother to swipe them anymore. She just lay there, snoring, drooling, a beached beast, occasionally hefting herself over an inch, so the flies jumped off as one, before landing back down on the sweating white flesh.
The Suicide Room
There are other rooms: on vertiginous mountain climbs like this, on the sand cushioned plains of Mongolia's Takla Makan Desert, by the hollowed out limestone gorges of Bosnia Herzegovina, through the chime and melody of a hot summer in Nepal, to the rush and density of a Canadian forest. But not one of these holds the same attraction for Zeb. He could pass any test, but to get to this room took all his strength. Now he is here to see if his wife can make the same journey, to see if she can stand it alone.
If Catherine gets through this she will join Zeb in the new world. No need for philosophy, no need for god, no need for science. And no need for physical touch. Having reached the highest echelons of spiritual existence they will have only to look down from their pivotal space, aware of their place in the macrocosm.
Zeb knows the room. He knows the feel of the door as it opens at his touch, he remembers the choking rush of familiarity that locked its hands around his throat and pulled him to esoteric depths. He knows Catherine will feel it too, and he knows she can do this; he has faith in her strength. He licks his lips which are chapped with the cold.
"Are you alright?" Catherine asks him. "You're very quiet."
He's quiet? These are the first words his wife has spoken since they got in the car. Zeb does not answer; he fiddles about with the radio to find a clearer signal but cannot even secure a prophecy.