Written by: Matt Molgaard
Any story that deals with the wellbeing, or for that matter, neglect of a child stirs the bowels. Parents will recognize this statement as pure fact. Douglas Clegg clearly exhibits an understanding of the taboo and the heart wrenching as this short cuts deep, the bleeding refusing to subside.
Ellen and her son Joey find themselves on the run: desperately attempting to escape the violent nature of Frank, Ellen’s husband and Joey’s father. He’s an abusive piece of shit who favors aggression over compassion and understanding: if Joey gets out of line, he gets a beating. Ellen’s had it, and she’s well aware that to leave Joey in Frank’s presence is to flirt with a heartbreaking conclusion.
But man’s moral values in general come into question when Ellen and her boy find themselves stuck in a rural town, with nowhere to stay other than an uncomfortable little Bed and Breakfast, nestled in the countryside. The awaiting spectacle at this Bed and Breakfast however, will further scramble Ellen’s faith in humankind: there are children shambling about, but the unsettling physical modifications they’ve been subjected to are alarming (to both reader and Ellen) and lead to the suspicion of torture on par with the abuse she aims to keep Joey as far from as possible.
However, while this strange couple responsible for maintaining the Bed and Breakfast, seem to be of the vilest nature ever birthed, there’s a sick reasoning behind their actions that proves ironic on a genuinely grand scale upon the story’s conclusion. Believe me when I say this: the payoff to be had here is damn impressive.
As is my style, I have to refrain from dropping heavy spoilers, but don’t get my stance twisted: I really, really want to gush over the climax of Where Flies Are Born. The subtle nature of the story is rather haunting, and as the tale escalates, a palpable dread sinks into the soul. By the final page, readers will find both gratification and a thick melancholy shroud enveloping them.
Heart wrenching for more than a single reason, Where Flies Are Born is an impacting story that really… takes readers to a special place. Whether you’re familiar with Clegg’s work or not, this is one short story that you absolutely must track down.