A Fly One by Steve Sneyd

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Art by Steve Fabian

A Fly One is the second story in this anthology that was from Whispers # 13-14, the other being The Dead Line, the first story of the collection. Steve Sneyd was on the cusp of breaking out of the semi-prozine and into the professional world when this story came out. Wagner was speculating that the career of Sneyd was about to take off in his introduction, and he was right. Sneyd continued to publish professionally and became especially well known for his poetry. In 2015 Steve Sneyd was recognized by the Science Fiction Poetry Association as a Grand Master.

A Fly One tells the story of a strange case handled by an English investigator. He’s caught a case that involves a fourteen year-old girl who has been murdered and, as they put it, interfered with. Her body was found in a muddy tract of land but there are no footprints leading to or away from the scene of the crime. Inspector Vrczynski gets a break when he decides to question a hunchback that has been brought in for a different case. He notices that the hunchback is wearing bags over his feet (to hide his tracks in the mud?) and books him on this information. The perp is glad to be imprisoned and asks the inspector to guard him as he goes through the change, the change that was put in motion after he sacrificed the virgin girl. His hump begins to open and…the story ends years in the future.

This story had a sardonic voice in its inspector Vrczynski that I enjoyed greatly, especially after the heaviness of previous stories. Overall I felt a bit confused by parts of the story. The plot points of the story fell into place with no real conflict of struggle. This hunchback was crazy, obviously, but turning himself into the police for protection because he was the chosen one doesn’t make sense to me. He was savvier than that. I’m also not sure why they even had the virgin girl being interfered with because later they have to explain around how she was interfered with but still a virgin. It was already too much of this short story dedicated to that topic for me. Another 25% of the story seemed to be a criticism of modern society, which I agreed with and felt was spot on, however it makes the events of the story seem rushed and not as important. I enjoyed the humour and I alway love a good cultist tale, but I’d love more hints, clarity, and conflict added as well.

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