Tales of the Asp: Ode to a Tender Flower, by Aidan Butler

     My Dear Cara,

     wrote the Asp,

     Your charms are truly limitless, your joys well beyond the reach of my crass, cold adjectives. I hope that you value every cell of your blazing, flowing body; I hope that every time you strip off your clothes at night, the stars brighten in the sky above, so that every creature lurking in the darkness around you may witness more fully your spectacular beauty.
     Now that you are in the fifth grade, you have doubtless begun wondering about your body: what this and that are for, how they'll change, how they formed, and so on. Since your body is quite complex and full of mysteries still baffling even to the most sophisticated scientists, I'll explain only your vulva (yes, sweet one, that wonderous flesh-riddle, that sandwich of eerie secrets waiting -- for what? -- between your legs).
     You may have discovered by now that it is, in fact, a monster. This is no great secret. It is the mouth of a parasitic beast that has lodged itself most stubbornly into your body. This should not terrify you, my sweet, for the monster is well aware that it relies upon you for energy and for a habitable environment. Soon, in fact, its primitive conscience will begin to ache, and it will grudgingly offer to pay you rent for the use of your body. Since these vulva monsters exchange no currency, it will pay you in monthly supplies of its own blood. Unfortunately, this is entirely useless to you. In fact, it's worse than useless: it will be truly inconvenient.
     But the universe, my glimmering child, operates on a principle of ethical equilibrium: Karma, some call it: the evils we do are mirrored back to us. And thus the vulva-monster inside you has another monster dwelling within it. The mouth of that sub-parasite is, in fact, the mouth that you speak through; your clever body has adopted it as a useful organ; in a sort of symbiotic exchange of service for nourishment, you feed it, and it allows you to speak through it.
     Thus, my child, you are really three living creatures bound up in each other, each secretly desiring to slay the others, to finally be self-sufficiently alone. The brain you assemble thoughts with is really the fermenting feces of the sub-parasite; the vapor escaping the rotting crap is what you grandiosely call 'thinking.'
     Where does that leave you? How right you are to ask! For clearly the wretched monsters living within you must, as soon as possible, be slaughtered without mercy. This is so because your vulva was recently seen -- by none other than myself -- attempting either to mate with or destroy a parking meter by engulfing it like a large, hairless mit and drenching it in strange fluids (perhaps pickling juices of some kind). This occurred several nights ago while you slept; I imagine the sub-parasite's manure distracted you with a colorful and absurd dream or two. I must caution you that Nevada Penal Code Section 432.99(b) proclaims that "if a citizen's vulva-monster destroys or renders ineffective or unreadable a publicly-owned parking meter, whether for purposes of reproduction or effacement, such citizen will be held fully liable for cost of repairs or replacement, whichever is more, regardless of citizen's state of mind or degree of cooperation with the culpable vulva-monster."
     Perhaps you have heard your vulva-monster's speaking voice? If so, I certainly hope that you have not degraded yourself by conversing with it. If not, let me assure you that its voice is sickly and wretched, like the screeching of tortured rats -- and let me assure you further that it has no kind words to say about you. Please remember that if it should ever address you -- even if simply to ask for a small cash loan, or to borrow a few postage stamps -- you must ignore it.
     But what will be left of you -- and what you have ignorantly thought of as your "body" -- once your vulva-monster and the cunning sub-parasite are surgically removed? Very little, I'm afraid. Your penis will re-emerge from within the few organs that are actually yours (basically, you are equipped with organs for processing raw vegetation and converting cabohydrates into pure waste; organs designed to send out poison gasses should you ever be attacked; and organs that cause you to bray pathetically when abandoned). However, since you are not male, your penis will not work at all. Some fully-restored women choose to attach attractive jewelry to their penises, but this is a personal esthetic decision to be made by your priest and your parents.
     So you see, my darling wonder-child, it is your duty to cooperate with law enforcement agents and religious leaders in restraining and destroying your fiendish vulva-monster. In your post-purification stage you may appear to be nothing more than a ruinous mass of chilly flesh, a desert of barren cells, stripped forever of the intoxicating drives of instinct: but, let me assure you, we never expected much from you to begin with. Through an x-ray monitor we watched in anguish as you -- in your fetal stage -- were attacked by the fierce aquatic monsters lurking in your mother's polluted, horror-infested womb. The creatures burrowed into your tender, defenseless flesh and became inextricably fused with your body. This happens to many girls, my child; you are no different.
     Your surgery will be administered in the cafeteria one morning next week. Your physical education teacher will monitor the operation to ensure that you are treated in a humane, dignified manner. We will not tell you in advance which morning you will be operated on since that would give your vulva-monster and the sub-parasite an opportunity to flee.
     If you attempt to resist the surgeon-priests, you will be summarily executed. Please have no doubt, my gorgeous young flower, that we care for you more than words can express. Your happiness is our foremost concern. Drenching you with the warm nectar of our love is our sole purpose. With that in mind, you must not resist.

     Proof-reading his work, the Asp smiled radiantly. Cara would be so charmed by his note! The Asp signed the letter in light green ink with a curling, looping nonsense word, then printed at the bottom of the card,

           Federal Bureau of Investigation:
           Vulva Surveillance Division.

     The Asp folded the note, put it in a small Valentine's Day envelope, and stuck it half-way under the cover of Cara's social science book. He replaced the book in her desk.

     Hearing the dizzy, joyous cries of children echo in a distant hall as they returned from recess, the Asp raced out of the classroom and fled into the street.

Tales of the Asp
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