We used to have such high expectations for the end of the world. That people would find eternal peace in heaven, and that the planet would be returned. I look at this bulbous earth now - pumped full of sertraline and burger cheese =and … maybe our misconception was that there would be an end of the world, rather than a happening which has been happening for a very long time. The ending of the world (so my ending is my beginninging.)
The sun was dipping down through refracted transparent skyscrapers, like an egg being pushed through clingfilm, seeming to sometimes bounce back up. When the anthros started realising that they were fucked, havok ensued and the streets were littered with the debris of the apathetic revolution, loftily lifting whatever they could off the shelves. Perishables were the first things to be seen go to ‘waste’(a human term with no conviction), streets painted yellow with the smashed yolks of a million stars, a cruel painting of the universe above. ‘Supernova soup?’ we ask up, and we see if we can even hear the stars cough through the smog.
Everything seems to be happening in slow motion, the dropping of the egg, the chucking of the egg. Our colony flocked through the eggs, like our Queen when she is choosing which to fertilise(♀️) and which to not(♂️), apart from in this scenario we were all queens. But who are we kidding, the power of the crown holds its grip far greater than the throes of nature,and we are more RuPaul than Elizabeth, so we feast in our giddy short-lived decentralised monarchy then return to the nest.
The nest has its arms up in the air. Some of the workers have claimed that they’ve found chemical-soil. Pesticides were genetically mashed with lots of the last of the monocrops, plumpy and voluptuous vegetables impervious to the mandible of the ant or the stoma of the nematode, snorting the nutrients out of the ground like line after line after line after line and it broke. Soil depleted eyes roll back, everyone croaks. Most of the vegetables rotted down, leaving sticky puddles of fertlisers and pesticides, even in the humans last gasps they curse us, tendencies towards a scorched-earth. We are unknown of the repercussions of this patch, as it seems that different pools have different effects. We have encountered ones that kill, or torture, or even some that drive psychoactive tendencys; that bewitch or turn to maddness or even inspire suicidal or cannibalisitc tendencies. These workers said they didn’t spend the time trying to work that part out, but that this was the fourth one we had found this week, and that evidently we must migrate. The Queen was falling sick, and could not provide the answers or direction to our questions, and the princess ants (those whose eggs were fed protein rich diets to allow them to mature sexually) were soon to be rearing their heads, but until that point there was no help from them either.
“We have lost hundreds to these toxins” said Gwendo, her voice rising above the heaves of the mass. “ How many more must we lose? We will not survive if we stay narrowed in these burrows, we must move to the wildlands in the east. I fear these ex-intensive-agro plains will all be the same.’’
“But the Queen, and the princesses,” retorted Eedie “they will surely not survive such disturbances. And if we lose them, we will have no more eggs, no more pupae, and no more nest. And the Auntz, those who have never left them tunnels. Their eyes are weaker and their senses less developed to the tribulations of the outside. We must wait!”
The crowd was heaving, clicks and complaints and tchktchktchks throbbing as different groups expressed their discontents. Lots of ants had close friends who had lost close ones, and all the hive were from the same Queen, so loss, although inevitable, was family and to be avoided if possible. The noise was doing my head in though, and arguments could take several days, so I decided to scutttttle out through the crowd, and wound out to one of the lips of the nest. The mouth looked out across the city. Where it sat had previously been called Blythe Hill, although the necessity for the all green space to be reallocated as arable and productive farmland renamed the spot p4sHC. It wasn’t called anything anymore though. I could hear the buzzing of carrion flies around, and the stench of the decaying flesh. Hope its not me + Delicous. Heading out to find a morsel I followed my nose through the dry & arid land. A piece of plasticy-laminated paper offered alternative underfoot; i skittered - a MadMax ballerina across the printers ice. It had torn edges, soft and velvetly, high cotton count. The image was not complete, but had on it a group of laughing children dancing around an orange sun(?). An arrow of golden light was shooting from the highest point of the orange ball. On it was wrote (although the message was muddled so forgive my translation) ‘n3w fr*mqk1ns. th3 j*ci3zt g0*rdz 0n th3 BL0K’. A quick gust of wind hit a raised corner and sent the paper seismic, so i got off it. Where was that meat?
The carnival of capitalism had resulted in moving strangers in strangers circles. The white elite had locked themselves within the confines of the metropolises, stockpiling HydroCarbons and importing in exchange for the oil-y currency. The humans had created cultures in which them, as individuals and as societies, were completely dependent on the black gold ripped from beneath the crust, and once that amenity had been retracted, after it was all they knew, violence was the only response (to be able to guarantee the safety of yourself, your family, your nation). The ones who had it kept it under high security, and the impetroverished lived in the cracks, some in groups, some autonomous. Slowly eating through the canned goods. Digging out private gardens to find any soil that retained any softness anywhere. There were whispers in the winds of smaller systems where people had constructed Boho utopics and retaught themselves in the lost knowledge of non-fossil-fuel based technologies, but that future was nowhere to see on this bleak and sunkissed horizon.
The Queen had arose from her daily 9 hour slumber. Her head held heavy as she slowly flicked her antennae around the room. The chamber had a wide floor and steep, curved walls that billowed up and around and then back down again, sonic the hedgehog meeting eggman mycorrhizae. it swelled like the belly of a ship, and to complete the fractured ribcage there lay the skull of a small mammal (pine martin, or rat, or mink). The skeleteon lair used to represent the glory of death, but in recent times it all seemed a bit more foreboding. Her antennae moved like fingers; drowsily carressing and sensing the surroundings, but their speed was not mere response to the awakening body. Since the ScorchedEarth had been spreading, the ants had had to travel further and further to find different organic matter, and the stocks were dwindling. Every day ants dropped, and every day the Queen moved slower. Many other species which used to navigate in the same spaces had receded, the juicy worms had turned minky, and had wormed there way to the verges. The mycelium which used to provide grand networks throughout the earths was bearing thin and stringy, american style cheesestrincyleium. Leah, one of the Queens aides, wafted between her legs as she pushed herself to standing.
“I can’t do this for much longer,” the Queen confided to Leah. Her funiculi held lackluster, her voice limp. Leah held her head, compacting the soil from where the Queen had lifted herself. “Never before in my fifteen years have i felt so strained. i am not well, truly. The brood must work strong and hellfast, but if i croak… what will become? Without me to lay the pupae, no-one will be able to eat? The nest will lose direction and slowly starve to death. Our castle to our catacomb.”
“You have years in you yet” Leah retorted, “ your mother before lived 24, hers 22. Our nest may be struggling, but we are ants. We know how to thrive. And we musn’t forget, tragedy has befallen before. As soon as i was communicating i was learnt in the truimphs of your reign, the Chlorothalonil insectocide of the late teens of the millenia, the ploughings of when you were in your early years. We have adapted, and our faces may change, but adversary is not unfamiliar in our worlds. We need to stay strong, find a new safehold, prepare the new Queens to continue the legacy.”
“My child, beefing with your mother is like beefing with yourself. This is unlike what i have seen before. I have felt every seismic shake of lighting that strikes this land. Just yesterday, i counted 33 000 bolts. The strikes strike through my body too, each one shooting through my exoskeleton . Moisture used to hang rich in the air, but now i wake with a dry throat. The arid desertification sees no closure. We can see, wait out and risk slowdeath, or meet death head on. i yearn for the comfort of old, but fear we must relocate, and this journey will prove arduous and many will be lost. We must send out a group to scout the localities. To find companionship in other nests, and to see if anywhere is possible.”
An order was sent out to bring together a team throughout the colony. It spread quickly, and within hours the gossips and devotees had sprung from the soils. The envoy were mainly from the latter, bar a few gossips in it for the kicks. Most of the volunteers stemmed from the Foodie division, for these sisters felt most comfort with the outside. They held an allure of mystery, and often returned from their outings with stories which satiated the honey-eyed of the brood. Everyone knew though that the experiences of any such ant was vital to the livelihood of the others, so bar a self imposed narcissism of cultural capital their knowledge of the upper levels made them not a po(o)pulist choice but one of rational reason. The seduced too stood, hungry to the tales of the outsides, and the bereaved, those that felt they had little to lose, or an anger needed to direct.
Attempting to avoid the mass deemed impossible, as the inquisitivity carried a Japanese Knotweed-esque invasivity. Excluding the party leaving, word had whipped round of the potential nest relocation, and beside excitement came then fear of causation and a preemptive flurry of what-to-dos and when-to-do-it-bys. Conspirator whispers of “we need system change” undercut the collective passive hunger for shift. Slipstreaming through the flurry currents, i accidently found myself at the front of the chamber. Leah was stood, bearing the voice of the crown, and alongside her the sisters who had put themselves forward to embark on the scout. Attempting to be invisible, i kept my head low to the ground. The group consisted of Eedie and Gwendo, the two ants above the masses from early in the text (Eedie a Foodie and Gwendo the finest TechTinkerer in the hive), NoNut Bugle who was the only male active in brood matters because of his celibacy, which also meant he had wings, and a few others of whom i was less familiar.
“We walk these paths for the good of all !” shouted Eedie who had a bit of a careerist streak in her, throwing an ant-y fist into the air. The hordes gathered clicked and cheered in appreciation. “We will return with knowledge of green pastures with lots of detritivores and capacity to sustain healthy life!” she shouted again, losing a bit of the snappy-ness of her earlier sentiment but still the ants ate it up. The envoy took to leave, to the stamping of 30,000 tiny feet, all calling and sending spirit of good cheer.
i tried not to engage, the macrorelations of these micro folk tended to get on my tiny tits and a day of bug carpentry had zapped the energy from me. i strolled to the feeding bays and licked some sugary secretions from one of the pupae. Leah was at a bay stockpiling glucose to return to the Queen.
“How’s the Queen?” i inquired
“Not great,” Leah responded, “she’s strong of mind, but her engagement with these passings is much deeper than i can comprehend. She feels deeper the movements of this planet, remember she has been the queen for our maternals and their maternals and their maternals before. Change to her is not abnormal as it is to us. But she says this time feels different. i haven’t seen her like this before.’’
“Yeah, i remember my maternals speaking tales of their grandmaternals, of droughts and shortages. The heydays of moving the hill, changing from leisure land to community farm, and then the onslaught from the move towards automation and heavily leaded soils. Scary Queeny says this is different…”
“Can you not feel it too? I know we are not a restless fxlk, but still there is an edge of agitation in the nest. Seems to be rustling like bees moreso than ants; and when ants be acting like bees you know somethign’s getting stung. it’s been hard these recent years. We used to be full and plump and round, our digger ants have been able to reduce the size of our tunnels because we have grown frail.These catacombs are difficult to navigate, even with our queen it still takes long to spread word, and i suppose we are a species without so much fear of death, but still so much death not in our control is pulling on the tiny heartstrings of my tiny heart. My fear is that there is something terrible happening outside these walls, and unfortunately our species has not in present or recent past been very responsive or in dialogue with the outsiders since the late Carboniferous and early Permian periods, and if anything the overzealousness of our aphrodite plumpness back in those days merely inspired the fast track developments of our bird brained predators who keenly wolfed up our curvy cretaceous’ ancestors.’’
Another developer, Carly (who held a special developer role as the builder tinkerer), scattled through the entrance. “Leah, something wackys happening in the soapbox, you’re gonna wanna come.”
