short story

In Cold Blood

It started off small, in the way so many things do.

She reached out to his feelings for her, his sense of protecting her how and ever he could. There was a valour in the act, a kind of nobility. What man could resist the opportunity to defend a fair lady? Knights are not born but made, after all. And they are tested against the monsters that would do harm to those innocent people a knight is charged to protect. All of these thoughts coalesced to convince him that it was right and just. Man’s place in the natural order takes precedence and so he acted as his fair lady bid him to do. He swung her sandal and crushed the moth against the wall.

Normally, he would try to guide such creatures out of the room.  Live and let live, he thought. This did not fully satisfy the fair lady who wished for such insects to be cast from the house altogether. And so, he would capture sneaky spiders and menacing moths and release them through the nearest window. The fair lady observed that these insects would soon return through the same window once it was reopened. And so, he would release them at the furthest end of the garden (even in the small hours of the morning when he was already in his night garments). However, this appeased the fair lady for only a brief time until she became convinced that the same bugs were regaining entry, perhaps even returning in greater numbers. In the fair lady’s mind, casting these bugs out was not a permanent solution.

It was not long before a humid summer night arrived. Windows opened in every room for the hope of a cooling breeze, some reprieve from the all-surrounding heat. A poor misguided moth found its way into the bedroom. She could not tolerate it. The limits of her mercy had been reached. She instructed him to take a sandal to the moth.

“Get rid of it! Get rid of it!” repeating like a tribal chant.

He had no alternative, no other option to allay the fair lady’s fears. He must protect her.

Swish! Smash! Squish! Instantly deceased, the moth paused against the wall before dropping to the floor with specks of itself left like loose flakes of paint to mark the point of impact. A giddy shriek emerged from the fair lady. “My hero!”, she announced. And beyond the conflict of it all, there it was, that sense of being a noble knight to the fair lady.

It started off small, with that moth.

In no time at all, he was a changed man. He crushed every creepy crawly he found in the house. He vacuumed up every too-many-legged thing that crossed his path. He smashed every bug he encountered in the estate. Everywhere he went, insects were in mortal danger. Occasionally something in the deeper recesses of his conscience reached out to him, reminding him that this did not need to be the case as it had not been for so long before. To no avail, however.

It started off small, with that moth. But that is how it all started.