Tuesday, June 18, 2013


He participated in his execution out of an abundance of courtesy. While he could have easily walked out of that room, through locked doors and past armed guards, he chose not to do so. When a grown man allows children to bury him in sand at the beach, does he begrudge their vengeful tamping? So he decided not to spoil their grim sport, though the bars may as well have been wicker and rice paper for all that they bound him. 

Later he would not remember the century of his demise, so little did the details matter. Was it in a torch-lit vault, strapped to a blood-stained slab of iron-shod oak, boiling cinnabar being poured into his stomach through a beaten lead funnel, or was there an air of smug righteousness to the event, with fluorescent lights overhead and a mechanical whine as the toxins were introduced into his veins in a far more enlightened manner….

One item did stand out, however. As he let himself die, he did remember transmuting whatever poison it was into a pellet of innocuous matter. No point in suffering needlessly, he thought. But then he went further and made the few almost imperceptible changes to that hateful little nugget. In a few moments he worked it through a primitive ontogeny (he was, after all, pressed for time), and brought it into his mouth. With his last breath he birthed it into the world, a luminous butterfly with omega-shaped wing-markings in black. 

"Cheeky, that," he admitted, picking up the dossier. "And why is it you want me to go back?"

--Steve Kilian


Death's Dog

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