“Did you hear about Hank?”
“What ‘bout him?”
“He’s back at it again…”
Hank was sober for what felt like only a few minutes. His friends and family begged him not to go back. They did the whole thing. Buzzing around him, telling him to stay away from the stuff. I can’t blame the guy, though. That sweet nectar, that unbelievable explosion of happy juice in the brain the moment it touches your lips. One wants to just drown in it. And sadly, many more than one actually do.
We all know someone—close or not—who never really escaped that nectar’s allure. Kids hide the fact that they’ve took a hit of Honey (is that what they are calling it these days?). Parents would freak and lecture endlessly about how only real losers who’ve given up on life return to the stuff. As if they weren’t kids before and didn’t try a lick.
“Damn. That sucks for Beth. How she holding up?”
“She’s distracted. Or trying to stay distracted. But you know, their marriage became so fickle after the incident with their kid.”
“Oh shit, I totally forgot about that. He was—“
“He was there that day when the building collapsed. It’s nuts because the rubble in the aftermath killed more.”
“How does that work?”
“I don’t know! Who really knows how the Secret Hand works!”
“Dude. It was an earthquake.”
“That’s what the news say. But I don’t buy it. How did those who were no where near the site die too?”
He has a point. The news say an earthquake or some natural disaster out of our hands cause erratic deaths, but they say that all the time. ‘A hurricane leveled 5 bodies in 3 different locations.’ What? How?
The Secret Hand is this really stupid conspiracy theory that some menacingly huge being is out to get us. Some even say that this being owns the whole world we live in. It’s so stupid that I don’t even want to talk about it.
“So, how is Beth trying to stay distracted?”
“The Light Above.”
“You gotta be fucking kidding me.”
“That cult? Com’ on. Everybody knows it’s a cult. A death cult, that’s what it is.”
“Well, she’s—we’ve—been surrounded by death so much these days… I’m not too surprised. And their message is kind of encouraging, you know? ‘Aspire for great things and you’ll blaze in glory.’ That’s some inspiring shit.”
“Or just shit.”
The Burning Glory. The Iron Furnace. The Light Above. Cults like these constantly pop-up and disappear. But they always manage to gather eccentric followers: desperate dreamers for The Burning Glory, chauvinist dicks for The Iron Furnace, beaten and downtrodden (like Beth) for The Light Above. And they all promise the same thing. Become your best self, shut out the haters, do the hard work to soar high until you blaze in glory.
Damn… am I just hating because I’m so… so mediocre? Yes, mom, I won’t hit Honey, but sorry, dad, I can’t “reach for the stars.” I just want to live out my time by spending it with good friends, talking about shit and life. Just stay in my line but enjoy the little things. Maybe get married and do my species a favor, yell at my own kids, grow old and flop dead. Or…
I could leave.
The world is so big. The wind, the blue skies, the sunshine, the freedom. Away from Honey, The Secret Hand, The Light Above—away from it all! It’ll just be me and nature.
That’s it. I’m leaving. There must be more to this life.
On its way out, the fly got stuck on the window net. The human swatted it, picked the dead body with some tissue, and threw it in the trash can outside. That’s a fly’s life.
Inspirations for this short could be far and wide. I remember hearing Aesop’s fable about the Fly and the Moth. Once, a greedy Fly sucked up delicious honey until it was too close and got stuck. A passing-by Moth shamed the Fly for his greed before lighting up in flames by flying too close to a candle. While fables are meant for moral rearing, I was more intrigued by the idea of bugs being greedy, judge-y, and ashamed.
Another source could be Pixar’s Bug’s Life. The bugs have such wonderful array of personalities, aspirations, and conflicts. They’re just like humans. Some bugs are trailblazers and outside-thinkers, others are servile and survival-focused. Some do whatever to become more, others are happy with the status quo.
But, to be honest, I got the idea while I was swatting away and leaving sugar traps to kill fruit flies in the kitchen. As I was fuming with anger, I noticed that different flies died differently. I then imagined that they might have their own rich lives with dreams, successes, and regrets. Too bad I wanted them all dead.