By nightfall we'd draped ourselves in sheets and blankets, sat that way for the locusts to make us mounds of their scratching bodies. For days tiny legs marched over me from sole to scalp and my brain was driven off course by them and I went about administering to myself a good and thorough daylong beating, without even time to wipe the still-twitching mush away before the open patch was filled by the kith and kin of the recently deceased. So it went one night that I was still slapping at myself, peeking out from underneath my sheet, watching how the towering fire Preacher-father had built just outside was doing no more to drive them off with smoke than our coverings did to keep them out, when he cast his sheet away and was a-swarmed. They rode the ends of his hair and were mitts over his hands, they swole up from the ground and made crawling trunks of his legs, swallowed him so fully that the only way I knew he'd not been eaten all away was that he still retained some human shape and moved. My father's steps as he left the lean-to were foreshortened like he was afraid to crush too many of his multitudinous clingers; he reached into the mass of them at his chest and brought out his Bible, which they immediately covered, and I swear that in the firelight I saw them nibbling at the leafs, eating pages clean of ink or messing passages with juice when they found one not to their liking. He spread the Book wide and stared out from his locust cloak at me, and above their ever-present drone came his voice screaming how he was thankful. They streamed around his words, poured in and out his throat.
He went on like that for the remainder of the night.
THE BLOOD OF HEAVEN © 2013 by Kent Wascom; used with the permission of the publisher, Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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