The Butterfly Monarch
My body's been changing recently; now I'm king of the world. It's been a crazy morning. Somebody should really warn a fellow about this stuff.
Let’s start from yesterday. Yesterday I was comfortably wrapped in a dangle-bed eagerly awaiting my radical transformation from a chubby-grubbly to a fully flighted flutterby. It was an exciting moment. I had been waiting in that tiny wrapping for eighteen days and I was certainly ready for my promised areal freedom. This is something of a rite of passage for my kind. We monarch flutterbys pride ourselves on our beautiful orange and black flight-helpers with their beautiful white specle-dotted rimmer-strips.
So there I was, wrapped like a buzz-raisin in a leg-leg-leg-leg-leg-leg-leg-leg-shiny-thread-net. It was time for me to emerge. Have you ever woken up and not known where you are,? and then realized that four armored flesh-mountains with hurt-sticks are watching you? Yeah, it was one of those mornings. Fortunately, my mother said that once I had my flight-helpers, the flesh-mountains would want to look at me, so I wasn’t too disturbed by the attention. I also appeared to be on some sort of velvet chush-pushy. That was new. Also the tiny saucer of yum-greens. I didn’t realize that Flesh-mountains had tiny saucers or that they were in the habit of providing tiny salads for flutterbys. It was disorienting to say the least. Still, you know how hungry being immobilized for eighteen days and growing four new limbs makes you. I ate the salad. It was delicious, and organic.
After having satisfied my ravenous hunger, I was a little more disposed to discover how I came to be reposing on this cush-pushy, waited on flight-helper and salad-hole by the flesh-mountains which are normally the natural predator of the monarch flutterby (strictly speaking, this is not true. There are very few—if any—reported incidents of full sized flesh-mountain attacks each year—they tend to prefer capturing us flutterbys which is ultimately a coveted honor as flutterbys are notoriously vain; there is no fate better than to be fed on the flesh-mountains’ crystal-nectar and admired by every color of the creatures for the full eight weeks of one’s adult life. However, the diminutive flesh-mountains, the ones they call “childrain”, are actually the flutterby’s number one predator and are best avoided at all costs. Sometimes their corrupting influence will go so far as to bend the large flesh-mountains to their will in creating corpse-collections. No flutterby nor crunch-buggly had ever been able to determine what sick sense of fulfillment the diminutive flesh-mountains gain from these corpse-collections, they are the only creatures which do such wanton things).
I was fairly certain that I had built my dangle-bed on the highest branch of the tallest tree in the tree-crowd…not on a cush-pushy surrounded by flesh-mountains in what appeared to be a smash-circle shaped chamber-space of a flesh-mountain-living-place. I couldn’t be certain since I had never given much attention to such pedantic matters while I was a chubby-grubbly, but it looked like the pictures that I had seen of the workthrone-chamber where the fat-land’s flesh-mountain leader—the one who apparently always missed her precedent—worked. It was hard to say, though. If it was the same workthrone-chamber, then they had certainly done some redecorating…
The flutterby shrine was new.
Also the giant portrait of a long-faced-clopper. I had seen pictures like that before but usually they weren’t in places like this unless they were wearing a flesh-mountain. This one was just wearing an empty flesh-mountain holder.
It was about then that I noticed the commotion in the chamber-space. The flesh-mountains seemed agitated. A shorter one with a subservient air came scuttling into the chamber-space. He was the first to speak.
“All hail! Fidero! Monarch of all the earth! Alpha predator and ultimate potentate of men!” He finished with a body-fold so low that the bald patch on the back of his furry-thinker was exposed.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “How were you able to understand him?” The truth is, flutterbys have always been able to understand flesh-mountains. All creatures can understand all other creatures, even weevils—though no weevil has ever had anything useful to say. It is only the flesh-mountain who understands no one and nothing; they’re amazingly dense. So yes, I understood him perfectly.
Okay, that’s a lie.
I had no idea what he was talking about. I mean…did he really just call me Fiero? Cool name, but not mine. Also, did he just say I was...king of the world?
They made me a tiny sovereign-seat. It’s a shame that flutterbys can’t sit. Today the flesh-mountains again showed their brilliant stupidity. Honestly, how have they as a species survived this long? A short circular hairless fellow came in groveling profusely in my general direction. Under his arm he had some sort of object which included a number of small cones, a whole slew of metal-threads, and one of the dark picture making surfaces that the flesh-mountains are so fond of gazing at. He positioned the contraption around my sovereign-seat so that the wide end of each cone was situated toward me and the picture-surface was clearly visible over my fuzzy-snifflers. Once the circular man had completed this setup (I may add, under the most watchful eye of my ever present flesh-mountain entourage who all kept a close hand on their hurt-sticks), he prostrated himself on the ground with his chubby reach-branches extended toward me and all ten of his monstrous fat curly-snappers splayed in every direction. After holding this position for the space of a leaf-flutter he cried in an obnoxiously loud voice:
“That the voice of the Lord Monarch, Fiero, may be heard among his human acolytes; that the will of the Lord Monarch, Fiero, might be obeyed; that the mercy of the wing-ed Rhopalocerai might be extended to the homosapiens; that we may not be punished for our many crimes and wrongs committed in our gross ignorance!”
Again, I had no idea what he was talking about so I just replied with, “What’s going on?”
To my great surprise, I heard a somewhat odd sounding voice issuing from the contraption which had just been set up around me saying, “What’s ongoing?”
Glancing at the picture-making-surface I saw these same words written above my head in the flesh-mountain word-symbols.
The circular flesh-mountain jumped (rather bounced) up from the floor and scuttled to the side of the living-chamber. He returned with a number of charts.