Back in the nest the soapbox shouting had receded. There was a slow buzz( bee coded) and my head bobbed through the lazy crowd like bodies suffocated in water. The brood was strangely anxious, quiet. Murmurs (crow coded) spreading on the wind channels of whispers “whats happening” “move out the way” “i can’t see” “you’re knocking me” “whats that light”. Hundreds of tiny heads bobbed up and down in the central hall in a circular fashion, all facing into the centre, from which softly pulsated an amber glow. i slowly pushed my way through to the front, where Leah was peering forwards. There was a giant spheric globule of some gelatinous liquid. Milky veins marbled the translucent surface, drifitng across as the separation of Pangea separated land. On the underside glew from beneath ‘Am i not the most generous parent who feeds her children with her own meat?’
“U got any clue whats happenin here?’ i asked Leah. i turned my head towards her as hers to mine. Her funiculus appeared to be blowing in the breeze, even though the air was static, and the glow danced over her frontal carina creating convexing and concaving spins of light. “Whats inside that thing?”
“It’s the Queen. Well...the Queen’s inside it.She started blobbing, 6 sleep cycles ago so it hasn’t been going on for very long. i don’t think anyone knows what is happening yet. it seems as if she has forced herself into some sort of metamorphosis state, a reversion to pupae form, our lives our short, and hers is long. But i have never heard of an act such as this before, and unfortunately our lack of posable thumbs or developed methods of documentation prevent me from knowing if this has had reiterations in history.”
“Oh world, of all the times to choose. How could a divine creator be so cruel?” Leah said, she spoke solemnly into the chamber “Enfys, do you not see? What if she doesn’t awake? If our nest has no-one to lay eggs, to grow into larvae, to produce our foods. It is with utmost haste that we must act, either we must premature one of the princesses, or send out for help. If not we will starve to death here, and we will lose the path.”
Leah’s exclamations had been heard by neighbouring ants, and the message quickly made itself around the hall. Shouts ensued “We need a Queen”, “what shall we do?” bounced around the room. Almost instantaneously the crowd had retorted to what must only be known as its comfortable state, the state of clutter, although never before had these insects been proposed the idea that they had to perceive themselves as autonomous individuals who must continue to exist, as beings with a future rather than a present. This was the new clutter of disorganised tongues and existentialist dread :)
Disrepair settled upon the nest like a dam of porridge and tar opening its floodgates and lolling down the hillside, a Versailles of apathetic proportions. The slow mouth to arse communications curtailed into exotic varieties of splendour, from an almost instant rejection to monarchic control (spearheaded by social media freakos) to whispers of the Queen’s gelatinous slumber paving the way for her a metamorphosis resulting in a hyper butterflant. You see, for ants the death of a queen is EVEN more siginificant than the passing of a monarch is to humans. The queen is the provider of eggs for the nest, during her nupital flight she procreates with potentially hundreds of male ants flying in the air. The Queen flies to the ground, where she loses her wings and begins to start her nest, and can keep producing eggs from that isolated orgy for up to 30 years! The male ants fall to the ground and (seeing as they exerted all their energy (one pump chump)) keel and die. The queen is then the sole provider of eggs for the nest, and when she passes there is no one to continue laying eggs. Ants have an itty bitty waist (classified as hymenoptera alongside wasps & bees), and their stomachs r in their abdomen after the waist. SO, to eat food they have to bite chunks of munch and chew it and go and place it on the babies who are larvae and have thick and voluptious bodies, who eat the solids and digest it and then release sticky secretions of protien rich juices which the ants will eat from the bodies of the larvae. As the queen stops being able to provide eggs for the hillock, the exsting larvae would develop into ants and no new eggs would be being born, the digestable food rations would dwindle and the colony would slowly starve. There was a general rifling in the air - it seemed group direction was as much informed by location rather than shared political underlyings. As with all civilised society, once the dogmatic rule of order fell, people were bereft with direction, and conspiracy swanned its white wings across the nest, cracking with its orange beak at geographic pressure points. Ants in catacombs 1604-1649 had entered into the thought that they didn’t need a queen, and there soap box style of communications reverberated through the chambers with clicks of “ANTiMORARKEE NOW”, intellectual debate on how to constructively oust a regal using forms of non-violence and embodying the change they wanted to see before they set out to enforce it in wider society. The proliferations of these messages started the splintering of hundreds of crews into smaller liberatory/democratic sects, the rise of the Ant Liberation Front (a.l.f) in catacombs 1800-1894, environmentalist insurgency groups based in deep ecology who shared the queens concerns for the encroachment of depleted soils combined with a biodynamic philosophy, and as the waves got further and further from the source ants engaging in hedonistic ayahuasca ceremonies with fire poi and diablos cartwheeling around in a celebration for the end (through love).
i walked through this final scenario and looked around at my sisters donned in holi powder (assuming) and thwomping around to some early century D&B pumped through a mini minirig sound system , and marvelled at the speed people were responding to our current affairs. Another sister, Miriam had renamed herself AntontheDecks and had taken her comfortable seat behind the mixing table. Walking over to her, i competed with her Amy Winehouse bassline remix “yo mimz! You heard any updates on the crew that went out earlier? Its been a while and no new news!”
“Na baby. Since the queeny hit the slumber button i just been spinning these belters and working these cracks out my joints. Nothing like a bit of R&R while the powers that be are out the picture.”
“She’s been out for like 4 hours and everyones cranking up the havoc…”i started but was cut off
“This aint just cos queenys down under darling. These leggy ladies been yearning for a party for weeks now, no foraging, no lush undergrowth, gotta have that clean mind 2 work in these conditions. We only offering an alternative, space for ppl to be themselves. In the words of Queen Marie ANToinette, LET THEM EAT CAKE(crumbs)!”
Not sure if i felt satiated with them answers or not, i scattered out the hippydrome through anonymous catacombs. To be fair, the majority of people dotting around walked heads hung solemnly, guess any ray of bright would be helpful in these dark times. There's the situational darkness, the overbearing situation or the happening, but what seemed more depressing was the reflection of that in everyone's flows, conversation started ear achingly circling where people were unable to converse of anything but a bleak future, funiculi were lolling low. There were utopian whisperings of developmental surrogacy tactics, democratising child bearing labour and opening up scientific impregnation chambers to spur the egg production to venture new possibilities of a life beyond the queen. You would be forgiven for underestimating the technological developments deployed throughout the nest-works, but many techno-utopian futures had already been played out throughout history (you may recall that us ants started cultivating aphids before you humans cultivated corn). Within the macabre ebbs and flows of the commons of doom there fosters an undercommons of emancipated gleeful aftermath. i continued my stroll as the group underfeet began to shift, the stepped earth began to follow tiny and intricate grooves and recesses, leading me walking left right and all over the place, until the ground started replicating a miniature cobblestone street (compressed grout, fluffed stone).
The cavern opened up to some Portobello road simulacrum, high ceilings with dotted holes filtering light into the space which wavered with the passing of clouds, and milleniants do-si-doing loftily and sat brunching on mini mud stools littered on the extremities of the space. There was the attempt at cultivating some micro herbs and flowers in tiny clay flowerpots along the sides, raised beds. Green shoots are just coming through (wheatgrass grows fast, and when you’re smaller things grow quicker). Brunch hedonists were engaging in passive conversations (“i might give birth i’ve had so many mimosas”), the liberal hipster facade an obvious front to an apolitical response to the rising discourse in the anthill. The saccharin sweetener-ness of it all left a cavity in my teeth. A voice bellowed through the speaker systems (tunnel channels too small for an ant but the perfect size for an ant’s voice).
“All ants awake please congregate in the central hall” Leah’s voice echoed through vaults.
“Dear all. Thank you for convening. You may know of me, you may not. i am Leah, and have been working as the queens aide and caregiver to the royal eggs since i was young. We are entering unsure times, the queen has taken dormancy, and the land which we are sat upon is failing us. As of yet we are unsure if this is a response of our mistreatment, or an ailment that is beyond our powers…
In the last few hours i have watched the hillock avalanche towards the ravine. Instant signs of disintegration have sprung around the nest. Is it not at a time like this where we must be the most united?”
“We are fighting the unknown of death! What use is order then?” a voice retorted from the crowd, met with jeers of agreement from the mass
“Death?? We have been 5 hours without the queen! Not one of us sisters can determine at this point of time if we shall die or live! For centuries our kind has took death on headfirst, and won. Death to the shoe that crushes our spine! Not an acceptance of our fate at such untold times.”
A member of the group i assumed must’ve been a.l.f or one of the technosurrogacy groups piped up “maybe we prefer without totalitarian rule! Dependency on one individual makes us more volatile”
“I am not opposed to progressive alternatives. i only mean to say that we cannot afford at time like these too -”
She was cut off by heightened murmurs and cascades of wails (communal remorse) starting to roll across the bobbing posteriors. The group parted like Moses cutting a slice from a wheel of camembert, quietly and with an undertone of guilt and excitement. Heading the entering group was Gwendo, followed closely by NoNut Bugle who was normally seen flying above to rub it in but today walked with his wings trailing on the floor behind him. The group who had left to assess the outside had returned, although the numbers seemed significantly dwindled. My eyes flickered over to catch eyes with Eedie, who was walking solemnly behind, and i felt gratitude that she had returned (pigheaded but good hearted).
Gwendo took the centre. “What happened?” the masses decried.
The group had headed north, towards the city center, scouting for some ecological diversity or sense of other life. The floor was dust, deep red covering the concrete streets, with cracks through the concrete and dark green vines the girth of a coke can extending through, with engorged orange growths extruding at intermittent points . All terrestrial life was quiet, birds in distance and essence of human eyes peering through windows, or slumped on street. Bugs scarce.
They’d been walking down bereft boulevard, dust picking up at their boots. Imagine spaghetti western vibes, but with TFL logos (still flickering) crunched on the floor and crisp packets replacing tumbleweed. Group moves slowly as carrying larvae to have portable snacking devices so dont have to return to the nest for few days. Still need to feed these blobby fuckers tho so constantly on lookout for bits of grub. Anyhows, the group was worming directions through different parklands, through blythe hill to ladywell along a stream that ran salmon red with run offs from the weakened topsoils.
An argument had ensued over whether they should head west, towards heightened suburbia and the city, or east, which appeared more of the same but maybe a few days extra travel would result in the edge of the city.
“We have been sent to find information of other nests and networks and survival strategies. Anyone sane would have relocated to the east, outside this urban sprawl.”
“You forgot that a third of this city is made out of natural space, just isolated from other human touch. And all the delicious saturated fats and sweet and sticky icecreams” memories sprung in alls eyes of them hot summer days when a child's wail would signify the ice-cream avalanche and could gorge for days. They were delirious from the long arid journey and food rationing. Continuing north (the only direction they could agree on, as south was back home, and they weren’t that finished yet) they pulled round a bend towards what was formerly known as Lewisham High Street.
“WTF?” exclaimed eedie, her youthful 20/20 vision outperforming her elders. About 20m down the road, in the middle of the street sat a giant ant hill, perhaps 70cm high. Bodies of the littered dead lay motionless randomly around and on the hill. “what do you thinks happened?”
NoNut Bugle took to the air to take a birds eye look. The group approached as he rose higher. As he rose, he began to see streams of smashed asphalt leading towards the hillock from leaving veins in the road. The nest seemed horrifically swollen at the base, supports bursting forward. A bloodshot iris staring up into the empty sky.
The wind was absent and the air hung thick like custard. The crew reached the bottom of the anthill, weaving their ways around the shells of the outcast dead. “So many people died here, lost without a cause” Gwendo muttered to herself.
