When I was 10 I lived in the country and was fascinated by ants. I would venture into the yard, find an anthill, and watch them for hours. Their industrial nature enthralled me as they tirelessly scampered about moving endless amounts of dirt and searched for whatever food they could find. Often I tried to imagine myself in in a world where every blade of grass was the size of a tree and I fought for survival among a world of giants who were all but oblivious to my existence. It saddened me to think that such amazing creatures were all but ignored, or worse, destroyed as pests by beings they couldn't comprehend let alone combat. Their plight touched my heart, and soon I became determined to assist them in their struggle for survival. I picked a tiny mound protruding from the cracks in the driveway and declared myself the colony's champion.
My first priority was to provide food for them, as it seemed nearly impossible that the fledgling colony would be able to sustain itself with a sea of concrete in all directions. But human food seemed too easy - my duty was not to hand them meals but rather to give them the opportunity to fell and claim their own prey. I did not want to rob them of their instincts after all. I still remember the first time I came home early from school, caught a grasshopper, and after binding its legs with a twist tie placed it near to the mound of my ward. Upon finding this gift the ants poured forth as a miniature wave of destruction. The grasshopper fought valiantly as best it could for almost 20 minutes but unable to use its powerful legs to flee it was no match for the dozens of assailants engulfing it. The ants efficiently dismembered their meal and dragged its pieces back to their nest. I imagined a celebratory feast, and wondered if perhaps even one of the ants spared a moment of thought as to how a bound grasshopper appeared out of nowhere.
For the next few weeks this continued. I would get done with school, catch bugs, and feed them to the ants. I could tell the colony was healthy as dozens of ants soon became hundreds, and every day I attempted to find increasingly fierce prey for the ants to hone their killer instincts upon. Soon they were battling wasps with broken wings, spiders, ladybugs, and on one occasion even a scorpion I'd saved a week's allowance to purchase. After a particularly gruesome encounter I often rewarded them with an easy kill such as a moth or nightcrawler. In time I considered it MY colony, with the queen a mere means to produce countless soldiers at my own disposal. In time the ants were actively trekking across the concrete sea in search of rival colonies and I soon spotted them dragging the innumerable corpses of larger black ants back to the nest. Not only were my ants easily able to find their own food but they were destroying their rivals at a mind boggling pace. I swelled with pride.
The provision of food was but one of my duties - another was the physical protection of the colony itself. In the rain I would stand with an umbrella over the mound for hours on end to protect the ants from drowning. I remained vigilant as long as possible until my arms burned and my legs shook. Even gripped with terrible pneumonia I refused to remain inside while the insects were at risk of inundation.
After another month there were thousands of ants. When the colony spawned I took it upon myself to collect some specimens and placed them into an ant farm I kept in my room so that I could always be close to my colony. Their once miniscule original mound was now almost eight inches in diameter and stood roughly four inches tall. Numerous other mounds appeared in every place where the concrete was cracked or jointed, and with every footstep that fell upon the driveway agitated ants erupted forth like a rising brown tide. My parents were oblivious to my pastime and I didn't tell them. I knew they'd disapprove. They soon became concerned about the number of ants in the driveway so I was given some bug killer and sent unsupervised to eliminate my colony. My own designs lie elsewhere. I diluted the insect spray into hundreds of gallons of water and over the next month ever-so-gently applied it to the ants. They quickly built up a resistance. By the end of July when I told my parents that the spray wasn't working they ventured forth and applied the undiluted poison themselves; my ants laughed it off.
While concerned about the insects, my parents were not about to put off their second honeymoon to deal with the issue. A few days later they left for Europe for two months. My 20 year old brother was left in charge to babysit and tasked with "taking care of the ants." After an entire month of inaction on his part I figured my colony was safe as their numbers and productivity exploded; the main driveway mound was now more than a foot tall with the satellite mounds well over six inches high themselves. The entire driveway was nonstop movement at all times. Rodents, birds, and reptiles were all but absent from the surrounding area, their bones occasionally visible among the sea of ants. Then all hell broke loose.
I arrived home from school that fateful day to my brother frantically digging up the yard on the edge of the driveway, tears streaming down his face. I asked what was wrong and between sobbing, screaming, and shoveling he explained that he found his pet ferret Jackson being devoured by the ants. I tried to tackle him but I was brushed aside easily as the decade of age between us made my efforts virtually pointless. I too was crying, for I knew my brother's plan - peeking out of his pocket was a quarter-stick of dynamite. I continually assaulted him, swearing on my life to protect my colony and each time being shoved back with ease. Exhausted, I lept one final time at my brother and managed to strike him in the groin. He howled in pain and hit me with a hard right hand to the chest. I fell to the ground gasping and powerless to stop him as he finished digging, pulled the explosive from his pocket, lit the fuse, and dropped the bomb.
But something went wrong. The fuse disappeared in a split second and the explosion happened just as the dynamite was at ground level. The sound was deafening and the shock wave was like nothing I've ever experienced before. I was dazed and the world seemed to be paused. There was a huge crater and the driveway was cracked with jagged pieces of concrete strewn about. In front of me lie my brother, his clothes and face badly burned, writhing in agony. He'd obviously taken the brunt of the explosion which is likely the only reason I'd survived, yet gratitude was the farthest thing from my mind. I struggled to my feet with the rage of a million dead compatriots burning in my heart. My brother was already being engulfed by ants and in his wounded state could do nothing but beg for help and slowly inch toward me. With all of my might I picked up a piece of the broken driveway and lifted it above my head, then brought it down upon my brother's. He stopped moving, and by the time the police showed up an hour later the body was almost entirely devoured. When asked what happened I told the cops that my brother was trying to use explosives to kill the ants. I neglected to mention anything self-incriminating.
I was taken by the police and my parents were notified. I was flown to New York to meet them and they hugged and kissed me and thanked god I was alright. A month later when we decided to go back home the ant mound was as tall as the garage, and dozens of other mounds taller than my dad were visible up to hundreds of feet away. The look of abject terror on my parents' faces sent shivers down my spine, though seeing my colony so strong made me feel like a god. By this time the entire house itself was also teeming with ants, so my parents told me to grab whatever I could in a single trip and that we were never coming back. We moved into a new house but my parents constantly fought about the ants and my brother and soon they got a divorce. I didn't care, though. I had grabbed the ant farm from my room during our last visit to our old house, and they were all of the family I needed.
|# ¿ Jun 28, 2011 02:13|
|# ¿ May 21, 2013 16:00|
Following the divorce I mostly lived with my mother in a different apartment building every six months, while my father moved to Texas and all but disappeared from my life. Over the next few years I would only see him a handful of times when he came to visit and every time there was a different woman by his side. I didn't even bother to learn their names. My mother became obsessed with her accounting career and often left town for up to a week at a time to attend meetings and symposiums half the state away while I was left to fend for myself. When she was home she would cry virtually every night. Though we rarely spoke, every time we did my mother told me that the divorce wasn't my fault and how much I looked like my brother. It was obvious to me even at such a young age that she had been fundamentally broken by the experience and would never be able to fully recover.
While I excelled at school during these years my social life among humans became stunted as the constant moving made it virtually pointless to make acquaintances. It didn't matter though, as I had the small fraction of the colony I'd brought with me. I secreted the ant farm away deep in my belongings with every move knowing that should my mother ever come across them the results may have been disastrous. When she was out of town I'd often remove the ant farm from its secret location and simply watch for hours until I fell asleep. It was comforting to feel connected, to be reminded of the days prior to the colony's glory when I was the sole reason for its survival. At night I would dream that the old house was now merely a miniscule chamber of a gargantuan anthill with tunnels spanning dozens of square miles, entire towns being overrun and devoured by the unstoppable horde I'd helped to create.
These were lean times. My soul screamed that I should once again nurture the insects to outrageous numbers and strength but with constant moving I realized that the only way to ensure the long-term survival of the colony was to maintain as few ants as could support the queen until a suitable long-term location could be found. Often I would have to starve them until the excess numbers were cannibalized. It was the most painful thing I've ever done in my life; a white-hot dagger pierced my heart and I wept every time a member of my colony was forced to sacrifice itself. The greater good is truly a harsh mistress.
I maintained excellent grades in school where I learned everything I could about ants. I corresponded with many university professors and preeminent ant scientists during this time as well. Gradually I stopped talking to people altogether as there simply was no point in it, only the colony mattered to me. My teachers and mother were quick to notice and I was sent to various professionals, each of whom I told I simply didn't want to talk and said nothing further. One of them even just sat with me in silence for four straight hours which seemed to me a waste of both his time and mine. Shortly after my 13th birthday I was sent to live with my father. I took just enough belongings with me to hide the ant farm. Texas would prove to be a land of opportunities beyond what I could have ever imagined.
