The Little Ant with the Criminal Mind (10/26)

(10/26)  Sometimes the little ant woke with a start from the same dream.  The ants without heads or without abdomens.  Bitten of by their fellow ants.  They were both equally horrible in their own way.  The headless bodies, no longer an individual – no more eyes, no more antennae to communicate with, the telling touch…gone…there no longer.  No more mandibles or jaws to eat with, to do useful work with.  Just a horrid thing – an ant reduced to a horrid, pathetic thing.  The abdomen amputees were horrid by their excess of expression and empathy than by their lack of it.  In the world of the colony, in the life of the colony, they seemed to be much rarer than the beheaded ones, of the ants who had gone mad because they had lost the pheromone picture.  They either retained their look of initial panic, now augmented by the realization of the loss of their abdomen and the death sentence that entailed, or they were eerily calm, seemingly oblivious and unaware of what had happened to them.

The little ant sometimes woke with a start from these dreams.  The mad ants with the severed abdomens, slowly dying buy some of them staring with the eerie calm look as though they might actually be aware of what was happening to them, what had happened to them.  They had lost the picture, lost contact with the air around them with the umbilical cord of pheromones that linked them blissfully to the colony itself and to their fellow ants.  They saw life and reality in its raw, unfiltered state and it had given them pause and the colony had noticed.  Life in the raw, where nothing had a name and everything was all just images, fragments of impressions, and all the warts and blemishes came out from the background to be seen beside everything else in all its horrid, bland mediocrity.  The abdomenless ones seemed transfixed by all of this.  They had the kind of look of placidity, not quite tranquility, that seemed like the slightest word or action would disturb it and they would begin screaming and flailing about like the other abdomenless ones, the ones who had more than they could take or accept.  The placid ones looked like they had accepted the world as the utterly horrid and ugly place that it was, accepted that death was the only logical choice, and they were now patiently, even welcomingly, waiting for it to come.

(10/26 @ 10/25) The little ant found escape from his troubles in the things that he and his fellow ants would bring back from their expeditions and errands out to the midden to take out the rubbish and the corpses from the black ant colony.  They were not strictly on foraging detail – the black ants did their own foraging for food and for structural materials.  The captive red ants also ate this food but it was strange and for them not as nourishing as the food to which they were accustomed at their onetime home in the red ant colony.  But the red ants got none of the non-food materials and substances which the black ants used to change and control the pheromones they emitted or the way that they felt about their colony, about each other, and about themselves.  These substances had little rituals, many of them, some involving as few as one ant, others involving whole groups.  The unfermented mushroom for example involved one or more ants chewing the mushroom fragments and regurgitating them into the center of a circle of ants who would all partake.

The little ant felt lonely being excluded from the rituals.  The captives were never invited for one, and it seemed that the substances that the black ants used and the way in which they used them might not work the same way on the red ants for another.  Finally, the red ant captives were not familiear with the rituals of marching to and fro and touching antennae thus and so, and the black ants were not about to teach them.  So the captives remained an isolated quasi-community.  Not a proper community in one sense in that they could not reproduce, having no queen, and unable to otherwise breed with one another or with the black ants, so they had no next generation onto which they could pass their traditions.  Next, they had no traditions to speak of since they were cut off from their colony and from one another by lack of a shared pheromone atmosphere.  The little ant wondered if he could do something about the second one at least.

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