The Butterfly Monarch

Image of Long Story Short Award - Fall 2020
Image of Short Fiction
Day 1

My body's been changing recently; now I'm king of the world. It's been a crazy morning.

Let’s start from yesterday. Yesterday I was comfortably wrapped in a dangle-bed eagerly awaiting my transformation from a chubby-grubbly to a flutterby. We monarch flutterbys pride ourselves on our beautiful orange and black flight-helpers and white specle-dotted rimmer-strips and I was excited to have mine.
So there I was, wrapped like a buzz-raisin in a 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. I appeared to be on some sort of 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’s...disorienting. Still, you know how hungry being immobilized for eighteen days and growing four new limbs makes you. The salad was delicious.
Having satisfied my ravenous hunger, I was disposed to discover why I was on a 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. 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 deprivation will go so far as to create corpse-collections. No flutterby nor crunch-buggly has ever been able to determine what sick sense of fulfillment the diminutive flesh-mountains gain from such a wanton thing).
I was certain that I had built my dangle-bed on the tallest tree in the tree-crowd...not on a cush-pushy surrounded by flesh-mountains in a smash-circle chamber-space. I couldn’t be certain, but it looked like 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.... The flutterby shrine was new.

I noticed the commotion in the chamber-space. A shorter flesh-mountain with a subservient air came scuttling in:

“All hail! Fiero! 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.

I should mention here that 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?

Day 2

They made me a tiny sovereign-seat. It’s a shame that flutterbys can’t sit.

A short circular fellow came and positioned some sort of contraption around my sovereign-seat. Then 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 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 committed in our gross ignorance!”

Verbose much?

I replied with, “What’s going on?”
To my surprise, I heard a voice say, “What’s ongoing?”

The circular flesh-mountain jumped (rather bounced) up from the floor and scrambled to the side of the chamber-space. He returned with charts.

“The projects have been progressing with all expedition your holiness.” The man said. “We completed construction on the first three 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 display cases that the flesh-mountains were so fond of wasting their miserable lives in. Still, I was magnanimous. He was, after all, so proud of the menial 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 around me was a translator of some sort which allowed the flesh-mountains to understand my words.

Sure enough, the device repeated, “Good doing. Transport Oxo-Nitrate.”

The round flesh-mountain, seemed gratified at my high words of praise. I liked him.

“What is your nom-caller?” I asked, which translated to, “What’s the password?”

“I am a Lepidopterologist.” The fellow said.

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”. 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.

Day 3

I had just finished my morning-munch and was craving companionship. Naturally, I called for Lep. Lep grows on a fellow. The round man 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 must 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 this as “ Tigers! World domination! I am coming!”

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!”

See. isn’t he cute?

Despite Lep’s adorableness, he clearly hadn’t understood Flub’s translation.

He was probably too young.

“How many ice-cycles since you were a flesh-grubbly?” I asked, and then for good measure: “For example,” I continued, “I am two days old. How old are you?”

“You are worm food for many winters!” Flub said. Then: “Work on commission. I am the second sun elder. Are you an old economy?”

Lep looked confused but replied, “The economy is not well.”

My mother taught me about flesh-mountain economics when I was just the tiniest wriggle of a chubby-grubbly. “The brute of all weevil” they call it. She explained it as:

“If Jimmy has one quarter and Sally has four quarters, what is the economic incentive for Jimmy to kill Sally and take her quarters?”

Tomorrow, I plan to fix the flesh-mountain economy. Then, I’m going to find out why I’m king of the world.

(Excerpt from a news release, May 2nd, 2021)


“In a stunning 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. The perpetrator will be prosecuted to the full extent and would face death penalty if Fiero hadn’t abolished capital punishment saying, “I don’t want death. Feed me tiger blood and sing ‘I love the layman.’”

We urge people to stay calm as we again negotiate our tenuous peace with the butterfly population.”