7: The Chaos Before the Storm
Chaos. It hangs thick in the air. It clings to the trees as harsh as the evergreen bark. It rises from the ground like autumn fog. It swirls with the smoke from the burning town miles away. The animals of the forest, large and small, flee with no destination, driven by fear and instinct. In their sudden absence silence rings and buzzes throughout the dense forest.
Deep in the woods surrounding the town of St. Jim’s, in a small decrepit shack nestled at the foot of a ridge the Pulse in the Dark throbs and glows. It is older than most of the stars in the sky and has been buried in the Earth’s crust since the planet formed; an ageless cosmic parasite with unrelenting hunger. It glows, changing colors with every twitch of its vast coiled form. Only a few lumps of its smooth, glowing flesh poke through the ground, and like the tip of a morbid iceberg the majority of the creature is buried under tons and tons of Earth and rock. However, enough has been exposed to Earthen air to call the human, the Corn-Eater, those many years ago.
The Pulse sees through his eyes and it shows him the depths of the abyss. The Corn-Eater has proved helpless and loyal, forsaking all he had in his life to serve the Pulse in the Dark. The Pulse grew him food, ripe with the blood the Pulse leeched from the Earth from centuries of atrocities and the twisted darkness which the Pulse itself ascended from. The Pulse has used the human so effectively until now. The Corn-Eater followed the swarm, the thousands, a manifestation of the Pulse’s control in the hermit’s glowing eyes to guide then where they need to go. The Corn-Eater lead the swarm, the thousands, and each tiny mouthful of flesh was tasted by the Pulse and the Corn-Eater as the grasshopper feasted.
And then, something unforeseen, the Corn-Eater has tasted the flesh of his own. So long ago the Pulse reached into his mind and crushed it, the sliver of remaining humanity curled into itself and hid from the brain-picking malevolence. The taste of the flesh of his own has sent that sliver of humanity buried deep inside the Corn-Eater’s mind recoiling and thrashing in disgusted abstract terror. In order to maintain its control over the Corn-Eater and the Swarm, the thousands, the Pulse had to infuse his ugly human servant with its unholy power. This power filled the human’s shell when that last sliver of humanity fed itself to the Pulse, this power so strong and crackling it killed every grasshopper within a hundred feet of the Corn-Eater with the resulting spike in mental energy. The Pulse felt each grasshopper’s dying agonies as their tiny brains exploded with the Corn-Eater’s madness reaching its own hellish crescendo.
The swarm, the thousands, has been devastated. Between the Corn-Eater’s inadvertent mass murder and the roaring blaze which erupted during the chaos most died in St. Jim’s. The remaining grasshoppers wandered around aimlessly, mindless shells created only for consuming flesh for the Pulse in the Dark, until the Pulse could regain control of its pets and call them back to the cool dark of the forest. The fire which ceased their planned advance blew back through town eviscerating the blood-streaked ruins and scorching the blood to the asphalt.
The human, the Corn-Eater, has transcended into a shell the Pulse’s conscience can completely fill like a fist in a glove. The Pulse sees through its eyes.
Beautiful black grasshoppers, dead and dying.
Loud angry machines, spilling water on the town and shoving away the ruins.
The Pulse, in its infinite wisdom, knows humans pilot the machines without needing to smell their foul odors or taste their flesh. The humans exit their machines, and poke at the dead grasshoppers not consumed by the flames. They are amazed at their size and apparent appetite. They call more humans to the blood.
The Pulse wants the humans to come and be fascinated by the creatures it infused with its essence. Congregate and study. Gather and debate. Crowd and be slaughtered.
The Corn-Eater stumbles through the forest, glowing eyes shimmering in the middle of slack emotionless face. Through his eyes the Pulse sees everything in bright smears of abstract colors which hum with their energies. It feels the colors it sees. Inside the disgusting human shell the Corn-Eater is sleek and smooth and glowing.
The remaining grasshoppers burrow underground.
The humans are in flying machines and landing now.
The humans call each other to the blood.
The Corn-Eater reaches the shack and shoves the door open. Inside, the Pulse in the Dark glows, its reflection shimmering on every surface within the small space. The Corn-Eater falls to his knees and begins digging at the Earth surrounding the Pulse in the Dark. The Pulse is seeing through new eyes now, as it saw through the eyes of the swarm, the millions of eyes of the thousands. Human eyes again.
It sees only dirt.
Next 'episode' posting up between April 9th-12th 2014
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You can read the rest of the Grasshopper Season series HERE. (the first is at the bottom, sorry for the backassward display order.)