Wednesday, May 13, 2015

AArmond the Amazing

AArmond the Amazing – by Mike Hammer

“A-Armond, or is it Arghhhhmond, maybe A ron mon, all Jamaican-like:
“You know my name, you POET”
“Oooh a poet, wait…. What’s a poet Chester?
“A poet is a dream that……” CRUNCH
It was the worst sound ever - the sound of insecticide dripping down into your hill, the sound of a friend being dipped in chocolate then eaten.
“You ants get your act together and run,” yelled Mr. Kendra in our direction.
Kendra was a good 20 yards from us, scavenging near a tree when Chester got squished. A tiny meteor came from the direction of the smaller humans and drove him right into the ground, it pulverized him instantly and left a black slimy stain on the meteor. That was all that was left of him. He went to school with me, we learned how to build tunnels and find materials needed for a long winter, he dated my sister when we first came to this colony. Now I would have to tell his family that he died.
Any ant who left the colony knew that was a possibility. We always went out in pairs and swore to the other that we would tell their family what happened, if the outside got to us. Chester was my teammate, and now that he was gone I had to run alone, maybe that’s why I was unable to move when Kendra yelled at us.
There was a death machine starting up somewhere, ready to pass over the grass; we couldn’t be out in the open grass with one of those cruel devices slicing and sucking up and smashing any ant in sight. I saw pairs of ants scrambling, 4 legs blurring together, head bent down with mouths set in the determined way that would get them home.
My legs got tangled and I started off eating a face full of dirt, but then I righted myself and scrambled for the colony, I knew they would hold the hatch for the last ant. Dozens of them were disappearing into the colony and the sound of my death was growing louder. I had to make it home to tell Chester’s family about his death.
I slid inside the colony hatch and rejoiced. Happy I was alive. Then I started crying.
The colony rattled and we all headed deep inside as the death machine passed over. I went slowly, eyes blurry with salty water and heart heavy with the last words of a friend. The 1,612 – I mean 1,611 – of us stayed deep til the machine shut off. I spotted Chester’s family as they were leaving the shelter, and I froze, my brains went in 6 different directions, my breathing became shallow and difficult, I struggled to get enough oxygen, my mouth went dry and I turned, and followed my family to our living space.
“Son, you OK.”
“Yeah dad, can we do an extra long lesson tonight? I wanna get all this engineering stuff under my belt, asap.”
“Sure, we can work extra hard tonight.”
I did pretty well on each of the quizzes from Dad, but still missed some sections about possible replacement materials, so I wasn’t happy. Ever since we got transferred to this colony for my dad’s work, I been try to follow in his footsteps, be head engineer for a colony, inside, no more outside jobs, but I’m not as smart or organized as my dad. I’m pretty sure my future holds death.
The only way to avoid it was an inside the colony job, and I wanted to engineer better colonies and better defenses.
“So are you really Jamaican,” Jimmy asked me as we got ready to go outside for a run. He was my partner today, after being right next to me and Chester yesterday. I still hadn’t approached Chester’s parents yet, and I knew they were waiting.
“I’m actually from France, my dad got transferred over to the U.S when I was young, just starting tunnel school, and I started here, with Chester,” I replied.
We left the colony, and went off North, we were barely beyond yelling distance just wondering through the grass looking for bits of protein and nutrition. I saw a meteor that had landed and rolled a bit smashing down some grass, there were red strings making crisscrossed tracks up and around it. I got close to it, I was in it’s shadow, before Jimmy pulled me back.
“What are you doing,” asked Jimmy, his hand on me as I trembled slightly.
“I’m going back inside,” I said, and turned around and headed back to the colony.
All my hearts were heavy, and my feet would barely move, but I was done for the day. Jimmy stayed out. I wondered back, terrified with every step, checking the sky constantly. There was one time with Chester that we were outside working at night and all I could do was look at the sky, I was no help to Chester at all. The stars were huge that night and when I was sleeping I dreamt of ant colonies on the stars and dad to train me in engineering the next day.
As I approached the colony entrance I was smiling to myself thinking of a picture Chester drew of ants with space helmets on, then I Chester’s mom, and I tripped. I considered staying down and pretending I was invisible, or crawling back out with Jimmy, but Chester’s mom walked up next to me. I stared at her feet for a second and then righted myself.
“Was my son happy when he died?” she asked me.
“The last thing we did together was laugh, I… I guess it’s a good last thing to do.”
“He wasn’t in pain?”
“No, he was talking bout poetry, smiling, thinking bout something he liked,”

She touched my shoulder and said “I’m glad you were with him.”
And I was too.

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