Fragile Creatures

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He watches the butterfly flutter over the busy road. It is late afternoon and the cars scream by, probably on their way home from work. The colourful little creature fights her way to land on his hand. She is so light and fragile, he can barely feel her weight resting on his hand. But he can sense her heart pounding as she catches her breath. Her soft, golden-brown, red, speckled-white and black-rimmed wings flutter open and then close slowly as she recovers.

He lifts his hand up to his ear and then nods.

She saw them. She saw them all, and they did not see her.

“Yes,” he growls, “We will go once it is dark. Very dark. I love you.”

***

“Jesus Chris-almighty!” exclaims the janitor walking into the room. He takes a step back immediately and averts his eyes while pinching his nose. But he looks back. He has to see.

“J-e-s-u-sss…” he mumbles as he runs his eyes over the ghastly scene, “There is so much blood. Is that–is that a fucking leg over there? How many are here?”

But no one answers him back. He is first on the scene. He heard the screaming and came running. Now there is no one screaming anymore. He will have to call the cops. Soon the cafeteria will be swarming with forensics and outside will be full of journalists, but for now, he has a few moments to catch his breath.

He has a few moments to absorb all the horror.

Perhaps slipping in from an open window or maybe it had always been hiding there in the shadows, a butterfly suddenly flutters over the bloody scene. He stops muttering swearwords and watches the red, black and white little creature as it flies towards him and lands on his outstretched, shaking hand.

He smiles at the butterfly like a lover. His hand stops shaking immediately. She is so fragile on his hand. So small and light; so frightened with so much violence around her. Much like him, she is fragile and unprotected in this dark world. He lifts her up to his ear to listen.

She saw them. She saw them all, and they did not see her.

“Yes,” he growls, “We will go once it is dark. Very dark. I love you.”

***

The blood drips off his hands onto the tiled floor. He does not notice it. He is smiling because he is happy. He–and she!–they are both safe. Everyone is dead, and so they are safe.

“This world is so violent,” he growls softly under his breath, “So violent, but we are safe now, my love.”

He slips out the back of the hospital, casually throwing the knife into a bin out there. He starts to walk, still smiling, but then she flutters off his shoulder. The red, black and white little creature’s fragile wings barely move, but she rises in the soft breeze in the alley. She flutters silently upwards like the chorus of oncoming sirens to disappear over a roof and is gone.

Except those sirens just keep getting nearer.

He is left standing there. He is no longer smiling. He mouth is wide open and his eyes terrified. All the blood is forgotten. Suddenly the sirens cut into his consciousness and he starts. Panic sets in.

And he begins to run.

She is far above fluttering in the warm air. Below her is the mortal world. He is running and the blue lights are chasing. She is watching, and from up here she can see them and they cannot see her.

***

The aircon in the detective’s office is broken and the open window barely helps, but he does not notice the sweat on his brow. He is lost in thought looking at the cases on his desk. All of them are murders. All of them are seemingly random homicidal murder, and in all of their cases, the suspect was chased from the scene and eventually died in the pursuing flight.

Suicide-by-cop, he thinks. He knows it must be right. It was their inability to face the consequences of their actions that drove them to this, and so they took the easy way out.

But why had all of them done the murders in the first place? So violent, so bloody…

All of the perps had been described as wildly psychotic by the police that had chased them. Yet all of the perps had appeared to be completely normal people by everyone who had actually know them in their day-to-day lives. All of the murders were so violent with little regard for hiding them; some in the middle of the day, some in the middle of busy schools or hospitals…

It was almost like they had wanted to get caught in the act. But then why had they run from the cops?

He shakes his head and leans back in his chair. He closes his eyes and pinches the bridge of his nose. He needs a drink; something cold and strong.

Something brushes his hand on the table. Without thinking, he slaps his other hand down onto it. He sighs and opens his eyes.

Crushed between his right palm and the top of his left hand is a red, black and white little butterfly. Its wings are broken and its little body and insides squished all over the detective’s rough hands. Its tiny heart beats its last time in its shattered frame as life leaves it.

“Fuck. How the hell did that get in here,” he asks, but then realises the window was wide open. He feels bad; a pang of guilt stabs into him. It looks like it was a beautiful little creature, but just so fragile.

He grabs a tissue and wipes it off his hand and throws it into a bin under his desk. He sits up and leans forward, pulling the case files nearer to him. In front of him is a mosaic of murder with bloody pictures on his desk. So many. Why? Why would they do all of this?

He sighs and growls under his breath, “This world is so violent. So violent…”

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