Have you ever remembered the things you forgot to do on your computer just as you turned it off? It’s a mistake like that that I have made. But you can turn your computer back on and do it tomorrow, and that wont kill you. Mine will if…I have a face palm moment and think, I’ve been stupid. There’s another way to kill the butterflies. My watch says I have enough hours of darkness to undo what I’ve done.
Back into the Humvee, down the mountain and to the far side of Caborca. I stop the air bleed into space and see that air pressure in this cylinder world is about earth pressure at 15, 000 feet, or Leadville Colorado when there was such a place. I set it for 16,000 because IDK how thin the air can be before everybody gets sick. They’ll be feeling shitty as it is, but at least they wont be dead.
Then I set the temperature at 32 Fahrenheit. Cold but not so cold humans cannot function. The crops will be affected but I don’t think there are many people left to feed. I’m glad I didn’t decide to turn off the big nuclear reactors that give this ten thousand square mile world heat and power because IDK how to get them running again. It’s cold. I think of cold weather and Holly in a heavy tweed skirt and heels flipping her hair and smiling coyly at me and I stop that line of thought.
Finally I bring the cylinder out of escape velocity from the solar system and get it back into orbit around Old Earth. Sometimes Celestial Mechanics can be your enemy but this time it’s friendly because this world masses enough its orbit hasn’t really changed that much. By this time it is too close to dawn for comfort and I haul ass back to the Torre de Concione Mountains.
And I get caught in early sunlight, like a dope. Right at the base of the foothills road that goes up into the mountains. I don’t know if the butterflies, or dumb fucks, or Mariposas see by movement or scent. But it doesn’t matter. A dozen of them are here, waiting.
Okay, you monsters, I say. I step out of the jeep with a plasma torch. A wave of agitation seems to travel through them. I don’t give them a chance. I feed plasma into the torch and incinerate the bastards. They don’t evaporate as much as cease to exist as the superheated gas hits them. I just do get back in the jeep before a cloud of small ones with the poisonous bites rush at me angrily. I fry these too and drive as fast as I dare up the hills and switchbacks to where the air is so thin they cannot live in it. But now a cloud of the small ones covers the Humvee and I have to drive 5 mph until they fall completely away.
I have to be very careful replacing the air filter and cleaning the intake manifold and everything else of the dead dumb fucks because they are extremely toxic. When they first became worrisome I volunteered to go at night into the Valle des Mariposas and bring back data. I’d gotten caught in daylight and killed a big one but a small one bit me. If I hadn’t had a syringe of Epinephrine I would have died right there of anaphylactic shock. As it was I just got the helicopter back to San Augustin before I collapsed. And in the bite was a deadly, slow, incurable virus that will kill me in five to ten years. To add to the horror, it turned out to be sexually transmissible and I infected my wife Holly before I knew it. She was killed on the plains by ganaderos, leaving me alone and celibate for the rest of my short life.
And all that seems like only yesterday. But for the first time in a long while I feel some hope because now these abominations will die of asphyxiation and cold.