The Locust Farmer
and the Green Children
by Rudolfo Serna
The locust swarmed above Rosa, whose blood from her eyes and forehead trickled down into her hands, which were also bleeding. She had lost her direction in the purple fields, kneeling in the grass, screaming for her father at the black house, the gore falling on grass not yet ripe with harvest.
The locusts were programmed to clear the fields.
She felt the wings thumping against the ground. Strands of hair stuck to her face with the bloody effluent running from her mouth and eyes.
The locusts had broken free in waves washing over her, devouring the purple grass, the black cloud flashing silver wings, made up of countless bodies, designed for perfect consummation.
They did not swarm the bleeding girl even though they were fixed on eating every bit of the purple fields. They did not strip Rosa’s flesh but swirled around her in a deafening sonance. She could see the twinkling through her blood-filled eyes.
She tried screaming over the clamoring flutter. A breach in the cloud flickered open to the aqua and pink sky of the planet.
Looking at the locusts through bloody tears, the swarm devoured the purple grass, her clothes stained with the blood that rolled off her face.
The locust farmer looked out from the black house, hearing the screams of his daughter.
Inside the house was a smooth orange stone the size of a human head on a stand beside an altar. Grabbing the transmission stone in both hands, the farmer ran with it out of the house, reciting the equations that would call the locusts back to their silo, unsure if he still had control. He frantically recited, “Four one eight dash point Z one eight four equals comma dash four X Y Z, one eight dash point Z one eight four three...”
He was repeating the spell that he hoped would reverse the swarm’s course, not knowing why they had been set free to cross the land to harvest the purple yields before the rising of the harvest moons. They were free to devour whatever was in their flight path when they should have been in their silos, waiting until the right time to be released.
The locusts received the farmer’s prayer. They lifted and turned, heading back towards the farm and the silver silos that stood across the yard, funneling through the silo gates until they disappeared from the sky. The locks on the silo clamored shut, and the farmer could still hear his daughter in the field, sobbing.
She remained huddled in the grass as the blood stopped flowing. The farmer ran towards her, picked her up and wiped the blood off her face. The green tint had already started rising from her brown skin.
“Father, am I alive?”
“You are, you are alive!”
He could see the red reflection in her pupils even as he wiped away the blood.
“Will they be coming for me now?”
“No one will know!”
“Am I changing?”
He held her as she sobbed, knowing the answer, but not wanting to say.
* * *
The grey smoke among the town’s black spires flowed off the rooftops. At their hearths, the people who had come down from the fallen capital were stirring pots of black, bubbling locust vomit into a thick porridge to feed on. They placed kindling of black locust wood onto the fire.
Fields had to be cleared when the harvest moons rose.
The locusts would devour the planet’s purple grass, devour the stem, leaves, and flowering buds. After filling their abdomens, they would return to their silver silos and spit out their black saliva onto harvester screens hanging from metal frames.
The spontaneous bleedings of their children’s faces horrified the townspeople, but it was the greening of the skin and illuminant red eyes that brought real fear to those that had taken up a fanatical pledge to remain human.
The skin of the children had changed to a dark green sheen, and the eyes reflected the red spectrum of their adoptive star.
The bleeding came with the harvesting moons, a bleeding from eyes, hands, and feet. The children were thought possessed by some sinister infection, to be incinerated at the steps of town hall.
Scaffolds had been built over the pyres, with poles anchored to support their weight.
The locust wood ignited, burning the green skin of the red-eyed children who struggled against the thick knots woven from ropes of locust vomit. Screaming to be let free. The people burned their own children to avoid contamination, and the parents reached out, screaming, held at bay by the Surgeon General’s deputies.
The bells rang with the last of the metal gathered from the ruins of the capital. The metal had been melted down and molded into bells. When the bells rang, the people were to clear the fields before the locusts descended.
The locusts had been tuned by now-dead geneticists. The farmer controlled the locusts with the orange transmitter stone placed next to an altar in the black house. The farmer knew the equations of obscure combinations.
Those who had escaped the capital tried purging the technology that had fused with the planet.
Before the purple grass grew, engineers had knelt in the desert, excavating, boring deep into their surrogate planet. Looking through atomic scopes, splitting the code to the planet’s extinguishment. “Born again,” that’s what engineers said as they gathered at the foot of their ships, listening to the talk of the divine scientists who had created the world, the plants, and animals on it. Then came the evacuation of the capital and the poison gas that rolled through its streets.
Bionic alchemy had made life.
The Old Order deemed the hybrids wrong.
The bleeding occurred when the locusts emerged to clear the fields under the two moons and red sun.
The children’s stigmata could not be explained, except by those of the Old Order that professed that the bleeding, the green faces, and red illuminant eyes to be a result of disease and infection. No scientists, engineers, or geneticists were left to explore the mystery, as they had been destroyed during the cleansing.
* * *
In the black house of the locust farmer was the symbol of a five-pointed star that represented their new sun painted carefully across a white flag hanging over a black altar. The star signified the universal, the willingness to accept, which was not a part of the Old Order, as even the Vatican had sent its own starships out at the time of ascent in search of Tierra centuries before.
The farmer stepped past the altar, with its grow lights emitting a soft green spectrum that bathed the plants. A tiny motor hummed, pulling waste water from the creatures that swam in the steel aquarium box beneath aquaponic pipes cradling plants drawn from fossilized beds.
In the center of the altar swam animals from extinct seas, resurrected. A type of eel redesigned by geneticists with chains of native strain; sleek grey bodies twisted and curled, raised on scraps of locust sheddings collected by the farmer’s daughter from below the silo’s harvester screens. It had no noticeable eyes, a vicious mouth from its prehistoric past despite modifications to domesticate it, thumping its scaly side against the steel tank.
Plants of dead forests grew from perforated pipes that held flowing water, vining below the grow lights to be dried and used in ceremony.
* * *
The farmer did not know why the locusts had been released, but he could not think about the reason for their escape as he watched his daughter’s skin and eyes change.
The locusts were supposed to be locked in their silver silos, the hives gathering and birthing, preparing to harvest the purple grass.
The alarms should have sounded somewhere in his mind from the implants and modifications, when the locusts were set free. There were no symptoms, no nauseated feelings, no ringing in his ears with flashes going off in his head.
Rosa rested on the floor in the center of the main room of the black house, on a mattress stuffed with purple grass. The red sunlight came through opened portals next to the mouth of a hearth and its seething embers of locust wood. The floors were black in the orange red light that flooded the room. Her father knelt beside her, still wiping her face clean of blood.
“Father? What is happening to me?” she asked
“You’re changing. I can’t help you. You cannot be seen. They will take you, and...” He wiped her forehead with a wet cloth.
“They will burn me?” She said.
“They can’t find you.”
* * *
Copyright © 2017 by Rudolfo Serna