The ISF is proud to present a short story by Aliette de Bodard. “Butterfly, Falling at Dawn” is a breathtaking story, first published in Interzone and reprinted in Year’s Best Science Fiction. Now this beautiful story is published for free reading, available for everybody.
Editor in Chief
“BUTTERFLY, FALLING AT DAWN”
Aliette de Bodard
Originally published in Interzone 219, November 2008
Reprinted in Year’s Best Science Fiction, July 2009
Republished by permission of the author
Even seen from afar, the Mexica District in Fenliu was distinctive: tall, white-washed buildings clashing with the glass-and-metal architecture of the other skyscrapers. A banner featuring Huitzilpochtli, protector god of Greater Mexica, flapped in the wind as my aircar passed under the security gates. The god’s face was painted as dark as blood.
A familiar sight, even though I’d turned my back on the religion of my forefathers a lifetime ago. I sighed, and tried to focus on the case ahead. Zhu Bao, the magistrate in charge of the district, had talked me into taking on this murder investigation because he thought I would handle the situation better than him, being Mexica-born.
I wasn’t quite so sure.
The crime scene was a wide, well-lit dome room on the last floor of3454 Hummingbird avenue, with the highest ceiling I had ever seen. The floor was strewn with hologram pedestals, though the holograms were all turned off.
A helical stair led up to a mezzanine dazzlingly high, somewhere near the top of the dome. At the bottom of those stairs, an area had been cordoned off. Within lay the body of a woman, utterly naked. She was Mexica, and about thirty years old–she could have been my older sister. Morbidly fascinated, I let my eyes take in everything: the fine dust that covered the body, the yellow makeup she’d spread all over herself, the soft swell of her breasts, the unseeing eyes still staring upwards.
I looked up at the railing high above. I guessed she’d fallen down. Broken neck, probably–though I’d have to wait for the lab people to be sure.
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