Brother Francis, of Utah

Brother Francis Gerard of Utah might never have discovered the blessed
documents, had it not been for the pilgrim with girded loins who appeared during
that young novice’s Lenten fast in the desert.
Never before had Brother Francis actually seen a pilgrim with girded
loins, but that this one was the bona fide article he was convinced as soon as
he had recovered from the spine-chilling effect of the pilgrim’s advent on the
far horizon, as a wiggling iota of black caught in a shimmering haze of heat.
Legless, but wearing a tiny head, the iota materialized out of the mirror glaze
on the broken roadway and seemed more to writhe than to walk into view, causing
Brother Francis to clutch at the crucifix of his rosary and mutter an Ave or
two. The iota suggested a tiny apparition spawned by the heat demons who
tortured the land at high noon, when any creature capable of motion on the
desert (except the buzzards and a few monastic hermits such as Francis) lay
motionless in its burrow or hid beneath a rock from the ferocity of the sun.
Only a thing monstrous, a thing preternatural, or a thing with addled wits would
hike purposefully down the trail at noon this way.
Brother Francis added a hasty prayer to Saint Raul the Cyclopean, patron
of the misborn, for protection against the Saint’s unhappy proteges. (For who
did not then know that there were monsters in the earth in those days? That
which was born alive was, by the law of the Church and the law of Nature,
suffered to live, and helped to maturity if possible, by those who had begotten
it. The law was not always obeyed, but it was obeyed with sufficient frequency
to sustain a scattered population of adult monsters, who often chose the
remotest of deserted lands for their wanderings, where they prowled by night
around the fires of prairie travelers.) But at last the iota squirmed its way
out of the heat risers and into clear air, where it manifestly became a distant
pilgrim; Brother Francis released the crucifix with a small Amen.