My father lived in a small three bedroom house adjacent to a cattle ranch. Though I still remained silent and absorbed in my ant studies he sat me down and explained that if I didn't want to talk it was fine with him. He said, "Your brother's death and the divorce is a lot to deal with, and however you choose to do that is fine. Just know that I'm here if you need me." I didn't need him. I had my colony. During meals my father would have long one-sided conversations with me and never once became frustrated by my silence. He was always very proud of my excellent school performance but knew literally nothing else about me.
After a week I'd managed to find the perfect spot to transplant my ant colony. It was about 15 miles up the road that ran along the cattle ranch's fence, right on the corner of the property. There was an abandoned, dilapidated house with a dirt floor basement. I reasoned it could provide ample shelter from the rain and it was close enough that I could ride my bike there. I packed up the ant farm, grabbed a jelly doughnut, and pedaled down to bring my colony to its new home. After climbing through the partially collapsed building into the basement I held a small ceremony, broke open the ant farm, and placed it on the ground with the doughnut nearby. Concerned but unable to help further I wished my ants good luck and went back home.
The location proved to be ideal. Even with only sparse interference from me the colony flourished faster than it had back home. In a scant few weeks the mound was nearly six inches tall and the ants had wiped out the numerous spiders, centipedes, cockroaches, and other bugs which had also called the basement home. In another month they were once again claiming rodents and birds as prey as the hill steadily grew. With no risk of human danger I felt comfortable that I could leave them alone for longer and longer stretches of time, and without the cement providing a physical barrier the ants seemed unstoppable anyway.
On a day like any other I'd gone to check on my colony. Sitting next to the two-foot anthill was a dead deer. I was puzzled; this was far too large an animal for the ants to have brought it here and it was still a very fresh kill. Had it wandered in and fallen? I heard a shuffling behind me and spun quickly to find a woman behind me.
"I've been watching you. And your ants" she said. She was taller than I, maybe two or three years older, and dressed in disheveled tomboyish clothes. She was the first girl relatively close to my age to have talked to me in the last two years. I stood there dumbfounded as she introduced herself. "I'm Daemicifor, and you're in my house."
"I'm Joseppe," I stammered. My voice had changed since I last heard it and I was caught off guard, "I didn't know anyone lived here." My palms grew sweaty and my mind frantically raced with scenarios of how to protect the colony. Intent on attacking the woman and feeding her to the ants I discretely palmed a nearby board. It was partially rotten and not a very good weapon but I figured that it would give me just enough an element of surprise to make a more effective follow up attack.
"I've been feeding them too, you know," Daemicifor said as she casually walked by me and stared at the ants, "How the hell do you think that deer got down here?" I dropped the rotten timber and it fell to the floor with a dull thud. She turned her head to the side to view me with one eye, and for the first time in my life I truly took notice of the beauty of a woman.
"I'm glad you put that down, I'd hate to have had to kill you and feed you to the ants" she chuckled. My only reply was a sheepish smile as I felt my face turn red. Daemicifor turned to face me squarely and with a puzzled look asked, "You don't talk much, do you?"
I explained briefly to her that I simply didn't talk to anyone anymore. How ever since I found the ants I simply haven't been interested in much else. As we stood on the broken first floor of the house, overlooking the the ants devouring the deer in the basement, Daemicifor's smile seemed to pull the words right out of me. It felt good to talk to someone, especially about ants. This woman knew more about the insects than anyone I'd ever met and as the hours rolled on I became more and more enamored with her. Though virtually unable to communicate with people any longer I could tell that Daemicifor was very attracted to me, and as the sun sank low in the Texas sky and painted it with hues of pink and amber I made a move and kissed her. And she kissed back.
The next couple years were like something from a dream. Together Daemicifor and I would forage for the ants. She taught me how to hunt and we would spend entire days bringing every animal within biking distance back to the colony. As the anthill's size surged we tore out sections of the building to accommodate the increasing height and diameter. On my 15th birthday we even had to remove a section of roof from the four story house to allow more expansion. Daemicifor and I were happy, the colony stronger and more numerous than either of us could have imagined. On the Fourth of July of that year we consummated our relationship on the roof of the house. The rustling sound of the hundreds of billions of ants around us and the fireworks in the distance were magical.
|# ¿ Jun 28, 2011 22:37|
With my ants easily decimating the cattle rancher's herd by the end of '96 and Daemicifor by my side I could ask for nothing more in life. The scent of the ants' chemical markers was noticeable from miles away, even as far as Oklahoma if the wind was right. The sweet perfume seemed to accentuate the flat Texas landscape in such a way as to make me feel I was truly at home for the first time in my life. My life outside of the ants and away from Daemicifor seemed like some kind of strange dream which I'd only spend the briefest moments aware of, and in just a few short years I was to finish high school and finally be able to exile the curse of narcolepsy which kept me from unending bliss.
I counted down the days, but as it turned out there were just too many and they didn't pass fast enough.
On New Year's Eve Daemicifor and I rented a generator and watched an ant movie marathon with the colony's hill visible in the distance about a quarter mile away. The peak of it now rose prominently above the roof of the house, which itself was all but invisible beneath the constant blanket of ants moving over it. At midnight Daemicifor looked deeply into my eyes and asked if I ever thought about the future. I told her that the future could think about itself for the time being as everything was in its place and moving along at a wonderful pace. I had a plan, and that plan was perfectly on track.
Daemicifor tried to explain how there was more to life than Texas and we were missing it - we needed to see the world and spread the colony far and wide and soon as possible. I explained to her that I was unwilling to take that step before finishing school and that the colony was still vulnerable. While we had adequately booby trapped the entire property and managed to ensnare a few pest control personnel and vehicles here and there, a small scale tactical assault could still easily eliminate all we'd worked for. She countered that if we had established more colonies then the loss of one wouldn't matter. The more we tried to explain our points the more heated the conversation got, and soon we were hollering at one another. It was then I saw something change in my sweet Daemicifor. It was as if a fire that burned inside her was blown upon too hard and the smoldering coals were all that remained.
Enraged, I took the generator and trekked back home, leaving Daemicifor cold and alone in the dark to think about what had been said. A month passed before we saw each other again - the most time we'd spent apart since we met. We apologized to each other and made up but something was different. As we foraged together for the colony and expanded the perimeter defenses to disable continuous track vehicles the silences between us were awkward, and in the absence of silence our conversations always seemed to slowly creep in the direction of whether to stay or leave the state. Neither of us were willing to budge from our positions and as much as we tried to avoid the subject it remained a recurring wound between us for the next four months. In retrospect I realize that this situation was far more tolerable for me than for Daemicifor; during this time I was "winning by default" as every day she stayed was a day she denied herself. The internal conflict must have been hell for her.
The day I graduated from my sophomore year of high school I skipped going home entirely and headed straight for the colony. With only two more years until I was free to join my love on a journey of ant conquest I was in particularly high spirits. As I neared I saw the familiar brown spire rising triumphantly in the distance and pedaled harder with each foot of road I covered. I remember thinking that the air itself seemed different, the world quiet and still on an incomprehensible level as if it were holding its breath until I held Daemicifor in my arms and shared my joy with her. In my mind this event would end the tension between us and we would somehow, someway figure this thing out. For the first time since I'd committed myself to the majesty of the ants I wasn't thinking about them.
Maybe that's why it took me so long to notice they were entirely gone. Their noise and scent were both obviously absent. It didn't even strike me until I could see the house. The once writhing exterior was now nothing but the weather beaten wooden siding it had originally been when I found it. I pedaled my bike harder and faster then I even knew I was able, my knees hurt and I could feel the bicycle itself straining to remain intact. "No!" was all I could manage to utter, again and again, with increasing urgency and fervor until I was screaming the word so intently that if there was a god he'd have truly taken pity on me. By the time I reached the ant mound I was on the verge of collapse yet still managed to stumble clumsily about, my vision blurred, in hopes of finding even one of the trillions of ants who were present as recently as two days prior. There were none. I knelt beside my colony's empty home a broken man, waist deep in animal bones. My body burned from exhaustion and my heart shattered into as many pieces as there were missing ants. I died on that spot, then and there.
You don't dream when you're dead. You don't feel. You don't think. There is nothing except awareness that time is passing. It's not any kind of coherent or cumulative manner either; seconds don't add up to become minutes or hours. As such I have no idea how long I lied there but when I opened my eyes it was obviously night time. The tattered house acted as a colander upon the moonlight, allowing small spots of illumination to poke through and fall randomly within. Along with the silence and lifelessness in this place I'd associated so closely with the vibrant pulse of life it was utterly surreal and I wasn't entirely sure this wasn't heaven or hell. I climbed back to the ground floor to leave, but from the corner of my eye I noticed a piece of paper in a spot of light. It was attached to the chunk of wood I'd almost clubbed Daemicifor with when we met. I swooped in to snatch the note from its resting place:
I'm so sorry it had to be like this, but it's obvious that our paths must diverge now. My time with you will always be treasured above all else, and I can never repay you for bringing the colony into my life. I have taken the ants to further the prosperity of the colony and will keep them safe. I hope that some day you will understand, and perhaps even come to forgive me and appreciate what I've done. You are always in my heart.
