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Butterfly Wings - Chapter 12 - Lungs

by BlackThorne


Vector

/ˈvektər/

noun

  1. Traditionally in medicine, a vector is an organism that does not cause disease itself but which spreads infection by conveying pathogens from one host to another

* * *

Aaron was in a forest. Well, no. A smooth, black highway was under his heels. It gleamed dully from the moisture in the air. The forest was on the side of the highway. The air was cool and stirred slightly in the wind. Where was he? Why was he here?

Aaron thought he saw a deer, a pale deer in the distance. He wanted to get a closer look. His footsteps pattered noiselessly on the pine needles.

The pines stood in a dreamy quiet, like clusters of smooth spiral shells popping from sand rolled over by the tides and ocean waves, or ice cream cones carelessly splattered on the sidewalk. The trees seemed to breathe, with soft, vegetative lungs that made the needles shift with a delicate, silky life like gossamer. The pines smelled fresh and earthy, like grass or leaves baked in the sun, like green-feathered candles burning softly on a fragment oaken wardrobe. The forest seemed to swallow all light and sound. It was dark. Soft. Quiet.

He saw the deer again. It was silver in the moonlight, a bright moonlight that dipped the tips of the fur coating its pelt in melted pearl. Its eyes glittered in the tar-like blackness like cold diamonds and seemed to pierce his soul. A thing of light in the dark, quiet forest of pines.

He started to walk closer, in light, soft steps, but the deer quietly left the clearing, in fluid hoofsteps that made no noise on the needles.

A creeping feeling of strangeness began to crawl in his stomach, like a cold, sweet snake slithering under his skin, or an egg cup that poured lukewarm water over his tea kettle insides. He felt stranger and stranger, with something he couldn’t quite feel buzzing in his stomach. Blood was rushing in his ears. He felt himself walking across the soft, silent needles, the muscles and bones and tendons in his legs almost floating as they swept over the forest floor. The cool air whistled over his skin. The rushing sound in his ears got louder, crackling and fizzing like TV static. He tried to make his footsteps pound on the ground, to make his feet grind on solid land and scoop up dirt. But the trees swallowed up the sound. Fingers of pine brushed over his arms, more and more of them, catching their green thorns on his clothes and drowning him in soft darkness as their branches folded over him like a blanket of goose down.

He blinked. The branches were pulling at him. He saw the deer, the silver, moonlit deer with the fur dipped in melted pearl. Its antlers were like young, thick oak saplings, frosted over with a thin layer of moss. It stood a ways away.

ksssht

It was right in front of him.

The deer, the silver moonlit deer with the fur dipped in melted pearl. It was bathed in a harsh, powdery light like a camera flash, that made the once-thin shadows drip black and stretch like tar, and the fur coating the pelt stretch like stars through spaceship windows into blooming streaks, rippling like a hurricane. The rushing sound turned to roaring, like ocean waves that cut into his eardrums like jagged glass, louder and louder and louder and louder and louder and louder and louder.

THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT

ksssht

Aaron was in a forest. Well, no. A smooth, black highway was under his heels. It gleamed dully from the moisture in the air. The forest was on the side of the highway. The air was cool and stirred slightly in the wind. The pines stood in a dreamy quiet, like clusters of smooth spiral shells popping from sand rolled over by the tides and ocean waves, or ice cream cones carelessly splattered on the sidewalk. The forest seemed to swallow all light and sound. It was dark. Soft. Quiet.

No.

The trees were out of focus. They slipped and slid around, splicing into shaky halves and flickering like strobe lights. They broke into particles and changed color and layered over each other. Wobbling. Corrupting. Distorting. Breaking.

There was no noise. Only the cool air and the shifting breeze whispering over the needles.

The deer padded out between the trees. Silently. Always silently. It was silver in the moonlight, a bright moonlight that dipped the tips of the fur. It bloomed with butterfly wings that sprouted from its pelt like daisies sprout from a meadow, moonlit, gleaming dully with iridescent lepidopteran scales. Growing from its insides. Its eyes glittered in the tar-like blackness like cold diamonds, and seemed to pierce his soul. A thing of eerie calm in the dark, decaying forest of pines. Sprouting with the butterfly wings.

He could hear it. The words were crackling and warped. They had no volume.

AN INFANT WAS DROPPED OUT THE WINDOW HERE.

“I know.”

AN INFANT WAS DROPPED OUT THE WINDOW HERE.

“Yes, but-”

AN INFANT WAS DROPPED OUT THE WINDOW HERE.

