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Butterfly Wings - Chapter 5 - Bones

by BlackThorne

It was the clove of daytime, the brink between afternoon and twilight. The sky was a dim blanket of gray clouds. The air was thick and moist, buzzing with cold, and a slight musky smell.

An old, creaking house propped up at the edge of town, striped with creaking wood planks peeling with white paint.The windows were dulled with layers of dust, and wind whistled through the gaps and over broken pieces of glass.They were old bones, a skeleton. No one ever went near that house. A baby had fallen out the window there, and no one ever dared to look for it. There was also the weird musky smell, and layers of rotting leaves and pine needles in the yard.

A few teens had dared each other to go in once and saw a weird mildew coating the walls, flakes with growths like butterfly wings. No one tried to go in there again.


It was there, and then, that something, under the layers and layers of dead leaves, those layers of dead leaves in the backyard, began to move.

crunch crackle crackle

He couldn’t see. He couldn’t breathe. Something was pressing down on his lungs and filling his nostrils with a rotting smell. It was like burning rubber. Moist, papery maple leaves stuck to his face. He tried to move his limbs.

crackle crackle crunch

Twigs popped and snapped like fireworks and brittle leaf veins cracked like old paint. The weight began to loosen.

snap snap crackle


Air flooded into his lungs, rough with crawling fungus. swirling with the dust of dead leaves. Dead leaves and cracked yellow bones fell away from  his body. Sallow ribs and broken limb cores.

His head lolled groggily on his shoulders, a fungus like butterfly wings blooming from one eye socket. They’d eaten away the jelly inside. When he breathed, he could feel them fluttering. His blood flowed sluggishly under bleached skin. It gleamed dully, as if it was made of polished white wax. His frozen limbs were tingling and fizzing as numbness poured out of them. 

Old deer bones littered the leaves around him. Some of the skin and layers of tissue from his arm were missing. It was a bloody rose blossoming on his shoulder, a meaty blot of lichen. Bits of bone had been chipped away by rat’s teeth. From his back, thin strings of mycelium trailed into the earth.

He looked up. The sight of the house and the trees was blurred at first, but came into focus. Faint ghosts of memory wafted around him, like loose cobweb that fluttered in his empty skull. Residue. They weren’t his. But the whispers of them filled his mind as he breathed in.

He breathed in the knowledge in the air. The knowledge that he was a person. How to speak. That these-these people-they often spoke to each other, and that they were often in houses, but not this one. And that they usually wore more than dead leaves, so he got up and went through the back door. His footsteps creaked up the rotted stairs and he found some clothes in an oaken wardrobe. They fit him perfectly, and only had a bit of mildew on them.

He breathed in that a child-an infant-had been dropped out the window here, and died. He wasn’t sure why this was important.

Butterfly wings lined the walls like ivy that creeps over stone ruins, spiraling in blooms and layering wing over wing, dripping water and mingling their flaky fungus and floury scales with the natural molds and dust of time. Bleached like bones in the sun. He resounded with the room, feeling a strange sense of oneness.

He coughed, and a wing fluttered from his lips. He creaked back down the rotted stairs.

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44 Reviews

Points: 3165
Reviews: 44

Sun Jan 26, 2020 10:12 pm
jster02 wrote a review...

This was a great chapter, probably my favorite so far. My eyes kept growing wider and wider with each line, as I watched the butterfly zombie, or whatever it is, rise from the dead. I probably should've guessed this would turn into some kind of zombie story simply because everyone is succumbing to a space parasite, but it still managed to surprise me, so well done there.

You did a bit of subtle world building in this chapter that I really appreciated. Based on the fact that the zombie seems to be able to see other people's memories, I think I can safely assume that the butterfly wings are some kind of hive mind. This kind of makes me wonder if the virus was sent here on purpose to take over the world, perhaps by aliens, or even all by itself. It's certainly an interesting thought, even if that's not what it turns out to be in the end. Either way, this chapter really made me look at the plot in a whole new way.

Anyways, you really succeeded in giving me the creeps with this chapter, especially with your description of what the zombie itself was feeling. It can't be fun to have fungus for eyes and butterfly wings lining your lungs. I imagine it's like being sick all the time, and having really bad eczema, except about a hundred times worse.

That's about all I have to say about this chapter. I have no real criticisms to give, so well done on that. I can't wait to see where this goes next!


BlackThorne says...

thanks! :D the part about him breathing in the memories and such is more a side effect of reality unraveling, which, like I said, also goes for most of the strange happenings.

jster02 says...

I guess I'll have to keep the whole "reality unraveling" thing in mind when I read the next chapters. Is the butterfly zombie part of that too?

BlackThorne says...

it runs a little deeper than'll find out ;)

I don't care what the miserable excuse is for showing the death of books, live, on screen. Men, I could understand; but books! -
— Edwin Morgan, From the Video Box 2