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Larva from the Flames - Short Story by Kenneth Nolan

The beginning of April and a hint of good weather had begun to appear. Springtime has arrived I thought to myself and a lightening of the mood struck me. According to all predictions a beautiful summer lay ahead. I felt my energy levels rise as day after day of glorious sunshine passed. All one needed at this time was a long prayed for gift from the Gods to set the ball rolling for the shiny weeks to come.

I answered a heavy knock at the front door early one morning to be greeted by a man in a horrible brown uniform holding a large white container. I tried to contain my excitement as I realized there was only one delivery I was possibly expecting from U.P.S. As I noticed the South American stamp on the waybill, my soul leapt with excitement. My Bolivian Red Maggots had arrived! I called The Nailbar and gave him instructions to come over immediately.

“You’re fucking joking!” he said, as I gave him the information for the fifth time.

“You’ve got the Bolivian Reds?”

“Yes now get yourself over here and we’ll take a look.”

I felt an overwhelming excitement as I opened the container, there they were fifty Bolivian Reds looking as evil and ruthless as a gang of Finglas teenagers. I already had the cocoons of the other most revered Maggot in the world, The Vietnamese Steamer Maggot, Asia’s finest! It was ventured by experts in the Maggot world that such a diverse interbreed of Maggots would be ludicrous? It didn’t matter to me, I was at the heel of the hunt now and was willing to give it a try. The Nailbar offered words of caution but that was to be expected, he was nervous mixing Cider and Guinness let alone anything else.

My dream was to enter a competitive team of Maggots in this year’s ‘All Ireland Maggot Lamping Championship’ in Birr Co. Offaly. Not only a competitive team but an elite team of super-breed Maggots that would take Offaly by storm!

Myself and The Nailbar have been training Maggots for lamping competitions for over a decade and had entered the All Ireland three times in the past with local Maggots, only to be laughed out of Offaly as the ‘Dopey Dubs’ who should leave Maggot Lamping to the big boys.

This is because Maggot Lamping is traditionally a country sport, which took hold in the arse end yonderlands of Munster, especially around the Dingle Peninsula. It is thought that the culchies discovered Maggot Lamping on the nights cutting turf in the bogs. When the Bogmen became lost or ran into any sort of trouble they'd turn their lamps on the Maggots and the astute larvelites would lead them to safety. Us city boys especially us Dubs have always been the outsiders regardless of (like myself and The Nailbar) our deep love and appreciation for Maggots.

The Nailbar and I go back a long way. We first met in primary school when I stopped a posse of girls from beating him up, he’s stuck to me like hair on soap ever since. He’s got a big mouth but also has a heart of gold and has always been a trusted Lieutenant, kinda like a Watson to my Holmes only as thick as a Donkey’s arse. We have three common interests; scooping, finding an inexpensive cure for hereditary male baldness and the ancient sport of Maggot Lamping.

There has only ever been one Dublineze Maggot Lamper of note and that’s the great Nipper Keogh. Nipper won the All Ireland in three consecutive years 1953, 54 and 55, the only Dubliner to ever be crowned champion; he also had eight other top five finishes throughout the late fifties and early sixties. His success began to wane in the early seventies and he died in 1985 a broken man, allegedly of heartbreak after his missus burned all his Maggots when she found out Nipper had been knocking off the seventeen-year-old babysitter. Locals claim that on a quiet night in his native Donnycarney, Nipper's ghost can be seen throwing buckets of water onto the streets in a hopeless attempt to save his precious Maggots. Of course I never had the opportunity to meet the great man but his legacy inspires us all. We keep a picture of Nipper holding aloft the All Ireland trophy in the Maggot Shed which we have come to affectionately know as Nipper Keogh's Memorial Maggot Farm. (N.K.M.M.F) above the entrance.

The world of Maggot Lamping has progressed significantly since Nippers glory days and I knew if I was ever to reclaim the cup for Dublin I’d have to immerse myself in all things Larval on a global level. In 2005 I travelled to Austria to take an intense week-long course in Larval Biology. It cost an arm and a leg but it was worth every penny as it was at the Maggot College in Vienna that I discovered the different types of Maggots around the world and the potential of bringing them together.

The Nailbar and I travelled to Lamping events across Europe and saw some of the great Maggots in action. The most inspiring Lamping event we attended was the ‘Mouche Lampes Grand Prix’ in Paris. In all my studies and all the Lamping events I saw there were two types of Maggots that stood out; The Bolivian Red and The Vietnamese Steamer.

The Bolivian Red, emerging from the coal mines near La Paz is bred purely for stamina. Larvalating at high altitude throughout the year the Bolivian Red is to Lamping what the Duracell Bunny is to batteries. It stays in its maggotised state longer than any other Maggot before eventually emerging as the most fearsome, deadly mosquito in South America.

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