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Literature / The Fly

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"Do flies live very long?"
Hélène Delambre

"The Fly" is a short science fiction mystery story by George Langelaan, which was published in the Playboy magazine in 1957.

One night François Delambre gets a call from his sister-in-law Hélène, who informs him that she has killed his brother (and her husband) André. Her claim is proven true as André's partially crushed body is found under a steam-hammer in Delambre family's factory. Thus starts the unraveling of the circumstances that led to André's death.

In 1958, a largely-faithful film adaptation was released. An In Name Only version by David Cronenberg was released in 1986.

This story has the examples of:

  • Driven to Suicide: André's fate, as aided by Hélène. She follows suit with cyanide shortly after giving her written confession to François.
  • How We Got Here: The story opens with Hélène confessing to the murder of her husband but steadfastly refusing to explain why she did it. Finally, she gives a written confession to François, which makes up the second half of the story.
  • LEGO Body Parts: The Teleporter Accident left André with a fly leg in the place of his right hand, and cat-fly head in the place of his own.
  • Mercy Kill:
    • Hélène smashes her husband under the steam hammer, with his consent, rather than let him continue to live as a horrible monster.
    • The ending reveals that François found the fly that now bears his brother's head and right arm, and crushed it.
  • Merging Mistake:
    • The Teleporter Accident with André and the fly left them with their heads and arm/leg swapped around.
    • Then, after his wife begs him, André goes through the machine again and comes out even worse, now merged with both the fly and Dandelo the cat. This disaster makes it pointless to catch the fly and try to unmerge them, and afterwards, Hélène gives André a Mercy Kill.
  • Professor Guinea Pig: Having tried out the teleporter on several small animals, André finally tries it on himself. It goes horribly wrong.
  • Screaming Woman: When Hélène finally sees what exactly has happened to her husband, she starts screaming and is unable to stop it for a long time.
  • The Speechless: The accident left André unable to speak, and he communicates to Hélène with knocks and written messages.
  • Teleporter Accident: Multiple, with André's teleporter:
    • First, there was the ashtray that seemed to come out of the teleporter perfectly fine—but with the "MADE IN JAPAN" label reversed.
    • A botched teleportation left his cat Dandelo stuck between the transportation points. But André was then able to teleport both a bottle of champagne, a dog, and a guinea pig, which led to him getting overconfident, thus leading to the third accident...
    • André's own accident, resulting in a Merging Mistake with a fly.
  • Void Between the Worlds: Wherever Dandelo the cat is, after something went wrong and Dandelo never reappeared.
    "...there is just no more Dandelo; only the dispersed atoms of a cat wandering, God knows where, in the universe."