The Fly: A Short Story

Peering at it he saw translucent wings that could be seen against the screen which, in turn, were attached to a fat round body with pinprick legs.  Looking more carefully he could just about focus onto the fly’s multi-lensed eyes and searching feeding tube, flickering as it was here and there.  The folded first pair of legs rubbed against each other seemingly in pure joy at the location that it had found itself in.

A flicker of disgust rose in his belly on seeing all of this.

To top it off that incessant buzzing noise was so annoying!

‘Hey there, do you mind not staring at me as I try to feed please!’, politely opined the insect under view.

Jumping back slightly and slowly rocking in his seat Joseph sensed that this was not quite right, flies did not normally respond in such a manner to human inspection.

‘I… well I beg your pardon Mr Fly!  It seems as i you have chose a rather inconsiderate position, upon my computer screen where you currently reside, to settle yourself’, he stammered with half empty lungs still gulping down air in mid shock.

‘Well be that as it may but give me some peace please!  I am more than half way through my life cycle and my weary wings need a rest!’ replied the fly curtly.

‘Also, could you please stop spraying that awful chemical around your house!  You have already killed my brothers and sisters willingly, at least let me give your screen a quick clean’.

At this the fly gently patted his first few limbs against the screen’s surface and shook his head slowly to express his disappointment.

‘Well yes of course, please make yourself at home’.

His default manner in shock was one of prime consideration to his fellow man and, in this instance, insectoid.  If the fly really did make itself at home and start to feed in such a manner flies are known to feed in, well then he felt that he really wouldn’t be able to keep the rising bile contained within his throat and would have to let rip in full bodily disgust.

‘So… how did you come to be able to speak?’, his question contained mild awe at the somewhat deep voice that the fly had spoken in.

‘Well sir, you are really asking but two questions there and I shall have to go into them on a granular level’, counted the fly in reply.

He started to regale the fellow as to how he first noticed he could talk to these upright lumbering beasts…

‘Since my answer is granular on a most profound scale, could I ask of you that you lay out some bread crumbs first so that I may feast before I tell my tale?’

‘Yes, why of course I shall be back in a moment’.

In the kitchen Joseph couldn’t quite believe he was rubbing pieces of bread together to collect a small surfeit of crumbs for his winged guest.  Winged speaking guest no less!  A dab of water was needed to cool his forehead but he did as Mr Fly suggested and brought the crumbs through to the office room and lay them out on a small dish.

Choking back the sickness that had welled in his throat he watched Mr Fly saunter from screen to saucer, hop onto a large crumb and attach his sucker.  Presumably he digested it there and then, but his human audience did not care to look upon this part.

‘Just the ticket!’ squealed the fly in sheer delight.  A small leg pad rubbed his belly and Joseph almost swore he could see a smile on his little insectoid face.  He had to admit he was growing quite accustomed to his winged guest and admired his good behaviour.

‘Thank you Joseph for the food, it is much appreciated.  Now let me start my tale of when I first knew I could speak to you humans…

On a summers day I found myself seeking shade from the blazing sun, we flies can get too hot you know and I could spy a blackbird, a hundred seagulls and more, who were all desperately trying to peck me.  So I flew and I found shade and safety in an office, the door magically opening as I followed a human in.  This human was bald, not like the rest of you haired apes (Yes Joseph, I too know my animals!).

He moved into another smaller room within this office and closed the door, but not before I snuck in and latched upon the wall, resting, tasting.  I could hear him speaking but at first I could not make out the words as to what he was saying.  This was to be expected! Fly speech is very different to human speech, our special buzzes hide all sort of sonorous tones that emit signals for how we are and what we want.  You may hear our buzzes and
think nothing of it but we are speaking Joseph, we are speaking to each other!

I was glad to be on that wall, the pesky bumble bee bastards were buzzing me earlier in the day and getting me agitated.  I knew I had to find a safe and clean place, and what is more sterile than a human office!

As I tuned in a most magical thing happened!  I could understand partly what he was saying.  I caught the odd word as he stared at his face in the mirror world.

I could hear ‘ha ha ha, haha haha haha, haaa haaaa’ and variations within.  Every once and a while the words ‘game plan’, ‘going forward, go-ing forr-wood’, ‘in this instance’ and that most special of words – ‘granular, grain ula, gran-ular’ were spoken a hundred times, each inflection more varied than the last.