All my love,
My heart hardened as I crumpled the paper in my hand. I clenched my jaw until I heard roaring in my ears. My fists tightened, and as my fingernails were driven into my palms blood began to rhythmically tap upon the ground. Unmitigated rage coursed through every fiber of my being, and by daybreak I had torn the empty husk of a building apart with my bare hands from top to bottom. There was now nothing but a colossal abandoned anthill towering far above a pile of broken and rotting wood. I went home and had breakfast with my father, grabbed some gasoline, and returned to set the remnants ablaze. As the pillar of smoke rose higher and higher into the sky I could only hope that Daemicifor was able to see it above the horizon as a large middle finger extended solely toward her. Even as I promised to reunite with the colony and swore a blood oath of vengeance against Daemicifor some small part of me hoped I would never be able to find her. That she would be spared from bloody retribution.
This was a weakness unacceptable in my own mind, a moment of self defeatist thought unknown in the world of ants. Success demanded determination above all and anything else was merely an obstacle. I pushed all of those scraps of feelings for Daemicifor downward out of my heart and continued to shove them as far as they would go. When they could be no farther from my mind I took off my left shoe and sock, pulled out my pocket knife, and quickly removed my second-to-middle toe. The pain itself was barely noticeable even as I cauterized the wound with a smoldering timber. Upon the ground that single toe lie bloody and alone, full of all my remaining feelings for Daemicifor. I skewered it and placed it near the edge of the fire where the flesh and blood melted and burned away along with any shred of caring I once had for the woman until only the tiny charred bones remained. I removed them from the fire and after allowing the bones to cool placed them carefully into my pocket to serve as a symbol of dedication to my objective.
EDIT: Removed a redundant "on the ground."
Illegibly Eligible fucked around with this message at Jul 8, 2011 around 23:41
|# ¿ Jun 30, 2011 22:08|
I wanted to avoid posting anything but the story in here (suspension of disbelief [EDIT: immersion is the better term], though I really wanted to respond to some posts) but I'm amazed people are this into the story. I lost focus when the 4th of July rolled around and a few days later got an eye injury from a drunken douchebag with a sandal that has permanently cost me a noticeable percentage of my vision. I'm still getting headaches and trying to adjust (think non-correctable severe astigmatism in one eye) and have been somewhat depressed.
The fact that people are still bumping this almost a month later makes me . I always really enjoy writing but generally once I lose focus on a project - which happens a lot; thanks ADD - I end up destroying/deleting what I'd created. Even COMPLETED projects aren't safe. Literally thousands of typed and handwritten pages have been lost this way. I've been debating whether to delete the half-written next installment of this story that's been sitting untouched on my desktop for almost a month now.
I'll try picking this back up. I make no promises insofar as timeframe or quality, though I certainly won't go this long between updates again. On a personal note I'd like to thank everyone for the encouragement. Honestly it was supposed to be a one-off OP which I only continued due to the response it got.
The letter combination "th" doesn't make an "f" sound Seriously though I'm impressed. I don't use punctuation properly from what I've been told by many people. I mostly view different punctuation marks as slightly differing pauses rather than having raw functionality. While I internally reread what I write to get a sense of flow your aloud is pretty close to how I intended it (minus the accent) so I'm wondering what impact my strange use of punctuation had on your reading.
Illegibly Eligible fucked around with this message at Jul 31, 2011 around 21:12
|# ¿ Jul 31, 2011 19:47|
Trying to find a few trillion needles all at once is still difficult when the haystack is the size of the earth. While the writhing dragon of revenge churned deep within me I realized that without any leads I couldn't just pick a direction and travel hoping for an odd instance of incredible luck. People who don't speak make lousy detectives so I needed to think bigger. There could be no possible escape. My plan would indeed be perfect; so ruthless and efficient as to scorch the earth itself in its wake.
The instinct of the ants themselves seemed to be an inspiration for my plan. I began to ceaselessly create scores of virtual people online, scraped together every last penny I could, and using their identities invested heavily in dot-coms with a simple idea: cash out any investment after 20% loss or 100% gain. The hours were arduous and the candle of my youth was truly burning at both ends during those years. When I wasn't in high school I was adding invisible soldiers to the fold and exploiting the numerous virtual identities to win various contests and lotteries. Those winnings would be dispersed and distributed among the newer identities to afford their own investments. None of these earnings were connected to me in any way, and with no siphoning for day-to-day living expenses the collective value of their portfolios soared as the dot-com bubble expanded. Over time I fleshed out my aliases' personal data, often using them as references for one another to establish lines of credit. Mere months before the bubble burst I had a small army of invisible, non-corporeal minions - many as real on paper as you or I - with a collective value of hundreds of millions of dollars. With a considerable pool of resources at my disposal the next phase of my plan was ready to be put into action.
I hired countless actors with the money. They were as disconnected from society as possible, paid well, and legally bound to secrecy in regards to their project. My soldiers were thus given form and armed with large bank accounts, detailed personal histories, and all kinds of references. Soon the Republican party, whose ranks were swollen with my agents, would win the United States presidential election in 2000 and provide me with virtually limitless power. By orchestrating various events entire agencies were created and industries manipulated for the sole purpose of amassing wealth and producing millions of people at my command. Though I could feel myself coming closer to my goal with every single breath I took no solace was found; those very breaths served only to fan the flames of vengeance.
My army and its holdings expanded faster by the day, Infiltrating society easily and completely in strategic positions all across the world. Political, economic, information, and even human rights systems were twisted in some of the most outrageous ways over the next decade as the very people damaged by these actions were turned to help perpetuate them. What began as a stream of small influences soon became a raging torrent of outright control across the globe as I disrupted everything from world peace and ecology to human education in order to fortify my forces. Soon it would be all but impossible for even a single person to hide anywhere on the planet. No legal or material recourse could possibly oppose me.
My plan had been executed perfectly; so omnipresent were my soldiers' influence that by late 2009 literally nothing which happened in the world could impact my overall wealth negatively. By December of 2010 I personally remained all but invisible yet owned a controlling majority of the entire planet with my agents commanding over 51% of the world's resources and wealth. Literally no force on the face of the planet could prevent me from exacting my revenge against Daemicifor. The time to strike was at hand.
Yet she was absolutely nowhere to be found.
I had scoured and mapped the entire Earth. Satellites capable of identifying and tracking even a single squirrel had been watching every inch of the globe for years. Every bit of information in existence was recorded and analyzed. The world was my oyster yet the very pearl itself managed to remain hidden. I grew first frustrated and then depressed; the anger I felt turned inward for my failure. For the first time I could remember the man in the mirror wasn't an immortal powered by revenge but a defeated old man. In March of 2011, burdened by constant thoughts of disappointment, suicide, and regret I decided to walk the Earth in hopes of finding peace in a world where the one thing I wanted was the only thing beyond my grasp.
Illegibly Eligible fucked around with this message at Aug 3, 2011 around 00:15
|# ¿ Aug 2, 2011 21:02|
One of the first things to go when you disconnect from society is your place on the calendar. After you've lost track of what day it is months will pass before you know it. Aimlessly but with enough sense to not starve to death in the middle of nowhere I trekked onward with every waking moment. I tried to avoid major roads as much as possible and slept for an hour or two at a time when tired. I generally carried about a week of supplies and provisions and only enough cash to resupply and clean up when I came to a town. Though many passerby offered to take me somewhere I politely turned them all down; no ride would expedite my journey. By the time I even remembered to check my place in time two months had passed.
I was no closer to getting anywhere than I was when I left. The burning agony of self hatred clouded my memory and I couldn't even remember what town I had been in two days prior. Most of the time while I traveled I would look no more than 10 feet in front of me, my consciousness used merely to avoid tripping whilst mentally struggling with my demons. Day by day the outside world seemed to retreat ever farther away from me and in some far off corner of my mind I knew it would eventually disappear entirely never to be found again. My self loathing was as intense as my anger toward Daemicifor had been. It was all I truly had and would certainly destroy me in time.