“Guys, come round here, theres something u gotta see” NoNut Bugle shouted from the other side of the mound. They rounded the hill as NoNut Bugle feet touched soil.
“Fucking hell” breathed Eedie
Cut into the back of the hill was a gigantic orange orb, a sun that sat on the street, matt and static but reverberating as if slowly breathing. Its deep orange skin was peeled back to reveal a pale orange flesh. Looked as if ravaged by giant rats or humans, clubby mittens had clawed and scratched through the top layers digging a cavernous hole. Lay inside the cave with smears of orange liquid around the mouth, was an ant the size of a domestic cat, lifeless like the others as if the puppeteer had released the marionette from its strings and gifted to gravity.
“It looks almost as if its been sedated, intoxicated” Gwendo muttered. She strolled towards it to closer inspect. She climbed over bamboo pole size legs to the abdomen and pressed her body against, searching for vibrations from the dorsal aorta. “Never before have i seen anything even close to this size. I mean i have heard of the ancient queen, Titanomyrma lubei, competing with the scale of a hummingbird, but this is obscene. Her aorta has no beat. She doesn’t look like a queen, more a worker… what could've happened?”
Before anyone had a chance to respond, a black car with tinted windows revved down the street. It screeched to a halt 10 meters from the mound. The doors opened and 4 figures stepped out onto the street, and started pacing towards the globe. The ants scattered and fled to the side of the road, keeping fearful distance. Hid behind a leaf (an act ants rarely engage in) they watched as the strange things got close.
“This ones ruined” it said, with a finger swiping the lip of the scratched opening. “Get the pump”
2 of the figured retrieved a strange large cylinder with a pole from the bottom from the car. They walked back to the globe, and pushed the pole (similar to a wasps sting) into one of the mustard veins coming breaking from the pavement. The vein throbbed as something was pushed into the ground, slowly speeding up is reverberations. It sped to the point where its outline turned from solid into blurred line, then fell dormant. Without a second’s break, the vein exploded (without bursting). Concrete was flung in2 the air, Shai-Hulud snaking towards where the ants were laid.
“EVERYONE GET DOWN!” Gwendo shouted as tarmac exploded around them.
When they came to from the earthquake, they arose in a new environment. Brick and mortar piled high around, a new urban citadel. Light flickered through gaps in the crackled-boulder roof, her fingers stroking the extremities of this new space. Eedie lifted her head from the settling dust, her eyes taking a moment to readjust to the new lighting. Blurring her eyes landed on a flittering body, pearlescent and refracting the light in a way which assumed the light to be positively prancing from the thing . Two large frills gracefully wept, just enough to keep airborne. The being turned its head and looked Eedie in the eyes. Eedies voice flooded with chorus of voices of hummingbirds and ladybirds and grasshoppers, “we, your apostle, we are apostle, we are your apostle”. A rustling started out of shot, and the thing flicked its head (startled?), then turned and lifted from the room and out the mouth of the ceiling. Eedie shook her head, still discombobulated from the explosion
“Weird” she thought 2 herself. Lifting her body from the wobble-rubble, she turned to see two other sisters, Molly and Kant 15 ant bodies distance away (10cm). “You girls alright?” she called down. They both bobbed their noggins in agreement. “U see that thing?” They bobbled their heads horizontally (no). Wiry caverns and tunnels snaked through the rubble fortress. None of the rest of the crew could be seen in their opening. Without their scent trails, there was not an obvious way of regrouping. A faint cry for help bounced through the tunnels. “Gwendo” Eedie exclaimed. The three lifted their bodies and scuttled towards the source of the noise.
“Feels like we never get out of these anthills. Leave for few days and a new one forms around us” muttered eedie as they scuttled. Scuttle scuttle scuttle. Gwendo was racing up and down a steep face.
“There's no way through! i heard sisters shouting on the other side, then another crash, and i can’t hear them anymore.” if she had any hair she would’ve pulled it all out. “i understand our lives are dispensable, but we were close. Not to mention that our larvae pods are on the other side of this sheet! We will no longer be able 2 continue without them!”
Her tiny feet rained across the cliff. Patter patter patter. The tarmac had been folded like a malicous god peeling the leaves of the earth and crudely yet delicately prising them into an origami cube. “What evil goddess would block our heroes in its mobius strip cage with no throughway into the next anonymous opening?” the sisters thought.
After hours of pacing the ravine, attempting to find passage, the gang decided that the passage wasn’t happening. With no food supply, they left, defeated...
“We found NoNut on our return out the caves,” Gwendo aimed at Leah but to everyone simultaneously, “a piece of flying debris clipped his left wing, it should be fine in time, but no flying now”. NoNut stood solemn.
“That sounds horrible. i apologise that you had to go through it. Did u see any signs of thriving? Of happy life?
“All barren. Well barren in spirit. No healthy soils, no plump grasses, no freshly dropped ice creams… all that lay is the aftermath of the petrol stomp romp.”
“i saw something,” chimed Eedie, “a fairy. i wasnt sure what she was, or even if she was, but she looked at me and winked.”
“Don't be childish, there was nothing” started Gwendo
“No i promise! i saw her after the explosion. And she said to me... something abouth colossal, no no… something apostle!”
“You’re talking from your rear” Gwendo
“i’ve heard that before!” said Leah. “Something the Queen passed to me… let me think… apostle...” Leah stood still for a moment, deep in pensive thought. “Aha! i’ve got it. She was telling me a song of our beginning, i always assumed it to be mere artistry. if i remember correctly, it goes…
Expand from earth
our steps a shudder
quake in our wake
shake the silence
And stampede in quiet
Nuture Replenish Attack
A shadow passes
an eagle of blue
chasing the sun
and where her airpushed
leafs unfurl and Spring
sings & sings & sings
a deep monoxide smog
lifts black from green
tar from blossom
We hark from ground to sky
“We are here
We are your apostle”
The eagle’s diamond empire eye
pierces through our cumbersome blunder
she sees potential
through our maze
and as eyeball zoom
And from our mandible
Leak songs conviction
From our antennae
“Thats exactly what it said! “We are your apostle”! What does it mean?? An eagle of blue… i dont feel it was exactly that… Where is the queen, we must talk to her!” shouted Eedie. A smog fell above the crowd…
“The nest has not exactly been quiet since you left either. Come see”
Leah led the scout envoy (and a relatively large number of curious creatures) to the queens soapbox. The queen lay dormant, her jelly bean form slowly pulsating and letting leak amber glows. The chamber was empty bar a couple of queen carers scurrying around, bringing larvae goo food to attach to the jelly bean (which meant it was incrementally gaining scale).
“Shes beautiful” said eedie “is she having a fun time?”
“We can’t make heads or tails of it” Leah spoke. “She entered in2 this chrysalis stage just after you left. it’s unlike anything i am familiar with. it seems as if she is living still, but we’ve tried contact with no avail. She is continuing to consume her offerings, so at least she will not starve in there.”
“The jelly doesn’t feel so dissimilar from how we seen on the succulent lips of that big bad ant earlier” NoNut said, “the really big ant.”
“And them strange people, T”
“Well look, these conversations need not so public discussion. The only outcome of this sort will be unnecessary fear for all of us, especially our younger sisterx in the nest. We have to deal with our most imminent problem: that our food sources are currently running against the clock. Once that can be sorted we can move onto waking queeny, woteva the orange shite is, our general apocalypse scenario-” chimed in one of our sheroes from crowd (still large in number). It was Carly, the tinkerer.
“When you guys were gone,” she directs at the envoy “ we had a bit off splits in the nest. It feels most people have fallen into crews one way or the other. We dont have our instict to depend on, but we do have our voice and our recently accquired knlodege of consensus based decision making. May i propose that we gather a small temporary general council with delegates from our spliter organisations, where we may then continue this convesation in private?”
The groups elected their boffins, i got bored, centralised politics has never been of much interest to me, so i left to go and find place to rest my head with a bit of quiet. Walking through the catacoombs they seemed to be getting longer and longer. It’s weird, you can inhabit a space for so long and never stop to think about the labour that is entered into the slowly curving walls that meet at the top, a gesture that deseerves someting to adknowledge it, like a riboon around a cake or lipgloss, but of course is not permitted its indulgent luxuries. Itd probably be quite annoying to keep bumping into bows and bouqets when trying to do daily tasks, celebration is a ceremony for the existentials and the hummers. “Bitch, you better work” i muttered to myself. Sometimes these long paths get repetivive. My body just rolls them out on autodrive now. The growth of the nest in its golden days meant that great scores of different builders and knocker-downers were constantly expanding the channels and cavities that linked the space, meaning you could never truly comprehend the parameters of it all. i think it’s better to be like that, god forbid the day where i have finished my learning, and have nothing left to ignore. It makes me feel sad for the larger ants in the nest, so cruel so that just because they have a bigger head the world is smaller to them.
Sometimes i get unrequited urges, like throwing a glass of water into an active toaster, or dropping a stone on an unsuspecting pedestrian marauding the streets below, or tunnelling into specified points of structural integrity to see my surroundings collapse. i don’t act on these. i wish i was smaller, and could have more of my world. Imagine being so big that you knew everything. If you knew everything i guess there is nothing more to do than to destroy bits of it until you make something new.
i caught my thoughts in my tracks. Obliteration is not the only avenue for growth. My brain was getting heavier (although still maintaining its pinhead size). Heavy is the head that wears the funniculus. As if gravity exhausted her dying wish, my head is dragged to the floor.
Translucent green spears riccochet up towards an empty heaven. They hold orbs of liquid, refracting what light can reach the hostile earth. The light dances, dappled and mincing across the ecolgical boredom of a trampled inner city green space. Where the land could have been turned, by the mammoths tusk or the aurochs hoof, to pave way for new growth, it had been stomped shut by another behemoth, the feet of Nike, graced with the tick of ‘You can achieve whatever and whenever you want’ for the consumer and ‘Your life is our felching ground, the closer you grind to the bone the less room you will take in our morgues’ for the producers. No wonder the suburbs dream of violence, their closest interaction with the ground is mediated by corpse amulets channeling corporate and corporeal violences.
Anyhow, i digress, gravity hadn’t died, just the rest of the gods. It took me a moment to realise i was in memory, the sun still looked soft, the soils was hanging onto the last of its scents before even that ammenity was forced further into the subterrae. Compressing the grass lay a gleaming white screen, almost painful to look at, a piece of the sun that had fallen. i scattered onto its warm and sterile face, the floor scratching underfoot and bouncing lightly and i left. “Oh My God!”i thought “look at those plump and gorgous strawberries!”. There, in the middle of the styrofoam plate, partially held in by a thin layer of clingfilm (both objects torn from the megagraveyards of the underground heatpressed organic world and liberated to be sent straight to landfill (some life for your daily plastic)) boasted a cornucopia of swollen red bussoms. Oh how they glisten. My visions journeyed as i leapt forward, brown earth to green canopy to blinding styro to rapidly encroaching red to being surrounded, in deep deep red, floating embryonic in the heart of the fruit. i was a child and i was happy. Our sisters grouped in “join us, see how swollen it is. Gorge on its sugars. We will get swole together. A simple life, our pleasure is rife, the glory that we be is based on we” we chimed “turn out the bend, forego the trend, our benefits we share eqiutably”. For a pause, the world seemed great.
