Prologue to The Monarchs

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“Look at that big piece of driftwood,” she laughed. “It looks like a dead giant caterpillar washed ashore.”

Grant Jenssen laughed, too, but then he took a second look. The wood was washed not quite white, more of a light tan, and the little stubs from broken branches could have been legs; the resemblance to a caterpillar was indeed uncanny except for the fact that it was a meter wide and about three long.

“Wait a minute —”

She saw the look and laughed harder. “Oh, dear, I’m sorry I put the idea in your head. Grant? Oh, please —”

“I have to get down there.”

“To look at some flotsam? It’s a 10 foot drop or more.”

He saw a pile of boulders stacked up to the edge of the cliff a short distance away and, scrambling cautiously, worked his way down to the beach.

“Grant?! Don’t be an idiot,” she called from above. But he approached the huge bit of not-driftwood in awe.

It was dead, to begin. Certainly no question there. But also, it had once been alive. One. live. giant. caterpillar.

“Where did you come from, little one?” he whispered.

“GRANT!” He looked up and saw her, staring wide-eyed at something in the sky and behind him.

He turned quickly and saw an explosion of orange and black in the sky, hundreds of huge butterflies dancing and swooping in the sun over the water just off shore. They stretched north as far as the eye could see, and the grand dance was clearly making its way south.

For many minutes they passed before them, a procession of monarchs, larger than life, migrating from a place no one could know to a land no one could guess.

And just as suddenly, they were gone, leaving Grant standing alone beside a dead, giant caterpillar and her above on the cliff, laughing and crying like a child.

When sense finally returned to him, Grant thought of the phone in his pocket with its camera, and he cursed himself for being dumbstruck to the point of inaction. More than that, a purpose formed in his soul.

He had to see them again.

on waking

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There, did you see it, just then?

I napped like death for an hour and a half this afternoon, and you almost slipped out without my knowing, but you whispered my name to be sure, and I heard.

Now, alone, I breathe full and deep and feel the life renewed from sleep, rested and recreated anew, the cycle continued for another few precious hours.

And a truth slipped coyly through the mist — I saw it; did you? An almost-smile crossed its honest face, and I felt it sigh in wonder as it passed.

Chance encounter at a park bench

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Winston looked both ways and behind him before he started to write.

“I think the Marxists are about to topple the government. Either they will win the election, or they will take it forcefully afterward rather than concede defeat. The rioting is just the precursor, legitimizing their violence in the streets …”

“Whatcha got there?”

“Wha—” Winston jumped up from the park bench and stepped away from the stranger, who assessed him curiously. “Where did you come from?”Continue reading “Chance encounter at a park bench”

The man who turned off the news

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He turned on the television to find anchors engaged in the everlasting search for the world’s bad stuff, compiling a log of people doing harm to one another, nature’s fury wreaking havoc on innocents, death and destruction both accidental and intentional, and, of course, members of the ruling class throwing insults, half-truths and outright lies at one another.

“How can you tell he’s lying? His lips are moving,” one liar shouted.

“She wouldn’t know the truth if it bit her in the nose,” sneered another.

An explosion and fire in a country half the world away. A mother drives herself and two children into a lake 500 miles from here. Random shootings and rioting in the streets 750 miles away. A gruesome vivisection 1,003 miles from downtown.Continue reading “The man who turned off the news”

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