As my days and nights of walking bled together and blurred into the background of my inner reality I wound up in increasingly desolate locations. I was vaguely aware of being somewhere in Arizona, and I hadn't seen a single car in four days. So far was my distance from the world I was walking on that I didn't even notice a man on the side of the road I had passed within a foot of. "You're looking for something" came a voice from behind, striking enough to remind me of the outside world. I stopped walking - there was something about the tone of that voice which seemed to cut through the thick fog between realities and grabbed me. It wasn't so much a voice I heard as a vibration I felt, almost as if a tuning fork had been struck inside me. For the first time since I started walking I turned to look behind me.
The fleeting light from the sun on the horizon at his back stretched the stranger's shadow over me, and though I could tell from the silhouette that he was sitting I couldn't quite discern how far away he was. I stood silently as the remainder of the sun crept downward into obscurity, the reds and oranges of the sunset beginning to ebb as the first few brightest stars became visible. I was trying to determine if I'd finally become so distant that I'd snapped. Was he even real? The figure was motionless, and though I was ready to turn and sink back away from the world to the beat of rhythmic footsteps I found my curiosity undeniable.
The world remained still and silent as darkness settled in. A small fire seemed to spring naturally from a brush pile near the man, the familiar sounds of a lighter or matches as absent as the movement required to strike them. "You've been traveling for quite a while, why not have a seat and enjoy some company?" The voice once again struck deep within me and I felt compelled to comply. As I neared the fire the stranger came into view. He was in his 50's or 60's, and though his silhouette remained steady he seemed to always be in motion. The man's movements were subtle, yet fluid and constant as he tended the fire and stirred a kettle upon it. As I sat he reached over without looking up. "I'm Chipolaux," he said as I shook his hand, "you've got an unusual scent about you. I've only come across it one other time many years ago." I noticed in the flickering light of the fire that the man's eyes were a cloudy gray.
"I'm Joseppe" I replied. I removed my backpack, taking from it a bottle of water, dried fruit, and some jerky. "Why are you out here in the middle of nowhere?" I asked. Chipolaux chuckled and picked up a sign off the ground which simply had Nowhere written on it. "I'm where I want to be. The better question is why are you here?" I paused to contemplate the idea, and while I stumbled for a response Chipolaux chimed in, "Well that explains it." He smiled knowingly in my direction, and I couldn't help but laugh out a response of "I suppose it does." I hadn't heard my own laughter in so long that the sound startled me as much as the feeling of amusement itself did.
"There's a great weariness in your voice, Joseppe" Chipolaux said as he went back to stirring the kettle. "You're carrying something with you which weighs more than any of your supplies." I had been turning my charred toebone over in my hand for the last few minutes. It was an instinctive habit over the last 10 years. "Some things are more important than life," I replied as I placed the bone back into my pocket, "and when lost the only thing that matters is finding it again." I lied back and looked up at the stars, even the smallest and most distant specks of light were clearly visible on the moonless night. "I've searched the entire world, Chipolaux. I've crushed and flipped the lives of billions to find what I'm looking for, but it has escaped me."
"Maybe you're simply looking for the wrong thing" Chipolaux retorted after the brief silence. Lifting my head I saw his gray, clouded eyes staring in my direction. He continued, "When you lose your sight your other senses compensate, even to the point that you're better off. Many people who are stricken blind never learn to appreciate this. They spend the rest of their lives angry and depressed, focused on the vision they've lost. On the other hand, if you are able to surpass your own negativity and pursue your life with that lost vision in stride you'll soon learn that it's actually easier to achieve your goals."
I ruminated in silence on this while Chipolaux went back to attending his kettle. The longer I thought the more my sorrow seemed to peel away. Certainly my quest for vengeance had surpassed my concern for the ants, and rather than seeking to reconnect with the colony I had long been motivated entirely by the thought of bringing retribution to Daemicifor. The rest of the night passed in silence between Chipolaux and myself and as the fire died I found myself with renewed resolve and hope. I vowed to end my aimless wandering at the next town and begin my search anew, motivated by love of the colony rather than anger toward Daemicifor.
|# ¿ Aug 7, 2011 00:09|
For the first time since the night that I died I felt able to rest. The fruits of my walkabout were at hand; guilt and anger dropped from my will as shackles from a prisoner freed. My mind was able to stroll again into a world of possibilities. I drifted off to sleep and dreamed rather than simply reliving the events driving me onward. Never in the last decade had that happened and I myself long thought it impossible. The boundaries of reality became soft and malleable, and my mind twisted them in ways seemingly more natural than what they'd been for so long.
I soon found myself running though the Arizona landscape at incredible speeds. I moved with unfounded grace and agility, avoiding obstacles invisible in the night with an ability to simply sense their presence. It was all so effortless. I leaned forward as I ran, spread my arms, and upon tipping forward off my feet slipped deftly into the cool night sky. My entire field of vision quickly filled entirely with stars as I climbed. The wind roaring through my clothes was the only indication I moved as gravity's hold seemed to loosen. Somewhere far below me was the earth, a puddle of darkness among the lights. In my heart I knew the peace and belonging which had been alien to me since my days of bliss with Daemicifor.
My forward velocity was beginning to slow and I felt myself descending. I angled my body downward to regain speed, and while it worked I could no longer generate lift with my arms. The black spot of the earth grew quickly as I felt the air around me rushing upward. I clawed helplessly about in desperation and thrashed with the blind panic of a person drowning as fear took hold with an iron grip. The circle of darkness below me grew faster by the moment though the ground remained unseen. A bloodcurdling scream wrenched itself from my lungs as the border between the stars and the earth rose to eye level.
I awoke suddenly to the ground trembling. The fire was out though the scent of its recent presence still hung in the air. The sky was littered with an untold number of twinkling lights, alone amongst the pitch blackness which seemed particularly desolate. Even sound itself had fled and the only indication that the world still existed were the tremors from within it and a cessation of the sea of stars at the horizon. "Chipolaux..." I yelled nervously into the night, my breath remaining bated in anticipation of a response.
"I'm blind, not deaf!" rang his voice just as loud, a confident snicker following his reply.
The vibration in the earth was intensifying sharply, as was my concern. "Joseppe please; sit down, calm down" said Chipolaux casually. I was absolutely certain he was aware of the shuddering beneath us, yet his relaxed tone calmed my nerves instantly. Sitting and staring deeply into the darkness before my eyes I inquired into the vast, empty expanse, "What's going on?" I heard Chipolaux inhale deeply through his nose and reply, "Isn't it obvious? Your friends are here." The instant he finished his sentence the shaking stopped. My mind, awash with confusion, managed only a single thought - did that mean...
An intense crushing pain clutched my left leg and demanded the undivided attention of my brain. A subsequent sideways force sent me tumbling downward hard against the ground. Instantly I felt myself being dragged, and though I tried to kick and fight with every ounce of strength it was no use. My head hit hard against something solid and the sky above me transformed into a field of comets soaring past as my body slid quickly against the ground. Moments later the illuminated disk above me shrank and receded as if to indicate I was truly on my own. I was being pulled still farther for what became an eternity in my semi-lucid state. The air grew warm and musty as I lapsed into unconsciousness.
I once again awoke to a steady rumble in the ground and sprang instantly to my feet. "Chipolaux!" I called in a panic at the thick, soupy darkness surrounding me. No reply was forthcoming. My mind felt muddled and my body unsteady while I struggled to determine if this was a dream or not. The stars seemed to coagulate into oddly globular clusters as I sat for a moment upon the warm earth to collect my thoughts. "CHIPOLAUX!" I hollered again with urgency, and again there was no reply. My head pulsated with pain and I instinctively drew my fingers to the source of it. The familiar sting of an open wound sent a buzz of disapproval through me while my attention lie on the twinkling lights above. They seemed so close. I fought to achieve some semblance of balance on my wobbly legs and felt a thousand feet tall as I stretched my arm upward toward the stars. My hand came to rest around one of them, and with a slight tug it came loose from the sky. I pulled back my arm with the utmost of care for the delicate package in transit, drawing it slowly closer for inspection.
Behind me the familiar slap of a security door's bar handle erupted from the slience. I turned too quickly to maintain my unsteady standing, and as I tumbled down to the earth my hand opened. The light I'd captured leaped forth and became invisible against a rectangle of illumination nearby, the dark silhouettes of two people growing larger against it. Exhausted, confused, and injured I began to flicker in and out of consciousness. I struggled to focus my blurry senses as voices and movement suddenly burst forth in a flurry of commotion. I became vaguely aware of my body moving out of the darkness, and heard the words 'cranial trauma' before the flickering stopped and I was unconscious yet again.
