2011-04-24

The Little Ant with the Criminal Mind (10/22)

(10/22) He felt very lonely and isolated from the black ants, but this was normal for him as he had always felt very isolated and lonely while he lived among the red ants, supposedly his own kind.  He never felt that they were in fact his own kind – there was always something that had felt wrong.  The black ants had all sorts of rituals and customs, ways of touching antenae, set ways that they would chew dried aromatic mushroom fragments and then share them.  The smell of the black ant colony must be different, because the black ants themselves were different, and the aromatic herbs and other substances they gathered were different to what the red ants gathered, were different as well as the way in which they used them in the daily life of the colony.  The black ants did have a few things in commmon with the red ants, for example, they both gathered the pollen of flowers; although the flowers they gathered it from were different, and stored it up deep in the colony and deliberately kept it damp so it would ferment.  However, the red ants shared out the fermented pollen to workers at different times than the black ants.  Red ants who spent time collecting rubbish and dragging bodies and body parts out to the midden were allowed to have some fermented pollen by the sentry ants, while in the black ant colony they had slave ants to clear out the rubbish and the corpses, so they shared out the fermented pollen when ants came back from successful foraging expeditions smelling of certain plant resins.  The little ant had great difficulty in ascertaining all this because he had trouble reading the air and telling which smells were strongest when the ants seemed to be doing certain things, but through repeated observation he started to deduce them.  Also, as a foreigner, he was forgiven not understanding what was going on with the black ants or what smells and pheromones were driving them.  Some of these odors the little ant might have recognized while others would have been completely new and alien.  The black ants were a different species and they had different habits as to which aromatic plant fibers they collected and how they used them, but they were still ants and some things were similar.

(10/22 @ 10/21) His first thought when he saw the black carpet roiling and rolling towards him and the look of bewildered terror in the faces of his fellow gatherers was “Liberation!”  Their terror was his victory.  They were no longer smugly at ease in their staid routine of the colony into which they so smoothly and effortlessly fit while he agonized over every step and was in constant deathly fear of mortal retribution should he ever make what amounted to a mistake.  No, in this moment they stood side by side as ever, but this time it was he who was at ease and they who gaped in near-paralytic terror in anticipation of what the next moment might bring, near-frozen in the mortal decision of whether to turn and flee wildly or to stand their ground.  He felt justified, vindicated.  It was not he who was [awry?] – he had merely not yet found his element.  He had merely been out of his element.  The tables were now turned.  But was he, too, to be slain alongside his terror-stricken fellows during this his moment of release, victory, and clarity?  If so it was a small price to pay, in any case.  His manic brain closed in on this moment, past, future, details that were beyond his immediate control in this turgid present, all fading away instantly like stones rolled over a cliff into a fog.  The black ants were larger, advancing in a steady line, with clumps of them stopping to deal with resistance, which they seemed to do promptly – heads and abdomens snipped off by their relentless jaws.  The line would sweep over his position in just moments.  He looked about the ground quickly, he had only a few seconds before the wave would break over him, and picked up a small seed to carry and then turned away from the advancing line of black ants and then thinking better of it turned sideways to the line of their advance.  Thinking, “See, I’m no threat, just carrying food, not hiding anything, not attacking, not running” and and that he would neither be advancing nor retreating and his whole body would be visible to the charging line of black ants.  The line broke over him like a rush of black armor and noise, a few crawling over him with a quick yet firm push downwards on his body.  No one attacked him.  He continued with his hastily-hatched plan, occasionally allowing himself to reflect on how his fellow red ants were no doubt even now being ravaged and slaughtered wholesale.  This continued for some time, he began to grow tired and rather warm and in his manic brain time began to expand outward again and he began to think and worry about what exactly might happen next.

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