There are times in life when being small helps. All his life El Peki, as he was now known, had wanted to be bigger, to be able to bring home more food when he went foraging with his colleagues, to stand out and be noticed in the thousands that comprised this army. Now was his chance to shine. His slight build had proved useful in being a scout, sneaking into places into which others couldn’t, and hiding from view more easily.
Now, today, was his time, his moment, his fifteen minutes of fame. From his hiding place below, he saw that the Guardian had left open the huge gates to the food store. He scuttled carefully forward to check. The smells from within made his nostrils twitch, and made his empty stomach ache, but he looked quickly, took in the scene and made off right away to summon the rest of the band. He saw the advance guard desperately searching for scraps in the sterile landscape, left barren by chemical warfare, and he hailed them. Almost immediately, he saw a couple of them break away from the line and scuttle back in the direction from which they’d come. They’d gone to summon the rest, so El Peki knew he could lead this smaller band to begin taking as much food as they could before the Guardian noticed the gate was open.
At the entrance to the enormous store they paused a second. It was huge. So huge they couldn’t really see the roof or the far wall, but there was no time to investigate. Time was of the essence. The food wasn’t piled up neatly, it was distributed around the space in seemingly random, small piles. It would take more of them to carry one pile though. He hoped the others would get here in time.
So intent was he, were they all, that the sudden, deafening clatter of a monstrous contraption landing on the smooth plateau just above them took away their breath, and then as they breathed in deeply their noses filled with the most enticing aromas they had ever experienced. It made them dizzy, so that the swoosh of the closing of the gigantic gate took them by surprise. “How could they have failed to post a guard?” he cursed. No telling how long they might have to wait until the gate opened again. They’d been watching for days now. Sometimes it seemed like a lifetime.
Then two things happened; an ear-splitting sound, a solid, reverberating clink or ping, one they’d heard before from their hiding place far away, followed by a blinding light, so bright they could see nothing. When the lethal vibrations began, they knew nothing, they were already half dead from fear and awe.
It must have been a couple of days later, when I came to clean out the microwave that I found a dozen or so bodies of those brave ant souls who had ventured after the crumbs of my exploding baked beans. That’ll teach ‘em I thought.
(With a nod in the direction of Dreamworks!!!! I never, ever see a rabbit without thinking of Watership Down, but Ants didn’t have quite the same impact on me! Have killed thousands this summer. There seems to have been a plague of them in the south of the island. Still, the other day I did think the one brave who was waiting to investigate the microwave!)