Illegibly Eligible fucked around with this message at Aug 15, 2011 around 23:42
|# ¿ Aug 15, 2011 23:35|
A jumble of muffled and indeterminate things made their way through my head as my mind began to recalibrate. "Oshee... oseep... seppee... Joseppe." The sound of my name snapped my eyes open as if by reflex. I was lying comfortably on my back and above me the face of a woman I'd never seen before smiled down with approval. I squinted and blinked hard as my vision adjusted to the brightness. "Welcome back," said the woman as she turned her attention to a clipboard, "how do you feel?" I tried to lean up and felt my right wrist restrained; looking down I noticed myself handcuffed to a hospital bed. The stranger glanced over, placed her hand upon my chest, and very gently urged me back down. "You should rest" she said as she went back to writing on her clipboard, "you took quite a beating."
My fingers and toes tingled with awakening while I wiggled them diagnostically. "Who are you? What's going on?" I asked nervously as I struggled against the handcuffs. "My name is Ethel" was her reply. There was an unmistakable glimmer of caring in her eyes and a reassuring smile graced her lips, "You were brought here with a pretty serious blow to the head." She placed her left hand upon my right. "And the handcuffs?" I asked suspiciously. Ethel stood abruptly, "Someone would like to speak with you before you're released." I caught a brief glimpse of concern on her face before she turned and began to walk toward the door. "Ethel" I said pleadingly. She stopped but didn't look at me. "How did you know my name?" I saw her head drop and her shoulders move with a heavy breath, "I got it from someone else who knows you" came her reply, and she continued toward the exit. "Is it Chipolaux?" I asked, but Ethel kept walking without acknowledgement. "Chipolaux‽" I yelled as the door closed behind her.
I used my free hand to pull the IV needle from my arm and stuck it clumsily into the keyhole on the cuffs. Though I never picked a lock before I had a basic understanding of how they worked and believed that I would eventually be able to free myself. "That's not a good idea" came a disembodied male voice from the ceiling. I examined the room a bit more closely and noticed a camera in the closest corner, pointed directly at me. "Then come down here and tell me why!" I demanded, and went back to jamming the needle blindly about the inside of the restraint. Minutes later the door opened and a man in a tidy suit and dark sunglasses entered. As he approached I began to work the impromptu lock pick more desperately. "Those cuffs are locked. You're just going to end up breaking the needle" said the man with a smirk as he removed his sunglasses. He produced a handcuff key from his pocket and held it before me. "May I?" he asked politely. I nodded in approval and was promptly unshackled. I sat upward in my bed as the stranger pulled up a chair.
"I'm agent Gwandaloo with the Department of Homeland Security" he said and showed me a badge. It was a well-crafted counterfeit but fake nonetheless. I had, after all, worked to create the very agency he was trying to impersonate. The man took a glass from my bedside and after filling it with water from an accompanying pitcher handed it to me. "You were involved with an incident concerning national security. Do you remember anything?" I took the glass and sipped lightly. "The smallest of flashes. It was very dark. I'm still not sure what was real and what was a dream." Gwandaloo smiled, "Obviously getting your head smashed in was real. Can you please tell me what you DO remember?" I smiled and lied back down, "There were comets. I was dragged. I even grabbed a star. Then I woke up here. I had been asleep moments before my head was hit and saw absolutely nothing else, so I'm sorry I can't be of more help." There was a long pause as our eyes met. He was trying to determine if I was telling the truth. This gave me an advantage - I already knew he was lying. "What can you tell me about Chipolaux?" he asked. My ears perked up, "He's an old blind man I met on the road the night I was attacked. Is he okay? Is he here?"
Gwandaloo stood, replaced his sunglasses, and began to pace slowly about the room. "Joseppe, we have extensive files on you. We want you to help us; to help your country." I sat up again, rotated my body, and placed my feet on the floor. "I have... other concerns" I said in the snarkiest tone I could muster. The imposter paused briefly mid-step, sighed heavily, and moved to a locker in the corner of the room. After fidgeting with the lock he opened the door and took out my clothes, clean and folded neatly, and came near to hand them to me. "Truth be told, you're not in a position which affords a lot of negotiation." I took my clothes and put them on while Gwandaloo turned his back and lit a cigarette. He took a heavy drag and exhaled a cloud of smoke in the air. "I may not be able to negotiate" I replied while pulling my shirt over my head, "but I don't have to cooperate either." Something about this amused him and I heard a slight chuckle as another puff of smoke floated into the air. "Of course you don't, but I'm not here to play games with-" "Then stop lying to me!" I interrupted loudly. Gwandaloo dropped his cigarette as the words seemed to echo in the room. Even behind those dark sunglasses I could tell he was rattled, turning his attention to stamp out the mostly-unfinished cigarette while regaining his composure. I stood in a wide stance, prepared to defend myself. Though the man ten feet in front of me was much taller and better built I was determined not to go down without a fight. "Fine," he said after a moment, "come with me and I'll explain everything." Gwandaloo began to walk toward the door, and I followed two steps behind.
"The truth is that America, and in fact most of the world, is under attack and has been for a very long time. It's being torn apart systematically" he said as we stepped into a long, unusually-twisted hallway with multiple doors unevenly spaced on both sides. "By who?" I asked. We stopped at a door marked C-1. "We're not exactly sure" Gwandaloo replied, "but they have agents virtually everywhere. Everywhere except here." He opened the door and we stepped into an immense cylindrical room. Computers and other mechanical equipment covered the floor and walls. A network of catwalks criss-crossed in endless layers above. Dozens of people milled busily about without giving us a second glance. I didn't notice myself locked in awe until Gwandaloo patted me on the shoulder. "It's a beauty, isn't it? This is central command; the room is a quarter mile tall and 500 feet in diameter."
I was guided to a terminal and with help from the computer Gwandaloo explained to me what was going on. These dedicated individuals were working to undo the damage I'd perpetuated against human society over the past decade. While having a fairly complete map of my agents, agencies, and the events they'd perpetrated, they lacked completely the unifying source or motivation behind it all. The irony was not lost on me as I feigned ignorance and surprise. The group had been operating in complete secrecy for virtually as long as I, collecting information and formulating a way to stop the madness which had enveloped the globe. Their facilities encompassed dozens of square miles worth of interior space and the entire thing was 100% self-sufficient, which allowed them to avoid detection.
I glared at my guide with confusion on my face, "This all seems pretty outrageous. If your enemies are as omnipresent as you suggest and your structures are so extensive how do you manage to keep them hidden?" He looked over his sunglasses, a slyness in his eyes which made me uneasy. "I'm glad you asked. It actually has a great deal to do with why you're here. Follow me." We headed back out the door, across the hallway, and into an elevator. As it headed downward Gwandaloo broke the silence. "You're the first person to ever show up uninvited. As I'm sure you understand we were quite alarmed. We couldn't figure out why you were brought here until she filled us in. That's how we knew your name." The elevator slowed to a stop and the doors slid open to reveal a modest laboratory. There were large windows on the opposite side which appeared to separate the lab from a series of dimly lit caves. I stepped forward into the room and Gwandaloo followed. "Our facilities lie between 2 and 20 miles underground" he said as he walked to a nearby terminal. He spoke something I couldn't discern into a microphone, then turned back to me. "The scale and precision of excavation required to accomplish what we have here is otherwise unknown on this planet. That's where she comes in."
A set of doors adjacent to the elevator opened. A woman burst in and wrapped her arms around me. I recognized her from the embrace alone; without a doubt in my mind I knew it was Daemicifor. "I thought I'd never see you again!" she sobbed into my shoulder as I placed my arms around her. Time seemed to stand still and my mind reeled in an attempt to figure out exactly what emotions were appropriate. "I'll leave you two alone" said Gwandaloo as he stepped into the elevator, "I'm sure you have a lot of catching up to do." The doors closed behind him and we were left alone in our embrace.
Illegibly Eligible fucked around with this message at Aug 18, 2011 around 01:10
|# ¿ Aug 18, 2011 01:03|
Finding the woman who was here in my arms had been the goal of nearly half my life. I felt all but complete. "I've been looking for you for so long." The words rolled from me without conscious thought. Daemicifor's sobbing quieted, I felt her arms loosen, and she leaned into me with innate familiarity. Our eyes met and we stood alone in the universe, outside of time entirely. It was a moment that I wanted to drown in. Deep inside, however, a small part of my soul irresistibly struggled for air. I stepped back slightly from Daemicifor and her look was one of confused dejection. I smiled warmly and said in a voice dripping with reassurance, "It's been a long time, and this is all kind of sudden. Where is the colony?"
Her face brightened gleefully as she bounded over to a panel of switches on the wall. Daemicifor flipped them enthusiastically and the darkness on the other side of the windows gave way. "See for yourself" she beamed, hopping back over to me and putting her hand in mine. We turned together and approached the glass. With each step closer the floor of the cave dropped away until it became apparent that we were at the top of a massive chamber with an untold number of very large entrances - every single inch of it was covered in motion. A flood of joyous tears filled my eyes while I clenched Daemicifor's hand tightly. "Quadrillions," came her voice from next to me and I chuckled happily in response, "but that's not the best part." My breath collected in a vaporous pool upon the glass as I stared out over the ants in astonishment. After a moment of silence I turned to Daemicifor, "It gets better?" I asked with sincere curiosity. In an energetic flash she swept a series of small vials from a nearby table, securing them carefully in the pockets of her lab coat as she made her way toward the door. "We'll have to go out there for you to really appreciate it. Follow me."