Then, the world snapped. The red glow was thrown into darkness and gravity truly did choose to leave. The sisters were pushed one way and another, tumbling in there cavities, until the movement shuddered to a halt. Just as there was time to recombobulate two enamel guillotines slids through our strawbressant & collective flesh. This isnt happening. Gums mixed with glucose and a salivating and obnoxious tongue poked around searching for its sucrose. All it found was brittle and bitter ant abdomens. “Hope that ruins your day you fat pig” i thought, as a shrieking sound reverberated the walls of our newly found floating hell. My sisters lay delimbed infront of me, split between the gap of strawberry and pie hole.
“Enfys, save me,” rasped a friend i had long forgotten, as she raised a feeble and terrified limb. My vessel lurched backwards as the child spat the remainder out to the ground. As we were catapulted away, i remember her leg reaching out, me unable to help.
The strawberry spun expelled from the floor. As it bounced it would leave smears of strawblood scraped, and the remaining sisters watch helplessly as the forces of physics cruelly plucked life after life into deaths cold pocket. After a lifetime the chariot seemed to stabilise, a mere fraction of what seemed to be the heavenly womb in which they originally entered remained. We surviving girls scuttled out. And finally did gravity exhaust her laboured roar. They sky did turn dark, similar to the little rotter’s gammy mitten but this time as if the grubby fingers belonged to the globejester himself as he toyed with his orb. A blanket of rain lazily poured, the rain that leads you to maddness for questioning if it is there or not. It picked up a bit of steam, the beats raining upon tin cans and miscellaneous surfaces of the park to splay out steel pan renditions of surroundings. We sisters tipped our heads back “drink from the nectar of god” a scent of bleach followed the droplets as the contaminated liquid flowed “ we have everything we need here! Our waters are full of ANTi-depressants, contraceptives, cocaine! What more is there to life” they squeeled. Tiny flickers illuminated the sky, like a firework party happening right on the ozone layer. “how pretty,” the girls cooed, swaying in the blanket of rain and the blanket of sertraline Starting small in the sky came tiny flashes of red, apparitions of the rosette nebula, but quickly laundering closer and closer,until the forms starting multiplying in size multiple times per second. “What do u think it is” i asked a sister to my left. The sister turned to face me. i realised that it was Leah. Gaunt faced, she responded “i hope we dont turn up dinosaur meat” as her skin fell from her face twirling like an autumn leaf. Monstrous strawberrys raced towards the planet, there scale so dense that before collision things were lifted from the earth in welcome and gratitude. i felt my exoskeleton lifting from my flesh “takeeverything i offer and everything you wannttttt”.
A pale face flashes a grin, and grants a wink, before dissappearing in the aftermath to its concrete haven.
i jolt upwards, slightly shocked that my blood still is apparently residing within my carapace. Gravity sends her grace, i think, as i am forced to lift my body upwards rather than its chaotic floating. i think i prefer being able to presume whats going on with the movements of the earth. That being said it would be nice to not be fighting her all of the time. Sluggish as accidentyl falling asleep in a catacomb slightly closer to the gauls of the outside, i creep and crawl further into the heart of the nest and to work for the next few hours. i arrive to the brood centre, specifically to one of the larvae halls (the second of three developmental phases before the fully matured ant is ready to take up her (or his) roles). The white blobby hackysacks stood content, their only role to await on the nurturing of us nursemaids. The egg and larvael stages do not require feeding (only when they have matured to pupae), so my role was relatively simple, moderating the temperatures (we had recently turned to extra insulation as was getting colder, and moving the larvae upwards during the hotter hours of the day), cleaning the outsides and secreting fungicidal and antibiotic liquids to cleanse the newborns from any parasites that are thinking of ways to come thru and rain on our parade. It is hard to look at such a lacklustre block of goo and imagine that these girls might be the next rulers of this crib.
Two nursemaids stand over a larvae, gossiping whilst secreting a new strand of antimicrobial jellys. “Blessed be the fruit loops” i say as i approach. Sometimes it is weird to communicate with sisters oozing from their abdomen so i squeezed and started getting to work on some parasitic methanol.
“Dont catch me with that totalitarian shite” retorted Stella (zerocarb), “how you doin sis?”
“Yeah just woke up from this nutty dream, still feeling bit Dizzy tbh. Really felt like it was happening, u kno? i mean, half of it was rooted, pretty sure was a memory from when i was not so much older than these pupae, but haven’t thought about it since really. And then there was this horror, just remmeber this feeling, globejester, globejester…”
“No way! Alice was just reporting something similiar”
“Yeah, i mean i guess maybe we have the same sleep schedhule, musta been that nap, well i guess ive had a few since then so maybe twenty minutes ago? Mine was some rotters eating and licking orange icream straight from the floor, left me feeling proper rank. Got a proper look at the tonsils of the belly of the beast and those green teeth. bleurhg”
Caught inbetween jobs wandering from the larvae broodpit to some resin stores, i was accosted by Gwendo. “Hello, you must be Enfys. i am going to request your council imminently in the queens chamber”. Without another word she u turned in her paths and headed back into the reaches of somewhere or another, not really towards the royal chamber but not really not towards it either. i guess i should follow suit, new eggs weren’t being laid so the role of the nursemaids had drastically reduced, although i went my way through the caverns.
The royal chamber seemed just as illustrious as ever, bar its billows that once bellowed now reverberated with slight vibrosity. In almost ironic canon, the self appointed/partialy elected council stood in an onimous circle around the room, with a group of ants (who i understood to have been beckoned like myself) collected in the centre. i recognised Leah and Carly (the sister that had called for a less public meeting), and Gwendo floating nearby. The crowd they had ammassed was small, no more than 20 people i guessed. Eedie was in the crowd, although the others i was not so familiar.
“Greetings to you all for coming. This is a testing time, and every action is a test, and every success a victroy” spoke a new ant i was unfamilar with from the council. “My name is Reuer. i was appointed by the L.W.A, the land workers alliants to come and represent our opinions to you all. However, for this immediate time, i speak representing the voice of the council, and i hope the voices of us all. i am sure that all of you are aware of the current affairs of the nest. The queen is in a slumbersome phase and it is unclear when she shall awake, potentially even if she will awake. As i said before, this is an unprecedented situaiton, that being said we have to adress the risks currently and begin emergency measures.”
“We have a couple of problems from an inactive queen. i suppose the obvious one is that she can no longer reproduce the eggs. Until she starts reproducing, or we can produce a virgin queen, there will be no more babies. ”
“We have assesed 3 main points of concern. These are that: we have a rapidly dwindling access to food, that we need to provide for Queen and eggs to a)get the Queen back laying and b)nurture eggs to mature into new queens, and c) finally to see if there is anything we can do to prevent the continued degraditon of our local environment and see wtf this orange shit is about. Each section has one ant as its main correspondent. i (Reuer) will be that ant overseeing the localised and sustainable agroecology, Leah will oversee the tasks of the nursemaids and Carly (although alienated by remaining in the nest) will take on the moving troupe.”
“We at LWA feel confident with our abilities to look for alternative models of sustainable food development, a couple of our Foodies have already been working with aphid populations to bypass the energy inefficiencies of coming back to the nest to feed, we feel that with proper infrastructure, and a shift in culturla behabviours, we shuld be able to massproduce aphid feeding populations to at least take a significant chunk of labour off of the dwindling pupae.”
“The following sections are not my areas of expertise, so you’ll have to excuse any mistakes. The auntz & nursemaids will only use solid feeds to supply the pupae, and to collect the food and store so reserves can be shared responsibly with people who need it most, primarily the queen. Any ant who has access to the aphid diet must prioritise that instead (including the auntz & nursemaids who are collecting the secretions). Additionally, we would like to hurry the creation of new queenz so nursemaids please see to that immediately. We are happy to register whatever rations you need in order to do so. Finally, we think it is important that the Queen also recieves heavy parasitic and fungicidal treatment, we are as of yet unsure what has caused her to act this way but if it is an alien body then we want it out.”
“The last section is to do with our previous envoy. We beliebe that there is something happening outside that is collapsing our system. The original envoy was sent out because the queen was running sick and to find any hope of life. What they returned with, and what they returned to, is unfortunately an even bleaker foretelling of when they left. We know however that there are other actors within this problem, the ones who were travelling in there automized vehicles who paralysied our previous party. And, maybe most peculiarly, it seems as if an apparition/faerie/spirit who visited Eedie after the paralysis event noted prior, and also Leah in childsong, has also seeped into a fifth of the nests dreams just half an hour ago. There are three unifying happenings in this dream, a miscellaneous peril foreboding some sort of apocalypse, a giant face grinning and winking (who we believe to be this faeirei), and importantly that this celestial body always seems to dissappear to the sameplace in everyones dreamscape, which is a concrete tower. We ammassed our foodies who travelled the furthest who also shared this dream, and tries to collate information about where this point could be. i understand that this reasoning may seem vague, but we agreed that never before had we seen an event of spritiual connection reverberating with so many of us simultaneously (and its not even a new moon) that it was worthwhile pursuing. We believe that the residing point of the entity lies a couple of km NW of here, n a place the orienteers believe to be called p12sIDLRD.”
“We are looking to collate another team to travel to this point. We pray it will be successful. Gwendo on the council will be leading the party” (to this Gwendo raised her hand) “this is for the success of all of us. Praise be it pays off. Unfortunately we believe it to be a necessary task for the livliehood of our nest. You in front of us now are those who have been selected for the job.”
There was no sense of altruistic sacrifice, no complaints by any of the gathered. This was not about clout; any danger that had been assesed had been done so and if any died then, although sad, would be necessary. The acceptance of these facts lay people quiet. i
guess that is the diference, between the human and the ant. Although both social species, the human drives for independence, and for some reasons believes that it has the potential to be better than other humans, if it works hard enough. It is the humans pride that allows it to think that it is doing good, of its ideological radical being, yet its inability to be active outside insular armchair activism for fear of usurping the kettle from the kitchen counter. Even if the ant is lacking empathy for global citizens, she knows not too flaunt her SHE.E.O blazened tee shirt with pride when its made from sweatshop slave.e.o’s. And the human can live his whole life spouting viva la revolution from his graphic design job running Boots social media advertising campaigns or McDonalds’ kiddypound vulture economics. Long live the rationally benevolent god!
We had 2 hours prepartion time (which when seen as 24 sleep cycles seems a lot longer time frame) to ready ourselves for the journey ahead. i travelled back to the brood quarters, to go and update my sisters there that i would not be with them for the likely forseeable future. En route i spotted Leah who would make sense to also be travelling to the brood. Questions unawnsered i scuttled up beside her.
“Crazy day huh?” i spoke out of breathe if i could’ve had one.
