Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Ant-Hating Ant-eater

The following is my 'homework', assigned to me by the Writer's guild I meet with monthly. The criteria was a story about an anteater who couldn't stand ants.
(once again, blog format has forced me to use double returns instead of indents. sorry)

“FLEE!” Antonio screamed to the others near the exit of the hill. “The serpent returns!” It had been almost half a moon since the serpent had attacked. Many of Antonio's closest friends had been taken that day. Antwon, Anthony, even dearest Aunty Antonella, among countless others were pressed between the serpent's sticky body and the tunnel walls, only to find themselves helplessly stuck to the serpent as it retreated.

Beyond all the rest, the soul-shredding shriek of his true love Antoinette had haunted him the worst, keeping him awake far more often than even memories the slim, sticky serpent itself. Antoinette had been crushed by a cave-in during the attack, but lived long enough to have her dying body dragged out of the hill by one of the serpent's many strikes.

And now it was back. Antonio was ready for it. The others laughed when he trained for combat, laughed as he taught himself to stand on only four legs, so that he could wield a sharp twig as a weapon. “Come, monster! By Antoinette, I will SLAY you this day!”


Ack. That was even worse than the last time, two weeks ago. The little buggers taste like shit, and as insane as it sounded, Herbert would swear that one of the brainless twerps was trying to stab his tongue with a tiny stick or something. Herbert was grateful for that in an way. Even a stick tasted better than any ant.

Putrid little things. A couple months ago, Herbert had found a great source of termites. They had some real flavour! After the big rainstorm, the wood's subtle taste almost marinated them alive. Even 'untreated', the termites were a welcome alternative to those dirt-dwelling little snots.
Unfortunately, the humans wanted to add their own spice to the termites. After wrapping the house in a huge tent, they pumped something into it. It was quite fatal to the termites. Herbert saw this as quite foolish. For one thing, it meant that the termites couldn't make any more termites. And after that, do you want to know how many termites the humans ate?


Not a single one.

Herbert had decided that he should gobble up as many as he could before they were wasted, but upon trying the first one, he found it to be quite inedible. He spent the next two hours dragging his tongue against the dirt, eating grass, anything to get rid of that taste. It was even worse than ants. This was likely why the humans didn't eat of the termites. They should have tried their spice on just a few of the termites before saturating them all with it.
Damn, humans are bloody idiots.

Herbert had, on occasion, been lucky enough to find a dead grasshopper. They're far too quick to catch live of course. They didn't taste all that amazing, but if he could choke it down, it would keep him going for a while without having to go back to an anthill.
Spiders were not an option Herbert liked that much. They usually sat in their webs. Have you ever tried to catch a spider with your tongue while it's in its web?. Don't.

This didn't seem like a life befitting him. His brother was happy sucking dirt for ants, and thought Herbert to be some kind of snob. Look at our bodies! Such a narrow nose, and such a large tail. Sometimes when he ran, Herbert felt like he was a living weapon. Zip! Zip! STAB! Take down an elephant, like a huge arrow!
Oh there's a lovely thought. Dislodging one's head from the side of a dead elephant.

Outcast from the other anteaters, Herbert trodded along aimlessly. Ahead, he spotted something he had never run across before. A farm. Around the side that faced him stood a modest fence. And inside? A group of fellow animals... of some kind. They were not much bigger than Herbert, but were hairless. They had pinkish skin, little twirly tails, and stubby snouts that looked entirely inadequate for eating. He walked up to the fence, and saw that some of them were eating from a trough in the middle of the yard. He called over to one who was standing near the fence.
“Hey. Hey pink thing! What are you?”
It snorted and looked over to Herbert. “I'm a capricorn, what the heck are you?”
“I'm an anteater. Technically. I'm kinda hungry though, would you mind if I came in there and had some of that capricorn food? What's in it?”
The capricorn furrowed his brow. “Corn, and...” he looked over to the trough for a moment, then back to Herbert. “Stuff.”
Stuff. That didn't sound too bad. Herbert fumbled his way between the widest gap in the fence that he could see, and stepped up for a taste. The other capricorns were staring at him, but they didn't seem to particularly mind that he was there. They'd warm up to him. This 'corn-and-stuff' wasn't too bad!

Once Herbert had his fill, he backed off, trying to decide what side of the fence he'd sleep on. Could this be his new home? Could these capricorns accept him as family, or was that just wild optimism?
Just then, he felt a sharp pain. Maybe he had gas, maybe the corn-and-stuff didn't agree with him. Maybe he was allergic. That would be so disappointing. Thankfully, he was not allergic to anything. Unfortunately, he coughed up blood. (and corn). And lots of both. He fell down, rolled onto his side, and as the capricorns looked on with curiosity, Herbert convulsed violently and gagged. His final breath came with one last sputter of blood, bile, and corn coming from both ends.

The capricorns stared silently. They stared at Herbert, they stared at each other, and they stared at the trough.

The silence was broken by a tiny sound from the mess around Herbert. A tiny movement, as a tiny black arm reached up holding a tiny sharp stick. Antonio the ant emerged. Antonio stood in this vast plain of blood, vomit and pig filth, surrounded by 'capricorns'. He dropped his tiny weapon and cried out, “Oh god, This is the light at the tunnel?!”

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