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Neekerbreekers by Dreamflower

Author: Dreamflower
Title: Neekerbreekers
Rating: G
Theme: June Bug
Elements: Midge
Author's Notes: See end note.
Summary: Short cuts make for large discomfort; a sleepless night on the way from Bree to Rivendell. Five drabbles, interspersed with a refrain.
Word Count: 525

Neekerbreekers


NEEKerBreek...
NEEKerBreek...
NEEKerBreek...
NEEKerBreek...
NEEKerBreek...

Well, no one can say he hadn't come up with a proper name for them pestiferous bugs. Sam tried to use his right toes to scratch behind the back of his left knee, though he'd had not much luck scratching his right ankle with his left toes. Betwixt the neekerbreekers and the midges, it was making for a sleepless night. It was hard to try and stay still and not wake up poor old Mr. Frodo, who probably had just as many midge bites as he did. Why wouldn't the neekerbreekers be quiet? Then all he'd have was the itching.

NEEKerBreek...
NEEKerBreek...
NEEKerBreek...
NEEKerBreek...
NEEKerBreek...

Frodo shuddered. He wished so badly to reach down and just scratch furiously at his calves, but he knew that would only make things worse, not to mention making it harder for Sam on one side of him and Pippin on the other to get any sleep. He wasn't fooling himself; if he was this miserable, they had to be as well. He wondered how much longer Strider would be dragging them through this insect-ridden marsh? Carefully, he shifted to his left side, facing Pippin, and put a hand over his right ear. At least the neekerbreekers were somewhat muted.

NEEKerBreek...
NEEKerBreek...
NEEKerBreek...
NEEKerBreek...
NEEKerBreek...

Pippin took a deep breath, blinking back tears. He'd had the worst of the midge bites after falling in the marsh. Not only his legs, but his hands and his face suffered bites. Strider had a tiny jar of salve, and he'd spared a bit for the bite near Pippin's left eye, but there wasn't enough to spare for all the bites the hobbits had suffered. And that incessant neekerbreeking was enough to drive him mad! Somehow without his even willing it, his hand reached up to scratch his forehead, but suddenly that hand was caught in Merry's iron grip.

NEEKerBreek...
NEEKerBreek...
NEEKerBreek...
NEEKerBreek...
NEEKerBreek...

Merry lost track again. He'd thought counting backwards from one thousand would keep his mind off those noisy insects Sam had named "neekerbreekers". But he kept losing track and having to start over whenever he got distracted by his itching ankles and calves. He was also worried, as he could tell Frodo and Pippin were not sleeping either. Pippin was being too still, for one thing. His younger cousin tended to be a restless sleeper. But then he saw Pippin's hand move towards his face. Merry reached over, grabbing Pip's wrist. "No scratching!" he whispered.

NEEKerBreek...
NEEKerBreek...
NEEKerBreek...
NEEKerBreek...
NEEKerBreek...

Aragorn stood watch, his back to the hobbits. He was all too aware of their discomfort, and now wished he had taken another path. But it seemed best to go a way that would discourage pursuit. It had not occurred to him that the hobbits, being shorter, would suffer more from the low-swarming midges. He forgot he was protected by his boots and leathers. His tiny jar of salve would be of little use on the four of them, so he used it only for the bite near Pippin's eye, which could be dangerous if infected.

Was there nothing that could quiet that constant noise?

NEEKerBreek...
NEEKerBreek...
NEEKerBreek...
NEEKerBreek...
NEEKerBreek...

(A/N: The type of midge that Strider and the hobbits encountered was likely the "Highland midge":
The highland midge (scientific name: Culicoides impunctatus) (Scots: Midgie) (Gaelic: Meanbh-chuileag) is a species of small flying insect, found in upland and lowland areas (fens, bogs and marshes) especially in the north west of Scotland and northern Wales from late spring to late summer. These insects are also found in suitable habitat throughout the British Isles, Scandinavia, other regions of Europe, Russia and Northern China. Female Highland midges are well known for gathering in clouds and biting humans, and are the smallest flies in Scotland to do so, though the majority of the blood they obtain comes from cattle, sheep and deer. They are generally regarded as pests. (From Wikipedia)

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
lignota
Jul. 7th, 2016 08:43 pm (UTC)
Oh no! Poor hobbits. That sounds like a miserable situation for all of them.
dreamflower02
Jul. 7th, 2016 09:04 pm (UTC)
Well, I think they must have truly suffered through this part of Strider's "shortcut"!
shirebound
Jul. 8th, 2016 12:25 am (UTC)
I'm itchy just reading this! I like how everyone is concerned about everyone else.
blslarner
Jul. 9th, 2016 07:32 am (UTC)
I, too, feel itchy just reading about them! Poor Hobbits, and poor Aragorn, feeling guilty for the Hobbits' discomfort! We were caught in a terrible cloud of midges in Oregon near a falls area, and thought we'd never get all of them out of the motorhome when they found a hole in one of the screens!
dreamflower02
Jul. 10th, 2016 03:07 am (UTC)
Growing up mostly in the South, we were always more bothered by mosquitoes, chiggers, gnats and lovebugs than by midges.

I could imagine Aragorn felt terrible about their discomfort--after all, he's protected by his leather clothing and his boots as well as his height. (Wikipedia emphasizes that midges tend to swarm close to the ground, which would definitely make it worse for the hobbits!)
lin4gondor
Jul. 10th, 2016 01:36 am (UTC)
It takes great will power to not scratch an insect bite! And those poor hobbits had so many of them! I wonder how long it took for them to recover from the itching after they left the marshes behind?
dreamflower02
Jul. 10th, 2016 03:09 am (UTC)
Probably several days to get completely over the bites!

I was thinking that Strider's salve was very effective, but since only his hands and face would have been exposed, he had only a very tiny jar of the salve, which would have eased their discomfort a lot if he'd had enough!
kgreen20
Jul. 11th, 2016 03:27 am (UTC)
Where's a can of insect repellent when you need it?

I would absolutely HATE that! Mosquitoes and gnats are bad enough!


Edited at 2016-07-11 03:28 am (UTC)
silver_trails
Jul. 12th, 2016 12:13 am (UTC)
I can hear the insects making that sound now! (g)
periantari
Jul. 18th, 2016 02:15 am (UTC)
This is really good drabble series. Interesting to hear all their different point of views during this really difficult time.
Thanks!
hhimring
Jul. 21st, 2016 09:15 pm (UTC)
Poor hobbits, I feel so sorry for them! Not as terrifying as Black Riders, but such miserable discomfort!
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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