ladycatherina (ladycatherina) wrote in chaos_zine,

Fly By Night - medium-short fiction by Joseph Urso

Fly By Night

by Joseph Urso

(3400 words)


“A Prophet is not popular in the home town. A Doctor does not heal family and friends.”
Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Can’t quite place it though right? Neither can I and I should, since I meditate on its meanings everyday. I know this - and take it from a creature of experience - this is a warning and don’t think it comes from The Creator. Do you really think The Creator has time to issue warnings like some cosmic Mr. Chips? No. No of course not. This warning comes from a creature of experience too, one who’s bled, and there’s the problem. Who wants to be told what to do, especially by someone who gets his ass kicked on the front line because you’re hiding in the rear. Better to know, not to speak, and watch those who think they know get their asses kicked instead. He should have stopped to think the bell isn’t tolling for him. It’s just a bell making noise.

Now if you’re really knowledgeable you probably have an inkling I haven’t a thought of my own, but who does. Flies never worry about being knowledgeable or popular. Like the rest of my kind, you might say I’m an observer of the human race. I’m well qualified for the job since Flies have been buzzing around Earth much longer than you mere Humans. Try not to be too mystified about my ability to communicate with other Life Forms.Don’t waste your time hiring Ph.D.’s to figure this out. Besides isn’t it written all things are possible?

Joseph Urso has been writing for many years and lives with his wife in upstate New York. He may be reached via e-mail:


Yes yes I had a little help from a friend but that’s just natural - if it weren’t for our friends where would any of us be now? Neither walking or flying around on our own I can tell you. If you remain surprised or incredulous I’ll just assign these shortcomings to your arrogance and love of the letter of the law – both will be your undoing you know.

We are a bit, just a bit, different in that regard. How can you be arrogant when you look like a Fly? And as for the letter of the law I’m a Fly - I’m born with wings. Have you any idea how insignificant the letter of the law is to me - or to the other life forms for that matter. We don’t have to wait for freedom to be legislated, and we don’t need to fight for it.

In my world the sustenance and quality of Life is = to one’s degree of dependence on others, x the ability to help those in need, + the amount of routine guiding daily life, divided by one’s capacity to stand on one’s own appendages. How else can a million Flies who inhabit a relatively small living space get along? Haven’t you folks noticed that interdependency and routine rule the world? Imagine the sun and the moon abandoning their routines and fighting for their independence. Where would you be then hey? Fighting and voting for the freedom to consume? I don’t get it. Why bother?


Take a look at ants and rats who consume constantly. Do they vote? Silly human race -- your freedoms will be your undoing too.

I was born into a special caste; I’m a Third Class Prophet Fly. Ok ok have a good laugh. Note bene: only Life is The Judge of one’s destiny because only Life has the last word. Yes yes destiny why else are we here just to eat and shit? If that were true what would be the point of anything else? Do you really think this planet is just one huge department store, and its inhabitants a bunch of consumers waiting for a bargain? Why can’t your destiny be what you imagine it? Since the cosmos is as much poetry as science it stands to reason your life is too.

I will admit to a new sense of freedom I’m feeling for the first time - self-confession. However I’ve observed human beings prefer to tell on each other. You even have a name for it: to rat on someone. Typical – blame someone else for your failures. I’ve never observed another species plunge such depths just to destroy itself. Your capacity for self-destruction parallels the intensity of a starving rat searching for food. I wonder if there’s a connection? I’ll be the first to admit though your comparable ability to re-create yourselves is equally astonishing. But don’t you think it’s a case of too little too late?


I bet you’re thinking “enough is enough a talking Fly and a Prophet. What a load of crap.” Arrogance indeed is a monkey on your backs – you folks should try an Arrogance Anonymous meeting. Allow me to remind you we are the ones who can fly; the act was even named after us. Out of the billions of Flies who buzz around The Earth, only Prophet Flies ever go near Human Beings. Why would The Creator allow Flies to be Prophets?

Simple. You can’t arrest, imprison, condemn, and crucify a Fly. We make perfect Prophets. However I don’t want to misrepresent our mission. We have no idea what we are doing, where we are going, or what outcomes our actions will instigate in this world. We have no spiritual leader to bless us, no moral code to command us, no sins to tempt us. We move by instinct not by intellect. We have no need for any Faith since all Prophets are fully conscious of The Creator. We have no clock to keep, and no one is keeping score on us. We pay no rent. We have nothing to gain. Enough of my opinions every oracle has one. I’m just here to tell you about my father.

