Weeks later and I think all the butterflies are all dead. But IDK that it’s safe to explore in daylight so I go out and search for survivors after dark in the cold. Caborca is a ghost town. Since the people here were always superstitious I’m not that sorry there are no survivors. But in Macho Grande there is a hint of life. A thermal gradient on the infrared is strongly suggestive of a presence. The very jacal where they fed me tortillas years ago is warm. On an infrared scope you couldn’t miss it. As I approach the rawhide front door my neck hairs stand on end and I have to fight the urge to run because I’m sure someone or something is in there.
The smell of rancid grease is strong enough I know someone has been cooking here very recently. I play the flashlight around but do not see someone about to brain me.
I hear the sigh of displaced air and feel the breeze from a blunt object just missing me. Someone stumbles into me and a baseball bat clatters to the floor. By touch I am able to get this person by the neck and march them outside into the moonlight.
In the flashlight I see an hysterical old peasant man. When he sees I am not a ha’nt or a dumb fuck he starts babbling in Spanish so fast and accented I cannot get a word of it.
No hablo tan rapido, I say. Reducir la velocidad.
Diablos negros alados comieron cada uno!
Mariposas, I tell him.
But, he stammers, such a thing cannot be!
They’re dead now, I say. The cold killed them.
He goes on to say that he is the only one left in the village. He hid while the big butterflies ate everyone and when I came he thought one came after him in the dark and I tell him that they’re not active after dark.
Come away with me to the mountains, I say. I have food and water and light.
He is glad to get away from the town and is silent until I ask him, Como se llama usted?
He says he is Juan Matus and he is at my service.
Would you go to San Agustin? I ask him.
He seems to think about that for a moment and says he will if I promise to take him away if the Mariposas come back.
So while Juan babbles about dead priests and ha’ants, we get on the road to San Agustin.