We stepped out into a large cavern and a wave of warmth and humidity rolled over me. The walls and floors of this place were almost completely covered with various plants and fungi, many of which glowed dimly and collectively provided the dull illumination that made the twisting passage in front of us visible. The air hung heavy with a variety of alien scents so intense as to nearly induce nausea. Daemicifor walked confidently forward and I stepped nimbly to move alongside her, carefully dodging a small pool of liquid which seemed home to some bioluminescent algae. After rounding the first bend Daemicifor stopped next to a patch of waist-high orange shoots vertically striped with pale blue light. She took a cotton swab, rubbed it thoroughly over the plant, then placed it into one of her vials.
She explained a lot as we wound our way ever downward along the numerous forking passages, stopping a few times to swab and harvest different plants. What I had seen earlier behind the glass was the main interchange between all of the tunnels; it was the heart of the colony. We were currently strolling though her garden. In the many years Daemicifor had been with the resistance group numerous scientists had been recruited to work closely with her and the ants. The things growing in this section of the cave were engineered to produce various chemical compounds that the ants correlated with different behaviors. The effects were even color-coded. By farming and using them in specific combinations Daemicifor could essentially speak the ants' language and issue commands. We turned a corner and I saw the tunnel narrow significantly, terminating at a metal security door. As we approached Daemicifor removed a vial from her pocket and pulled from it one of many swabs with an almost-imperceptible blue tint.
Through the door there was another tunnel running perpendicular to the one we'd just come from. No plants grew here and the only light came from a florescent bulb above the door behind us. "Left or right?" I asked of my companion. She smiled broadly and responded, "Just wait here" as she held the swab waist high at arm's length. In the darkness to our left I heard something coming down the tunnel - the sound it made was indescribable but obviously drawing closer by the moment. Daemicifor stood relaxed and confident as a pair of gigantic ants quickly closed in upon her from the darkness, stopping mere inches away as they inspected the cotton swab.
They were the size of very large dogs, antennae bouncing about curiously in the air at chest height. I could hardly believe my eyes as Daemicifor laughed giddily and patted their heads like they were house pets. "They're not going to hurt us, you can touch them if you'd like" she said, glancing over to me while feeding the smaller of the pair some of the plants she'd plucked earlier. I took a deep breath and slowly extended my hand toward the larger ant, my fingers trembling with anticipation as its antennae hovered around my body. "Wow" I exhaled as my palm laid flat against the smooth carapace. Memories of my childhood dreams trickled through the back of my brain wherein I imagined being the size of an ant.
It was minutes before I noticed Daemicifor staring over at me with a look of warm approval on her face. "It takes practice to get good at it but we can ride one if you're interested." The idea lit my mind aflame and my heart skipped a beat. As if sensing my eagerness Daemicifor swiftly climbed atop the larger of the two ants and motioned me to join her. A brief struggle ensued but I was soon sitting behind her on the thorax ready to go. She dug in her pocket and produced a few cotton swabs of varying color while telling me to hang on tight and keep my head down. When I was ready she introduced a yellow and green swab to the ant and with a jolt we sped into the darkness ahead.
I felt the warm air rushing against my face as we flew quickly through the pitch blackness. Occasional unease clenched my stomach as we climbed and descended sharp angles, the ant obviously upside-down or clinging to a wall for brief moments as it deftly navigated without any light. We stopped entirely once in a while, during which time I beame aware of an additional set of antennae probing us before we continued our journey. After some time a dull light appeared ahead of us and as we approached the tunnel widened into a bulbous chamber with multiple earthen pillars. On every surface of the room grew mushrooms bespeckled with iridescence - I recognized them instantly as the stars I'd grabbed in my half-conscious state.
Numerous ants of varying sizes skittered busily about the room as we dismounted and walked amidst the glowing field. Now and then one of the curious insects would approach and inspect us, satisfied to continue farming and feeding after being presented with a cotton swab. Daemicifor told me that she and the scientists had worked to grow some of the ants to very large sizes over successive generations so they were able to excavate better for the resistance group. The colony was now made up of ants ranging from their original size to slightly larger than the one we had ridden, all working in uninterrupted conjunction with one-another.
We paused in the center of the chamber and all around us the dark silhouettes of ants moved against the glowing background. There truly seemed to be no end to the wonder of this place. From the corner of my eye I could see Daemicifor staring at me, a question on her lips which she struggled to prevent from leaping into the air. Her curiosity was palpable but remained her own as we stood next to one another, surrounded by the constant sound and motion of the ants milling about.
|# ¿ Aug 24, 2011 04:11|
I've got the next part mostly written. I'll finish it up later today or maybe tomorrow depending on how much free time I have. I'm inserting another interruption in immersion due to the fact that I will probably be going on another hiatus after the next chunk of story is posted. I felt it more fair to mention it in advance this time since some of you have expressed such interest and I don't want anyone to feel I've abandoned this. As it happens I finally found motivation to stop living in a house with no power amongst people I don't really care for. I need to get my real life in order and stop living off my savings with a blind belief that "everything's going to work itself out." As much as I love to just write for hours and days on end the grim fact is that it causes me to avoid doing anything else with my life. I guess I'm an addict.
Then again, who knows? The actual story has evolved as I write it and (in my opinion) is becoming more interesting even if the writing itself isn't . I've spent an awful lot of unproductive "decompressing" time this year and it's nice to have something, however small, to show of my existence. I might get started on a job/housing hunt and drop it in order to come back to this right away - I've always been a sucker for happiness over practicality. In any event I've enjoyed this thread as much as anybody and promise to finish the story. It feels good to create something appreciated by others and know that a pursuit I enjoy and feel I have a knack for isn't entirely due to my deluded self-perception.
EDIT: VVV if I'm ever part of an egalitarian collective I may not either. In the mean time it would be nice to actually use my appliances and electronics at my own home.
Illegibly Eligible fucked around with this message at Aug 30, 2011 around 07:14
|# ¿ Aug 29, 2011 11:55|
If home is where the heart is then here, deep within the chambers of the colony, is where I belonged. An unwelcomed notion crept into my mind as I gazed upward - what was I to do now? The ants seemed to no longer have any need for a champion. Their food supply was abundant and stable, and with their massive size I imagined them quite capable of defending themselves. I had no role among them it seemed, and the tiniest piece of my soul sank as I mulled over this realization. The core concept of existence among ants was utility and my presence was simply superfluous. "We should go," came Daemicifor's voice, derailing my train of thought. I looked over at her and she held up a vial containing two cotton swabs. "I'm almost out," she said, "and we don't want to be stuck down here when that happens." We hitched a ride on another massive ant and in short order were returned to the door we'd come from.
We stepped in, made our way through the garden, and returned to the lab. Gwandaloo was there looking out through the large observation windows. I thought I caught the briefest glimpse of a scowl on his face quickly twist into a friendly smile as he turned and walked toward us. "Well Joseppe, am I to assume you'll be staying with us?" he asked while extending his arm forward for a handshake. I grinned and responded, "This is all so amazing, how can I say no?" I locked my hand into his and was greeted with a painfully tight grip. Gwandaloo leaned in and pulled me closer, tilted his head downward, and looking over the lenses of his sunglasses locked his eyes upon mine. "You can't" he said quietly while Daemicifor walked to a table on the far side of the room.
Releasing my hand he straightened his tie then pulled a cigarette from his pocket, lighting it and taking a deep drag in a series of precise motions. "You know I don't allow smoking in my lab" Daemicifor chided from over her shoulder as she pulled the vials from her pockets and placed them carefully into a rack. Gwandaloo flicked the ash off the end of his cigarette and it tumbled to the floor. "I was just leaving." he replied and walked to the elevator entrance. "Joseppe is going to be working with you, so please take care of arranging his quarters and bringing him up to speed." He pushed a button, the doors opened, and he stepped inside. "I'm certain your friend still has a lot of questions, and the sooner he's a productive member of the team the better." Gwandaloo took another puff on his cigarette and nodded in my direction as the doors slid closed.
I walked over to the windows and looked out into the sea of ants on the other side while Daemicifor prepared a slide and examined it through a microscope. So much curiosity ran through me that I didn't know where to begin. Something didn't seem right about this place, yet seeing the colony writhing below gave me a sense of joy which overshadowed my unease. I placed my hand against the glass and could feel a slight vibration from the untold millions of pounds of ants in motion. I had an immediate connection to them which had long been absent; so long in fact that I'd all but forgotten it entirely.
