Colony CollapseLos Angeles Post-Examiner

Colony Collapse

Water everywhere. Unable to control the flooding.

With more rain on the way.

What is going on? Everything is changing. It’s hard to grasp just how much.

“How many?”

“Lost?”

“Yes, how many souls?”

“We’ve experienced what could be only described as ‘Colony Collapse.’”

“God help us.”

Nothing left. Nothing.

“We’ve sent out our best to scout. We thought we had something. A suitable habitat where we could build again. Even a source of nutrition. Nothing we’re really used to – but high in protein, probiotics and taurine.”

“Taurine?”

“It will have to do until we can begin establishing our crops and livestock.”

“All lost?”

“Yes.”

Something’s not right.

But it’s dry.

“What about the sun? Where’s the sun?”

“There’s light but it’s erratic. Not exactly shielded by clouds or growth, but something entirely different. Wavelength is all wrong. We’re also finding it’s only partially displaying the electromagnetic spectrum. We don’t believe it’s the sun. We don’t know what it is. But it’s light. When we do have what should be sun during regular intervals, it’s filtered in some way.”

“We’ll have to make do if we want to survive.”

“It gets worse.”

“Oh?”

“Some of our scouts are returning from the new site apparently running into some type of poison.”

“They’re dehydrated, disorientated and I believe delusional upon their return.”

“One of our best was trying to help a paralyzed individual and said he watched as some huge fleshy monster towered over him – and flattened his partners almost instantly, then wiping them away with some foreign material.”

“That certainly sounds delusional.”

“Except it may be true. We’ve had piles of our dead, withered, disfigured, writhing in pain, present at the entrance to the habitat site only to be disappeared as if swept away by some unseen force.”

“Where is this?”

“We don’t exactly know.”

“All we know is that it’s dry and we can survive here.”

“Are you sure? We seem to be losing our battle not only against the environment but something else.”

“I don’t want to believe there’s some monster out there wanting to do us harm.”

“You may have to if you want to survive.”

“Have you reached out to some of the other colonies?”

Silence.

“You know they’re all highly competitive, as are we, and under normal circumstances would have nothing to do with us. If anything they would be in direct conflict with us, vying also for limited resources. However, we received a few panicked distress calls before they went silent. We envision the worse”

“What do you expect?”

“Wait. What was that?”

“I have no idea, but it apparently doesn’t even see us.”

“Some massive furry beast just suddenly leapt up into that artificial construct housing where we hope to establish our colony.”

“Granted, this tested nearly perfect as a habitat for the establishment of our new home”

“Now I have my doubts. The beast, it appears to be thrashing everything about and disturbing that which we just built, then burying something in its place.”

“Burying?”

“Some type of deposit.”

“And it stinks”

“Our sensors indicate it has the same nutritional content as the food source you spoke of.”

“You didn’t say it stunk.”

“The survival of The Colony is at stake here. We can’t exactly be foodies or rudimentary connoisseurs here when our very existence is on the brink.”

“Here, try this. It’s some of another food source I found at a repository of some type that appears to be stationed about near the habitat.”

Passing it among themselves, they continue.

“It appears the beast has left the area where we have been building and once again has not noticed our presence. Unlike the fleshy monster it hasn’t taken a disdain against us.”

They fully ingest the substance, satiated.

“It’s sweet and a little bitter at the same time.”

“Without really having to say so, I think Mikey likes it.”

“Please,” the elder cautions.

With one of his six appendages raised.

They begin to shake and contort.

“I can barely move. What’s happening to us?”

I came back home and turned on the light.

The welcoming committee was there to meet me: Eleanor and Frida. Frida as usual brushed against me exclaiming something that was bothering her, besides me, being away with work. She covered my pant leg with fur.

Eleanor looked at me and ran off. Normal.

The unwelcoming committee was probably what Frida was referring to and I hope I got them before they really took over.

The litter stunk as usual.

It had been raining for days with regional flooding and road closures everywhere on my way in. Wet clothing hung about, unsuccessfully attempting to dry after hiking, cycling over the weekend and helping someone I knew with water pouring into her basement from a damaged gutter along the roofline where a tree had hit.

There they were.

Some were still alive.

They congregated right before the litter box attempting to get into the sandy material, much like the hills they build, but they were far too weak.

I got a hand broom, swept them up and put them in the trash.

Hopefully I had enough baits scattered about with poison around and they get the idea.

A couple times they crawled across me as I attempted to sleep in my bed. Running across me and I squashed them only to be bit. That was my line drawn in the sand. At first, I thought it was a tick and I held the menacing creature against my body, turned on the light, picked it carefully away, still holding it between my forefingers, only to find an angry ant. An ant! A good sized one, at that, looking back at me. Shiny, impervious to light, alien or machine. Its exoskeleton hard and impenetrable. Its jaws moving, its head rolling, either trying to attack or communicate at a frequency I could not hear.

“The monster! The fleshy monster! It has me in its grips!”

I climbed downed the steps and opened the kitchen drawer, got out some baits I had left from the last time.

I put a couple out, all that I had left, and had my first pile of dead before the litter box. Dead at the bottom of the stairs, to the attic bedroom, the next morning. Frida could care less and hopped up into the box to relieve herself. I went from defense to a full out war with more baits I bought, as I found them elsewhere, as I sit reading, listening to shortwave, watching something on Netflix or Prime. Making espresso.

Dragging their dead away that I had either squashed, inadvertently stepped on or poisoned. Why can’t they just stay outside? Or help with the cleaning around this place? I know the ground is totally saturated and cold weather approaches but they’re not welcome. Not if they’re just running around, staring at me. And biting.

Stay away.

JFC.

It’s not over.

But hopefully, I’m winning the battle.

One just now ran across my foot. Just now. I slammed it into the afterlife with a few hard steps against the rug. I picked it up with a paper towel.

Eleanor looked down at me from a high perch shelving next to an old radio, disturbed, and Frida ran off thinking my slamming my foot was about her.

But the ants, what can they be thinking?

More poison. More poison.

When you have lemons, make lemonade; when you have ants, rid yourself of them if you can and write a story.


About the author

Jeff Worman

Jeff Worman lives in Walworth County, Wisconsin where there is water and a crisp, cool night sky conducive to the creative process. He has been drawing and writing since he was able to hold a pencil in his hand. Worman started out as a high school intern at the Bugle-American, an alternative newspaper in Milwaukee, and was a founder and long standing contributor to the Crazy Shepherd which emerged from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and is published currently as the Shepherd Express. Worman’s column The Hourly Why was conceived in 1982, published broadly in underground newspapers over the decades and can be found online today at www.thehourlywhy.com. He also channels his signature character Deke Marler who hosts Music Time USNA (United States of North America), a radio show from the future, spinning ads for hovercrafts and brain implants, traffic reports between earth and sister colonies, with interstellar news and weather. Blues jams with musicians from his neck of the woods feature Worman on the harmonica and, on occasion, his parodying lyrics. In addition to cartooning, illustrating and reporting, Worman serves as secretary of Kettle Moraine Community Broadcasting, which is home to WFAQ-LP-FM, 101.3 Mukwonago and wfaq.com. He has a great love of the outdoors and champions charities by riding those long distance centuries on his road bike to raise funds. Contact the author.
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