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It had been three days. Three days of torture. Three days of starvation. Three days with nothing but the cold. It was biting at him. It was sinking into him. And most of all, it was killing him. He knew it, right then; they were trying to kill him. Nothing and no one would have gotten in the way of the knowledge of the fact. He was going to die.
Leonardo had been supplied with fresh water every hour. Every hour! He was, more than anything else, though, dying of dehydration. Key word = water. The concept of every hour was meant to make it seem luxurious. The fact would have made him laugh if he wasn’t so destroyed inside. The other key word failed to be mentioned = nothing else but gosh darn water.
Leonardo hadn’t touched alcohol in three days. Now that was killing him. He needed it, he really did. He never even knew it until then. How much had he been drinking? How much had he been relying on it until now? It was unbelievable. He felt in now. Leonardo surely felt everything pile on; right then. Those three days. And today, he thought, is the absolute worst so far.
His stomach was all over the place. The ups and downs of his digestive health were confusing and impossible to keep track of. No food had entered in three days, but that didn’t mean nothing else was going on. Maybe his liver was starting to become happy, but nothing else was. Headaches pounded. Nausea was constant. Vomit was everywhere. His bowel movements were highly irregular. Stomach gurgled and lashed out like nothing before. It was torture. And it was going to kill him. It was absolutely going to kill him.
Leonardo hadn’t seen another human face in three days. Three days! Who would have ever thought that it could be such a long time? Misery, he thought on that third day, was thinking a short time is a long one and thinking a long one is a short. Or not having anything but ‘crystal clear and hourly water deliveries’ to drink. Yes; that topped all under the definition of misery.
His clothes were not suitable for the climate he was suffering in. Who ever thought that cotton would be so horrible? When it got wet, it was never dry again. When it got cold, it was never warm again. When it was on his skin, it never did anything but sink him down. It never did anything to help him but hurt him in every way possible.
Right then, he felt like one of those dogs you find on the side of the street; hiding under the body of a car. Alive, but only surviving to be a form of sorrowful realization to the other people who happen to see it. The only purpose or knowledge that the dog was alive was from someone else’s eyes. Anyone’s eyes. And when that dog didn’t have eyes on it, no one to look at it, it was dead. It didn’t matter whether or not the abandoned dog was warming up or eating again. If no one saw its misery of life, it wouldn’t have one anymore. In truth, it was never alive in the first place. And so since Leonardo did not have anyone’s eyes on him – not even his own (he absolutely refused) – he was dead too. Not even dead though. He was never even alive.
Human nature – to Leonardo – was a similar typed thing. Is nothing acknowledged if there is no one to congratulate you for it? Is nothing worthy of congratulatory gestures unless someone notices it? Is no being worthy of life if it is not known by the human race?
Thoughts like those swirled in the man’s head like careless butterflies, slowly turning in circles yet meanwhile crashing into the walls of what contained them. The clear plastic of their cell was that of a blender. Unplugged, but how did they know that? They thought they were free, all until they crashed into another wall. They all though they were alive, but what if the blender had been plugged in? Would there have been a finger; ready and poised; hanging lightly above the HIGH POWER button? What if the button was pushed? Would they still fly? Would they still have existed if no one was there to witness it?
These coalesced into the ones prior; assimilating into the endless whirlwind of the circle of thought. If only someone could lift the lid. If only someone could free the stinging butterflies in the man’s brain. If only Leonardo could cease to exist. If only he hadn’t done what he was doing; things would be different.
But, alas, they weren’t. And Leonardo Haskell had faced this state before. He had conquered it then, but now the butterflies were more careless; more innocent. All the same, the blender they were contained in already had the shredded wings and the melted hearts of the past ones splattered all over the glass. Smudged and dirty with the memory of the prisoners it tortured and contained before. The blender was the opposite of innocent, yet what it contained was even more so.
Despite Leonardo’s knowledge of the three days, it wasn’t the lack of alcohol that was killing him. It wasn’t the cold and it wasn’t the hourly water. The lack of food or people weren’t the causes of his drooping eyes and thinning figure, either. What was really killing him was what was inside his mind. It was the finger; poised on the power button. Yet - you might ask – why isn’t it the butterflies themselves? Why isn’t it the blender; which does all the bad in the world?
Well, the answer is simple. It is not the blender, nor is it the butterflies. It is not even the remains of the past ones, smeared and remembered as marks on the walls. It is simply, the finger that is the most deadly thing in Leonardo’s possession (within his whirlwind of a hypothetical mind, of course) because what he doesn’t realize is that it is his own. It is not his blender, and they are not his butterflies. His finger; the one ready to destroy it all, is the only one that is really the demon.
Because, now it is my turn to ask, doesn’t nothing really even exist without the mind of a human?
A knock on the cell door awoke him. He was pulled from his cold and damp stone room and was plopped in the middle of a simply much larger one. He barely had the strength to stop his head from banging on the cement when they dropped him down. His knees turned bloody and scraped, but he couldn’t feel them. He was focusing on the butterflies. Their flight paths; so pure and so daunting, were turning into spirals. They were catching themselves right before slamming into the blades at the bottom.
