A million wings flutter wildly, blinding me and beating against my unseeing eyes, and I have to remind myself that I'm crazy and only two of those wings are real. My right hand rises unbidden and beats back, ending the illusion and knocking the monster to the floor next to me. I flinch away from it for another moment. Then my sane mind kicks in and I feel pity for it, if only briefly.
It flails desperately against the wall, the fragile wings that so recently tormented me suddenly broken. I hug my knees to my chest and watch, waiting for it to die or explode into my deluded senses again. It does neither immediately, dancing pitifully and casting ugly, flickering shadows in the lamplight. My index finger toys absently with a hole in the knee of my jeans and I wonder what to do. The creature seems to let out a dry sob, not with sound, but with movement. It is still for a moment. I heave a sigh of relief, but then it begins to flail again.
Part of me panics, and I clutch at the sides of my head, pulling at my hair as if that will make it all go away.
It dawns on me that if I want to be left alone, I have to either kill it or put it outside. Putting it outside means touching the little beast. But if I kill it, it might wriggle into my mind and continue its dance there, writhing forever until all my blood flows out my ears and into the foam I've used to plug the air conditioning vent in the floor and I can't breathe. I'll have to put it outside. But I don't want to touch it.
I dig a pen—drained of ink, of course, so it can't explode and make a mess of my pockets and fingers—out of my jeans and with a string of muttered “oh God”s, I slide the instrument, my lifeline, under the monster, trying to pick it up. It doesn't work. I need another pen. I don't have another pen. Oh, Jesus, I have to touch it. I extend a shaking hand and take the corner of one of its delicate wings between thumb and forefinger, shuddering at the thought of its fairydust coating my skin.
I unfold from my crouch in the corner, holding the twitching thing as far away from myself as I can, and step over my mattress across the room to the window, dropping the creature hurriedly on the sill. I only open the window a crack. I don't want any of its ugly little friends to follow it inside. Before doing anything else, I wipe my fingers off onto my jeans. My skin still crawls as I put forth my pen to flick it out into the open air.
I stop just before the utensile reaches it, my gaze locked on the pathetic little thing as its movements finally slow. The tip of the rod that I have to wish was longer hovers half an inch away from it, then retracts gently as it drags itself back toward the room, toward the light, away from the open window. Even that motion is sluggish and half-hearted, as though it knows the darkness it tortured me to get away from is stronger than it is.
I wipe the pen off on my shirt and slide it back into my pocket carefully, biting my bottom lip and wondering if I should do anything about this. I don't think of anything in time.
I nudge its awkwardly bent corpse out the window and close that, and then I return to my corner and sink to the floor. I pull my knees up again, resuming my previous position, but staring blankly at the marks it left on my wall and floor, the streaks of fairydust that I'll have to clean away eventually. Dirty little creatures. I can't just leave the marks there. I can't. They'll remind me of the little monster forever. Oh God, oh God, now it's in my head, now it'll dance there forever, and a million wings will blind me beat against my eyes over and over again, and all the blood will flow out of my ears and sink into the foam in the air conditioning. Oh God, oh God.
I stagger to my feet and cross the room to the little box on the floor next to the mattress. I open it and take the handkerchief off the top, kneeling in the corner and wiping frantically at the dust. It won't come off. I rub at it in desperation. It wipes away, and then reappears a moment later. Wipes away. Reappears. A dozen times, it comes back, it won't stay gone, oh God, what do I do?
By the time it comes off, the handkerchief is covered in the shit. I pull the cover off of the vent and remove the foam, dropping the soiled cloth down the vent and replacing both. Shaking, I go back to my corner again. The dust is gone. Thank God.
But it's still there, in the back of my mind. I shake my head and it leaves, annoyed by the rattling of my brains. I sigh, relieved. Exhausted, I crawl over to my mattress and pull the sheets off of it, shaking them out just in case. I can't risk any of the monsters crawling up and down my legs while I'm asleep. What if they found their way into my mouth and laid their eggs in my stomach and ate my intestines from the inside out? Definitely can't risk it.
Satisfied that there aren't any amongst the folds of the cloth, I remake my bed and curl up on it tightly. My mind wanders around for a while before circling restlessly and settling down, and I fall asleep.
A hundred little monsters beat their delicate wings wildly against my mind. I'm blinded. All my blood flows out of my ears and into the air conditioning.
Blood in the air conditioning.
And, fleeing the darkness pitifully in my dreams, a hundred moths die slowly, leaving their fairydust plastered on my walls forever.