Like every other son, my flight with my father was turbulent at times. Now that he has passed on, strange has this may sound, I can see him much more


clearly. Father was one of our most famous Prophets blessed and burdened with abilities others don’t know they have. That’s really the only difference between a Prophet and everyone else - consciousness. Oh, and a big pair of testes. The conventional opposition to the reigning religious and political authorities is a burden only your Prophets have to bear. If a Fly Prophet has a problem with a president or a pope, we just Fly over their heads, drop off a little gift, and buzz about on our business.

Within our own respective worlds, all Prophets share the same character traits. Read your own holy books and you’ll see Prophets come from the same parents so to speak. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why their followers are still fighting over who’s #1. Family feuds what can we do? I’ve had my share of fights with my father; you sons out there know what I’m saying. We can’t wait to get out from under their wings, then one day we wish their wings were still wrapped around us. Well it’s the burden all Life Forms have to face – to fly, walk, crawl, or swim all on our own.

Since I’ve already had the chance to buzz about human beings, initially I was surprised to discover the similarities between us. For instance watching swarms of people buzzing about city sidewalks ignoring the scent of the roses and


preferring the smell of a lot of shit. We both eat, work, procreate, sleep and will one day expire too. However I was shocked to discover you folks haven’t the capacity to resurrect your dead carcasses like we do.
Think I’m pulling your wing?

You can prove it for yourself. I’ll even give you The Recipe for Resurrection:
1.) Being quick about it snatch a Fly with a cupped hand
2.) Submerge the Fly in a glass of water until unbuzzable, then lay Fly on a dry napkin or towel
3.) Blow the Fly off with your breath then shower Fly with salt
4.) Be patient (Patience isn’t a virtue but a necessity in the natural world. So is resurrection for that matter; flowers do it every spring.)
5.) If you’re patient long enough you will see the Fly stir and buzz away

Do Humans have any such verifiable miracles posted on their resumes?
My Father was the first Prophet Fly in our family. Never settling for a pile of dung out of life, he warned me never to accept just being one of The Swarm spending my days buzzing about the wasteland. As his oldest offspring one day soon I will buzz in the shadow of his wings. I’m only. . .let me calculate. . . . not quite 30 human years old. Maybe when my mission begins I will buzz around your head. What a Prophet my Father was. Right before he expired he told me about his last mission. It’s the stuff of legend now.


Oh the countless nights a Prophet waits for that moment to motivate humans and make his mark on the world. I bet you thought Flies live only as long as it takes a human hand to swat one of us down. Most Flies - calculated in Fly time - live longer than the average human being. Don’t be too surprised since time is a matter of perspective, and the weak and flexible always outlive the strong and stiff. Clocks clocks clocks what is it with your clocks and cars? Are you trying to control the passage of a day into a night or outrun Time just to arrive at your death sooner than later? Have you ever stopped to consider maybe the day doesn’t really ever end? As the old saying goes “Who’s to say 24 hours in a day?” You? Ha! Anyway, on Father’s last buzzabout he was 152 years old. His wings were still strong and his vision clear. He took his leave during a late summer rainstorm guided only by his inner light.

All Prophet Flies do their work at night. The Third Class Prophet Flies you see during the day are The Voices in The Wilderness. We scout about your slums, proper domiciles, and posh palaces. Do you want to know what it’s like for a Fly to buzz through a rainstorm? Each single drop is visually multiplied into thousands of missiles shouting down from the sky. Most are pelted to the ground


with little chance for a resurrection. Well that’s the way it goes one in one out. Life is a daily risk, and who knows what it is that determines who’s left to buzz about tomorrow morning. Besides why worry about it? I know what you’re thinking but suspend it and allow me to disillusion you. After all I do come from a line of Prophets.

Here goes – those rain drops aren’t sent by The Creator with our names on them. Come on now do you really believe The Creator keeps that sort of Time? Do try accepting Fate -- untouched, unreliable, unorthodox Fate. Look at it this way without Fate guiding your path you might as well sell your soul to some moral code administered by who knows who, and forget about making your own mistakes. Have you ever considered there’s only one thing worse than making mistakes while trying to make your mark on this world? How about trying to make your mark and repeating someone else’s mistakes. But what do I know I’m just a Fly. Don’t listen to me just spend your days kicking back, consuming, and eating someone else’s carcass.

