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by Lee Moan

The little god watches the struggling fly in the spider’s web for an unknown time. Eventually, the spider scuttles out onto the gossamer strands of its own making, the web bowing under its great weight. It moves towards the fly stealthily, without haste. The fly is trapped; there is no escape for it.

Kiva feels a sudden, inexplicable desire to save the fly. But he is a god. Why should its life or death bother him?

Then, just as the spider’s legs are stroking the wings of its victim, Kiva finds his hand reaching out, plucking the fly from its prison with infinite care. He sees the spider pause, scuttle left, scuttle right, then return to its lair with a despondent limp. The old spider will go hungry today, but Kiva feels no guilt; tomorrow there will be another fly.

“Why did you do that, son?”

Kiva looks up and sees his father’s daunting figure silhouetted in the archway.

“For mercy,” he answers.

His father steps out of the glare of sunlight and takes a seat on the marble bench next to him.

“Did you even look at the fly?” he asks.

Kiva shakes his head.

“Look at it now, son.”

Kiva holds the fly close between finger and thumb, gently blowing the remaining web-strands from its intricately-detailed body.

“A beautiful creature.”

“Look closer, Kiva.”

His vision intensifies and he sees more: the microscopic cilia on the fly’s torso, the amoebic life-forms which drift and spin in the moisture of its many eyes.


Going deeper, the little god sees the multiple universes swirling within those single-celled creatures, and he gasps. He had almost forgotten they were there.

He lets the fly go, and it floats out through the open window into the sunlit gardens beyond.

“How do you feel now, Kiva?”

“Glad I saved it,” he says, but his pride quickly gives way to sadness. “But, Father, the fly will come to an end some other way, and all that is held inside it will be lost.”

“Yes,” his father says, “but you forget one important thing: the spider is an organism just as complex as the fly, and that in saving the fly, you may have led the spider to starve.”

Stunned, Kiva looks back at the spider’s web in the corner of the window, then bows his head.

“Next time, Kiva,” his father says sternly, “do not intervene.”

Copyright © 2007 by Lee Moan

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