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  Terence Park

The Glass Fly

by Terence Park

Ig was a fly of the first wave. That meant he had been spawned when the first breaths of spring brushed the buds and leaves in the big glade by the cesspit. This pit was in a place far from the haunts of magic and close to the courts of the Khaif in Ephe’ilaqqa, yet not too close. Now many of Ig’s brothers and sisters threw themselves into the task of consuming, growing and procreating. Ig was too small to compete with them and all the fragrant sustenance was consumed before he had his fair share. They flew off into the morning sun, full of the zest for life, heedless of danger... and were devoured by a flock of sparrows before they got to the safety of the trees.

Meanwhile Ig buzzed and flew hopelessly around, seeking the last remnants of food—to no avail. Forlornly he wandered, eventually making his way to a large woody growth that was populated with fungus. As he rested he heard the sound of termites. They hummed as they chewed the wood. ‘We are many and this is our home.’ Now, termites don’t eat flies so this sound did not scare him. He listened and the sun began to dry the glistening moisture of his birth-sac.

After a while a new sound interrupted the song of the termites. It was as a marching machine approached. Ig spoke. “What is that sound?”

His voice was new to the world but the termites answered him, replying, “It is nothing, for we are many and this is our home.” But their song seemed less and less and then he saw ants swarm the wood. Alarmed, he took flight.

“Come back, for our larders are bare,” called the ants.

He left the glade and flew far in his search for food, but spring was early and there was too little on which to live. Eventually, attracted by fine clouds of smoke and heat, he flew into a glass-blower’s workshop. Seeing no one he circled until he passed by the furnace.

“Ho stranger,” called a diminutive voice. “What do you here?”

“I am Ig, I am hungry and I search for food.”

“Well I am an efreet, set to guard the furnace. I can be vast.” The efreet, whose body was like a bloated sliver of leather, ballooned greatly. And then shrank as it continued, “Or tiny. However, there is no food for you here, Ig.”

Ig told the efreet his story, adding, “All my brothers and sisters are perished, I am lonely and have no food or mate. What shall I do?”

Now the efreet was set to perform wishes whether for good or ill for, like science, they were neither good nor bad. However, Ig’s tale had no wish. The efreet saw a way to gain power and it said, “Be not discouraged. Flies do not live long. However, I have been prototyping a new method to live longer. If it works for you, you must bring me others of your kind that they may share in this.”

Ig was young and saw no mischief in the efreet’s heart so at this fine speech he said, “And what must I do?”

“I shall make you into glass. Come, consider the furnace. It is hot, yes? Well, this is true but it cannot harm you as my magic will protect you from its fires.”

It is true that Ig feared the fire but he put his trust in the magic and though there was great heat and much burning, as the outer dross of his body was consumed, he did not perish and lo! he was transformed, becoming a glass fly.

“See what my power has wrought. Go, live your life. Then come back in thrice ten days and know that if you were unchanged you would not survive.”

Ig flew off and, as the efreet predicted, he suffered no pangs of hunger. He spent much time watching the play of light through his wings and body. At times he could see right through himself. One time he was so distracted, a crow tried to eat him, but his body was too hard and he was spat out. Then a fish tried to gobble him up but his glass wings were so sharp they cut the fish’s mouth, permitting him to escape. It was then Ig realised he had great power... and he began to be conscious of the harm he could cause others.

At the appointed time he returned to the efreet. He had no friends and this had occasioned much soul-searching.

“How do you feel?”

“It is as you said, my hunger has been conquered.”

“So, will you not bring me others of your kind, so I can make you all so, and that you no longer be alone?”

“Oh, powerful efreet, I would like to convince those who have made a more successful life than did I. Can you just demonstrate your process so I can report it to them?”

Feeling pride, the efreet stood over the furnace, which still raged hot, ready to create glass. The glass fly launched himself, bundling both into the furnace.

The efreet, trapped in its leather body, cried in pain. “Ahh, you fool, you have destroyed my magic process,” and was immediately burned to ash. The glass fly knew a truth behind the efreet’s plan. As he dissolved, he said, “I see your plan. You would fill the skies with glass flies. They would stand outside the circle of life and death. It is not meet that we become such so I destroy you and your process and go to my brothers and sisters.

Reproduced by permission of author


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