Since I’m on a prophetic roll so to speak allow me to continue. The stress and malaise that can cripple a human body and soul can also paralyze your cities. The
tips of a Prophet Fly’s wings act as sensors to detect the emotional energy emitted


from millions of humans stuffed into concrete quarters. The unnaturalness of this type of existence - everyone clothed, cranky, crammed, and competing - is bound to lead a civilization into physical despair and spiritual ignorance. Take it from a Fly folks -- Caveat Humanus.

On that fateful night Father entered such a City as shafts of mechanical lighting shooting up from machines placed on rooftops illuminated the night sky. The City was welcoming Father, preparing his way, leading him through the darkness to his destiny. As he buzzed about he felt at home; the people seemed more like Flies than human beings. Many wore the same dark uniforms, the rhythm of life was orderly, and most of the people greeted each other with outstretched right winged salutes. Then he buzzed down a street called. . .let’s see have to translate the name. . .White Flower that’s it.

Tall, plain, brick faced buildings, some with windows opened, flanked a park with a pond. Choosing an opened window at random Father buzzed inside. A group of young males and females sat in a circle on a few chairs in a sparsely furnished apartment. Their conversation was hotter than the night air; Father wasn’t the only one on a mission that night.
“You are a Fool. We cannot resist The Push of The People.”


My Father landed in the Speaker’s hair scouting out the territory. This man huffed, puffed, and the currents of air from his useless blows pushed Father safely away.
“How can we afford not to resist?”

“Oh yes star-crossed lovers,” Father thought to himself. Here’s a man who asks questions instead of dictating answers. Father decided to buzz around his head for awhile while his companion continued..

“They are not our People-”
“But They could be. What you do to The Least-
Father recognized the tune. The language of the spirit never needs a book binding.

“Save The Gospel for Sundays and The Believers. We’re living in The Real World. Real people are being arrested, imprisoned, and executed.”
Well you have to admit his practical approach is appealing.

“The Real World indeed - the mentally ill, the old and disabled, the political opposition, the sex offenders, and now our neighbors, colleagues, friends, and family. Forcing them to register their personal information with the police,


stigmatizing them, spitting on their humanity, legalizing special punishments, and now murder in the name of The Common Good. Today Them. Tomorrow us. The bells are tolling so loud Tomas I think you must be deaf.”

Atta boy. I have to say the first time Father described his response I too could hear bells tolling. One day soon perhaps our carcasses will be thrown in a pit and covered in lime. Not what we look like, not our habits, not our failures nor so-called sins will matter very much, but what we do, what we live for, what we die for will be remembered - even if only by our so-called enemies. We can stand up and fight for Life in the manner open to us, or sit down on our asses in front of our radio sets every night and convince ourselves the price of our compliance and surrender outweighs the sacrifice and the possibilities of our resistance - then start chewing the cud.”

He is right you know. If it wasn’t for self-sacrifice what would be so special about you folks? Mooing indeed.

“You are asking us to defy The Leader - our democratically elected Leader? Do you know what that means?”


“Yes Tomas I do. You forgot what happened to my parents. Perhaps defy but what are we defying? I am asking you to look into your hearts and answer Tomas’ question for yourselves. For me a life worth fighting for is a life well lived. My life means more to me than grazing and shitting in the same field everyday. And your lives?”

So what he was taking it personal. Is he a Man or a Mouse?

You can’t get more personal than your parents can you? Not that I have any experience in this matter, but in my opinion anything worth defending and fighting for starts with taking it personal. Based on my observations, it is human passion which defines human character. Oh no not your intellect. Intellect is just a fancy name for calculation, and what makes one calculation any better than another? Is four better than three because it’s three more than one? See what I mean. Anyway what a speech. Attracted by the energy of his inner light, Father circumnavigated his head several times. A brightness glowed around his globe perceptible only to a Prophet, its light attractive like the sun but harmless to the eyes. However his Counterpart still played the same dull drum beat.


“Yes our lives. Our lives squashed by those black uniformed fleas that plague our country infecting everyone with their pseudo-religious, nationalistic, fanaticism. Squashed just like I am about to squash this goddamn fly.”

Jumping off his chair The Counterpart’s arms began chopping at nothing. His cupped hands generated a mini jet stream shooting Father back into the golden aura. A natural reaction. Have you ever observed how fear will do that to you? Fear hoodwinks the humblest and most arrogant of humans into believing their lives are so important that everyone, from a Fly to The Creator, is out to get them. Rubbish of course. It is exactly because our lives are so unimportant at all that all things are possible. Perhaps your species hasn’t learnt this lesson yet?

