The Fly and the Worm
Disclaimer: I’ve written this story several years ago and never quite got around to publishing it. It is what I’d call an “Oddworld-adjacent” story, that is to say it features no characters, nor mentions of any in-universe locations, but the topics handled in it are still relevant to the series.
I hope despite its “experimental” nature, it’ll still provide some fun. Thanks for reading it.
Deep below the surface, inside one of the many damp, dripping tunnels connecting one city to another, a fly and a worm bumped into each other.
Through, to be entirely fair, it was only the Fly who did the bumping part, as the Worm was entirely preoccupied with jamming his head deep into a bucket of stinking, sickly pale meat, not unlike the color of his own slightly undulating body. The enormous bucket was held between the Worm’s two flimsy arms, which looked comically small compared to the gigantic size of the being.
The Worm pulled his head out of the bucket with some difficulty, resulting in a wet ‘pop’, then looked at the Fly with his small, beady eyes. They stood there in silence for a moment or two, the quiet broken only by the occasional drip of sauce splattering against the rough dirt floor. Finally the worm opened his foul-smelling mouth and spoke in an entirely emotionless, yet somehow still questioning tone:
The Fly shuddered at the sudden sound, dropping a small, haphazardly drawn map of the complex tunnel-system of the underground. Her many large mammalian eyes, which just seconds ago have been busy reading the aforementioned map, were now anxiously looking for the source of the sound before settling on the dirty being who called out to her.
“I am terribly sorry for the intrusion, sir. I am absolutely at fault here for not avoiding your…”—she stammered for a second looking over the huge, bloated body of the Worm. As far as the Fly could see the Worm’s several meters thick torso filled all but a tight squeeze in the tunnel. She wasn’t looking forward to try how she’d fit through the gap. —“your generousness. You see, I was very focused on this map.”
As far as she could tell, the Worm seemed completely unfazed. The Fly was unsure whether he bought the false compliment or perhaps he did not even notice her barely avoided impoliteness, but either way, she was glad not to have invited his ire. The Worm let out his enormous tongue and licked the dripping sauce off his chin before signaling his acknowledgement with a grunt.
The Fly was a bit annoyed over the other’s manners, but decided not to mention it, since, after all, she had been the offending party. Rather she asked the following:
“Since my clumsiness has already disturbed you, for which I am once again truly sorry, could the sir please answer me a tiny question? Is this Tunnel 3? I have spent most of today’s morning looking for it, but I got so lost, that I have decided in desperation to just take a gamble and follow whichever path seemed most likely.” She let out an anxious titter, trying to ease her nervousness.
The worm gulped once again and let out a thundering belch. “Tunnel 3? Mm. No, this isn’t it. Now leave me alone.”
The Fly was about to just give up and move on, but then she reconsidered. As a descendant of an important trader family, her pride triumphed over her modest upbringing. After all she showed utmost politeness while this… nobody… this… beast handled her with utmost disrespect. This was offense not even such a gentle soul as her could endure.
Of course, there was a problem. Being only a measly two meters tall and much more fragile than the Worm, a direct confrontation would have only ended in a tragedy for the Fly. Her newfound nemesis could easily unburden her face from half (if not all) of her eyes in a singular chomp.
So instead the Fly decided she would use a more refined weapon. She would teach this buffoon a lesson by mentioning something she would have originally been too polite and meek to point out.
“I am very-very sorry, but there is one more thing I would like to ask from the sir,” she buzzed sweetly. “May I please look at the container of the delicacy you’re consuming?”
The Worm let out a long, exasperated sigh, then shrugged. With a forceful yank of his body, he turned halfway towards the Fly and awkwardly held up the bucket, so the other could read it. The Fly focused really hard to read the label as it was soaked in sauce and the tunnel itself was quite dim too. It took several passes of her many eyes to finally make out the text, but she was quite satisfied when she finally managed to decipher it.
“‘GutCo: Mystery meat, Ready to eat’, eh?” she smugly asked.
The Worm now visibly irritated replied, “Yes. Is that all?”
“Well… Not entirely, have you not felt anything wrong with your body nowadays?” the Fly asked with the same cloyingly sweet, subtly condescending tone.
The Worm stared with a puzzled expression at the Fly, who feeling that the moment was about to be spoiled, quickly continued with:
“Because, as it turns out, I just flew by a GutCo facility on my way here. Built into your side. Dear sir, you are eating yourself. Does this not unnerve you?”
The Worm was silent for a second and the Fly’s quietly snickered in schadenfreude as she celebrated her victory. However, the Worm suddenly threw his head back and let out a terrible laugh, which echoed far into the tunnel.
“Ha! Well, in that case I sure taste delicious!” he bellowed, before pushing his head back in the bucket.
The Fly was speechless.
“How could a being be so simple to not even care about something like this?” she thought, while a drip of mucus dripped from her proboscis in frustration.
Yet, there was no sign that the Worm would reemerge any time soon. The Fly stood around for a few more seconds, hoping to somehow come out on top, but eventually her patience ran out.
She let out something akin a sigh, turned around and left, leaving the Worm to continue his blissful self-cannibalization.