“I know, but-”

AARON, HOW OLD DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

There was a long silence.

“I don’t know.”

The deer flicked its ear.

THE INFANT WAS DROPPED OUT THE WINDOW HERE, AROUND FIFTEEN YEARS AGO.

“Yes, I know, but-”

AN INFANT WAS DROPPED OUT THE WINDOW HERE.

The deer began nibbling on some grass poking through the pine needles. It stared at him as it chewed.

IT’LL END JUST HOW IT BEGAN, YOU KNOW. IT’LL END JUST LIKE IT BEGAN.

The deer was gone.

The smooth, black highway was under his heels. It gleamed dully from the moisture in the air. The forest was on the side of the highway. The air was cool and stirred slightly in the wind. The pines stood in a dreamy quiet, like clusters of smooth spiral shells popping from sand rolled over by the tides and ocean waves, or ice cream cones carelessly splattered on the sidewalk. The forest seemed to swallow all light and sound. It was dark. Soft. Quiet.

A pinprick of light blinked in the smooth black bowl of night, flashing through the atmosphere and trailing a glowing tail of gases and stardust. There was a sizzling sound. The ozone peeled away layers of ice and rock as fire swam over the surface, sending a spray of sparks and burning pieces of meteorite into the sky.

BOOM

The dirt exploded out from under it. It shook apart the trees and stripped branches of their needles as they bubbled up in clouds of ash. Trees were ripped from their roots like weeds and torn from limb to limb, as flakes of bark and cellulose rippled off in clouds that crumbled into sawdust. Every organic fragment of the humus was shot through with burns and the burrowing worms curled like withered leaves as they were crushed under layers of dirt.

Cursed.

He was awake. A...dream.

He was inside a slippery sleeping bag. It was too dangerous out to be alone, so it was best they stuck together for now. They were sleeping on the hard platform of a subway tunnel, with a sheet draped from a steel column and stuffed between the slats of a wooden bench. The sheet didn't serve any purpose, but at least made it feel a bit more homely. It was a place to live of sorts for Starling, somewhere where the shadows didn’t try to haunt her nightmares. She had some food and things here, and no one bothered her.

Daffodil was sleeping in a tangle of spare blankets. She was splayed delicately over the flannel, her hair a dark mahogany brown that whispered over her face and gleamed in the dimness. She had a finger grazing Ciana’s wrist, so that she wouldn’t overflow again. Ciana had a strange power that bubbled up whenever she saw the moon, and even when she didn’t, if the moon was full like tonight. It seemed Daffodil, with her flesh that faded and dissolved as hunger panged in her stomach, ghostly, pale Daffodil, served as a buffer. Like an empty bowl to catch water spilling from a glass. Starling was nearby, flopped over on the bench in her own sleeping bag, crinkly and glossy and gleaming in the lights in the tunnel.

He didn’t really feel like he was one of them.

He looked out into the deep, dark subway tunnel. It was a void, a black hole, empty and deathly quiet. The tracks were thick and metal, and disappeared as they trailed into the yawning darkness. You could hear candy wrappers skittering across the floor in the drafts. Starling and Daffodil had said the quietness unnerved them. He’d asked further, and they’d tried to explain to him fragments of lost memories from around here, of rushing sound and clunking machinery and the roar of a train. It didn’t seem familiar to him.

Cold winds whistled through the emptiness, chilling his bones. But the dark, soft solitude was oddly comforting.

He slid back into his sleeping bag. The inside of it was warm, and the outside was cold. And getting too cold wouldn’t be good. The cold was when the shadows were most persuasive, and the night was when they were the strongest.

He remembered he’d had a dream. It’d had a silver deer and some pines in it. Memories of corrupted, flickering words flashed through his mind.

THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT

AN INFANT WAS DROPPED OUT THE WINDOW HERE.

THE INFANT WAS DROPPED OUT THE WINDOW FIFTEEN YEARS AGO.

IT’LL END JUST HOW IT BEGAN, YOU KNOW. IT’LL END JUST LIKE IT BEGAN.

What did it all mean?

What did it all mean?


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Sun Apr 26, 2020 11:48 pm
Carlito wrote a review...



Hello again!!

So some of the same things I said in my previous review apply here as well about being mindful of when you're overdescribing. I felt pulled out of the prose sometimes because some of the descriptions (I'm thinking mostly during the dream sequence) were a little distracting.