“You wouldn’t believe” she responded “those meetings are exhausting, and bleak. You know, for a species based upon monarchy? democracy really isn’t our first nature”
“i guess it’s never been no-ones, part of the problem”
“Yeah, oh its really a lot. Everyone has different needs and desires. Its not even that anyone is talking in their own self intrests, at least we can see the mutual benefits, but the specifities of each individual section requires meticulous organisation, and to make decisons that are beneficial too all is no easy job. And then the selection for the envoy, that was very tedious”
“Yeah about that, i was wondering why i’d been one of the chosen to go on the mission”
“i am right in understanding you were one of the ones who had the dream share?” Leah asked. i nodded my head. “i also was one of the fifth. It’s a great strategy, if a fifth of our population share bizarre similarities then it is unreputable. Well i guess my dream did not share the dread it seems all the others did. In my dream i was walking with the queen, although it was the day of preparation for her nupital flight, so long before my time. It’s funny, we never think of her as our mother. i guess the maternal elements of it are pretty dispereseed, what with the division of labour and all, but she still half of all of us, you know? Well anyway, it was the last day she’d have her wings right? And queens, well they’ve actually got it pretty rough. Often they’re only allowed outside the nest for one day a year, occasioanlly once in their life. So, i’m walking with her, it’s gorgous, there’s a pond, no mosquitios. i felt like we were big, big enough for the willow tree to carress us with her fingers but dreams are dreams and the world of micro flora&fauna can b a confusing one. She looks to me and says
“There is a turning coming, where we will have to choose friend or foe. Our once gracious meadows have been rendered desert. And all along the beaten track we will ear the same story. “My eyes they bleed. My heart has forgotten how to sing. i am starving.” Do not for one second acceptadknowledge that we are a suboptimum species. Did you know that we have already survived a mass extinction event, K-T, that we once roamed with dinosaurs, and outlived them for our strength. And do you know how many of us there are? We are 10, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000. Ten million billions. We cover every meter of this planet.””
“As she said this too me, our surroundings shifted, like someone throwing a pebble into a still body of water, its ripples wrapping us up in stories and projections of times to come and times to have left behind. It showed us of the day ahead, thousands and thousands of queens rising, some to only a few feet, some to hundreds of meters, and flocked by many mnay more hordes of drones, the ritualistic procreative sect. It showed colonies withering and dyeing under the relentless sun. but most importantly, it showed hundreds of other queens in the same state as our mother currently. Pulsating and glowing. It also showed me you enfys. That is why you are going with the others. Unfortunately, this is as much as i know. i cannot figure out why this phenomena is seemingly not happening to our queen in a vaccum, or why i saw no other familiar ant about you, but this is what i saw, and this is why you’re going.”
So there we sat, the newfangled envoy. What we had in common i was unsure. i was only familiar with a couple, Gwendo i had had brief interactions with, and Mimz the dizzy bitch spinning discs (FKA AntOnTheDecks). The others were mostly a blend of further suited foodie ants, a few scouts and a couple of warriors. Judging by the reports of the previous outerworld delegation fat lot of use a couple amazonian warrior ants were going to do versus a seagull let alone fighting genome-superseded mutants from space. Eedie had pleaded to the council to be accepted to join the brigade, alas her reclaims were brushed aside as ‘even for a species that naps once every 5 minutes she is asleep far more than she is awake, whether that is immobile or mobile’, and for some reason Carly had some ulterior motive for her time.
We had been asked to meet at the mouth of the nest. Temperature was one of my jobs as nursemaid, and i often didn'tdidnt often leave the nest as it made me more volatile to different parasites and infections which could prove significanlty more dangerous to the brood than they would to our already mobile comrades, so the fanged cold of the mouth was sending something to my receptors. It was clear we had varying expertise on this front,most of the girls i knew where like me:, organisers, backseat drivers and facilitators. The emphasis on group conciousness meant that there was no masculine hero worship of those on the frontline, stories of venture although interesting didn’t override the need to supply the whole, and as such my social circle didnt really expand to those who were coming back and forth through the door. Sure, there were some sisters in my brood who had grown up for smaller scale scout roles, but the nature of nursemaid nurture meant that we didnt have any workers fed enough to develop them into the sturdier exoskeletons required for frequent and long distance outside vetures.
Carly appeared walking round a bend in an entrance tunnel, when spotting us assembled she clacked up a speed and came to join us. “Thank you for your punctuality, and excuse my lateness” she began, “as Reuer stated earlier, i won’t be with you physically on this mission. i am working on a couple of other projects, which if they take off will exponntially improve our capacity to be sensitive & thrive within our changing ecosphere.”
“All of you have been selected specifically for the role. The majority of you have experience with the outside in some capacity. We would like to affirm you [reword this] that although this seems a daunting and dangerous task, especially as lots of it still remains unknown, we have assesed a diversity of skillset which we believe to be able to think responsively to the tasks at hand.
i will introduce the peole in the team who we have chosen as the direct lines of command from us to you. We want you to listen to them in case you are put in danger, and to ensure your safety. Firstly we have Barb...” one of the slightly duller ants nodded her head. She had a larger posterior than the rest of us, her skeleton look a bit thicker. i assumed she must’ve been a soldier before lockdown. “...She is one of our finest long range scouts. Never not made it back so far. Heres to that,” Carly moved on “Next we have s.pot & sputnik. S.pot used to work with the virgin queens as crown orienteer to assess were the new queens should settle after the flight. Sputnik has an aerial view of the city. She has gone up many times with NoNut Bugle and can map spaces with surroundings, a rare skill to have. They are two of our best, and it would be a great calamity to the nest if theyyou were lost.”
“Finally with have, at the recommendation of Reuer, Flea. Flea came from the recomendation of Reuer. You have been designated two pupae for your mission. For a party this size, it should be more than enough. However, in case of emergency Flea is a specialist in food. You will only have to be filling up primary stomachs on the mission, but in the instance that the pupae are loast Flea will knowknows what to do”.
“i will let the rest of yourselves introduce yourselves to eachother in due course. Thank you again for yourto your dedication to the nest. We have to have faith that we can overcome these obstacles, as we have before, and will have to do again. i bid you safe travels.”
it was daybreak when we set off. The journey is relatively simple, as the crow flies. it merely requires you to travel north west for two thousand meters. That is easier said than done for a being 4mm in length, but we knew the journey was not going to be an easy one, so we set off down the hill. The sun, rising in the east, crashed its way through the glass skyscrapers dominoe set teeteringed on the horizon. Scraper, like nails scraping on blackboard, or the man who removes chewing gum from concrete slabs in idyllic tourist world. Scraper scraping the sky, running the dirt and imperfections from the earth and forcing them to inhabitat the heavens as a way of maximising every last gulp of oxygen. Sky scraping to surround yourself in clouds, and you remind yourself only snobs and angels like high places, and im definitely no snob. To scrape yourself up and out of the chewing gum microbe harvesting flawed and real soils to be placed, like the star on the tree, as the surveoyor of everything else. Anyway, fuck them, no place for ants (yet). So we went down the hill, through the grass, which seemed to have domesticated itself so thatto even when no lawn mower came it would shed the bits it deemed too unaestheticlaly long. Nothing else but grass tho. All the streets where quiet, though. Tthere were signs of recent activity., Aa chicken&chip box its greaseproof liner still relatively intactin tact lay ravaged by fox(?) in middle of the street. They were not quiet to look at. The wind still pushed around the canopy, windows in peoples houses still had crudely drawn rainbows plastered in their victorian bay windows. Eyes of garden gnomes followed you lazily. The trees did not havebore not the amount of leaves that they should for this time of year. The streets looked sterile considering:, there was no build up of waste, no covering of rotting leaves. The sun hung orange.
We walked through anonymous sub/semi/urban settlements for what seemed like a lifetime., croafton parke, telegraph hyll, nexw x gxate. Not a single bird did we pass, or hear her machiavellianmachiovelient chime. Not an automised engine roar. The only sound was the mechanised wind that whispered nothings in its unrelentling softness. We travelled this way through a whole solar cycle.
The next morning, Flea stopped the group. and began
“Our food supply is currently dependant on our two pupae,” she began.. “So far we have not seen any alternative edibles minus the mayonaise licked onto the Morelys box 60 sleep cycles back. i am concerned that if we do not find something to relpenish our pupaes secretions then soon they will be unable to continue feeding us, and worst case scenario, if something was to happen to them we would be unguarded against starvation for our group. it seems that the endless slogdge of residential roads is not supplying necessary potential”
“This cityies is designed on the basis of gardens,” repliet S.Pot “if we can find an access point, i feel we should be able to travel exactly the same direction. The journey will be less direct, as we will have to navigate around fences, although the scouts in our group are well adapted for less visible directions of mobility”
“Look here!” shouted Sputnik. A house to our left/right/wotevawe were passing had a side corridor over a pebblestone walkway towards the back of the house., which was shrouded from view from the street.
The envoy followed after Sputnik to the back of the house, creeping and crawling between the pebbles. it was cold underfoot here, the street travelled east to west so the passage, with houses on either side, got no sunlight at any part of the day. The back of the house, being north facing, maintained a smattering of the coolness of the passage, which ombre’d northwards until the end of the garden, which was slightly raised, bore the bruntblunt of the sun for the majority of the day. Strewn around the garden was the forgotten memory of a human family:, a toppled plastic tricycle, a rogue fork, crisp packets partially submerged in the soil, the families passive gestures in creating a new layer on the anthropocene. All these objects seemed as if nature had attempted to consume themn, then withltered and givenave up. Wispy tendrils of bindweed stroked the usurped trike wheel, but her leaves were small and yellowed. Even the most pernicous where struggling.
A low buzz started in the air, which then abrubtly stopped. Then just as abrubtly started again. We were all Startled and looking around, but S.Pot was the first to notice.
Sure enough, one fat bluebottles was flying erratically back and forth [missing word here?] a hole in the fence and a tap, which seemed to have collected ample moisture for this insect’s hydratory needs. Now, a bluebottleell is not a rare sight, under almost any other scenario;, but it had been a whole change of sky and not one other living being had we encountered outside our possy. We followed the busy fly to the fence, and began our ascent to the thoroughway. The concrete fence was not so tall, with a drill sized hole running through, most likely a poorly planned DIY job by some tenant from before. Gazing in through the hole, there was no light to be seen on the other side. There was something heavy about the air, more humid. it wasn’t picked up by the wind in the same way, it’d been forgotten about. We peered through the hole. i guess this is the way forward anyway. Yeah might as well. We entered.
The first thing that hit was the inside of the hole was rot. Some plant matter had been stamped down by miniscule legs over x amount of time, and its moisture levels kept the transitory space a temperate microclimate. it seemed counterintuitive, instead of travelling towards the light, to face the other direction and walk into the abyss. Light symbolises the end i suppose in that analogy, so to enter the void we were walking away from death. How long could a concrete fence be? So we followed our antennae until, without warning, the ground beneath us finished. This must be the other side of the wall. But still, no light broke its way onto the concrete. The air was not merely humid, it was stagnated. Heavy metals lolled around somehow finding a way to be lighter than air. 40cm below lay the corpse of a cat.
i guess we had chosen to walk towards death after all. i guess its not my death. How do we say it, my endinging is my beginninginging and all that. it’s right though, i’m not dead. it’s all just part of the process.
The cat was probably always a runty little thing. She held black and white markings across her face and body, with two bright blue eyes, the lids stolen from them their last luxury, never able to hold their partners again. Her pelt once soft was now not only coarse, but matted in red streaks. She was never innocent. She never was real. She was an ensnared captive held hostage by cruel owners, who’s only goal in life wasis to domesticate everything that is offered to them. Maybe this is a better way to be than kitty crematorium.
Anyway, makes sense why that fly had been coming here. Littered in the pelt of the cat was hundreds of maggots, like sick kittens coming to nurse from there mother, just biting off a bit too much. And the eyes, don’t eat from your mothers eyes. i wonder how it must feel to be a maggot tunnelling through a cat, if it is as joyous as tunneling through a strawberry. They seemed to be having a great time. Gracious is the mother that feeds her offspring from her flesh. Something about that. i forget. Anyway she’s not my mum.