“Tomas please sit down and relax for a few precious minutes.”
My Father was able to relax as well - walking up and down our Hero’s arms, hovering over his head, trying to discover why his aura was the brightest one spotted in years. What separated him from the uncertainty and fear that smelt like rotting fruit which Father sensed among his companions?

Father’s conclusion?


Once you folks stop killing yourselves off playing King of The Hill you might discover human beings - like Flies - are essentially the same. Timing and circumstance account for differences. The Rich Man suffers in comfort, The Poor Man suffers in discomfort. But what do I know? I’m just a Fly.

Oh the memories that rush back. . . reminds me of the poem Mother use to recite at bedtime. Yes poem. You folks think you invented creativity? You try finding food in a pile of shit.

As you buzz your little self to sleep
Pray The Creator your wings to keep.
Fear not The Flesh Monsters They can’t disturb your peace,
Sleep will bring its own release.

But when you wake and fly out of the nest
You better expect the next test.
For such is the life of a Fly you see
There are no inalienable guarantees.

Ahhh nostalgia. . . even a Fly’s memories are sweet. Isn’t the difference between Life and Death one of remembrance? When we pass on what use is memory to us? What God would create an Eternity that’s a pantomime of the life his offspring exited? What would be the point? Come now I know you academics have an answer let’s hear it.


Father sensed a surge of energy coursing underneath our Hero’s skin. Suddenly he stood up in the middle of his companions gathered in a circle around him. His eyes baited the silence suspended over everyone’s head. He stood tall, brushed back his hair, stole a glance out the window. Father froze, fine tuned his sensors, rubbed his forelegs, listened.

“My Comrades! My Friends! My Family! It’s true Death awaits us on the road before us. Since our wheels move along old ruts this is certainly not news. Death is a lost friend waiting round a corner on any night. But for today, while Life is still ours, we have the chance to begin a struggle for a Life far greater than living for The Leader, dying for the next paycheck, or dreaming for the next piece of ass.”

Don’t you just love the idealism of Youth?

“So let’s pretend there is no one in The Fatherland who can stand up to the ignorance and injustice infecting the very water we drink. No one. No one but we few. Let’s pretend the job to resist The Bullies of The World and to fight against The Great Sloth of History is one only we can accomplish. Then we can conclude this is a job that needs to be done. So what to The World if we have the


self-respect to assume the task is ours. If we do this thing, and do it well, will it not be worth it? To hell with doing it for God, King, and Country. Let’s just do it because it is a job that needs to be done.”

Quite a little speech isn’t it. Brought a tear to my eyes I’m proud to say and believe me that’s not an easy thing to do. Painful too. I’m sure The Creator was very proud of them as well. After all that’s why The Great It put you folks on this plot of prime cosmic property - to discover for yourselves the self-respect that will inspire you to sacrifice every now and then for something other than your own cake hole. Otherwise why would It bother with you folks in the first place?

You don’t really think you’re here to be free to do what you want do you? “Soon we will have to face Death disguised in black uniforms. Oh you are right Tomas; we will be squashed. So let’s take our pleasures in this beautiful life while we can. Since the last taste of the pleasures and beauty of life are just like the first - beyond the prison of Time - we certainly won’t miss the repetition of them.”

I don’t know about you but I’m hanging on every word.


“Finally let’s imagine we are like this Fly that keeps resting on my arms because he doesn’t know how to fear Death. All he knows is how to fly about until it’s time to fly no more. Morality really has nothing to do with Life. It’s a matter of timing, circumstance, and those who try to fly even if they can only crawl.”

Did you notice the honorable mention of Father? Finally our Hero fell silent as if in a trance. Tomas and his friends took off their old worn clothes, trampled them under their feet, laughed and embraced while music and wine flowed. Father sensed his work was done there. He flew out the window into the night.

Father resumed his buzz-about to the tune of another resurrection of light inching over the dead night. He buzzed past a kiosk plastered with posters, the bright colors of the paper blooming as the darkness of the night wilted. Father decided on a fly-a-bout.

First poster pictured a woman, boy, and girl with their right arms stretched above their heads. The following words were printed in bold red:MOTHERS TEACH YOUR CHILDREN HOW TO DO THEIR SEIG HEILS.

Father buzzed up then down, landed on and off, rubbed his butt over the poster leaving little gifts, then buzzed 180 degrees to the other side.