I admit it Joseph, that word had a special effect on me.  I could feel the bass notes shivering through my thorax and my wings fluttered in simple delight.  I felt I must try this word, I must speak it myself!’

At this Mr Fly shivered and slumped upon the remaining breadcrumbs and remained quiet.

‘Are you alright Mr Fly?’ ventured Joseph to no apparent reply.

‘Mr Fly… ? Hello… ?’

After what seemed like an eternity Mr Fly shook his wings and re-awoke.  Joseph shook too, but with with thankfulness that his little insectoid friend had not become the late Mr Fly and instead resumed his previous courteous manner.

‘And so, when I had heard those words uttered from this humanoid form I could not help but be bewitched and in turn wanted to utter those words myself,’ he stated having not realised he had momentarily passed out.

‘But.. but how could you?  You do not have the right anatomical equipment to utter such words nor the brain to understand them!’ stammered Joseph, at a loss to explain how this fly had gone from pest to best friend within a matter of some minutes.

‘Well all you see is not what you all get my dear fellow’.

A forelimb wiped gently at his lensed right eye and a quick shake of his wings indicated Mr Fly had something rather further more to say on the matter.

‘I practiced again and again at getting the words just so, how I yearned to emulate my master in the mirror world and utter the word ‘granular’, how beautiful did it sound to my fly ears and how each letter reverberated across my thorax!  You see you humanoids all think that we insects are the same, that we cannot think individually and act instead as a mass of self denial, acknowledging only our queen or basic instincts but this is simply not true!

We lead lives just as you do!  We too have feelings, thoughts, desires and romances, our hearts, little though they are, burst forth with the beauty and decadence of this life as do your best writers, painters and actors, thinkers and do’ers.

But of course we cannot express this – we are entwined with nature in such a way as to be invisible without it whereas you humans, you create whole new worlds of meaning, locked away in sterile isolated buildings full of arbitrary rules and regulations to govern each and every action and reaction.

No, I know of your world but I am not of it.’

Mimicking a courtesy head bow Mr Fly prepared to fly off into that world once more.

‘But wait!  Why mimic human speech?  Why become fascinated by something so much that you emulate it and then cast it aside?’ questioned Joseph, an imploring look plastered across his shrew-like features.

‘Why use language, we could talk you and I, our species could talk!  Good God Mr Fly, could you think of the implications!’

At this Mr Fly shivered, cast his multi-lensed eyes across the room and wiped them once more with his tiny forelimbs.

‘No, I have seen your kind, preening in the mirror world.  Only for today are my words for your ears Joseph.

I thank you though for sharing your bread with me, it is much appreciated and it will not be forgotten.  But now I must go and join my own!’

‘Thank you, a thousand times thank you!’, cried Joseph in return.

The fly raised its head as if to sniff the air and then flew off, out of Joseph’s home office and back into the world of the living.

Meanwhile, in the work office in which the fly had learnt to use the language of humans but briefly, the balded man sat at his desk staring into his computer screen.

First his arm spasmed, then his left leg jerked uncontrollably.  He tried to speak, to shout out in mounting horror but no words emanated forth from his now twitching mouth.  Instead, only a series of low buzzes poured out which attracted each and every fly around to dance around his shoulders and atop the crown of his head.

The staff, not quite used to seeing the spectacle of winged insects invading their office, quickly shrieked and shirked in primal horror and abandoned their workstations en masse.

Mr Fly, at the centre of it all, landed on the computer screen observing each and every movement made by the now crowned man and his flailing colleagues.  Yes, he thought, they may run now but in time each will respond as did Joseph, with warmth, kindness and compassion.

He flicked his wings, clicked his forelimbs and took flight.

Neither Here Nor There

It is funny how people ebb and flow, from here to there, over the course of their lives and our life.  How strong the pull and attraction of the home town can be, how daunting and listless a new land can seem.  How making that initial journey into pastures can take years, but walking in the same old tired footsteps can seem vital and necessary.

Some things never change.  Some things never stay the same.  Some things never are.  Some things will always be.

