A surrealist short story written for a contest, based on a picture prompt.
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This was the picture prompt for the contest:
There was a hole in the Earth – this is what Jacob said. He professed that he had seen it whilst out with his friends exploring the canyon that lay to the North of the town – a dusty, bleak, unforgiving place devoid of anything green, possibly anything living at all except the beetles that scuttled between the rocks.
Beetles depressed me.
“What kind of a hole?” I asked, intrigued. I was lying face down on the grass with a book open in front of my face but at this point I had turned towards him, shielding the sun from my eyes with one hand and keeping my place in the book with the other.
Jacob was not forthcoming with information. “Just a hole,” he stated. “An emptiness which looks out on nothing, except the Universe.”
“How can it be nothing if it’s the Universe? “ I countered in irritation. I watched a butterfly land on my book. Its wings were black, like coal. The whole creature in fact was black and I stared at it, never having seen this breed of the insect before. Jacob was watching me, I could feel his eyes on me and was about to say something when the butterfly disappeared. One moment it was there and the next, it was gone.
“Did you see that?” I said to my brother. He was pale and looked afraid, his pupils wide like tiny records. “Show me,” I said. “Show me the place.”
We rode our bikes to the canyon. As we rode, a black butterfly settled on my handlebars, beautifully graceful – slightly larger than a regular butterfly. This one didn’t disappear but rode with me as I followed Jacob’s bike down the dry dirt road. As we neared the canyon, there were more – one or two at first, then a dozen, a score, a ton. Jacob leapt from his bike suddenly, throwing it to the ground. “Here!” He yelled, running down the steep slope of the bank. I alighted and followed him gingerly. The butterfly left its perch and settled nimbly on my arm. As I walked across to Jacob, I noticed the beetles on the ground. They seemed different today, slower somehow. I bent down to view one more closely, its dull shell glinting slightly in the sunlight as it moved, then changed, rising up on its black wings. Did beetles turn in to butterflies? I was about to question Jacob but he was shouting frantically.
“It was here Becca! Right here – I saw it, we all saw it – Jakky, Mike, Me!!” Jacob was turning in circles, throwing himself to the ground and banging it with his fists. I walked towards him. The butterfly rose from my arm to settle on the hard, dry ground and as the Earth fell away Jacob and I were falling; falling through space, falling through the Universe as black butterflies danced before our eyes, slowly and methodically transforming in to stars.
I reached out for my brother and held his hand, laughing at the butterfly stars as we fell and I said,
“Jacob, this is the most beautiful hole in the Earth you have ever found!”