DARK HARVEST

Tim Tucker

The fields were burning.

Far above the darkened Midwestern hills and prairies Jasper watched as the conflagration swept through farmland in a tide of flames. Jasper hung suspended over the inferno, formless, shapeless, as if he were caught up in one of those out of body experiences you read about in holy books.

Cries of impending doom echoed from the blaze, the voices full of fear and terror, like the screams of millions of souls burning in the fires of hell.

"Oh Gawd what are these tortured screams!?" Jasper cried.

And then the heavens parted and an angel of the lord descended. The angel wore the face of Jasper's father, his eyes smoldering and when he spoke his voice seemed to bellow across all of creation.

"These are the cries of the corn! The cries of the turnips and pumpkins and carrots! For you see son, tomorrow is the day of the harvest but to them it is the holocaust! Hear these words son! They have life! They have a consciousness! They have a soul! Are you ready to repent for your sins against your brethren!?"

"Yes! Yes pa I'm ready!"

"Then I cast you down to the fires of Hell!" With the hand of God the angel swatted Jasper like a fly down into the fiery lake below. He tumbled amidst and betwixt the flames, his voice merging with the chorus of the damned but unlike the pained screams of the crops his cries were of pure jubilation.

"Thank you Jesus! THANK YOU JESUS! HALLELUJAH!"

It was morning when Jasper woke up in the ditch. The sun hung mercilessly overhead, spilling its rays across the land and he was drenched in sweat like the tears of millions of tortured souls. His head throbbed, as if his brain was encased in a vice grip and the sour after taste of bile clung to his parched mouth. It always hurt when he woke up like this.

Jasper sat up and saw his overalls were covered with red stains. A battered shovel lay at his side and its blade was also covered in red. His mind scrambled for an explanation but he had the feeling that he had done something horrible.

Oh Gawd why does it always have to be like this?

His whole body felt like jelly and he was stiff from the long hours inside the ground but Jasper managed to climb out of the ditch with the shovel and stand on the gravel road. He began to walk down the road, waiting for the rest of his mind to catch up to him.

The farmland was splayed before him like a vast tapestry, not one peep from its occupants now. If today was to be their holocaust, then it was he who would light the match. If we truly cared not for the crops and their souls, why should we care for the insects that feed upon their rotten husk? Why should we care about the birds who eat the insects? The cats who eat the birds? The dogs who eat the cats? The pigs who eat their own shit? The humans who eat the pigs? The sprawling fields held no answers but to his eyes it seemed to stretch on and on forever, everyone and everything in it just ripe for harvesting.

The blade of the shovel hissed through the gravel as he dragged it in his wake.

The police cruiser was parked further down the road near the field. It was empty, the black and white shining like some great monochrome beetle under the sweltering sun and Jasper decided that it was his car now. He tried all of the doors only to find them locked. Nestled between the drivers and passengers seat was a shotgun.

The shovel felt ungainly in his tired arms as he took aim and struck the drivers side window, the impact reverberating through his bones. He struck the window again and again, each blow sending spider web like cracks through the glass until it shattered inward. Jasper reached inside and retrieved the shotgun – his shotgun now.

Out across his field he saw two little people walking by his crops. He loaded a round into the shotgun and began to walk towards them on his never ending gravel road under his infinite faded blue sky.

And those two little people out there near his fields?

They were his too.

THE END