ME – Main Character, Detective.
CLAUDIA – Childhood Friend, Afflicted.
“Ghosts do not exist. They are but a product of the human imagination, as are all the other supposed paranormal entities.”
That is a statement proven true time and time again, and it has been globally accepted for centuries. However, there are still people who keep denying the undeniable.
I’m not one of them. You’ll find me dead in the ground before I admit to their existence. Actually, I have had so much experience with supernatural entities that I can say without the shadow of a doubt that they do not exist. All events related to the supernatural are, without exception, tricks our minds play on us, with the simplest possible explanations.
Yes, even with that said.
As much as I loathe everything that can’t be explained with logic and hard facts, common sense is indeed the least common of senses. Or maybe it is my definition of “common sense” that is flawed, and that’s the reason it is so uncommon in my surroundings.
It’s almost been a year now since people have started coming to me with seemingly absurd, illogical “supernatural issues”, every one more stupid than the previous.
And, inevitably, solving these issues has granted me an undesired reputation as an “exorcist” of sorts.
An unpleasant thing to be known as, certainly. Especially for someone whose only desire is to finish his high school education and move on to pursue his life-long dream of being a movie director.
Regardless, this time I shall tell one of many tales featuring paranormal happenings, in the hope that they can at least be entertaining to whatever audience they find.
There’s no particular reason why I chose this story in particular, nor do I remember it especially vividly, save for the beginning and end of it.
It was 2:45 PM, school had just ended and I could not wait to get home and devote myself to my usual procrastination.
Just as I thought of playing videogames, watching TV or any mundane thing of the sort, I felt someone shouting at me from behind.
Or well, maybe they were calling out to someone else – I thought before that hope shattered the moment I realized who it was, and the fact that there was nobody else in that direction.
The closest thing I ever had to a female childhood friend was right there, running towards me with a worried expression on her face.
When she finally reached me and started recovering her breath, I was too dumbfounded to say or do anything. Actually I wouldn’t notice until later that I had stopped walking.
After all, she had spent months without ever talking to me in person.
And it had been my fault, exclusively mine, so mine that you’d wonder if anyone else was even involved – which they definitely were. But that’s a story for another day.
“Please, I need you to come with me”, she said.
“What is it?! What happened?!”
“No need to be so worried before I’ve even said anything. I just need your help is all.”
“… Okay, I’m sorry. What do you need?”
“You’re not going to like it… It’s another one of those. How did you use to call them… ‘Paranormal nonsense’ or something.”
“… You should know better than anyone, better than me even. Those don’t exist.”
I was ready to turn around and leave her there. I wanted nothing to do with any of that stuff if it wasn’t unavoidable.
“Please. I know they don’t exist, and that’s the reason I’m asking you. Please.”
…I wanted to refuse. But. She was trusting me, just like she had back then.
Maybe this time I would be able to not let her down.
I accepted, reluctantly.
Ten minutes later, I was entering her home – an average sized apartment in a five-story building.
“Excuse the intrusion…”
A middle-aged woman I knew well enough by now welcomed me. She was, of course, my friend’s mother. Her face was that of someone who had been crying recently, although her attitude didn’t show it in the slightest. Now I really wondered what the heck was happening to them.
“Welcome! It’s been a while since the last time you came.”
“Yes, I’ve been pretty busy… But today your daughter came looking for me needing help. Has something happened?”
“I’ll let Claudia explain. After all, I’m sure she’ll do better than I could.”
She left us all alone as she went to cook something.
She wasn’t doing us as big a favor as she thought.
I asked Claudia to explain.
I just wanted to finish quickly, honestly.
“Starting a few days ago, a few items with no apparent commonalities have been disappearing in the house. They just vanish out of nowhere. My two little brothers, my parents and me have all been affected by this.”
“Are the items of any particular importance or value?”
“They are all things we would never want to lose, though their exact nature and monetary value isn’t consistent at all. They just seem picked at random.”
“And you are sure this isn’t just bad luck, or you people not searching properly.”
… I’ll trust her, I decided.
I began my investigation.
I got Claudia to make me a list of all the missing objects with a brief description for each.
And I started looking for cl- oops.
I should probably say hello to everyone while I do that, I reminded myself.
Since I apparently had to examine every room for missing objects save for the bathrooms, I would inevitably come across the rest of the family in the process.
The investigation proceeded smoothly.
One by one, I went checking the spots where the objects should have been placed.
And as Claudia had told me, they had no relation between them whatsoever, or at least none that I could discern with the information I had.
The list included books, videogames, pictures, toys, tableware, and some more than I feel no need to mention.
What stood out to me, rather than the objects, their locations, or their apparent lack of connection, was the mood of the different members of the family when I went to meet them.
Claudia’s father, not unlike his wife, showed signs of having cried not long ago – although these signs were much less noticeable in him than they were on Claudia’s mother. He wasn’t in a very bad mood, however, as he insisted on chatting with me for a while, as well as giving me something to eat – since it seemed I wouldn’t be getting home in time for lunch. Which I had already, preemptively, informed my parents about with a text message.
The kind man appeared to find our idle talk relieving, but after that was over, he kept on with the work he was apparently doing.
Claudia’s two little brothers, who were so similar to one another that I could not help but wonder how many times I had confused them before, were the most upbeat out of all of them. According to Claudia, this had all started not even a week before, so they either didn’t pay any mind to the disappeared objects after the first few days, or they hadn’t noticed yet.
Overall, it felt nice to meet all these people after so long.
It was also a strangely nostalgic experience, the way Claudia’s family welcomed me as if I was an old friend of theirs. They all gave me the same treatment save for one exception – Claudia’s grandmother, who I hadn’t known was living with them.