Beat Pastiche

I hadn’t seen him for nearly 8 years now and here he walked in brazen as daylight, cap in hand and a smile dancing across his face.  We talked like old times, like nothing had happened, like no group had ever existed.  One dead, three missing and the music well and truly broken.  De-tuned instruments smashed across the broken dream of our youth.  Sure we mourned, we laughed and we drank black coffee by the bucket load souped up and ready to roar, but we couldn’t really be the same again, this was just a sad inky impression left on a fading piece of paper in the sun.  It was both a dream and a nightmare wrapped in a false sense of hope.

Heedless we grabbed our instruments and made for the road, chasing the excitement the lust the wonder and the need to just be.  We left so fast the coffee was still cooling on the windowsill, steam rising up against the window where flashes of sun could be perceived against the grey dormant clouds.

He used to have long hair cascading past his eyes and ears, flowing against his neck, but not now, now it was a crew cut, a regimented cut of short stock.  His eyes, still dashingly and dazzlingly blue, were like lights of intensity, propelling out of his sunken face with mirth that belied his sullen demeanor.  Of course he couldn’t play a goddamn tune but he damn well tried, hammering the piece of wood until it damn well near caught fire in his blistering hands.  He gave it his all and when it didn’t respond he gave it some more.  God be damned if he was not a musician and you be would damned if you suggested so yourself.

I admired him, I really did.  We didn’t have a cent between us, neither in our sagging jean pockets or empty close-fisted hands,well money slipped like a wet fish between our fingers, money spent on beer or women who forever slided into the background never to be seen again.  But we didn’t care, how could we, we were about to start the journey out of this two bit town of festering ruins and the dispirited wraiths that populated it.  Of people who walked like they had had their backs broken at their first sight of hope, of a population so befouled of dreaming big that they were broken before they even knew that they could have escaped.

P.S. I have not read Kerouac or Burroughs for a while, I miss them so.

The Beauty of the Ride

Like the majority of the attention from beautiful women in my life, it was a brief one-sided affair.  A quickly ordered drink, alongside an equally quickly stolen glance, had confirmed my fondness for the lady serving the said goods.  She was older than I was by a decade or two, but I could see beauty in those years, her blonde hair accentuating her beautifully full figure.  A smile was playing fast and loose on her Nordic face, with full lips that I dreamt of kissing.  Thoughts lingered as I imagined her in the throes of passion, of the love that would consume whole days and weeks in warm beds in the depths of winter, on light sheets in the heat of the summer.  There was a radiance in her eyes that I thought had once been in mine but I wasn’t sure anymore.  Instead of delving further I took my place to sit, to read quietly in the cathedral of learning.

Love, in all its many forms, can be intoxicating, and whilst I have had my share I yearn yet still for more.  Perhaps it is the human condition.  Perhaps I am a hopeless romantic.  Perhaps I have been in the desert for far too long.

‘High Hopes’

High Hopes is a Pink Floyd number from their last studio album, The Division Bell, which was released in 1994.  The song is very beautiful and melodic, especially when heard performed live (check the youtube videos, and particularly this one).  The soaring slide guitar and the evocative singing/lyrics are introduced by the ringing of the bell itself, and the chord progression is darkly seducing.  I shall have to have a look at the guitar chords myself when I get time.  The multi-instrumentalist David Gilmour’s guitar playing is fascinating, and infuses life into the normal minor pentatonic cliches so prevalent in mainstream rock guitar, often giving his guitar solo’s a melodious meld of bluesy flurries with a space rock, loose vibe.  A fantastic interview on his guitar playing approach and choices of musical equipment can be found here.

Incidentally, the video of the live Pulse concert certainly helped me focus my mind and enabled me to write my thesis for my Masters dissertation.  The 1994 Pulse concert, from Earls Court  in London, lasts for a staggering 2 hours and 24 minutes.  High Hopes comes on at around 19 minutes in on the video, but it is worth watching the whole concert, especially the frankly epic conclusion.  Although it sounds pretty good through my laptop speakers back at home, nothing can quite evoke the many late night hours spent at the University library listening to this concert on a constant loop, with my ear phones plugged in and the volume turned up loud, helping make sense of the isotopic data for the thesis.  Hope you enjoy this song as much as I have…