The Killer Butterfly

Alaina was running, faster and faster until her legs were exhausted and her lungs were burning. Desperate, she screamed, "Help! Help!" as she glanced behind her. She couldn't see it, but she knew it was chasing her. She was running out of time.

The watch on Alaina's wrist ticked in unison with her steps pounding on the ground. The sound of beating wings met her ears. It was following. She could not escape.

With her final burst of energy, Alaina dashed forward another few feet. She came to a jarring halt before a deep chasm, just barely stopping in time. She dislodged a few rocks and they tumbled down into the pit. Great, she thought in despair, a drop-off.

She was going to die; that was obvious. Alaina would rather die fighting than falling. It depended on your perspective—was being torn apart by an unknown beast a better fate than an ignoble death falling down a cliffside? Alaina's life had been based on honor. So a battle it was to be.

She spun around and took two steps forward. If this was to be her final stand, she did not want to be pushed into the abyss below her. Then she saw it at last—a fearsome, giant, hideous, evil … butterfly?

That was what it resembled, at least—a mutant, killer butterfly. It was twice her size, covered in brittle hair. Its wings were huge—black, patterned with red diamonds. It stood firmly on the ground with two thick, hairy legs. The other four were folded in front of its thorax, like a praying mantis. It had two huge eyes devoid of any pity or mercy. Its mouth was a long, curled tube generic to the butterfly. Alaina immediately changed her definition of "insect" to "evil monster that wants to kill me".

"I-I am Alaina," she called, swallowing back her fear. "I am not afraid."

The monster let out a wheezing sound that could have been an amused chuckle. "Could have fooled me," it rasped. Alaina took a hasty step backward, before remembering that the chasm behind her had not grown any farther away.

"Y-you speak," she whispered.

It made a clacking noise with its forelegs. "Yesss," it hissed. "I ssspeak." It made that weird wheezing noise again. "How is this relevant?"

"It's just, um … an elite, um, butterfly of your caliber," Alaina said, going for flattery now that she knew the beast could understand her, "I just, well, I thought you would, um, you know, think our language was … above you?"

The demon made that hissing sound again. Definitely laughter, Alaina noted.

"No, girl," it said. "This just gives me more opportunity to terrify you more." Its compound eyes glittered with malice. "I have been sent by the Leaders. They ordered me to incapacitate you—to bring you back as prisoner if possible, but I could kill you if you caused trouble."

Alaina narrowed her eyes. So the Leaders were still after her. She thought she had lost them in Brazil.

"I will not comply," she announced willfully. "They can chase me to the ends of the Earth, They can send their most hideous monsters to grapple with me, but I will die before I submit to their rulership."

The butterfly did not seem perturbed. "Then you will die."

And it attacked.