He coughed, once, twice, then wiped his mouth. He looked at the table in disgust. He had spat out another one, but, this time he didn’t get the tissue up in time. Sitting on the table, lightly encased in mucus, was the small, thick body of a white fly. Partially developed, its legs and wings stuck to its back. It was entirely white, excluding its eyes, which were a light pink colour. He glanced around and quickly wiped it off the table. Thankfully, no one had noticed.
He seemed to be coughing them up more often, but, he reasoned to himself, it only seems that way because he was out in public more often. It always seemed to happen at an inopportune time. It had started when he was still young. The first time his mother was shocked, but assumed he had accidentally swallowed it or something. The second time she was worried that he was eating flies he found, the third time she brought him to the doctor where he coughed up no less than four more. The doctor, bewildered and more than a little grossed out, sent him to a specialist, who in turn sent him to another. The chain continued through five specialists before they found one who knew what was going on. It was a condition that appeared completely harmless, so far, though one that had never been previously recorded in medicine. It seemed that of his generation, and of every one succeeding it, a small percentage are born with the condition in which they cough up white flies. It was studied intently but the root of the problem could never be found so it was simply chalked up to a medical oddity. There seemed to be no unique factors that caused it, nothing stood out during pregnancy as a potential cause, nor could they find where exactly they were coming from. It seemed to be a small sac lining the throat, but until one of the White Fly Children, as they came to be known, died and was dissected, it was unlikely there would be any real answer.
The pouch, for that’s what it seemed to be, was impervious to x-rays, which showed no anomalies, likewise, cameras could not seem to penetrate the pouch which only opened briefly when a fly was coughed out. It had been something he had been living with all his life and found it a minor annoyance at best, horrifically embarrassing at worst. Some people seemed far more adept at hiding the condition than he was. Larry however always seemed to cough them up at the worst time. Speaking in front of crowds, in the middle of an elevator, during silent, reflective moments, that time he paused briefly while kissing Casey Smith and coughed one up. She hadn’t known until that point he had it. She fled, shrieking while he feebly called after her that she couldn’t catch it, that it was nothing to worry about.
He had been mostly left alone with his condition, he offered no interesting insights to doctors. He was not a twin, he didn’t have children who had or had not gotten the condition from him, he didn’t take drugs so he couldn’t report a decrease of flies with usage of something. There was only one guarantee. As the flies were still a mystery, he had to sign a contract, promising should the condition change, the appearance of the flies, the size, the amount of the frequency of ejection, he needed to report to his nearest specialist along with a check up every three months. Though concerns that the flies were disease carrying and that an epidemic could occur had lessened, they had not faded away entirely. As it did not cause him any real problems, other than relationship wise, he did not mind it so much, he viewed it as a part of life, there were things that were much worse. At least he could take steps to hide it. Coughing into a tissue was a very effective way of hiding the condition. Cough it into the tissue, tissue in the bin, no one is any the wiser.
Though he had lived with the condition, he had a weird fascination with each one he coughed up, if he could, he would examine it briefly, purely to check if there were any changes he would tell himself, before discarding it. He had heard of some sufferers who also had OCD, they would collect and catalogue the flies. Luckily he wasn’t that bad. It also grossed him out when he swallowed them accidentally, as had happened once or twice. The first time he had vomited until he saw it, floating in the thin, soupy gruel that came from his stomach. The second time he thought he would throw up, but he was giving a speech, the exact reason he swallowed it in the first place. Luckily no one noticed and he was able to continue after pretending to stop for some water.
Yes over all, life with the condition was pretty normal. There were no outward signals that would tell people he had it. He told some close friends, but really that was it. Most people didn’t particularly know about the condition after the media frenzy when he was a child. He was after all, one of the first generation to have it. He was the twentieth diagnosed case, in the end there were over two hundred and fifty in his country alone. A number that was steadily growing with each new generation.
His family were supportive of the condition, they tried to help out in any way they could. He had been sent for a few treatment options that were offered, but after the second failed treatment plan, he stopped entirely. That one left him unable to swallow without pain for two months. He always felt his mother blamed herself for what was wrong with him, though it caused him no pain, she blamed herself. It was a ridiculous thing to blame yourself over really. Larry didn’t blame anyone. It was just one of those things that people have to deal with every day. It wasn’t a painful condition, though it could be embarrassing. It was just one of those things that you dealt with in your day to day life.
He coughed again, and, this time, he managed to get the tissue in front of his mouth. There was a slight splat as it hit the tissue. He looked at it for a second and was about to throw it away when he noticed a leg moving slightly, feebly. He looked closer but it had already stopped. He balled up the tissue and threw it into the bin. He obviously had seen wrongly.
Over the next few days, he examined each fly he coughed up, and, he noticed a few moving very, very slightly. But, each movement was chalked up to something else. His hands were shaking. There was a breeze, his breath caused it to move.
He was giving a speech again, they were not a regular part of his job but he occasionally had to give one. He had a supply of tissues on hand this time, just in case. He stopped twice to cough, each time into the tissue. He balled each one up and threw them in the bin without looking. If he had of looked he would have seen them move and flutter their wings slightly before they were crushed. It was coming towards the end of his speech and he was doing well. Everyone one looked impressed, his numbers were good. Really he had some good ideas for the company and, if the looks on his bosses faces were anything to go by, he would soon be promoted. He cleared his throat once, then twice. It was kind of sore, he would need to take a lozenge later, it was probably from shouting so much. Just as this thought finished he felt a horrible pain, burning, hot and bright in his throat. He could feel something inside, clawing its way out. Blood was pouring into his lungs, he collapsed to the ground, red froth spouting from his lips. As people rushed to his side, his throat began to bulge, something was moving inside, burrowing its way through his flesh. As they watched a white fly erupted from his throat, tearing away at the flesh. It was quickly followed by three more. Before anyone could react, they began to attack those nearby, a scream broke the moment and people started to scramble away from Larry’s body. A lifeless shell from which thousands of white flies were emerging. With in moments a swarm was unleashed.
As people ran from the room doors were left open, unleashing the flies into the world.