The first butterfly arrived as Joan trimmed the rose bushes in her backyard. It landed on the bubblegum pink wall of her home and flexed its cerulean wings in the warm afternoon sun.
Perhaps she would have noticed it, had her thoughts not been on her ex, Jay. He was an asshole and a cheater, so to hell with him.
She snipped off a dead limb.
The creature fluttered over to her arm and kissed her skin with its antennae, yet Joan had no interest in its deceptive beauty and brushed it away.
She grabbed another branch.
The butterfly returned, this time with a friend, but she shooed them off with her glove.
However, they didn’t leave and flitted about her head.
As Joan waved them off, she glanced up and gasped. On the wall, hundreds had gathered in a silent blue kaleidoscope.
Their wings flapped in a mesmerizing ripple—but also terrifying. Any thought of Jay she'd held disappeared.
Fear gripped her and the moment she moved, they burst into an aquamarine flutter around her. She backpedalled, and they followed. She twisted and struggled to stand, but she was too slow, and they descended.
A sharp pain shot through her thigh. One had jammed its proboscises into her skin and drawn blood. She brushed it away, but it was too late. The others had caught the scent and rushed to feast.
Joan jumped to her feet, and they raced after her, each wanting a piece of her.
They surrounded her in a swirling tornado of blue, clinging to her clothes and hair. They poked at her flesh and nestled in her eyes, pecking at whatever juicy parts they could find.
She screamed, and they crawled inside her mouth and crammed their way down her throat, deeper and deeper, searching for all her edible bits.
She choked on their thoraxes and wings and fell to her knees, desperately crawling towards the steps. Her skin was raw and naked, the meal of a million tiny proboscises. Pinpricks of pain radiated over her body. It was unbearable, and she suffered far too long.
When they’d finished feeding and flitted off into the cloudless sky, there was nothing left of her but her gardening sheers and her corpse drained of all blood, sweat, and life.
The blue butterflies had arrived, and no one would survive. Not even Jay.