Chapter Fifty-Eight: The Plague of Blood

Editor’s Note: of course, one problem with complete modernization is this: Vine is still a land of miracles. Jonah is convinced God will destroy Vine the moment the clock strikes midnight on January 1, 2000. I’m skeptical, but this did happen: 

The river and the lake became blood. The families and the histories became blood. In the fields and on the roads the workers sweat blood and the children cried blood when their mothers’ breasts leaked blood. Days upon days. The Elders and preachers and people of Vine, awash in blood. Forest floor squelching blood underfoot. Beer drunk out of bottles because of blood. Blood is the life. For the life of all flesh is blood. All are born in blood, drenched in blood. Slice the chicken’s neck and drain the blood, dominion. 

There was a woman who died and rose up from her burial plot as though she had conquered blood. There was a man who transformed into a monstrous beast in the mountains and consumed blood. There was a cat whose blood cured a generation of tuberculosis. 

“I will strike the water that is in the Nile, and it shall be turned to blood. The fish in the river shall die, the river itself shall stink, and the Egyptians shall be unable to drink water from the Nile.”

O Lord we have heard Your decree. O Lord we heed Your call. O Lord we live humbly and serve You and only You. 

In the beginning Vine was discovered by accident, a view over yonder mountain, a glance down off Prophet’s Bald, a place a person without glasses might mistake for a living watercolor. In the beginning the herons scoured the riverbanks for fishy meals and moles grew fat off of beetles until the humans came and dug up the land. Foundations in the land. Houses on the land. Church on the land. The land turned to flowering fields. The land turned to marketplace. 

“Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt—over its rivers, its canals, and its ponds, and all its pools of water—so that they may become blood; and there shall be blood throughout the whole land of Egypt, even in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.”

O Lord whom shall carry out your commandments on Earth? O Lord if not Vine then whom? 

Once I stayed awake praying for six days and six nights. I kept vigil in old jeans and a white tank top, ate nothing, prostrated myself before the Lord, and entered into a state of holy trance. On the seventh day I ate raw garlic and a bloody cheeseburger and encased myself in a bedsheet and dust, rolling down a rocky hill, praying by Your blood I am saved by Your blood I am saved by Your blood I am saved by Your blood I am saved

by Your blood I am saved by Your blood I am saved

by Your blood I am saved by Your blood I am saved

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