The issue of my purpose among the colony once again pushed its way to the forefront of my thoughts. "Why did you bring me here?" I asked aloud, looking anxiously at Daemicifor. She turned her attention away from the microscope and came over to me. "I didn't, they delivered you here entirely of their own accord." She smiled and placed her hand against mine on the window. "The fact that the ants did something like that without my command scares Gwandaloo. He values control, and virtually everything we have here is a result of that man's leadership. Security is a pretty major concern of his and you showing up out of nowhere put the entire facility on alert." Daemicifor pulled my hand gently to the side of her face, kissing my palm in transit. She curled her way into my arms, her back against me while she too stared out onto the colony. "He would have simply watched on camera as you died slowly out there - Ethel disobeyed a direct order by bringing you in for medical attention." The man's attitude toward me suddenly made a lot of sense, though my opinion of him was none the more favorable.
The elevator began to beep behind us and Daemicifor stepped away from me. Moments later the doors opened and Ethel walked into the room. "Hi D, I'm just here for a quick check on my patient," she said as she approached me. "What's up doc?" I asked with a snicker. A small, bright light being shined in my eyes was her response. "Any headaches, dizziness, or nausea?" Ethel asked as she put on a pair of rubber gloves. I shook my head negatively. "Blurred vision or drowsiness?" She stepped behind me and tilted my head back to inspect the injury. "Nope, none of that" I answered. I felt slight pressure as her fingers tenderly probed around the edge of the sore area on my scalp. "Okay then," she said, walking back in front of me while removing her gloves. "Please keep your head still and follow this with your eyes." Ethel moved a pen slowly about and I did as instructed. "You seem to be healing nicely, but if you experience any of the issues I've mentioned come see me." She placed a pill bottle in my palm and closed my fingers tightly around it, "I want you to follow the instructions on these very carefully." There was a strange tone of urgency in her voice. I inspected the label on the bottle - 'Take privately' was the only thing written upon it. I shoved the bottle casually into one of my pockets.
Ethel turned to Daemicifor, "What did he think of your pets?" Daemicifor smiled at me, "He loves them. We even rode one already. He's a natural." Ethel shook her head with disapproval, "Those things are dangerous, especially with a fresh head wound." She glanced at me, then looked back to Daemicifor, "I've already dealt with enough ant-related injuries to last a lifetime, and considering Joseppe already has one I think he should take it easy. He needs rest." Daemicifor nodded, "I was just going to show him his room when you arrived. Joseppe, are you ready to settle in?" I smiled broadly, "I haven't slept in an actual bed in months aside from the one I woke up in today. So long as there are fewer handcuffs involved I'm all for it." We shut down the lab, the three of us took the elevator up, and I was introduced to where I'd be staying.
Ethel and Daemicifor gave me a quick tour of the computer terminal in my room. With it I would be able to access partial maps of the facility, my ration allowances, request forms, and other minimal-security information dubbed pertinent to my clearance and assignments. After a brief goodbye the ladies excused themselves to return to work and I was left alone. I left my clothes in a pile on the bathroom floor as I inspected my numerous scrapes and bruises in the shower - in all the excitement since waking I hadn't noticed just how beat up I was as a result of being brought here. I was in pretty rough shape and began to take notice of the soreness I felt all over.
After my shower I dried myself gently and picked up my clothes. The pill bottle Ethel had given me tumbled to the floor, rattling as it bounced a few times off the solid floor. Eventually it came to rest against my left foot and I snatched it up swiftly. Opening the top revealed about a dozen blue pills and a small folded piece of paper. I pulled the paper from the bottle and opened it to see a handwritten note and a map.
Please meet at my quarters at 22:00. I have provided directions from the main hallway. Do not tell anyone of this or use the computer to contact or locate me. Doing so may put us both in danger. The pills are aspirin, take as needed.
I looked at the clock. It was just after 21:30. I finished getting dressed, memorized the route I was to take, then crumpled the note into my pocket as I headed out the door.
|# ¿ Aug 30, 2011 07:09|
Ethel met me at her doorway and hurried me into her quarters, peeking nervously down the hallway before closing the door. "I'm glad you came" she said, "is there anything I can get for you? I know this whole situation is a lot to process right now, all things considered." I waved my hand, pulled out a chair at her table, and sat down. "I just want to know what this is all about" I replied.
She filled a kettle with water and placed it onto the stove. Without turning Ethel put her hands on the edge of the counter and leaned against it. "Not all of us want to be here, you know." Though I couldn't see her face the tone of her voice was laden with sorrow and anger. "Quite a few people working here were recruited against their will. We had careers, families, and normal lives that we can never go back to." She turned and looked in my direction with swollen eyes. The agony on her face was that which had been upon my own for over a decade.
I felt obliged to offer some form of comfort, "Maybe, when this is all over..." Ethel sighed heavily walked to the table, sitting in a chair across from mine. "Over? It'll never be over. Gwandaloo is a madman; he says his goal is to free the world from the grip of some unknown global puppet master, but his true aim is to become the person pulling the strings. I've been here for 6 years now. You can't even imagine the horrors I've seen that man commit. If he decides you serve a purpose then your life is spared. If not..." she trailed off and looked down. A tear rolled down her cheek and splashed on the table. "Well, everyone ultimately serves some purpose here."
A heavy, ominous silence hung in the air while Ethel choked back her sadness and struggled to regain her composure. After a few minutes she lifted her head and our eyes met. It seemed strange to me that someone would be opening up so much to a complete stranger. "Why are you telling me this?" I asked. Ethel straightened in her chair, "Because if I don't tell you about the danger you're in you'll almost certainly end up dead." That phrase echoed loudly in my ears as she paused briefly before continuing. "Something's been happening over the last couple months that has Gwandaloo particularly on edge. He feels the time to make a move is approaching and his paranoia is piqued - it's amazing you're alive at all right now."
I put on a smile and leaned back in my seat. "So I've heard. I understand I have you to thank for that." The kettle began a low whistle and Ethel got up to attend to it, "You're welcome" she replied while preparing a cup of tea. "Caring for the sick and injured is the one thing I can do around here that doesn't directly further Gwandaloo's agenda. It keeps me just useful enough. I was initially brought here because of my advances in the field of biochemistry - most of my handiwork can be found in Daemicifor's garden."
This didn't make sense to me. "The garden is amazing" I said, "why are you doing medical work?" Ethel placed her cup upon the table and sat back down. "Things used to be quite different. When I was abducted and brought here along with many other scientists this whole place wasn't even one percent of the size it is now. The ants were wild, not the controllable monsters they are now. The other researchers and I were tasked with finding a way to improve them." She took a sip of her tea then stared deeply into it, "Initially, when we refused to work, Gwandaloo threatened our lives. We were forced to watch while some of our colleagues were selected and fed alive to the horde of ants. It was the most horrific thing any of us had ever seen. Even so, many of us still wouldn't help him - until he promised the same fate to our children and families should we hold out. The politeness and almost friendliness of his demeanor the whole time..."
I felt my stomach clench nervously in recognition as Ethel trailed off. She sipped at her tea then lifted her head. "We had to comply." The look in her eyes screamed out in uncertainty long unabated. I could do nothing but nod sympathetically. Ethel's stare lowered again while she continued. "I met Daemicifor during this time and learned of her partnership with Gwandaloo - she directed and organized the scientists' efforts. Obviously we were quite successful. The ants grew, their colony grew, and as a result so did Gwandaloo's base of operations. The number of people here ballooned tenfold in just a few years. In the early days, however, this was a recipe for disaster. Sometimes we would notice a perimeter breech early on and seal it without a problem. Other times we weren't so lucky - a couple of the larger ants would manage to get in and rip a handful of people apart before they could be stopped. Aside from the small room you saw we have no dedicated medical bay as Gwandaloo didn't see a need for one; some other volunteers and I did what little we could to treat the wounded but almost nobody survived an ant attack."
"As our understanding of the ants' neurobiology improved we isolated dozens of chemicals which could be used in various combinations to curb the attacks and trigger specific behaviors. In order to produce them in large amounts we seeded the garden with genetically altered plants and fungi while Daemicifor quickly familiarized herself with the chemical language. With the hurdle of pacifying the ants out of the way our research and experimentation were poised to advance by leaps and bounds. Shortly afterward Gwandaloo spoke to me privately and told me I was being reassigned to medical and my computer access consequently restricted." Ethel paused, brought the cup to her lips once more, then set it aside. "Daemicifor told me I was one of the lucky ones - those who weren't deemed somehow useful beyond their research were fed to the ants. She's now the only person working with them, and as a result her progress is a mere fraction of what it was with the whole team."