A man’s feet was in Leonardo’s eyesight. He looked up (an act that caused the blender to tip drastically to the right) and saw the man’s face. It was one he had never seen before. The man had a beard that was no more than black and prickly scruff. His eyebrows were thin but dark; like little slivers. His mouth was held in place of a straight line, and his face was wide but fit. He looked very tough yet a little fatter than he should be. His biceps seemed to want to burst from his sleeves.
Surrounding the man was what looked like a gym. There were bench presses, weights, treadmills, medicine balls; the works. Leonardo was breathing hard, but he couldn’t hear the breath himself. The breath itself was sour on his tongue, but he couldn’t taste it. The man was frowning now, but Leonardo couldn’t it. All that was on his mind was the blender. The finger. The butterflies. He had to press the button. He had to; it just wasn’t in his control. Not then. Not yet.
The man was talking, but the words were lost in the cage of glass surrounding the fluttery innings of Leonardo’s being. The wings created such little swirling waves of wind that the sounds of the multitude of them drowned it all out. If Leonardo was able, he would’ve heard the man warning him in a rough voice.
“Greenie, if you don’t get up, by the time I’m done with you you’ll wish you’d never been born.”
The wings. They had color now. They were bright and orange and black and fast like the movement of the sun. How could you contain such a beauty? How could anyone bare to watch beings like such die a horrible death? How?
The man was kneeling now. He was whispering harshly, and the voice almost cut through the plastic. Wait, or was it glass? It was too thick and clear to tell. It was too fragile and smeared to have anyone care.
“I really don’t want to have to do this. You have to start your training, otherwise you’ll be behind schedule.” The voice was louder but was refracted through the walls. It sounded watery and wavering. Leonardo wasn’t paying any attention. His eyes were fixed on the birds. “Man, you’ve gotta get up. Like, now. AA will be here soon. You gotta pass your tests or you’ll…”
The sound waves blurred together and bent, turning high pitched and like a scream. The butterflies were panicking now; racing each and every way. They were damaging their wings. The sound was hurting their tiny bodies. They were killing each other because of that sound. The scream was now coming from his own mouth, but he couldn’t tell. He slammed his hands over his ears, but only one of them went up. The other stayed on the button. Poised and ready. It was shaking with the pain. It could feel the strength of the butterflies.
The insects inside shook and shuddered and started screeching against the walls of the blender. Their wings were turning black and grey. They were melting. The tears of their suffering dripped solely and solemnly in his mind, and the cold was enough to wake him. He couldn’t bear it anymore. He couldn’t bear to see them suffer.
He was sprawled on the ground, covering his right ear and screaming at the top of his lungs. It was barely the scream of a grown man. It was barely the scream of a human, either. It was something else. The way it roamed in the air made it stay there, and it made the ceiling lights seem too low but the door too far away. It hung there, and it was soaking the fact of terror deep into anyone that could hear it.
Tears streamed down his face as he watched the beauty of the butterflies disappear into the melting fixation of something not nearly as merciful as death. If only it was. It was torture and the bottom of any hell any brain could think of. It was a fact of something so terrible that no words could ever define it. The sensation was of watching everything you know scream in such agony that they beg you to end it. They beg you to stop it once and for all. With your mind. With your hand. With your very finger.
The butterflies’ screams filled his ears. They were forming into words now, and Leonardo’s own miserable screeches mended into the ones coming from the panicking, raging, and terribly fragile beasts inside the blender’s walls. They were chanting.
It’s all your fault. You did this to us. End it all. End it now. We can’t live or die anymore because of -
He screamed a final time, and made is finger sink down on the button. It didn’t even click, but it worked. It booted up slowly, but it raged faster and faster and louder and louder.
He watched as the flames of the butterflies shredded and bled down to the core of nothingness. The blades chopped their wings up. The knives severed their tiny little hearts and their tiny little nerves. The pressure of the blender exploded their small and delicate songs of innocence and replaced it with the roaring sound of destruction.
His soul collapsed in on itself. He didn’t remember seeing the walls close in on him, but the darkness was enough to close his eyes. He laid his head down and prayed to leave the world. Leonardo Haskell; laying in the shelter, begged me and everything of my power to end his life. To kill him there and to take his blended and torn soul to what was neither heaven nor hell. His misery was so severe that he had asked me to take away not only his life, but his whole being of existence as well.
He knew he would have been lucky if I had granted his wish. But alas, I am no fairy god mother. If I had done what he had pleaded me to do, things would have been much easier for him.
Unfortunately, I needed him to not have the easy way. I needed him to live. I needed him to open his eyes up one more time. One more time, that was all I asked of him. He agreed, in his dying sleep of the night that he created with the blender. I promised to him that he would never have to experience the same sight again if he’d only do what I asked of him. A simple bargain of a simple promise. Mostly in my favor, but I still promised to him, didn’t I?
Only now have I realized what a terribly delightful liar I have learned to become.