He does and they find the mangled remains of his brother in the family factory, his head and arm crushed under a hydraulic machine press. Later that evening, he hears Henri mention something about a fly with a funny white head. She relents and advises him to come back the next day, at which time he will receive his explanation. The next day she gives him a handwritten manuscript, and later that night he reads it. He had two such machines in his basement, one being used as a transmitter pod, the other as a receiver. He also tried transmitting the family cat, which disintegrated perfectly but then never reappeared.
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His natural propensity for travel eventually brought Langel aan to the USA, where he worked for many years before returning to Paris. While in the States, he became a member of a circle of literary figures, including Terry Southern, who were selling work to the then prestigious and hi gh-payi ng Playboy magazi ne. Eventually Playboy took several pieces from the literate, sophisticated Langel aan; including what would become his most celebrated tale, "The Fly. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction cited it as "one of the most noted recent weird-horror stories" and it was immediately selected for reprinting in The Best SF Just why this unsettling tale, which the Science Fiction Encyclopedia rightly called "a macabre story of an unsuccessful experiment in matter transmission" should have proved so popular is difficult to understand.
Perhaps because the author had the good sense to take his narrative out of the laboratory, where previous science fiction writers had placed it, and into the drawi ng room, where it affected real people. Whatever the explanation, "The Fly" touched a universal enough nerve to have stimulated the creation of not one, but two movie versions , filmed almost thirty years apart, while each in turn produced its own lineage of sequels.
George Langel aan passed away some years ago, not far from his beloved City of Lights, but his brainchild, "The Fly," bids to live on forever. Years ago, when they were mostly wall fixtures, I disliked them, but nowadays, when they are planted in every nook and corner, they are a downright intrusion. We have a saying in France that a coalman is master in his own house; with the telephone that is no longer true, and I suspect that even the Englishman is no longer king in his own castle. At the office, the sudden ringing of the telephone annoys me.
It means that, no matter what I am doing, in spite of the switchboard operator, in spite of my secretary, in spite of doors and walls, some unknown person is coming into the room and onto my desk to talk right into my very ear, confidentially — whether I like it or not. At home, the feeling is still more disagreeable, but the worst is when the telephone rings in the dead of night.
If anyone could see me turn on the light and get up blinking to answer it, I suppose I would look like any other sleepy man annoyed at being disturbed. The truth in such a case, however, is that I am struggling against panic, fighting down a feeling that a stranger has broken into the house and is in my bedroom.
By the time I manage to grab the receiver and say:"Ici Monsieur Delarnbre. Je vous ecoute," Iam outwardly calm, but I only get back to a more normal state when I recognize the voice at the other end and when I know what is wanted of me. This effort at dominating a purely animal reaction and fear had become so effective that when my sister-in-law called me at two in the morning, asking me to come over, but first to warn the police that she had just killed my brother, I quietly asked her how and why she had killed Andre.
Please call the police and come quickly. And, by the way, I suppose you ought to tell them that Andre They may want to go there first. Please come quickly Francois! I repeated my explanation, but he would not let me.
What is your name? Where do you live? I said, where do you live! He at least seemed to understand everything. Would I wait for him? In five or ten minutes. I had just managed to pull on my trousers, wriggle into a sweater and grab a hat and coat, when a black Citroen, headlights blazing, pulled up at the door.
Has he called you? Though of course my brother could have entered the factory through his laboratory where he often works late at night As he wanted to be away from Paris and yet within reach of where skilled workmen could fix up or make gadgets big and small for his experiments, I offered him one of the old workshops of the factory and he came to live in the first house built by our grandfather on the top of the hill at the back of the factory.
Did he talk about his work? What sort of research work? I only know that be was about to carry out a number of experiments he had been preparing for some months, something to do with the disintegration of matter, he told me.
I knew now that my brother was dead, it seemed that I had been told years ago. Shaking like a leaf, I scrambled out after the Commissaire. Another policeman stepped out of a doorway and led us towards one of the shops where all the lights had been turned on.
More policemen were standing by the hammer, watching two men setting up a camera. It was tilted downwards, and I made an effort to look. It was far less horrid than I had expected. Though I had never seen my brother drunk, he looked just as if he were sleeping off a terrific binge, flat on his stomach across the narrow line on which the white-hot slabs of metal were rolled up to the hammer.
I saw at a glance that his head and arm could only be a flattened mess, but that seemed quite impossible; it looked as if he had somehow pushed his head and arms right into the metallic mass of the hammer. Having talked to his colleagues, the Commissaire turned towards me: "How can we raise the hammer, Monsieur Delambre? Look, here is the switchboard. It was originally a steam-hammer, but everything is worked electrically here now.
Look, Commissaire, the hammer has been set at fifty tons and its impact at zero. It is also set for single strokes, which means that it has to be raised after each blow.
