by Tony Noland
Eleven dead flies lay on the floor in front of the judge. Charlie Lund figured they were real, though no one else noticed them. Well, someone else might have noticed them, but had pretended not to. People frequently pretended not to see things, even things that were really, truly there. The more uppity the person, the more likely it was they would pretend not to see.
The flies made a kind of a pattern on the floor, with glowing blue and green lines connecting them. The lines were Not-Real, so they were all for him; he was sure no one else could see them. The lines jiggled in time with the voice of the lawyer They'd given him.
Popping and slipping, the lines moved from fly to fly like an electric connect-the-dots. At first they made different shapes dancing among the tiny corpses. After a bit, they settled down, the green lines making a bent sort of "C" and the blue lines that wove among them making a lopsided "L". He thought that was pretty funny, that the dead flies were spelling out his initials with their glowing lines.
It was like they were cheering him on, his own private fan club, shouting his name out in their buzzing little dead fly voices. He smiled at that, but the judge looked at him when he did. After that, he didn't smile, but used his paying-close-attention face. He looked from his lawyer to the judge and back, and only watched the cheering dead flies sidelong like.
The judge was a woman. That was the capper as far as Charlie was concerned. That was just the absolute cherry on top. It was bad enough he had a lawyer who was probably a fag. There had to be a dozen judges who could have sat as the head of his parole board, maybe a hundred. He knew why They had made sure he got a whore for a judge and a fag for a lawyer. It was because They liked seeing him squirm; he was a danger to Them and They knew it. He could see Them among normal people and he knew how much of society They controlled. They wanted him to crack, stay locked away. Well, he would show Them this time.
He would be cool cool cool, and he would get out. And then things would be different. Oh, yes. Very different.
Silence stretched out; the judge was waiting for him to speak. Charlie pursed his lips and got to his feet. As he did, the dead flies lifted up from the floor, swooping and calling his name. He was thrilled that they were Not-Real, too. Charlie faced the judge and folded his hands, holding his smile inside as the dead flies crawled all over the judge's snotty bitch face. The glowing strands flowing from them braided themselves into a spiky noose around her neck. The flies were chanting his name, saying Charlie-Charlie-pull-the-noose-tight, Charlie-Charlie-pull-the-noose-tight...
But he couldn't do that. Not here. Not yet. Not until later, after he found out where the judge lived.
With his serious-but-really-sorry look firmly fixed, Charlie drew a deep breath and began to ask for his freedom.
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