A second poster blared another red lettered message:


Now this poster Father found a bit more intriguing. Excreting sufficient doses of sticky stuff on his feet then fine tuning his translation frequency, he initiated a thorough investigation. “Ahhhhh yes” Father thought to himself, being also a Fly of The World and a Prophet. Head Honchos everywhere seem to desire the kind of citizens who buzz in their direction. The ones who make no waves. The ones who remain silent and satisfied while buzzing and shitting about The Wasteland. The ones who will cut off their right arms to ensure their children will live the same as they did. Father opened his spiracle as wide as he could, gobbed on the poster, then buzzed away.

Where to next?

As the dawn swept the stars into another twilight, the moon, tired from its journey, slept as the old month passed into a new month. Father found himself on a boulevard called Blubberstrasse. Immediately he sensed this was the place to be and be seen. Trees yellow and red with leaves lined both sides of the street.


Magnificent white stone buildings shone bright even in the twilight. Birds awoke and began to sing their morning songs. Father had to make a quick decision before becoming a piece of breakfast for a bird. Remember we are all Killers. Life lives on Life. He noticed a dull dirty light illuminating a pair of red curtains hanging high over the only opened window in the tallest building on the boulevard. Father was attracted by a voice machine gunning from inside the apartment, a high pitched scream of a voice ripping through the sleep of momentary morning. Following the pitch of the voice he climbed the folds of the red curtain to the opening at the top. Father waited for the voice to fill the room again then buzzed closer to a man who was furiously pacing the floor.

“Should I spin The Wheel Josef? Ignite the ashes of History into a new bonfire? Oh my stomach.”
Grimacing this man released a foul smelling gas from his waste hole. Father kept his distance.

“Ugh that damn pasta and tomato sauce. If only I didn’t love it so much.”
With the grace and subtleness of an unexpected, satisfying, slight, summer breeze Father landed on the man’s head. Father slid to the brink of the man’s


eyebrow on a strand of greasy hair and gazed at his own reflection multiplied in drops of sweat shining on the man’s forehead. An urgency began to fill the apartment as fear infected the air in the room. Both men paced the floor afraid to sit down on furniture flayed by flames, the walls closing in on them, the arms of the grandfather clock running amuck around the dial faster and faster with each over-the-shoulder glance. The two men were as anxious as Flies at an abandoned picnic; Father sensed he had little time left in the apartment.

Buzzing off one greasy strand of hair to another, he searched for The Man’s aura. Instead of colors of light all he saw was the man’s sweat forming and multiplying on his forehead and his own image reflected back in triplicate. Father had the premonition that even after this particular breed of man expired his kind would always be able to multiply itself too. They’ll live in tall white buildings. They’ll pace the floors in spacious rooms. They’ll hide behind windows decorated with gaudy red curtains. And no matter the color of the specimens’ skin or which side of the tracks they were born on, they will always finish as one of the richest kids on the block.


Father reset the frequency on his antennae and vertically lifted off the man’s head, his wings moving as fast as a hummingbird’s. The buzz of Father’s wings was so loud its piercing sound seemed to stick the man in the back of the neck. Spotting Father hover high above his head, he flashed his clear blue eyes. It was a showdown.

“Josef do you hear this Fly? Look at this puny dive bomber trying to attack me? What a pair of balls on him?"

Abruptly a physical fury possessed the man. Oh the misery you folks could prevent if only you could see the results of your actions before they happen. It doesn’t work that way though does it. Naturally we don’t suffer from passions and beliefs preventing us from living in peace. What a trade off. Hey, I wonder who gets the short end of the stick?

Anyway, he began to blitz Father with swinging fists. Father was too fast; the man swung at the atmosphere surrounding his body. A red tincture rose from the base of his throat, defying gravity, running up his face, and it appeared his internal organs were on fire. He paused, anger freezing his face, and it seemed he was waiting for the fire in his body to smoke his carcass into ashes.


With a calmness known only to Prophets and thieves incognito sneaking past The Watchmen, Father slipped into an air pocket underneath the man’s shirt sticking out over his waist. As Father buzzed up his belly the man began beating himself, pounding his own skin. Exhausted he stopped and yelled:

“That’s it! We invade in one hour!”
Father’s mission was over.

Father escaped from the apartment that night and began his last journey home by the light of day. But before he left he hid himself in the gaudy red curtains and gazed back at the man one last time. The man’s face was awash in the streaming tears released after physical and emotional tension subsides. Enough tears to drown The World.
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