Friday, December 28, 2012

The Kingdom & The Kingdom

Once upon a time, there was a kingdom ruled by many and varied kings. There were so many kings of so many sizes, with so many legs, so many joints, so many eyes.

You have traveled across mountains and valleys and fields. You have seen great deserts and vast oceans. You have witnessed the most wondrous of things, bright green lights in the sky, and you have experienced the most terrible of things, the almost eternal darkness, both, paradoxically, in the same place. You have traveled far.

You now come to a field. A grassy field, like so many others. You can hear the humming of insects on the earth, in the grass, and it feels right. You feel content. You feel like you could lay in the grass and stare up at the deep blue sky forever.

And, best of all, the field seems to go for quite a while. You begin walking across the field, intent to see how far it really goes, when you see a patch of brown grass, dead grass. You think nothing of it until you see another and another and soon the field you are in is completely brown, completely dead.

You wonder what could have caused this. Your curiosity outweighs your fear. You trek onward.

Soon, you realize that the humming you are hearing is not from the insects in the grass. It is a deeper hum, a lower hum. It is coming from under the earth. It is coming from the roots of the dead grass, from beneath the roots. Before, it was a gentle hum, a hum of insects going about there business. Now, it is an ominous hum, a hum of things moving and feeding and waiting.

You move on, hoping that the hum will go away, hoping that the grass become bright and green again, but it doesn't. The soil now is loose and you can feel things pulling at your feet. You think it's your imagination at first, but then you see the beetles, fat and black, on your shins. You brush them off, but there are more of them. And then you see:

There are more of them and more of them and more of them. There are so many of them, rising up from the dirt and topsoil, that they make the ground turn from brown to black. They aren't on the ground anymore; they are the ground.

You run. You have no other options. You run and you can feel every insect beneath your boot, every squish of every exoskeleton and then you can feel them on your legs and you can feel their tiny legs climbing and if you stop to push them off, that just means more will show up, so you keep running and they keep climbing and now your legs are covered and so is your stomach and you arms and your shoulders and your neck and your mouth and your eyes.

The Many-Legged Kings feast on you. You are a tasty snack for them. Your skin is soft, your muscle chewy. Soon, you are just white bone against their black bodies.

You would serve as a warning to others not to step into this field, if the Many-Legged Kings didn't drag your skeleton underground to be fossilized with the others.

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