I thought the most intriguing part of the chapter was the warning? I suppose it was a warning about the infant being dropped out of the window fifteen years ago. What was that?!! I need to know so much more! Which I'm sure will be explained more in future chapters :) I think during that scene when he's still in the dream and hearing the voice (it is a voice right?) I'd love to know more about what this voice sounds like! And even though he's in a dream state and probably isn't fully aware of his surroundings and stuff, what does he think or how does he feel in the dream when he first hears the voice. It almost feels like in the moment that he has some understanding of it but then when he wakes up he definitely doesn't.

Also when he wakes up, I'd love to see more of his initial behavior. I like that we see where he is, but does he have to do sort of a mental check in like oh. I'm here. That was a dream. Is he breathing heavy? Is his heart beating faster? I'd love to see more of his realization that was a dream and him now adjusting to being awake and in the present again. Also, I get that it's a cliff hanger, but I'd love to see more of his initial feelings about the dream and the voice and the infant falling out of the window!! You can still end with the what did it all mean, but I'd love to see more feelings first.

I'll leave things there for now, but please let me know if you have any questions or if you'd like feedback about something I didn't mention! :D




BlackThorne says...


thanks for the review! his awakening was supposed to feel more smooth and subtle. I think it kind of adds to the surreal effect.



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Wed Apr 08, 2020 10:09 am
Necromancer14 wrote a review...



Well! This was an intriguing chapter I'm definitely hooked, wondering what's happening.

Here's my review:

I see that this chapter was from Aaron's point of view. The whole thing with the deer and the pines was interesting, and it was extremely surreal again. (I said abstract earlier on, but surreal is a better word for what I mean.) Anyway, the descriptions once again were fantastic. However, you had a lot of incomplete sentences. That's fine in dialogue, but in descriptive or otherwise writing you're not really supposed to do that.

Aaron was in a forest. Well, no. A smooth, black highway was under his heels.


This is how you start, not counting the little recipe excerpt. However, you also say this later, and the only word that was different was instead of saying "Aaron" you said "he." You really don't want to repeat yourself like this in a story. You may have done it on purpose, but in that case you should say, in your writing, something like "Aaron realized that he had thought that only moments ago." Or something like that. And the same goes with the silver fish escalator.

Aaron thought he saw a deer, a pale deer in the distance. He wanted to get a closer look.


I believe that there needs to be a comma after "pale deer"

It was silver in the moonlight, a bright moonlight that dipped the tips of the fur coating its pelt in melted pearl.


Again. Explain that Aaron's having the same thought patterns twice or something, otherwise I would recommend coming up with a different simile to describe it either the second time or the first time.

Its eyes glittered in the tar-like blackness like cold diamonds, and seemed to pierce his soul.


This is grammatically incorrect. Either change your "and" to a "which," or add a "they" after "and."

THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT


Interesting! I wonder how all the puzzle pieces fit together. This story has quite a few ingenious little twists.

The deer began nibbling on some grass poking through the pine needles. It stared at him as it chewed.


This I found quite funny for some reason. It's like, "Imma eat this grass while I yell at you. Then I'm going to unnerve you even more by staring at you too."

He looked out into the deep, dark subway tunnel. It was a void, a black hole, empty and deathly quiet. The tracks were thick and metal, and disappeared as they trailed into the yawning darkness. You could hear candy wrappers skittering across the floor in the drafts.


This was super descriptive.

What did it all mean?


I really think that you don't need two of these. One line is just as powerful, in fact probably more even. If you read it a certain way it's more powerful with two, but most people are probably just gonna read through both of them.

Anyway, that's my review! I hope it was helpful.




BlackThorne says...


thanks! again, the copy-and-pasted description is intentional and is meant to strengthen the echo-like effect. I'll keep your thoughts in mind though. concerning your criticism of the sentence "Its eyes glittered in the tar-like blackness like cold diamonds, and seemed to pierce his soul." as being grammatically incorrect...are you sure? if I'm understanding correctly, the sentence structure goes like this: (subject-its eyes) (verb-glittered) (prepositional phrase-in the tar-like blackness) (simile-like cold diamonds) (conjunction-and) (linking verb-seemed) (infinitive verb-to pierce) (object-his soul). basically: Its eyes [glittered] (modifiers) and [seemed to pierce] his soul. as far as I know, this is a valid sentence (example: the dog barked and panted.)





Ah, but you added a comma. The way you wrote it was "The dog barked, and panted."





So removing the comma would fix it too. Sorry, I forgot to mention that in the review.



BlackThorne says...


ooh, I see! thanks!





Your welcome




The same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg. It's about what you're made of, not the circumstances.
— Unknown