“The projects have been progressing with all expedition your holiness.” The man said (did he just call me “your holiness”? That’s weird. Even if I am the king of the world. Also, I’m still trying to figure out why I’m king of the world). “We have completed construction on the first three butterfly cities.” He unrolled a large picture of the most ridiculously wasteful civil construction project I’d ever seen. They appeared to be tiny, flutterby sized living-spaces modeled after the horrible looking boxes that the flesh-mountains seemed so fond of wasting their miserable lives in. Despite the obviously cringeworthy nature of the project, I did not want to break the man’s spirits. He was, after all, so proud of the menial and pointless thing that they had done.
“Well done.” I said. “Carry on.”
My prodigious intellect (flutterbys have famously large think-organs) had, by this time, determined that the strange device which was now surrounding me was a translator of some sort which allowed the flesh-mountains to understand my words.
Sure enough, the device repeated my words as, “Good doing. Transport Oxo-Nitrate.”
That was pretty much what I had said.
The round flesh-mountain, seemed gratified at my high words of praise.
Out of my magnanimity, I asked, “What is your nom-caller?” which was promptly translated as “What’s the password?”
The fellow must have understood, however, as he promptly answered, “I am a Lepidopterologist.”
Flesh-mountains with their weird nom-callers. I assumed the “A” must be short for some hideous flesh-mountain nom-caller like “Arthur” or “Alex”. If that were the case, then I could understand why he would rather go by “Lepidopterologist”. That was pretty cool, but also a salad-hole full. I decided to call him “Lep” for short.
I had just finished my morning-munch this early-day and was craving some companionship. Naturally, I called for Lep. Lep grows on a fellow quickly. The round man has an endearing quality that is not often found among flutterbys. He bounced into the room much like a hop-fluffer enters a salad-stick patch. And performed his accostumary body-fold before saying, “Yes, my liege?” (I had told him not to say holiness. Too much...yeah just weird).
“Lep, I need to know,” I said, “how did I come to be king of the world?”
The translating machine (which I had prudently nom-called Flub, a very popular flutterby nom-call) translated all this as “ Tigers! World domination! I am coming!”
I thought the meaning was still fairly clear, but Lep’s frontal-sense-center, turned impressively pale and he started to smell like afraidness.
“Oh great butterfly, Monarch of all the earth!” He said, “Have mercy on your unworthy subjects! Do not send your armies of tigers to exact your wrath on the poor humans of the earth!”
See. isn’t he cute?
Despite Lep’s adorableness, I was perplexed; Flub was normally so good at his job. This time, however, something was clearly wrong with the translation. I couldn’t quite place what though.
I tried a different approach.
“Lep, how old are you?” I asked.
After a moment, I heard Flub’s familiar voice repeating my words:
“Blarney! You are years old!”
This time, Flub’s translation was excellent.
“Yes, your majesty. 46 years old, your majesty.” Lep replied.
Wow. I had heard before that flesh-mountains lived for multiple ice-cycles, but I thought it was a not-true, and now Lep was claiming to have survived for 46 ice-cycles! I was intrigued. However, I was also uncertain how to understand his answer. We flutterbys calculate our age based on our transformation. Before we gain our flight-helpers we calculate our age with not-present counting-figures. Only after we emerge from our danglebed do we begin to calculate our age normally. Hence, I was now two days old even though I had been alive for nearly thirty.
“How many ice-cycles since you were a flesh-grubbly?” I asked.
“You are worm food for many winters!” Flub said.
“Please have mercy!” Lep replied.
I didn’t know what this mercy was that Lep kept asking me to have, but I was starting to hope that it was some sort of salad. World domination can be ever so taxing on a flutterby and it was making me hungry again.
“For example,” I continued, “I am two days old. Now how old are you?”
“Work on commission.” Flub translated. “I am the second sun elder. Are you an old man?”
Lep replied in the affirmative.
With that cleared up I turned my attention to the struggles of my subjects. Specifically, the problem that the flesh-mountains call, “The brute of all weevil.” That’s right, I was going to tackle flesh-mountain economics.
My mother taught me about flesh-mountain economics when I was just the tiniest wriggle of a chubby-grubbly. The way she explained it was:
“If Jimmy has one quarter and Sally has four quarters, what is the economic incentive for Jimmy to kill Sally and take her quarters?”
On close observation, I had determined my mother’s explanation to be exactly correct, only it somewhat sold short the violence that the flesh-mountain system engenders. With the obvious exception of cats (I hate cats), there is no creature so violent as the flesh-mountain. Even flesh-munchers like the grinsly-shag-dog will only kill other creatures for a most immediate munch. But flesh-mountains? They don't even eat each other when they kill. So wasteful. They often kill for nothing more than the power-paper (which does not taste good). Then they'll use that to buy things like kale and shine-pebbles. I guess the kale’s not so bad. Still something must be done. But perhaps tomorrow; It had been nearly fifteen minutes since my morning-munch and I was ready for my next munch.
Tomorrow, I plan on outlawing power-paper and finding out what happened to make me king of the world.
(The following is an excerpt from the front page official White House news release, May 2nd, 2021)
LORD FIERO, KING OF THE WORLD, KILLED BY NEGLIGENT ATTENDANT
“In a stunning and unfortunate turn of events, the new monarch of the world has died after an attendant carelessly sat on a chair where Monarch Fiero was resting his royal essence. Though the event was accidental, the attendant will be prosecuted to the full extent and would face the death penalty if the Monarch had not, as one of his last acts, abolished capital punishment saying, “I don’t want death. Feed me tiger blood and sing ‘I love the layman.’”
Tensions are high as we wonder what will the result be from that butterfly kingdom. Will this act of aggression throw us back into a second butterfly war? We urge people to stay calm as we again negotiate our tenuous peace with the Rhopalocera population.”