“Why am I here?” I ask the universe, but the universe is silent. I hunger for life, though I am surrounded by death. I steep in its miasma; it warms me, nurtures me, nourishes the frail tendrils by which I cling to this precarious precipice of existence. In death I find life.
The circle is unbroken.
I am not alone.
The wriggling, teeming mass of my siblings is like an organism unto itself. Then, for one magic moment, we all feel it: the beat, the rhythm, the pulse. Ten thousand maggots move as one.
I try to organize a conga line but the beat breaks down. I am forced to face the truth: maggots got no rhythm.
I grow weary. The hardscrabble fight of daily existence is taking its toll. Hunger gnaws me from within. The fetid leavings of what was once a gourmet meal give me hope, but it is a hope forlorn. I am unable to find a suitable Merlot.
Deep in the ethereal essence that is me, I become aware of my purpose. I know there’s more to life than grubbing. What I don’t know is whence my destiny beckons. I only know that it is out there . . . somewhere . . . calling me.
The call of the wild overwhelms me. I take my leave.
I find it: the surface, that mythical land of giants. I gaze about, first in awe, then in shock.
I am in a landfill. Inert mounds of refuse pile interminably into the distance. I am trapped in a meaningless existential hell.
I yearn for the halcyon days of my youth, but I know not where to turn. Too late, I learn fate’s cruel lesson: you can never go home again.
I meet an old fly of noble girth. His wings droop, and he can barely get a buzz on. He is near death and we both know it. He takes me under his wing and tells me of his dream, of finding Quaxetal, that legendary lost mountain of dung for which our species has yearned since time immemorial. Then he flips on his back.
But his dream does not die. It catches fire in my heart. This is it, I know. This is my destiny.
Again, the circle is unbroken.
Visions of Quaxetal fill my dreams and consume my hours but my search is in vain. Despair clouds my horizons, as darkness suffuses my soul. It is the autumn of my days, and my soul hungers.
I am arisen. Everything has changed, yet I am still me.
A spasm seizes me. Buzzing fills my ears. Could it be?
I feel it again, this need to flick, to twitch. Once more, I hear buzzing. I look behind. Wet wings glisten in the sun. I explode with an ecstasy for the ages. I sputter about in wild abandon, ricocheting off cans and other effluvia before landing upside down on a rotting melon. I lay still, savouring its essence as I contemplate my destiny.
I flip over. I practise with my wings until I have found it — my rhythm, my metre, my . . . song.
I burst into the air, hovering at previously undreamed of heights. The landfill spreads before my wondering eyes. An east wind ruffles my hair and fills my proboscis with hope. Quaxetal is out there, beckoning like a siren.
My song fills the air, a Brachyceran “Ode to Joy.”
I am fly.
Hear me buzz