He looked out upon the field, upon its row after row of newly planted corn, and let its effect take over his vision. Even as long as he’d been farming it still all seemed like an optical illusion to him, an illusion of eternity.
But something didn’t feel right. Stomach said so.
It’d been two weeks of constant rain, heavy most of the time. Today was finally clear enough for him to get back on his tractor and do some work other than pushing manure around in the barn. Felt good to be back on the machine and working the dirt.
Fields don’t tend themselves. That’s what his father always said. And his father.
And then it happened.
Stomach prophecy. Never failed.
The tractor quit. Just quit. Wasn’t like it to go ahead and do that. It’s always been what he could rely on most. He checked and saw that he still had more than half a tank of gas. He hopped down and the soft wet dirt sucked him in and rose above the soles of his boots. He checked his cell phone. No signal, of course. Never was this far out.
He circled around the tractor a couple of times. Took off his ball cap. Scratched at his head. Just wasn’t like it to quit like that.
The soft wet dirt was cold and made him cold as it soaked into the back of his shirt. He strained his eyes to see into the machine’s shadowy underbelly. Nothing he could see looked amiss. He never was much of a mechanic — that was always her job; she always ended up fixing the things he broke and his friends always gave him hell for that — but he didn’t see anything that looked as if it would just go ahead and make it quit like that.
He stood back up and began counting costs. The towing. The repairing. The interest on the over-extended credit.
But something still didn’t feel right in his gut. It was something more than the machine it was telling him.
And no sooner than it did, he saw the first one. He saw one and then he saw another. And another. And another until the entire horizon was overcome by them. A massive crowd of people was running across his field and coming toward him fast, very fast.
He climbed up his tractor and stood up on his toes as high as he could. Even still, he couldn’t see the end of the crowd. It just kept coming.
He stuck himself halfway into the cab and turned at the key. Still dead.
He got back down off the tractor and watched the approaching crowd. They were loud. Screaming. Screams of terror.
His crop was ruined, no question about that. He thought of the bible and of its locusts, but nothing more than what he could remember from his Sunday School as a child.
And then they were upon him and there was nothing for him to do but to turn and run. And to begin screaming. Screams of terror.