The darkness was created above by thick spiked brambles. No other plant we had seen had been doing so well. It took me a moment to realise that the the trunk of the plant was deeply rooted through the stomach of the cat. She must have fallen sick, and then whatever potential in the seedbank where she had taken her final fall must have put all its energy into destroying the competition. The world was always pretty savage, but now there are no second chances. This cats precious minerals had fostered something arguably beautiful, if you could condemn nature with a human aestheticisation, the first thing thriving we had seen in recent memory.
“i guess this is our calling for food then” Flea said, as she walked vertically down the otherside of the concrete fence. We followed suit. On the stroll down we passed a collection of snails, their lips firmly planted against the wall. They were sucking it for every last drop of its lime render, rinsing it dry to absorb it into their shells. Their lips so puckered from endless slurping, and there shells so fortified they almost stopped resembling snail shells. As we passed, they creaked their antennae towards us, their stone rich diet limiting their smooth and reputable speed. They looked more like tombstones that molluscs. We worked our way to the bottom.
The closer we got to the cat the closer we got to the maggots. They were smaller than us, about half size, with globular long forms, and no appendages, eyes, or variation from their pale flesh but a mouth with tiny sharp teeth at one end. They were harmless, there is enough cat for everyone they seemed to be saying. We placed our pupae out of maggot reach and took our fill from the juices, and took bits of flesh for the pupae to digest in there own turn. i walked over to the face of cat. The giant blue globe of its eye lay just above the ground. i climbedascended a blade of grass, to get a full look of its face.
Pivoted halfway up a blade and directly infront of the cats nose, i peered into the pools of the vacant cat. i could see the sea lapping the shores of her iris. And as i stared into the waters of narcissus, i could see myself looking back at me, at my six legs at the waters bank, been pulled and pushed by the moon. i couldn’t see any gulls. And i couldn’t hear any waves. i could see a maggot crawling into her tearduct. She didn’t wink or grin though.
i returned to where the rest of my platoon were sat with the pupae. All had eaten there fill, and had positioned themselves in a semi circle around Barb, who i was hearing speak for the first time. S.pot had asked for a story, and Barb had began a tale which started and stopped, as if it hadnt been given lip service often, or ever at all, about a time she had spent with one of her sisters a life time ago.
“Once upon a time, probably before all of your times, but long after our mothers time, i had been sent out to find some food, as is my role. i reckon it must’ve been two turns of the sun ago, so an extremely long time. Although i am very old, although i am also very strong. It was maybe between in the middle of the hottest and coldest part of the year, past the hottest. So i was out searching for food. i had travelled further than i normally would from the nest, and the further away you travel, the less contact you with have with familiar scents. So i travelled to the point where there was nothing familiar for me to smell, there was definitely plenty of smells, but for our nest, as far as i was concerned, it was unchartered territory. Curiosity had gotten the better of me, and i had indulged. Revelling in the notion of the unchartered, i went this way and that, until on a westerly wind i smelt a smell which was known to me. Curious who else had travelled all this way, i followed my nose and, sure enough, i came to one of my sisters. She was laid out on the floor, and next two her sat two beautiful wings. She had pulled them from her back some weeks ago, and had attempted to dig herself into a hibernation chamber, but frost and exhaustion had got the better of her. She had exherted all her energy into her flight, and if it wasn’t for me stumbling across her, she probably would’ve died in a matter of days, from predator or otherwise. Please, help me sister she decreed. Now, she was no longer one of our nest, but she was still my spawn? brawn, so i covered her with her wings, shared some of my food from my social stomach with her and went about digging her a hibernation hole. Her body was swollen with infants to be born, who were in a way half of my genomes also, so in helping her i was helping myself and all of our nest’s legacy. i created a miniscule chamber for her, just large enough that she could lay a very small brood and regulate her heat over the impeding cold cycles. She asked for me to stay with her as she was still was not completely back on her feet. i had already been gone for a long time now, and as duty to my queens, old and new, i agreed. We passed the cold together, me tending to the eggs, tending to the queen. i had to learn much on the job, and the work was hard, but it was exciting to be part of a colony that had not completely begun.”
“The first pupae had begun to metamorphise into developed ants during the end of the first cold. By the time it had passed, there was probably around twenty fledgling ants, who cemented the infrastructure and made the nest stronger, slowly building in more pathways, more areas. Then she set out to lay again, and this time the workers nurtured the eggs, set about food collection. At this early part of the colony, any interference has the potential to be catastrpohic, so it was important for us to keep a low profile. We would only feed from within 20 meters of our nest, and in those days food was ample, every rotters picnic left detritus, bins overflowing, more than enough to healthily satiate our family.”
“One day i bumped into an unfamilar sister outside the nest. Instead of our plain black abdomen, she was the colour of the sun. She was larger than i was, maybe a similar size to my new queen, a bit smaller perhaps. i was captivated by her beauty, and she smelt as did my sisters. I have lost my way she said, may i rest for a moment to collect myself. i opened the door to let her in. she really was incredible. Now, for the second time in one cycle i had found myself privy to another outside of my monarchial doctrine. i organised a small group to make her feel welcome, and she readily accepted the hospitality. For a day, she told us stories of where she had came from. She said that she came from a colony where not only the drones and queens can take flight, but all of the workers too, and that she had gotten her yellow hue from fliying infront of the sun until the light crystalised her exoskeleton so now she walks with a piece of the sun inside her everwhere she goes. She said that in her colony there were also moon stalkers, who flew only at night, and took on not the orange but lavender, and of ants who took on pinks, and greens, and frost blues. She told us the of aeronautical secrets of the skies, how something looks from above, how our winged sisters and brothers can navigate invisible flightpaths, and how we have set impossible reconvening spaces and year after year return to the same point. She told us one night, someone had came from behind her and tore her wings from her back, because they were jealous of how she moved.”
“The next day, i awoke to cries from some of the workers. Quick, come, look at this. Hidden in an enclave not frequently patrolled was a small pile of bodies of sisters, there heads decapitated from there bodies. The Queen! i ran to the royal chamber just in time to see a seduced Queens’ head dropped from her shackles and lol across the floor infront of a room of spectators. The intruder stood with her mandibles where the previous Queens head had been. The spectators stood, stunned or love struck, it wasis hard to tell. The intruder no longer merely shared our scent, she now oozed it out from her carapace, the kind of sweetner that will make your teeth decay before they even touch it. It hung almost like pollen in the air. Why have you done this. We have shown you nothing but warmth and openess. Her: it’s the laws of the jungle baby. She flicked her antennae, regaining her composure, navigating herself into a more upright position. As she did this i saw she was far larger than i had previously thought, and bore a great number of eggs in her abdomen. Some of us are just born parasites. i told no lie though, my wings were stolen, i guess that is why i am the way i am. This is my grudge against life. And i will continue to lay toil. Her pheremones had no effect on me for i had independent genomes from the rest of the nest. She started laying eggs, similar to my sisters, but each had a tiny gold circle visible through the transclucent film. Here are my gold coins. You probably believe me evil. i am sorry for leaving pillage on your family. i hope you can forgive me, for like you, my concern is the continuation of my species. My name is yellow shadow. And im not always a parasite, just for the now. From this day forward i will be a parasite no more! i hope you can share my gladness of this news. At this the worker ants began moving around in unision, coming over to clean the eggs, to move them to their relevant positions you see, here i guess is where we have to ask, what is the fundamental predator parasite relationship? For me (the parasite), i cannot be too greedy from the bowl else there will be nothing left, and i too shall die. You see how i do this Barbz? These workers are still alive, i only have poached off a fragile and new nest, and look, you yourself are proof of the humility i show. More violence is futile unfortunately.”
“i remember not knowing what to do. She was right, my sacrfice would be meaningless. i thought maybe it is time to return to my own queen after all these months. As i backed out of the nest, i remember seeing her in her golden glory, like a dragon on its pile of blood diamonds, although who may bear vengance towards the dragon only acting within her own nature.”
“When i returned to my nest, nothing had changed. i had been gone for the best part of a year, and not one sister had adknowledgded my not being there. i had come back, feeling powerless, having given up my one role which is to protect, for common sensibilities, and had reutrned with something, but what that something was was unbeknowst to me. And it was definitelly something which i did not share with my sisters for once. This is the burden which i have had to carry, having had independent experiences in a society that only responds to social desires. For a long time i felt like a shattered neural pathway, my links not forwarding on the information to where they used too. But still receiving.”
“i felt like i had failed my main calling as an ant, to protect and multiply. i still think of yellow shadow, how she could convince a snail to pass over its shell, or the way a her voice could lul a sparrow into offering itself for a lift. We are not really a species designed for complex thought at the level of the individual, our complexity lies in the essence of the nest. My main confusion was how is everything still going on as normal? Not a single change. i just went back to normal. Worked as hard as i could to fix my broken loop, for i knew a break in the system is the weakest point. So i worked and i worked and i worked. Reuer must’ve been the one who selected me for this unit. Last summer we had a rivalling colony of black ants combatting an aphid plantation on a brassica crop some antrhos had left in there back garden. We were outside of our territory zone, but it was a more bountiful harvest than had seen in a long time. Reuer was masterminding the farming operation, and we managed to work in peace for a while, but quickly the other nest caught wind of our secret intrusion, and send deployment. Reuer had made the necessary advancements, we had a defensive battalion in place, and the capacity for easily calling more help if the situation required. i remember, i was standing on the central trunk, pale green with dark dusty green leaves when i started seeing the enemy ants rapidly approaching their way to the base of my brassica. i was facing downwards, and the aphids were continuing theirre monotony, back and forth, bach and forth. The enemy ants started coming up the trunk, directly towards me. i remember the sun bursting through the cloud, and hitting me on the back, it’s golden fingers hugging my abdomen. The first one that came close to me i removed its head from its body. It felt so effortless, watching the head be taken by gravity and drop to the floor, its body following suit moments, but importantly, moments later, no longer together. More ants kept on coming, and i entered into a mentality of kill or be killed. There was no feeling of rage, or joy, a level of clairvoyance and calm had passed through me. One after the other ants fell decapitated from the plant. My higher footing meant i was in a significantly stronger position, the invaders didn’t stand a chance. My memory falters at this point, and all i remember is coming too, aphids looking disgruntled, me the only ant on the stalk.”
“At the point where the stem hit the soil there was a pile of ants, immobile. The other nest had called back their troops as they saw that their fight was in vain, and would lead to more unessecary deaths. Reuer and a fair amount of our colony were still standing, although how many of us had been lost in the conflict i was unsure.”
“We reconvened after the battle to assess our losses. We had lost somewhere between 50-70 sisters. The pile of dead ants at my plant far outnumbered any of the slaughter that my other sisters had encountered. Most of there battles had happened on the earth, rather than my canopy fighting. It became clear that my role in the retreat of the enemy must have been pivotal. Reuer congratulated me for my role. i remained stationed on that post until the plants passed theirthere peak, the aphids died and the soil returned to its depleted state. We didn’t encounter any more conflict after that point. The pheremones of the diseased still hung heavy, if it was within my power i don’t think i would’ve wished to stay there. By the time we had left, the carcases of the dead had been returned to the soil. There was no tell-tale signs that this was a war graveyard. But the flora still held the violence in their roots, and the fauna in their hearts.”
Not a mandible stirred throughout Barbz’ telling of the story.
