Reviews for A Righteous Harvest
Mislav chapter 1 . 6/13
Very exciting, intense and disturbing story. Great characterization and attention to details. I very much enjoyed the tie-in with Juvenalia, and your dark parody of Veggie Tales. Your short summary at the beginning was enough to even sufficiently inform the readers who are not familiar with the previous stories. And once again, a great choice of title, that was fully justified and explained by the end. I liked how you included the weapons from a previous story into this one (Barbara and the Crucifer). I also appreciated having some more insight into Matthew's backstory (working at the supermarket), and seeing how that experience tied into his current mission. Good detail with Matthew having a vision about the building's construction. Those creatures truly were gruesome, albeit pitiful. I shudder to think what those poor children went through. Still, I liked how Jada cut through all those "vines" with her sword. She's a badass. The "boiler" was especially disturbing and gross. That part was stomach-churning. I liked how Jada decided to photograph it, just in case. I also liked the idea of destroying that wretched place by making a boiler blow up: it reminded me of Stephen King's "The Shining". I do wonder what happened to that supernatural serial killer Kendo told them about. Had he fled by the time they got there, or was it one of those creatures? I can easily understand Matthew and Jada's decision not to have children, especially after such an experience, though I think it would be kind of intriguing to see them with children years down the line, once their fight has slowed down somewhat; maybe with their offspring being destined to help them fight the forces of darkness years down the line, once their reign starts up again? If they really are as sexually active as implied, they could easily create their own little army over time, if the universe intervened somehow. Either way, I do wonder what their endgame is. My favorite parts were: "I stepped forward, and my stomach turned itself into a Gordian knot. The sanest place to be in this building, I felt, was behind a trigger. I heard a hiss somewhere in the distance, a cloud of steam momentarily filling a narrow hallway. My eyes tracked the burst to its source, a vine-covered latticework of piping that filled the ceiling. I ran my hand along a corroded wall, feeling the water running like a pulse of bile. This building was alive with something, and nothing beneficial.

"Help!" I heard the call again, directly in front of me.

Jada stepped forwards with her blade drawn. I knew that was no little girl, but an ambush with our names on it. Something disgusting was eager to snuff us out, likely sensing us as prey. That was only partially true, for we were also the hunter. My arms glowed with anticipation, but something was wrong. Jada slowly lifted her blade above her head. I heard something soft cause gentle reverberations to echo down the length of the pipe. It moved.

It plunged down from the ceiling above. It was as tall as a child, but as ravenous as a demon. Its forearms were claws of sharpened bone, wrapped with bundles of vine and roots replacing sinew. It screamed like an agonized child, as vines erupted from where its lower jaw once was. Its empty eye sockets turned at me as bundles of vine and sharpened bone shot towards my neck. Worse, it was not alone.

I answered their challenge with Barbara, emptying body barrels into the thing's chest and neck. Bits of bone, wet bundles of vine, and wet ichor sprayed across the empty lobby. The skeletal body, too small to be an adult, collapsed to a heap of bones on the floor. Three more of those hellspawn filled the gaps, rushing at us like a torrent of green water. Footfalls echoed down the hallway, and I knew this was not a fight we could win.

Jada finished off her first of the green children, cleaving its head off with her blade. She unloaded the Crucifer, but the salvo of nails did nothing but annoy them as I pulled her towards the front door. A dagger of sharpened bone plunged towards her torso, but bounced off her armor. She sprinted beside me before they could come try again. They pursued us towards the front door, but we did not look back. I moved with a frantic celerity, one born of confused fear.

Once we entered sunlight, the interior was motionless once more. There was no sign of the ambuscade that undoubtedly awaited if we entered once more. The things vanished seamlessly into the holes in the wall, the overgrowth on the pipes, and the dark corners of the room. I had little doubt they could wait a long time, years perhaps, for something to blunder by. Or someone. I slammed the door shut, bracing myself against it."

And

"I began closing off the steam valves, hoping to boil them in their own exhalations. It was then my Amharic tattoos glowed once more. I saw the things that had once been human, as two separate, middle-aged men. They lead children out of the loading docks, and into the laboratories. They cut into their young lab rats' flesh, inserting vine like tissue. However, they exposed themselves to the vines, hoping to control their Guinea pigs like meat puppets. It worked too well, and they ended up fused with the central stalk of the creature, isolated in the center of the facility. Those two scientists, as evil as they were, ended up becoming the inspirations for the Farm Fables characters: Carrot and Potato.

This place needed to burn. I saw Jada finish closing off the last valve, and I gestured towards the rear door. It would take time for this thing to overheat like a giant pressure cooker, and the thing in the middle would fry. We'd sealed off the release valves, and the heated steam would have no place to go. As a physics podcast I listened to reminded me, a pressure vessel with no release for newly added heat was called a 'bomb.'

My physics demonstration ended before it began. heard steel bend above us. I heard something shatter. The vines that clasped the walls, piping, and ceiling lurched and twitched like raw nerves. Given their connection with the thing in the tank, that was exactly what they were. They shook and pulled, the structure swaying like it was a straw hut in a hurricane. Jada and I were sprinting for the exit, but it beat us there.

I am not quite sure how it managed it, but the bulk of the creature was unseen and strangely malleable. It was something originating in hell's gardens, a plant tainted by unearthly energies. This garden of weeds was all it had, before whomever made it abandoned it. The two former humans, the mad doctors merged into a mushy pile, oozed towards us from the loading dock they'd once escorted victims in. It moved with alarming alacrity, plunging down from a gap in the ceiling. This time, I did not run.

They started at us, their vine-like tendrils coming at us from all directions. Jada held my hand. I held hers. She turned her sword into a shield of swings, cutting off those ivy-like tendrils like a human weedwhacker. The expressions on the thing's faces were of dull surprise, but I had nothing new to offer them. Since they escaped my earlier physics demonstration, I offered an alternative.

With her free hand, Jada caressed my right arm. Our Amharic characters glowed in a now familiar unison, and I gave it both barrels. The thing stopped for a moment, as if mesmerized by our Marked sigils. At that instant, the two hypervelocity projectiles slammed into it simultaneously. It vanished into a cloud of fluid too green to be human blood. Behind us, the structure collapsed.

Jada and I sprinted the last few feet to the outside. Behind us, a chunk of ceiling stood where we'd stood a moment earlier. I pulled her away from the collapsing building, as a cloud of dust arose behind us. I presumed the creature had integrated itself with the building's key support members, so its demise caused the rotten thing to collapse. Like all works of evil, it was a hollow, pathetic thing."

Keep up the great work. You are very talented. I always like reading your stories. I have enjoyed this series especially.