“She’s my grandma. She has been feeling very tired recently, so she’s asleep right now. Please don’t bother her unless absolutely necessary.”
Claudia commented that as we walked by her bedroom’s door.
And so the most I got to see of the grandmother was the small peek I got into her bedroom through the half-open door.
Other than saying hi to my old friend’s family, which felt refreshing after so long, there wasn’t much else to distract me from my main task.
After a little over twenty minutes, I had finished examining every single place where objects had gone missing. My objective being to go back home as soon as possible, I didn’t wait around to tell Claudia that I was finished; rather, I was almost running when I went looking for her.
“My investigation has concluded. I’ve looked everywhere I needed to, and seen everything I had to.”
I told her, to which she reacted with a surprised expression, probably shocked that it had taken so little time. It was true that my usual investigations tended to took longer.
“So? Did you reach a conclusion? What is happening to us?”
She seemed too overexcited for her own good, though I don’t blame her. I actually found it a relief. So I didn’t beat around the bush.
“I have got my conclusion, and I will tell you right now.”
Her eyes glowed in expectation.
“Every object you’ve lost… is exactly where they were before. They haven’t moved an inch.”
And just as quickly, her face turned into one of sheer disbelief. I couldn’t help but feel somewhat sad for her, although I tried to hide it.
She, and all her family, had been victims of their priceless possessions disappearing before their eyes, while in actuality they were just there, as always. Can’t imagine that being any reason for happiness.
“But… that can’t be… How? Why are we not noticing? There has to be a reason, right?”
“Yes, there is. Undoubtedly. And it is bit by bit the action of one of those so-called ‘paranormal entities’ you know are false. But as is tradition and because I consider it a nice pastime, I came up with a name for the ‘entity’ that possesses you all.”
“… Do say it.”
“The Blind Butterfly.”
“Huh? Why a butterfly of all things?”
“The butterfly is often associated with the mind, the psych and, above all, change. The blind part is pretty self-explanatory. And since the issue is related with your ‘minds’ and ‘change’, I considered it most appropriate.”
“…? I don’t understand. How is this issue related to change?”
“You’ll see soon enough. Please have a bit more patience.”
“Thank you so much for your help. You don’t know how much this means to us.”
“If you keep talking like that, I’ll get the wrong idea.”
“…? What are you talking about now?”
“It’s nothing. Don’t mind it.”
It would have been pretty anticlimactic if she had noticed what I meant, so I decided not to press the issue any further. If I did, all the foreshadowing may be for naught.
“What I do want you to do for me”, I followed up, “is gathering everyone in front of your grandmother’s room. I’ll explain everything there, but I’d prefer it if I only had to say it once. Is that okay with you?”
“Yes, of course. Although… is it impossible to do it in any other place? I really don’t want to bother grandma… She’s very sick, and I absolutely do not want to disturb her…”
“It’s a must. I’m really sorry, but it's not a thing I can concede on. The truth behind this affliction that pains your family must be revealed.”
She didn’t want to agree, I really knew she didn’t want to. But I was not going to give up on that one. After all, this was my ‘job’, and if I had to do it even when hating it, I’d do it right. No concessions allowed.
After staring at her in silence for a few awkward, very awkward seconds, she agreed to do as I said. ‘You’re the expert, after all’, she said.
A few minutes later, everyone was already gathered in front of the grandmother’s room. We were a tad too many people for a space so small, but it would suffice.
As I carefully stood right next to the room's door, the father asked me the question that everyone must have had in their minds at that moment.
“And… what are we supposed to do here, exactly?”
His voice was a whisper, just loud enough for me to hear it clearly in the otherwise completely silent apartment.
I was pretty sure that, deep within them, they knew what that ‘truth’ I was about to show them was. Their nervousness spoke volumes.
“I’m going to tell you how to exorcise the being that haunts all of you. As I am sure your daughter has already told you, it’s a being I have decided to call the blind butterfly.”
My reply was spoken in a similarly quiet tone, if mostly for the sake of respect.
"And must we do this here of all places? I would very much prefer if we didn't disturb my mother-in-law with our chatter."
His tone surprised me. It was obvious he was struggling to keep his tone down, and that he meant those words as a threat. Still, not like I could do anything.
“You will be freed from the curse you all possess right now, but for that, doing exactly as I say is a must. I will also have to – and I won’t sugarcoat my words here – slap each of you once."
They were all speechless, as was natural. I would actually have been worried if they agreed to it just like that.
“I assure you it is necessary. But please don’t worry, I obviously have no intention of hurting any of you. It’s a formality, if anything, but one that cannot be skipped.”
“… Okay, so be it.”
He then reluctantly agreed to my terms, and with the rest remaining silent, I interpreted that as everyone being fine with me proceeding.
I got closer to them, and commanded them to close their eyes and follow my orders without fail.
“Now you will all enter the room in front of us with your eyes closed, and I will proceed to slap all of you. After I finish, I will tell you that you can open your eyes. Until then please do not open them under any circumstance.”
One after another, as I helped them enter without stumbling, I slapped them all, as gently as possible.
And once I finished, I spoke again, this time at a normal volume.
“Now, please, open your eyes.”
And there they saw the bed, empty, as they stared in shock and realized the “truth”. That their grandmother, who should have been right there - was no longer among them.
“Thank you so much for your help, really. What you have done for us and how thankful we are is not something we can simply express with words.” Claudia spoke to me with tears in her eyes.
“It’s nothing. I literally did nothing, as you surely know. So no need to thank me.”
“Still. I know, but still…”
She came close.
She couldn’t do it.
I didn’t expect her to.
But it was still somewhat painful.
She waved at me as I left, tears on her face and a smile on her lips.
“Goodbye, and see you tomorrow at school.”
BLIND BUTTERFLY: THE END.