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Blue Butterflies

Light illuminates the cold rain outside the train. It’s midnight, and although the sounds of nature are alive, they are drowned out by the din of gears, levers, pulleys and other mechanisms that move the massive, smoke-billowing machine. I can sum up the experience of trains in one word: boring, So I rest my head against the window, and allow the patter of the storm to lull me to sleep.

The feeling of the train slowing to a stop alerts me that we have made it to Moscow. I had the strangest dream, but before I can think about it, I open my eyes to see the sky is still dark. Looking at my watch I see it is three a.m. Why has the train stopped? Perhaps it has run out of coal, and needs to refuel, I think to myself. A man enters the cabin, he has a ski mask over his face, and in his arms he holds a Kalashnikov Rifle. “There’s some back here!” He yells toward the cabin in front of us. A second man walks in; he is also masked, but carries a pistol in one hand, and a cellular phone in the other. He checks to see if there are more people behind our car, and determines we are the only passengers. “Okay” He says in a thick German accent. He dials a long number in his phone, and presses it against his head. “Hello.” A pause. “We’re National Socialist German Workers' Party, you have six of our men in custody; you will release them or everybody on train will die.” Another pause. Fear runs up my spine. “Ellis de Vries, Hans Akkermans, Ludwig Müntze, Rachel Stein, Günther Franken, and Gerben Kuipers, you have one hour until I put a bullet in the head of one of the passengers.” The man hangs up the phone, and looks at his watch. Facing the man with the Kalashnikov, He said, “At 3:11, take her outside” pointing to a woman who was cradling her baby.
“No, please.”
“Keep your mouth shut, whore.”

The woman sobs. She is a very pretty lady, with long black hair and striking blue eyes; she reminded me of my wife.
My wife was 23; we just had a beautiful baby boy, named Ramon. On the day he was born, I decided that I would buy her a present. We lived in poverty, so I was only able to buy her a lovely blue butterfly brooch. “Thank you Vincent.” She looked at me, her eyes filled with sadness, a tear slides down her cheek “You’re welcome, my love.” I said, and I hugged her. Her warmth radiated on my body, beating out the cold reality I am forced to live. My wife suffered from severe depression, so periodically I would go to Moscow to pick up her medication. But one day the train was hijacked, and was shut down for a few weeks. So we had to endure her emotional battle.

On April 16th, 1982, she killed herself; without warning, I came home to find our baby crying in his cradle; my wife swinging from the ceiling, clutching the butterfly brooch. Since her suicide, I’ve taken care of Ramon. He has her eyes, blue, and my hair, a light brown. Ramon is ten now, but he’s sick, so I am on my way to Moscow, to pick up some medicine for him. When I was informed he had a cancerous brain tumor, I was devastated. But he stays strong, and pushes on, with me by his side. I remember once, when Ramon was outside, he was playing, and I was eating a sandwich watching him. He came up to me, “Daddy, what happened to mommy?” I couldn’t bear to tell him the truth. “Well, son, your mother got really sick one day, so she had to leave. She was picked up by an amazing swarm of blue butterflies, and they carried her away, to a better place.” I could feel tears swell up in my eyes, so I told Ramon to continue playing.

So now I am here, on a hijacked train, my son’s life hanging on my survival. I look at my watch, 3:10. Peter takes the woman, a man she was talking to takes the baby, and she is jerked outside. I turned to look out the train’s window, the woman is on her knees, and a cloth covers her eyes. I can hear her frantic cries from here. The man with the pistol dials on the phone, and puts it to his ear. “Your thirty minutes are up. You released anyone?” Pause. “Have it your way.” He gives the phone to Peter, who points it toward the woman. He takes his pistol and lifts it to her head.

Blood and brain splatter my window, and screams break out on the train. I close my eyes. “In ten minutes I will kill two more people.” He and Peter climb back on the train. “3:30, pull him off the train,” the man says, pointing to a man across from me, “and him.” This time he locks eyes with me, and his finger points to my chest.

As the minutes tick by, I feel my palms getting sweaty. My eyes dart from side-to-side, looking for an escape, but there is none. After 10 minutes, the man picks up his phone, dials the number and places it to his ear. “They been approved for release yet?” Pause. “No, this is unacceptable, I want them all released.” He signals to Peter with his gun to pull us outside.

He fiercely grabs my arm, and pulls me outside into the rain with the other man, I don’t resist. I am put on my knees in the mud and my hands are tied behind my back. “I don’t want to kill these people, but you give me no choice.” I take one last look at the trees in the distance, and a group of trucks departing from it. A group of trucks! Green military trucks, and soldiers, there are soldiers moving with them. I’m blindfolded, and I laugh. The click of the gun penetrates my ears, and the smell of gun powder stings my nose. My laugh fades away. A loud bang, the man next to me crumbles, his head hits my knee, and his warm blood soaks through my pants. Another click of the gun, the smell of gunpowder mixed with blood and fear. “Good night laughing man.”
Goodnight Ramon.

Bright white light erupts into my vision at the sound of the gunshot. An instant death, no pain. I squint, the light hurts to look at after the darkness of the blindfold, but I can see a hand reaching out to me, a woman’s hand. A butterfly emerges from the light, it’s blue. I look at her face. My wife, she’s smiling, reaching out for me. I grab her hand.

The feeling of the train slowing to a stop alerts me that we have made it to Moscow. I had the strangest dream, but before I can think about it, I open my eyes to see the sky is still dark. Looking at my watch I saw it was three a.m. An intense feeling of Déjà vu runs through me. I look up, and a man enters the cabin, he has a ski mask over his face, and in his arms he grasps a Kalashnikov.



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