Loosely formed hordes of black beasts surveyed the landscape. Moving in arrhythmic stutters they sought a fertile place to stake their claim.
“The beauty of it, oh the glory.” In his eyes burned a fire, hot and bright. “Mother, will you look?”
She faced away from him with her head cocked to the side. A black phone was nestled between her ear and shoulder. Speaking quickly, she punctuated her conversation with quick shallow drags of her cigarette.
They came upon a land that was gold in the afternoon sun. It was rich with the salt of open pores and sweat.
He lifted his head and held his hand to his brow. He stared intensely but his jaw was slack, “It’s wonderful.”
She kicked at the dog at her feet until he let out a quick yelp and retreated to the shade under the patio table. Here he chewed on his paw and licked ants off the concrete.
A wind shook the field of blonde as a dark form passed over the sun. Thick currents of air threatened to rip them from their fortune.
He stayed focused but swatted at the air. After waving his hand without collision he let it fall on the back of his neck.
Her words were many but without any strength. While she spoke her interest was on her hands. She turned them one way then the other, visibly impressed with the latest vibrant color of her fingernails.
Unable to find a suitable host and sensing the approaching danger the flies took off. They didn’t go as a group. Bobbing up and down and side-to-side they went alone.
The sweat was building up on his face now. He rubbed then scratched at his neck hard before turning to the woman and then back to the sky. “Mom, you’ve got to look.”
She let the phone slide off of her shoulder and caught it with her hand. She squinted her eyes and her pupils contracted before the flicker in her eye was snuffed out with a forceful blink.
Approaching quickly was a pack of hunters. They were predators, vicious raptors that fought and killed as much for sport as necessity.
“Mom, are you looking?”
For at least a full second she squeezed them shut tight, raising her cheeks so as to almost smile.
Spiders on the ground scurried into the shadows. Ants fought each other for access to the colony. The caterpillars munched on flimsy green leaves.
“Just look, please.”
He was too late. She shrieked and slapped at her arm. The buzzing enveloped her and she turned wildly, falling and catching her hair in the hinge of the open screen door.
In bands of black and gold they clung to one another and to her skin. Beating their wings, they forced their ovipositors deep and injected their venom.
“Mom?” This time he didn’t turn to face her.
Their synchronous vibrations wove an amorphous canvas mask. It obscured everything except those sweeping bands of black and gold light. She clawed at it with her blood red nails as she pulled herself up and ran inside.
He had been told not to look directly at the sun before, but he never listened. She never gave him reason. Today, he thought, was different. He stood and followed her inside, brushing a wasp off his arm. Holding the door wide open, he looked up over his shoulder and blinked, before letting the door shut at his heels.
more by JACOB LAMOUNTAIN
Photography by Anna Gabriel