The drop is never set at zero, Monsieur le Commissaire. Can it be raised gently? The speed of the upstroke cannot be regulated. But in any case it is not very fast when the hammer is set for single strokes. Will you show me what to do? Whenever you like. The unusual silence of the factory was broken by the sigh of compressed air rushing into the cylinders, a sigh that always makes me think of a giant taking a deep breath before solemnly socking another giant, and the steel mass of the hammer shuddered and then rose swiftly.
For weeks after, Commissaire Charas worked on the case, listening, questioning, running all over the place, making out reports, telegraphing and telephoning right and left. Later, we became quite friendly and he owned that he had for a long time considered me as suspect number one, but had finally given up that idea because, not only was there no clue of any sort, but not even a motive. Helene, my sister-in-law, was so calm throughout the whole business that the doctors finally confirmed what I had long considered the only possible solution: that she was mad.
That being the case, there was of course no trial. She owned up to the murder of her husband and proved easily that she knew how to handle the hammer; but she would never say why, exactly how, or under what circumstances she had killed my brother. The great mystery was how and why had my brother so obligingly stuck his head under the hammer, the only possible explanation for his part in the drama.
The night watchman had heard the hammer all right; he had even heard it twice, he claimed. This was very strange, and the stroke-counter which was always set back to naught after a job, seemed to prove him right, since it marked the figure two.
Also, the foreman in charge of the hammer confirmed that after cleaning up the day before the murder, he had as usual turned the stroke-counter back to naught. In spite of this, Helene maintained that she had only used the hammer once, and this seemed just another proof of her insanity.
Commissaire Charas, who had been put in charge of the case, at first wondered if the victim were really my brother. But of that there was no possible doubt, if only because of the great scar running from his knee to his thigh, the result of a shell that had landed within a few feet of him during the retreat in ; and there were also the fingerprints of his left hand which corresponded to those found all over his laboratory and his personal belongings up at the house.
A guard had been put on his laboratory and the next day half-a-dozen officials came down from the Air Ministry. They went through all his papers and took away some of his instruments, but before leaving, they told the Commissaire that the most interesting documents and instruments had been destroyed. After only a very few days in prison, Helene had been transferred to a nearby asylum, one of the three in France where insane criminals are taken care of.
My nephew Henri, a boy of six, the very image of his father, was entrusted to me, and eventually all legal arrangements were made for me to become his guardian and tutor. Helene, one of the quietest patients of the asylum, was allowed visitors and I went to see her on Sundays.
Once or twice the Commissaire had accompanied me and, later, I learned that he had also visited Helene alone. But we were never able to obtain any information from my sister-in-law, who seemed to have become utterly indifferent. She rarely answered my questions and hardly ever those of the Commissaire.
She spent a lot of her time sewing, but her favorite pastime seemed to be catching flies, which she invariably released unharmed after having examined them carefully. Helene only had one fit of raving — more like a nervous breakdown than a fit, said the doctor who had administered morphia to quieten her — the day she saw a nurse swatting flies. Poor Madame Delambre could have shown an exceptional interest for anything else, really. Do you doubt it?
In spite of all the doctors say, I have the impression that Madame Delambre has a very clear brain She never seems to consider him as her own child. She may be trying to protect him. Perhaps she fears the boy or, for all we know, hates him? But come to think of it, you are quite right. Yes, that is strange Still, I fail to understand. Do you know if your brother ever experimented with flies? Have you asked the Air Ministry people? They knew all about the work. I do not
George Langelaan – the Fly
His code name was "Langdon". According to his memoirs, The Masks of War , he underwent plastic surgery to alter his appearance before being dropped into France. The operation was deemed necessary so as to remove features that were too distinctive. He later explained that his ears were too large and that they had to be pinned back before he could be dropped into enemy territory. He received the French Croix de guerre. Langelaan was a friend of the occultist Aleister Crowley , claiming he was a spy and "that by winning the confidence of the Germans in America, he had access to members of their inner circle.
The Fly (Langelaan)
His code name was "Langdon". According to his memoirs, The Masks of War , he underwent plastic surgery to alter his appearance before being dropped into France. The operation was deemed necessary so as to remove features that were too distinctive. He later explained that his ears were too large and that they had to be pinned back before he could be dropped into enemy territory. He received the French Croix de guerre. Langelaan was a friend of the occultist Aleister Crowley , claiming he was a spy and "that by winning the confidence of the Germans in America, he had access to members of their inner circle. He died in at the age of
George Langelaan - The Fly
Unfortunately I was wrong with the second part. After I finished it, I started to search for websites, and I realised soon, that the only useful one is on Wikipedia. So at last I came up with the idea, that if there are so many websites about the movies, then I should watch them, after that write my own ideas about the story itself and compare it with its screen adaptations, how these directors rethought it and how these movies give back the feeling of reading it. I hope it will be good enough.