Prelude to the apocalypse – Abeo

Nigeria

Nigeria is Africa’s largest grower of maize, producing nearly eight million tonnes a year.

That was about to change. Most of the countries of Africa that were able to grow substantial crops were about to witness a cataclysm.

Abeo Eze worked on one of Nigeria’s largest farms. He was a labourer, helping to maintain the farm as well as organise the harvest of the maize crop, which was still several months away. That was why he was in the fields when the locusts hit. Abeo hated locusts, he always had. Not only were they noisy, but enough of them could threaten his ability to feed his children.

He heard the locusts before he saw them, their wings chattering as they drew closer. There had been reports of swarms in other parts of the country, whole fields eaten and stripped of all vegetation. Locusts were a strange creature when you thought about it. Normally they lived alone or in small groups, but occasionally they came together in immense swarms. Whilst not directly dangerous to humans, their impact could be devastating to the food grown by mankind.

The swarm that was about to hit Abeo’s farm was one of biblical proportions. It contained over a billion locusts and covered an area larger than Greater London. Engulfing the land, it consumed everything plant based in its path before moving on to another area.

Maize is a tall plant, often taller than the average man who insists on growing it in neat rows for easy harvesting. Thus, Abeo was in amongst it when the swarm hit, the locusts forming a blanket over everything. They descended into the crop, covering every leaf and coating the ground around his feet. Some landed on Abeo, and he fruitlessly swatted at them. Abeo knew they didn’t bite or carry disease, but to be in the thick of so many of them churning around his head caused him to panic.

If the crop was destroyed, he likely wouldn’t be paid, and there was nothing he could do to stop the crop from being utterly devastated.

The sound was incredible, millions of wings vibrating and legs rubbing together. He had to get out from it; he had to be free. Fortunately, he was near the edge of the field, and despite the disorientation his panic caused, he forged his way through, emerging from the edge of the field onto the service road. The locusts were thick, dozens of them crushed by his boots. Still, they clung to him, his hands constantly swatting at the ones that tried to settle on his face. Stripping off his t-shirt, he used it to waft the surrounding air, creating a zone of relative safety, the locusts instinctively avoiding the twirling obstacle.

It allowed him to get to his Land Rover, and inside, he rid himself of the few locusts that followed him through the car door. So thick were the creatures now, they part blocked out the sun, the sky above full of them. They would keep on coming until nothing was left.

A swarm this size would be able to consume over one hundred and sixty thousand tonnes of plant matter a day. And whilst not all of that would be human crops, you were still talking enough food to feed over half a million people for a whole year. They would eat and spread their way across the land until there was nothing left. And then, the swarm would dissipate as if it had never existed.

Abeo had seen swarms before; had been witness to this sort of thing on previous occasions. But he had never been caught in the middle of it like this, and never a swarm so large. He also didn’t know that it wasn’t only Nigeria where this was happening. All across Africa, locusts were on the move, the food supply to whole countries being utterly destroyed.

This was to be the worst locust plague in reported history and it was only the start of the pressure that was about to be placed on the human food supply.

The planet, it seemed, was eager to join in with the pending apocalypse.

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