“i think, when the sun illuminated my back all that time ago up in the brassicae, i could feel my wings. It is the one thing i could never shake off. And now, every sleep, i wake up uneasy, like feeling something has been taken from me. i know that i was never to have wings. And i know that what that parasite queen said to me was fantasy spun up in lies. But i could never shake the feeling that she was with me when i was in that foliage.”
There was some ruffling in the thicket above. Seems a couple of sparrows had learnt of the cat, and were coming to check it out. Seemed like a better idea to move forwards than to stay here. reluctantly , we dozily lifted to our pins and set off looking for the next gap to continue our journey.
The next say fifty sleep cycles nothing of relevance happened. Our envoy moved quietly through the night, with the moonbeam guiding our journeys. It’s true, i thought. We do all look a lot more purpley. We moved in silence, i was unsure if people were rattled by Barbz’ story, or exhausted, or melencholic. Anyway it was nice to be away from that humid thicket and back into the dry air. On our way we passed
Ciggarette butts, bottle tops, bits of gnarly roots, a dead stag beetle, bits of pollen who had found no home, dry and browned grass, bits of glass in different forms, spikey, smoothed by time, ground to sand. Dandelion heads (tooth of the lion), danedlion roots, clovers, london spinach, woody miscellaneous stems protruding from the ground. Stones, the dried out crevice of a boot left in mud, dead strands of hyphae poking through the gauges. Yarrow dried and bent low, chickweed, aquilegia, cranesbill, plantain. Teasle stood strong. It seemed those plants less dependent on nitrogen from the soil, the alder, the clover, the teasle, were the only ones that showedany hope of growth.
We slowly worked through all that was residing in our true stomachs, and then had to reorient our consumption in rations towards the pupae’s secrections.
We tap tappyd our way, tip tip tap tap tippy tappy tap tap. We chitterred and shattered through boring middle class suburban upheaval blah blah land . Over tacky patios with knocked parasols and the empty decadence of channel 4’s Love Island. So many patios and so much decking. So many lawns, so many forgotten bubbles of ‘you’ve only properly met someone if you’ve seen their bedroom’ excreted from their eyes onto their tailored little ‘this is my little paradise’. Not a single old boot did we pass though. Eat that dick king smith.
So many types of fence did we pass through, white plastic monobloc legacy scratched and blackened fencing, soft yellow beech fencing painted with deep red varnishes, brocken bits of brick wall painted with render and then garish murals or remmanants of pink, white or yellow chalk stains. Chicken wire lattice foxing to keep foxes at bay. Even one espalier, altho looks like needed some urgent nurturinge. How many different types of ways have these humans strived for making one thing theirs, and not anyone elses. i have my fungi working with my body, my digestive tract bacterias helping me break down different foods. Aiming at keeping everything at bay seemed counterintuitive. To lose even a quarter of the bacterias living in your body would probably mean death for the host. Down with the fences! Let the foxes and rabbits travel free. Let the nematode rejoice in non treated soil. If you won’t touch it without gloves on, dont put it in your garden!
i was standing still, walking without moving, and the world at each stepp merely offered me something new as its dutiful right to the sun to continue spinning. i felt that i would only be able to stop if the planet too stopped spinning on its axis. And for that reason we never managed to leave the night. We were caught on the complete opposite side to the light, and as we walked with the earth’s rotations we stayed in the dark, planetary hamster wheel.
Still night, we eventually made it to some variation in our endless slodge. As soon as you crossed the fence (concrete, with glass shards cemented into the top) it owerpowered every sense. Temperature receptors, smells, humidity. Rich grass! Taken aback, we stood for a moment. It dipped and curved in unision, the wind leaving channels in her wake and the grass would bob its head then linger, then move back on its way to the sky. It was one body, no doubt about it. It breathed like individual hairs on the back of the great tiger would more seamlessly in partnership. The beetroot moon had dropped its deep purple onto the violet grass. Dotted around the garden where gnomes in various phases of engagement, one stood static, shovel raised, forever waiting to bring it down on whatever dared step before him. Another had ceramic sweat emblazoned onto his temple as running nowhere to cart a wheelbarrow full of something to somewhere but not moving anywhere. There were strange lilac trees with sharp fin like leaves, bearing opulent yellow berries, and black and white beans crawled across the trees, the statues and the walls.
We giddied our excitements and recalculated the situation. What was unique about this environment which meant it could foster so much growth? It did seem there was something collapsing the system. Potentially in here could lie the clues to fix it.
The wind started blowing and the tendrils of grass bowed there heads, dipping and arching there heads cascading us to the westerly wall. We followed the pulls of the moon’s lavish perogative, and as the grasses parted, we stumbled across a new scene. Situated at the back of the garden, a few feet infornt of the wall, and surronded by large flat stones, sat a pond. Her surface shimmered, and her translucent waters revealed the depths of an opal. Mist droplets hovered above the surface, each one hung it the air, a mist of pearls. On the opposite bank of this body of water, sat three daffodills, their yellow manes pointing directly towards us.
“Who goes there” screeched a voice hidden from sight. The two daffodils on the right hand side instantly turned to the third on the left.
“Shut up you mopey cow” another voice said. “We know full well who stands before us”
“Why are you always shouting at me” retorted the first voice, “my only intent is to sing some bravado into our flaccid existence”
“Flaccid?” a third voice roared. “Maybe we are passive and observant, but my stem bears strength and my roots lie with the complexity of life and love, a tangled knot of sexual misdemeanour. Calculated and sensuous.”
The three daffodils, forgetting they had guests, began exchanging in some pety feud. Daffodils dont tend to live for very long, so it was suprising seeing them feel so comfortable with their arguing.
After a while of their bickering, and after i had gotten over the shock, i shouted across the waters “what are you?”
My interferance made them stop their jabberings. With new curiosity and granted the ability to independently sway, they all inspected us with their bright faces.
“Small heroes, wouldn’t you say?”
“Yes i was hoping for at least a chaffinch! These runts barely cover half a centimeter. What are we supposed to do with these??”
“What are you talking about? You are not looking for us. We are looking for salvation” i responded.
“Salvation? Tee hee, hear her speak? Quite grandiose for bird feed isnt she. Well look no further, we are your salvation! Hee hee hee heehee”
“The habitants of these streets are faltering” stepped in Barb “we have travelled many moons and all we see is vacancies. We have traveled till our food has run to almost its limit. We do not care for your tuppence. Do we have any business with you?”
“gosh , would you hear them harsh words? Hmmm hmmm.. Do we have business with you… hmm…”
“Yes! Of course you have business with us! Can you not see how luscious we are? Who wouldn’t have business with all of this?? And, what is mmore, we have business with you!!”
“You say that your communities are faltering. You say that your soil is drying up. Well you’re right honeybuns! i wish you could take to the sky, or like us, take to the root, to truly understand the significance of your statements… it is not just your communities that are weakened, or your soils. This is a bludgeon against all of us! Our planet is drying up!”
They descended into squabbling again, snapping at each other with their delicate lips your path forwards will be sticky and wet they illustrated, what is the way, what is thee waaay
“Oh yes, we are meant to be doing something” snapped a daf to attention. It bristled its leaves and erected its spine, and from somewhere unbeknowst within, it released an Aummmmmmmmmmmmm
The other two, reminded by there third, quickly rearranged there petals, and in accordance, tilted to the skies, released there own deep Aummmmmmmmmmmmms.
For a beast with no lungs or stomachs for its’ own, the threes’ cry came from somewhere deep, deeper than there roots, deeper than the soil, m’haps even deeper than the core. It oscillated the waters, which began reverberating away from the flowar trio. together , the three crowned their blooms as they moo into the night. Aummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
An aum is not a soothing sound. i am sure if you have ever found yourself in the midst of a drumming circle then you will be familiar with its tolls. It is a sound for projection, for reaching a conclusion, for entering a trance state. These aum were no different. As it battled its way towards crescendo, it changed form many a time. From a toad croaking to a hare leaping, to a dog chasing , to a bear roaring, and finally, a grasshopper, singing to its hearts content to the accompaniment of the universal vibrations. As the grasshopper strung its strings to creation, a wind echoed and forced its way through the pointed dorsal fins of the trees above. It pushed the berrys till they fell to the floor. Each on exploded like flour, none bouncing. A wingbeat became apparent from the whooshing of the canopy, like a heartbeat pushing and pulling. The aum remained strong. Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh. And then, the canopy partied, and down floated a most mysterious creature.
It had wings, but it was no bird or insect i had ever encountered before. Instead of feathers or scales or shell it had thick sheets, like armour. Its wings were made from tens of these sheets, as if each one were a feather. It had an angular form, a hooked beak, 6 hooked talons. It was completely blue. And it was made out of polyvinyl chloride.
It never landed, instead choosing to stay a few centimeters from the pond, which reflected light onto the underside of its smooth and reflective body.
“Why have you beckoned me” it saidsaid he.
“You said that we should when we found something. Well see for yourselfves, something found us!”
The eagle tilted its head so the left side of its face was pointed at us. There was no eye, just geometric sheets interlocking at according angles. Even with no eye, i could feel its scan run through my body. i am sure my sisters felt it too. It seemed to say ‘BEEP. categorised’. These flowers, albeit strange, were from the soil. This beast could not have been from anything else, although its stark anonymity and clinical exterior bore no resemblance to anything which had seen the sunlight and grew in an organic way for some time.
The creature seemed content with what it saw. He relaxed his haunches and dropped the final few inches until floating on the surface on the water. As he did this, the water stayed still. “i am glad we have finally met, my sisters” he began. “i am only the chaueffer, and i am unsure of what you know so far. i think it will be better for my lady to do the talking, she has a way with words i cannot do justice. What i shall tell you, is that we are friend, and that our mission is your mission.” to this he extended his right wing. There was a hole the size of a two pound coin in the middle of it. “They did this to me, and i am now barred from my kingdom. i am not flesh or blood, so i cannot heal. i will remain this way forever. This is my vendetta. And this is only that tip of the iceberg which reaches above the clouds far away on Pluto. The planet is at breaking point.”
“i am sorry, but what does this have to do with us?” said Flea, “we are broken too, and cannot even fly, how are we going to help anything”
“This i do not know. These daffodils were sent here to summon me, and i was sent to summon you to my palace. This is the first time i have been summoned in 3 years, since their placement. For what it means, i do not know. However i know that it does mean something. My Lady will be able to make all clear.”
We landed on the pavement in a wide, abandoned street. Our garden backwalks would’ve been impossible here, stretching 100m or so on either side of the road was a concrete desert, telephone masts, traintracks, high intensity housing. Anything that could maximise space and stay low cost. On the pavement next to where we landed, there was a deep hole in the wall. Above it had the barclays logo, although the bulbs which used to light it had left dull for a long time now.
“All of this used to be mine. i used to parade the cyberspace, have access to everyones informations, flit between continents at the blink of an eye. i could make or break people, companies, countries. i use to have international economic spheres iunder my wing. The hole in my wing came from the days the markets crashed. i am the Eagle of Barclays. i was the Eagle of Barclays. My body was pressed from the same machinations that press plastic into peoples pockets. From creator to credit. My mind a synthesis of the digital rhizosphere. Blocked now from these channels, i am blinded. No more can i dart at the speed of the ethernet. And now, when i see trees, i see dollar bills. My only reconcilliation with those days stands here, infront of us. A physical hole in the wall.”
A torn out bank machine lay splayed on the street, like the entrails of a whale, harshly gutted and thrown for vultures. The vultures had come and torn every papery wing from it’s dispensers, although for what value these would still live up to i was unsure.
