The Butterfly

I ease onto an overhanging rock and look down.

The view steals my breath.

Thousands of meters below, I see Caterra’s surface. Of all the mountaintops I’ve visited, nothing compares to this.

Then I remember. If the alignment’s successful, Guarinot will reclaim its original spot on Caterra, and this view will be gone. I feel kinda sad about that.

“You don’t have to do it,” a voice says behind me, and an orange-and-black-spotted butterfly flutters to a bunch of white florets tipped in violet and lands on a petal.

I watch the butterfly move around the cluster, collecting nectar. “Would that make you happy, if I don’t?”

“It makes me no difference.” It lands on another clump of flowers.

“Didn’t you say I was unworthy? Why do you follow me?” Seriously. I’m talking out loud to a bug. Even though I know it’s Moloch’s daughter. I wonder if the food’s any good in a mental asylum.

The butterfly faces me. “I find you . . . interesting.” It—she— lifts off one floret, flutters twice, and lands on another.


“Someday you will know. Perhaps.” She flutters again and makes a circle around my head. Then she flies to the outside edge of the rock I’m sitting on. “You’ve had a long day. Bedtime.” She flutters twice more and lands.

The rock shifts, and I’m thrown off the edge.


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