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"Hey, butterfly."

"Butterfly?  What, as in the butterfly effect?"

"Butterfly effect?  What's that?"

"Oh, something from /Chaos? theory or something.  A butterfly flaps its /Wings in the South American jungle, and the effects of the movement of the air causes a tornado in India."

"That's just weird.  It can't happen, surely?"

"Well, nobody knows.  'Sensitive dependence on initial conditions', they call it.  You just can't tell all the causes of any effect.  Why did you mention it, anyway?"

"I didn't.  I was pointing at the butterfly over there, on the /Gate."


It was just a piece of pasteboard, three inches by five, blank on one side, and painted on the other. The painting was oil, and had been executed rather hastily. It was of a butterfly. The number /Eleven was written in one corner.

The butterfly wasn't one /Anna recognised, and she didn't think it was a real one. She'd looked it up once, but like the rest of the /Deck, the picture seemed to be fantastical. The background was odd, too. She couldn't really tell, but it looked as though someone had sketched a fractal of some sort, without really understanding the significance.

She couldn't decide if it was the joker or the trump, but either way, it was always the one she drew, and it was always inverted. Except in her /Dreams, of course.


The /Butterfly landed in front of him with a small puff of dust. /WinterBorn? looked down at it curiously, fascinated by the colours and patterns. He raised a paw to pat it, but paused as it quivered, then flapped its wings to move maybe a tail-length away.

He lowered himself to his stalking crouch, moving very slowly so as not to startle the creature. He put one paw in front of the other with exquisite care, but although he was sure he didn't make a noise, somehow, every time he got close enough, the pretty thing fluttered a bit further. He followed it to where a beam of /Sunlight shone on the rough, slanting floor of the galley. In the light, it seemed to regain its strength (or did it just grow tired of the /Game?), for it suddenly flew up in front of /WinterBorn?'s nose. He jumped up, startled, and batted at it but it eluded his paw, dancing over his head with irritating ease. He stretched round, groping further, but the /Sunlight shone in his eyes, and the /Butterfly vanished in the haze. He blinked and fell over.

Looking up, he found himself sitting by the threshold of the stairs that led to the /Deck. His tail was over the line he had never crossed before. He looked back into the galley but his mother was sleeping in the cool darkness of a cupboard.

He picked himself up and scampered up the stairs, moving swiftly so as not to think about what he was doing.

Maybe he'd find the /Butterfly again.

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Last edited December 24, 2002 12:02 am (viewing revision 6, which is the newest) (diff)