Grasshopper Jungle

Michael Grant calls it ‘Original ,weird, thought-provoking…One hell of a book.’ Charlie Higson said ‘Cool, funny, sexy, gross’. ‘A literary joy to behold’ according to the New York Times. A book about life, love and the end of the world.

In Ealing, Iowa, Austin and his best friend Robby have accidentally unleashed an unstoppable army of horny, hungry six-foot-tall praying mantises. This is the truth. This is history. It’s the end of the world. And nobody knows anything about it.


25. Hell Breaks Loose

Shann was sleeping soundly in the backseat of Robby’s Ford Explorer when we came back to the car. She stretched out comfortably, with her head lying on some crumpled socks and a pair of Robby’s boxers that had fire trucks and Dalmatians on them.

Watching Shann sleep made me horny.

I was all messed up.

I thought I probably needed to talk to someone about how sexually confused I felt. I couldn’t talk to Robby about it, not after what we did on the roof. I thought, but only for half a second, about talking to Pastor Roland Duff. But I already felt guilty as it was.

I thought I could talk to my father.

It scared me to think about doing that, but my father would know what to tell me. He could help me sort things out. I just needed to work up the courage to start the conversation. Then everything would fall into place.

Everything always falls into place that way.

“Shann?” I whispered.

I ran my hand up her leg to wake her.

Shann opened her eyes slowly. She smiled at me.

I felt guilty and sad.

“Did you and Robby already go?” she asked.

I said yes, but didn’t tell her we’d been gone for over an hour. It was nearly 2:00 a.m.

Robby opened the Explorer’s rear gate and deposited our flamingo, the grimacing lemur head, skateboards, and wine bottles.

He already held an unlit cigarette in his mouth when he got behind the wheel.

Robby passed the pack to me and started the engine. We lit both our cigarettes on the same orange coiled moon burning at the end of the car’s lighter. Our faces were so close our cheeks touched. I looked Robby straight in the eye as we leaned in to get the cigarettes going.

It was awkward. I felt sad for Robby.

I turned around and reached back between the seats. I held Shann’s hand.

Behind her, I saw a glowing blue ball floating down the steps in back of the vacant podiatrist’s office. Grant and the Hoover Boys were coming out from the mall.

I glanced at Robby.

I was certain he saw the same thing in the rearview mirror. We both knew better than to say anything and have Shann turn around. She would only start asking questions. Maybe she’d want to confront those punks.

In a lot of ways, Shann was tougher than Robby and me.

Maybe the boys were already drunk. I can’t be certain of it. But something happened to cause Tyler to let go of the glass globe. I watched the circle of blue light drop like a falling moon.

Robby coughed.

Back in Grasshopper Jungle, blue light splattered everywhere.

“I’m ready to go home,” I said.

“Um. Yeah,” Robby agreed.

Robby’s hands gripped the wheel, but his eyes were pinned to the rearview mirror.

Grant and his friends were the first victims of Contained MI Plague Strain 412E.

Nobody knew anything about it.

Travis Pope and his wife, Eileen, had been hired by the association management of the Ealing Mall to clean the common areas every week. They drove through the lot Saturday mornings before sunrise, rarely doing anything about the debris that accumulated in the back

alley of a soon-to-be abandoned mall.

That Saturday, Travis and Eileen stopped in Grasshopper Jungle and picked up large chunks of broken glass from the alley. Travis Pope tossed the shards into the dumpster somebody had pushed against the rear wall of The Pancake House. Travis cursed the winos and delinquent kids in the town for getting drunk and fucking in public.

Travis and Eileen Pope were the fifth and sixth victims of Contained MI Plague Strain 412E.

Nobody knew anything about it.

And later that morning, an old man Robby Brees and I called Hungry Jack, who was missing his front teeth and had served in the United States Army in Vietnam, climbed into the dumpster we rolled across Grasshopper Jungle. The dumpster had pieces of Johnny McKeon’s sick broken universe inside it.

Hungry Jack became the seventh victim of Contained MI Plague Strain 412E.

All hell had broken loose. It splattered across the piss-soaked pavement of Grasshopper Jungle.

Nobody knew anything about it.

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