The Eagle of Barclays jumped onto one of the wobbly bricked teeth of the mouth where the machine used to be. “We’re going in.” he stated. We followed up the brickwork. It was even dryer here.
When we got to the lips, we peered over the edge, into the cavern. The hole was full of big cupcakes! They had hardened slightly, not merely gone stale but the buttercream was no longer soft or flluffy, the preservatives present within had prevented putrefication. It was a graveyard for unwanted Red Velvets, Pistachio&Cherry, Vegan Gluten Free Fudge, Unicorn Chocolate Cupcake, Passionfruit, Banofee, Salted Caramel, Caramel Macademia Nut, Vanilla with Green Icing and Butterfly Sprinkles! The list was exhaustive. All trapped in their perfect stage of partial decay. We clambered up and over the Rocky Road, through the Blackforest, past the Vanilla with Yellow Icing and 100s and 1000s. Eventually, we came to a clearing. It had a spotlight from somewhere and just to the left of the full glare of the light sat Jane Fry LadyBird. She sat in a chair leafing through a glossy magazine, and on each page was a different page of pooch hairdos. A voice echoed from somewhere deep “You don't knowwwwwww me”.
Jane Fry LadyBird dragged her Betty Boop eyes with their long ass eyelashes away from the ‘Pedigree pampered, Dalmation Do’s and Dont’s’ to plant her face in our direction. The spotlight flickered. “She’s up there” she gave the impression of nodding but i believe she merely used her lashes to point. Behind Jane Fry LadyBird was a pale teal wall, which underfurther inspection revealed itself to be the cardboard face of a LOLA’s cupcake box. Stacked and stacked up they went, like the coccoon left discarded, until there, sat atop, was a familiar face. The face from the dream. It was that face that grinned and winked. It was the Axolotyl Queen.
“You dont knooooooowwwwwwww me” she beckoned again
“Why does she keep saying that” Sputnik queried
“She’s telling you the truth” Jane Fry LadyBird replied, her eyes flicking back to her glossygloss.
“Please, please, come on up! Hmm actually never mind, i’ll come down.” the Axolotl Queen started slithering down the the precariously stacked cupcake boxes. “Oh congratualtions for making it, golly I can only imagine what it mustve been like. It’s a very long way. I suppose you flew the last section, so now maybe I should say we are on Olde Kent Roade. Oh thank goodness you made it! You see, these days I cannot leave my/ our castle. The Eagle of Barclays saved me you see. After the anthros cleared up and left, I was left all alone in a tank in an educational facility for their young. I was kept as a plaything, something for them to run their snotty noses against my cage and for them to marvel at. For 30 years I was held captive in this cruel fashion, my only delight fantasing about their downfall. They would drop soggy pieces of ham into the water. Imagine! Soggy ham diet for 30 years. Well now I am free and look what I have become!” Gleefully to this, she waved one of her hands across her new homestead. “I wanted to eat cake, and so I did!”
“Anyway, we have more important matters to discuss than my custard affinity. Please, follow me.” She slithered through a hole concealed by the plastic display of one of the boxes and out of sight. Looking around, Sputnik shrugged towards us and led the way, our troupe following suit. i was at the back of the troupe, and as walking past, Jane Fry LadyBird raised an eyelash towards me.
“So i guess you are the She we have been hearing about?” she asked, curiosity ridden in her floodlight eyes.
“i really have no idea what is happpening in any of this. Honestly, i’m not even sure why i was allocated to this envoy. And what, who are you,? the Queen of the Poodles?”
This bemused her. “No, I am merely a hobbyist. We all gravitated towards each other, first, axolotyl and the eagle, and then me. I guess now you too have fallenfell within our orbit. Or maybe us within yours.”
“We are not supposed to be friends, you know. i have lost a great many friends competing with your kind over food supplies in recent years”
“All has changed now though,” she responded “there are bigger things at play than our conflicts. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” to this she fluttered her big lashes and dropped a wink. It seemed a forte of the present company.
“But what enemy are we talking of? For us we have many. From the chaffinch, to the parasite, to the dog that scratches away our walls.”
“To have eyes so close to the ground seems must be strange. I see from above, when I take my fancy. For it is clear from the skies that the chaffinches no longer can live from berries, are forced to pillage. The parasites too have nowhere else to go. And the dogs” and to this she looked up from her magazine with great saddness “are one of the most tragic stories of all, kept captive until they no longer can tell what they are, domesticated to the level of ‘puppy kibble’, ‘bone’, ‘cat’.”
“Anyway, I am keeping you. Axo puts on a great show for guests. Let us follow through, and hopefully, this will make more sense (altho sensibilitysensibilities is not a virtue I would prescribe to her)”.
We followed the sisters round the bend behind the boxes, and caught up with them, who were sat around a small circular table fashioned from an upturned metal wine cork topper. There was a minuture glass bottle, with the single letter J scribed into the the side, and one tiny tumbler for each of us, hosts included. The Axolotyl Queen poured 15 tiny portions of this deep thick liquid into the tumblers, and then a few particles of sugar and a droplet of water. She then passed each of us one of the tumblers.
“Here is to the pioneers of the new world” she said, and knocked back her glug of gogojuice. We raised our glasses, and following suit, knocked em back. It went down smooth, a well calculated beverage. “So I suppose it would only be fair to explain to you from where I am from. Maybe this may prove insight in to why we are gathered, and, by god do I like a story.”
“So yes, I have lived in this country for a long time. However, like you, I have my brood. A long time ago, I was removed from them, and moved Trans-Atlantic. Let me take you there”
“Atop the highest hill in a lakeside town sits the Bascilica de Nuestra Senora de la Salud, built in the 1500s with whitewashed walls and red stone columns. On a street around the corner from the basilica, a wooden door framed in carved stone and marked with a cross fleury stands open from 9am until 2pm, and again from 4pm to 6pm. “We pray for you,” reads a sign on the door in Spanish. Inside the room is sparse and dark save for a wooden window and three locked doors. Behind them is a convent, home to two dozen nuns of the Dominican Order.”
“Carefullly tended by the nuns, about 300 of my siblings , the axolotls live in glass aquaria and white enamel bathtubs lining the walls of a long hallway and two adjoinging rooms in the convent. Their tanks are spotless, each with a bubbling aerator made from half a plastic soda bottle filled with stones and coiled fabric. In a glass above the tanks, a baby jesus dressed as a doctor keeps watch.”
“Once, a long time before the Spainish collonisation of Mexico, the people of the town were visited by a young woman. She was sick. Her body was frail, she had trouble speaking. From the skin of the axolotl, the Purepecha people made a jarabe, a sweet medicine. The woman drunk the medicine, and she was healed. ‘Bless you, bless you!’ She decreed. ‘Your people willl live forever, thank you, thank you. I am the Mother of Christ. And as I say it shall be written. May peace and power follow you.’”
“And with that, the Virgin Mary walked away from Lake Patzcuaro and into the hills.”
“Times changed. Spain started war with the Aztec Empire, killing hundreds of thousands. Lake Patzcuaro was collonised, and religous doctrine brought in. The Purepecha people were quieted. But the people still were there. The old purepecha became the sisters of the covenant, and their affinity for the salamders stayed true. And however you see it, they did live forever. Now there is almost nothing left. Mexico has been almost decimated. My sisters and brothers are being held with the covenant still, and are in a hibernative mode. We are the nuns primary concern. But there power too is dwindling. They can almost no longer look after theirselves. We are an old species see, and we can live up to 100 years. We are wise, and bear the powers of health. But in numbers we are few. You are young, and of many, and as the nest, as the species, the supercolonies, you pertain the knowledge of collectivity and resilience. I beliebe that your queens have also been called in for dormancy. And that this is one of the reasons we have seekend each other out yes? Well, i think maybe there is some explaining we should all do…”
Suddenly, a dull wubwubwubbing entered my head. Turning my head from side to side seemed weighty. I felt like I had egg cartons over my sound holes. I counted how many legs I had. Somewhere between four and eight. It felt like whatver we had drunk was starting to have some effect.
“This is the power of the jarabe. From my own skin I offer it to you. A part of my flesh. And now, we shall learn”
As she said this, a gigantic tardigrade rushed overhead, exploding in red fireworks against a wall on the opposite side of the hall. Left burning in the air was the text “we carry a new world here in our heart - Bella Ciao”. The wubwubwubbing picked up pace and volume, till the bass reverberated through my little peggy legs. All the lights were spinning out, crystalising and bokeh-ing, moving around us in a circle. The dust, with the bass, began to rise from the floor, until it took on the shapes of people skanking, twisting and popping. Dark dubstep bounced from curved surface to curved surface.
🌲🌲＜◥ _ ◤＞ 🌲🌲🌲₍˄·͈༝·͈˄*₎🌲🌲
🌲ि०॰०ॢी🌲🌲🌲🌲🌲＜◥ _ ◤＞ 🌲🌲
┈┃fancy a cat-seshh by Ze bushes?
This is mdmamazing I thought
“Lets turn these twinks toxic” shouted Jane Fry LadyBird.
The Axolotl Queen turned to face us, without displaying a glimmer of emotion. Captivated by her moon like face, we stared, and watched as, slowly but surely, a third brilliant blue eye opened in the middle of her temple. It began inhaling all the air from the room at a tremendous rate, first it engulfed the flaming words (bye beautiful), then began sucking the boxes through. Then I saw S.Pot go through the eyeball. Then big Barbz.Then i got sucked in.
We sped through heterotopia after heterotopia, our blossom moving as a ball of luminescent globule through the infinite lava lamp of space time, bumping into differnt globs but never coalescing. As we bounced from differnt orb to another, images of toil blared themselves into the sky. We were in the mall, were the undead inhabit. The vampires lay slumped outside of Urban Outfitters as shadows of the people who used to be. The shopping centre is the vampires nest, and for that, we youth take a morbid fascination in watching them die. The infrastructure crumbles, the lights go out. There are people dancing in the mall, all of them vampires and all of the, eating one another, their white fangs glinting underneath the UV lights. Blooms of fungi appear, first through the shiny flooring and then encroaching upon the bodies of the dancers. Whatever life they held is drained, as the vampires are turned into mindless zombies They start making slow repeated motions . back forth, back forth, paper bodies. Strobe lights and liquid smoke hit as the lights drop low, low ambient whips whirls drone through the space. Tk tk tk tk tkktktktkktkt tkkk………………. The noise slowly regulates and turns to the hammering of a drill as the bodies deteriorate and turn into a pitch black liquid sloshing at feet , slowly rising, building a hydrocarbon mega graveyard, thousands of lives liquidatated. The drill noise cracks through the roof as light spills through and a hoover tube starts sucking sucking sucking all the juices up. We get sucked through the pipe and shot up above the ground, squeezing our way through the oil refinery as pushed further and further upwards. The grass green sat around the refinery yellows, withers, dies, and spreads. We get pushed higher. George Bush flies past on a hoverboard, giggling giggling. The Statue of Liberty loftily waves at us as we go higher and higher. Airmissiles are shooting through the air. The death of the grass continues, taking over the whole world, yellow to wither to death to sand. The whole world is covered in sand. The missiles explode in the sky, lighting the heavens like red poppies exploding from the snout of a gun. Tulips grow across the whole planet, for a moment it is beautiful, then rot instanstly as dark yellow vines consume the planet, bearing bulbous orange cucurbitaceaes, popping and popping everywhere we could see. They bulge and spawn and grow till the whole world is one giant pumpking.