By Richard Siyi HE, 17, P. R. China
It’s the antennae, then the wings, then…flight.

It slowly took off, the blue velvet-like sheen on its wings reflecting onto a large red enchanting flower below it, so intense; the obsidian-like eyes silently gazed at the sky that was inferior to its blue, disdainfully glanced at the flowers below, and slowly swayed in the soothing breeze.

“Hello, I should call you ‘Number 86’… Oh no, let’s call you ‘Flutterby’,” a young girl smiled at it. Her blonde hair and turquoise eyes blended in with the flowers, looking very natural and pretty.

“Oh, this blue-spangled butterfly turned out to have successfully emerged. I had thought it was a damaged butterfly. Having seen you take care of it day and night, I couldn’t bring myself to tell you.” Her father came to her side, “You know, in order to prevent these butterflies from becoming extinct, we can only evolve them into higher predators. Well, since those despicable interest-driven people have taken their habitat, on which they depend, away. But anyway, hopefully, we didn’t over-evolve them.”

“What does that mean?”

“Nothing, but we should go home for dinner. Let’s go!” The girl reluctantly followed her father out of the hexahedral simulated breeding greenhouse.

Not long after they left, Flutterby began to fly steadily. Its eyes slowly fixated on a praying mantis, which was also staring at it. As if provoked, the praying mantis pounced over with its sharp scythes waving fiercely. Flutterby took advantage of the airflow created by the scythes with just one slight flap of its seemingly frail and thin wings, dodged the fatal blow, and landed behind the mantis. It then plunged its proboscis into the head of the mantis and began sucking. The praying mantis twitched for a moment before falling to the ground, its scythes still swinging helplessly.

Soon, the first batch of butterflies was ready to be released into an artificially simulated natural environment. They came to a beautiful hillside and brought many newly emerged blue-spangled butterflies in boxes. “Don’t be nervous. This area has been equipped with a well-developed defense system. If the results are not satisfactory, we can easily eliminate them all. But the simulated environment here is no different from their habitat. Come on, let’s get started.”

The little girl nodded and prepared to gently open the lid with both hands, her palms sweating profusely. But just before opening the lid, she asked softly, “If the results are not satisfactory, is killing them all the only choice?”

“Oh, rather than saying we are killing them, let’s say it’s more like natural selection.”

The little girl reluctantly opened the lid, and the blue-spangled butterflies flew out continuously. In the company of sunlight and breeze, they flew towards the forest, lake, hillside, and stream. Up close they looked like slow-moving blue elves and from far away they looked like a large piece of blue silk rippling with the wind, slowly disappearing into the distance. The little girl smoothed her windswept hair and watched them leave.

“Oh, so sorry, I really didn’t expect to have such a massive outbreak of the butterflies. Hmm…Okay, I’ll be right there.” The little girl’s father hung up the phone and anxiously prepared to leave. The little girl asked curiously, “What’s wrong? Need my help?”

“Oh, the experiment results were terrible. They completely disrupted the ecological balance of that area. But it’s okay, you wait at home.” After that, he kissed her and left.

As soon as the little girl’s father arrived at the release site, he pressed the backup restart button. Time began to speed up, and then the butterflies began to reproduce in large numbers. Billions of blue-spangled butterflies densely covered every tree. The meteor shower made up of them in the sky searched for the trace of any prey. Whenever found, they would frantically wrap their prey. Their sharp proboscises pierced the prey’s body like needles and the blood that splattered on their wings made their wings full of blood-red eyes. Their larvae ate almost all of the leaves and dense black-red larvae wriggled together, even cannibalizing each other. But it didn’t take long for the reproduction rate of prey and host plants to slow down and a large number of butterflies starved to death…The blue-spangled butterflies were eliminated by natural selection. And this process only took a few minutes.

The little girl saw that her father’s face was very pale when he came back. Her father said weakly, “I’m sorry, we may have to terminate this experiment.” The little girl’s eyes welled up with tears. “Oh no, why? There must be a solution, right? Right? Please, please!”

“I’m sorry.” Both were silent, “Time to go to bed, okay?”

In the afternoon, when her father went out, the little girl quietly ran into the greenhouse to say a final goodbye to the butterflies. Flutterby gently stopped on her fingertip. It was so beautiful and charming, and then she was shocked to find that Flutterby was pregnant! The little girl bit her lip and took a deep breath, quietly taking it out of the greenhouse. “You can go. Although I don’t know if this is right.” But Flutterby didn’t leave, as if waiting for her to make a final decision, “Before I change my mind.”

Flutterby gently flew up and headed towards the sunset. Through her tearful eyes, the little girl seemed to see the blue light on the butterfly’s wings and the orange light reflected by the sunset meet to create a fireworks-like pattern of brilliant colors, dancing with the wind in search of light.

Underneath the angelic face of Flutterby, a devilish smile loomed.

—Richard Siyi HE, age 17, high school junior, People’s Republic of China. Richard adds: “I am obsessed with biology but also love writing. My favorite places are butterfly gardens all over the world (unfortunately, Beijing’s Colorful Butterfly Garden has gone). I am trying to breed butterflies and their host plants in the hope of protecting endangered butterflies.”

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