Earnest wasn't sure anymore if he had lost his mind.
It all started a couple of years ago when he first noticed the sparkly lights. He was driving home in the frigid embrace of new fallen snow when the specks appeared in his peripheral vision. They almost seemed like fireflies to Earnest, but it was just too cold for them. He told himself it was just reflected glints of light off the crystalline snow, and his tired eyes just added the motion. However, that did not explain the distant humming he heard.
They started appearing in broad daylight, floating around his head to torment him like buzzing mosquitoes. Often one might see Earnest swatting at his visions to no avail.
Of course, the finest specialists were consulted and the latest tests were administered. CAT scans, MRIs, extensive blood work, allergists, opthamologists and endocrinologists were all called upon to diagnose Earnest's problem, and failed. No sign of brain tumors, no chemical imbalance, no nutritional deficiencies, no vision problems, nada, zip. Even an extended stay at Rochester found nothing.
And yet the lights continued and in fact increased.
Earnest could see the sidelong glances directed at him. He could just catch the whispers - crazy as a bed bug, wasting our time, belongs in a nuthouse.
He used to joke about the long sleeved white canvas shirt that tied behind his back, but lately he wasn't so sure. Could he be going nuts? The buzzing got louder all the time, the swarms of lights more intense, more frequent and more dense.
He could see the toll in the mirror. The face that he'd seen thousands of times shaving was now lined and drawn, the stubble now turning gray from a dark brown. The dark bags under his eyes belied the lack of sleep. His temples were becoming "distinguished."
What could it mean? Why him? No one answered Earnest in the still of the night. Isolated and alone, he faced the ordeal as a single entity. Thoughts of suicide even entered Earnest's thoughts. Perhaps the classic "swallowing the pistol" would silence the swarms. Or driving into a wall at high speed - he didn't want to hurt anyone by crashing head on into traffic - just to quiet the torment.
Suddenly, the swarms were back, and more intense than ever. Swirling about his head, extending for yards, the buzzing so loud Earnest thought he would scream and never stop - *Pop*!
Leaving an acrid, burned wire insulation wisp of an odor behind, Earnest disappeared from this plane of existence, never to be seen again.
Julie was driving her husband home after the hockey game. "Look at the pretty lights, honey!"
"Uh, what lights? I don't see any lights?!?!"