A familiar ire reared its head within me. How could Daemicifor be so complacent as to allow Gwandaloo to simply use the ants in this manner? The thought lodged itself uncomfortably in my mind and brought back a brief flash of the decade I spent consumed with rage and preoccupied with revenge, feelings until so recently at the forefront of my thoughts. The charred toe bone felt suddenly warm in my pocket, its presence all but entirely forgotten since my arrival here. I'd finally been reunited with the colony, why couldn't things just be simple again? This potentially dark and dire situation I was in troubled me greatly.
"Thank you for the warning, I should be going" I said while standing up from the table. As I turned toward the door I felt a hand on my shoulder and stopped. "I know you and Daemicifor have a past," came Ethel's voice from behind me. "Whatever Gwandaloo's leverage, remember that she's had it held against her for longer than anyone here." I nodded silently then continued out into the hall. My mind turned Ethel's story over a few times as I made my way back to my quarters - when I got there I immediately began to study whatever maps of this place I had access to. Should trouble arise I felt it prudent to know my way around.
|# ¿ Oct 15, 2011 06:20|
Dying Atheist posted:
Please tell me you're going to get this published, because I want to own it and gift it to people who aren't goons.
Slow down there bucko, the story isn't even finished yet - depending on how this OWS thing keeps going it might be a while.
I have no idea how to go about publishing but I'm all ears. As much as I think the arts should be pursued for enjoyment rather than profit it would be a dream come true to actually make a living via writing. Income however modest would certainly help motivate increased productivity - as much for the fact that it would provide feedback and encouragement in addition to actual funding.
I find it quite flattering that you want to own this and share it with nongoons.
|# ¿ Oct 16, 2011 21:17|
I became used to life in the facility without much of a problem over the following weeks despite a deep unease. Gwandaloo made rare but regular appearances in the lab and had private discussions with Daemicifor. Ethel was absent entirely. As I was officially Daemicifor's assistant she and I spent a great deal of time together; though a knot in my soul refused to be untangled it was as if we'd met for the first time all over again. Whatever strange chemistry had made us almost instantly inseparable all those years ago was still there. Between a few hours in the lab where I studied while Daemicifor undertook her own work there would be many long excursions into the ants' nest. Much of that time was spent hand-in-hand, words intentionally absent while we both avoided an imminent discussion about what happened between us. Its acknowledgement by silence sufficing, virtually all conversation regarded the ants.
There was so much to learn! I ceaselessly studied the scientists' ant research whenever possible. Though much was restricted from my low security clearance, both the scope and specificity of information I was able to access were so astounding that it made my previous decades worth of knowledge seem remedial. Extensive files detailed everything from physiology to social interactions, giving an unparalleled insight into their existence. The vast majority of information was related to chemical signaling. While the ants were relatively benign when presented with the proper samples from the garden they remained incredibly fierce otherwise. The records showed them responsible for over two hundred deaths during the previous six years. Daemicifor had been witness to a great many of them and was always perfectly cautious when it came to our trips into the depths of the colony. The outings were planned well in advance and more than twice the required amount of chemical swabs were taken along.
Though I quickly became familiar with the specific combinations needed to influence certain behaviors I was not allowed to venture past the garden without Daemicifor. Nobody had ever been - both by Gwandaloo's order and Daemicifor's preference. The ants were too dangerous; though taking proper care and precautions seemed incredibly easy that same simplicity made oversight a constant risk. Even something as seemingly inconsequential as a cross-contaminated chemical swab could result in being mercilessly torn apart in an instant. The intensity with which the ants experienced the chemicals was beyond comparison to humans' rather meager sensory capacity. It was not a question of reacting to stimulus but rather being controlled by it. As a shark detecting even minute drops of blood in the water is overwhelmed by immediate unfathomable hunger so were the ants able to sense the slightest amounts of specific molecules and viscerally compelled to undertake the commands indicated. The concept of decision didn't exist to the ants; their actions were dictated entirely by the most intense input.
It was impossible for me to determine exactly how much progress we were actually making. When we ventured out we'd take a few samples and measurements of various things back for analysis. Daemicifor would study them in the lab then fill out the reports she submitted to Gwandaloo. All I was expected to do aside from learning about the ants was calibrate equipment and other menial tasks. I felt redundant; my involvement was forcibly limited due to not being authorized to know the specific details of Daemicifor's work. There were even times when she had to enter the colony alone. I was starting to become frustrated. As time passed an increasing number of limitations imposed by my low security clearance became aparent and accentuated the access restricted from me.
Being among the ants again and learning all this new information about them was a dream come true, but it was one tainted with a lack of lucidity. Despite its relative comfort the fact of the matter remained that this place was still a prison. When Gwandaloo would come to the lab and speak to Daemicifor privately about her work I was afforded time alone in the garden during which I ruminated on this situation. Though I was unsure of what I could do for them any longer I just wanted to be with the ants, and no matter how many different ways I looked at it every day seemed to prove that the current arrangement was as much obstruction to my desires as opportunity to fulfill them.
On my way back from one of these solitary walks I heard Gwandaloo shouting indistinctly as I approached the door to the lab, followed by the sound of the elevator. There was a brief silence before the door swung open; I could only make out Daemicifor's silhouette against the brightness of the lab. "Joseppe! I... wasn't expecting you to be right there. You startled me!" Laughter followed, but she sounded strange. Almost as if she were choking. My vision acclimated to the light and caught a momentary glimpse of her reddened, wet face before the door closed and my eyes tried to once again readjust. Daemicifor quickly walked past me. "We've got work to do" was all she said mid-stride.
"Are you okay?" I asked while taking a few quick steps in an attempt to catch up to her. I placed my hand on Daemicifor's shoulder and stopped walking but her pace did not relent. "I'm fine - I have a lot of work to do" came her unusually froggy voice. "Gwandaloo wants you to meet him in his office as soon as possible for your one-month review. I told him I'd send you immediately." Something was obviously wrong here but it wouldn't help to press the issue. "Be careful, stay safe" I called down the cave before jogging back and opening the door.
"You too" I heard faintly from over my shoulder as the door shut behind me.
|# ¿ Oct 24, 2011 17:42|
Gwandaloo's door was already open when I arrived at his office. "Joseppe, thank you for coming so promptly. I like that kind of initiative." He smiled and motioned a couple of chairs against the wall; I centered one across the desk from him and sat. "Let me just finish this up, it'll only take a moment" Gwandaloo said while typing quickly at his terminal. Behind him a few monitors cycled briefly through video being captured by various security cameras. Daemicifor's lab, hydroponics, central command... I even caught a glimpse of Ethel in the medical bay. The walls here were decorated with various maps of the facility, some obviously very old. Collectively they illustrated quite effectively how the base had grown over the years.
Gwandaloo finished typing, folded his hands, and turned to me. "So, how has life on the base treating you? I understand it's a big adjustment and I like to keep track of how our new arrivals handle it." The seemingly genuine interest only heightened my wariness about his motives. "It's okay," I replied tersely. Gwandaloo's face crumpled slightly. "Joseppe, I think we may have gotten off on the wrong foot. I'm going to level with you here - yes, I lied to you. I'm not with the DHS." He took the fake badge from his pocket and tossed it haphazardly on the desk. "I was being entirely honest when I said that the world is in danger, though, and I find a bit of borrowed authority tends to help add credibility to that claim for most people."
I leaned back in my chair. "So you're basically admitting to being full of poo poo and still trying to claim you're not full of poo poo?" Gwandaloo nodded and smiled sheepishly. "More or less, yes. Look, I try to promote a spirit of cooperation in my facility. The truth is that none of us know how long we're going to be down here, so it's to everyone's benefit if differences are settled rather than being turned into grudges. There are hard feelings between us - you're an intruder in my base, and I lied to you off the bat - but there's no reason we have to remain unfriendly."
I didn't exactly buy it. Considering what I'd been told about the man I wasn't sure I could trust Gwandaloo's motives at face value. Still, this was his turf and it didn't benefit me in any way to be on his bad side. A good working relationship with the man couldn't hurt - he did seem to hold all of the cards after all. "You have a good point," I replied, "maybe I jumped to some unfair conclusions considering I'm an unwelcome guest." Gwandaloo smiled, "It's always a pleasure to deal with reasonable people. Not everyone here has been capable such levelheadedness." He pulled open a drawer, taking a bottle and two glasses from it. "Do you drink?" Gwandaloo asked. "On occasion," I said with a nod. "This seems as good as any."
"There's no other alcohol in the facility. This was produced a few years back as part of a failed experiment with the ants." Gwandaloo filled the two glasses halfway full of the translucent dark turquoise liquid and handed one to me. It had an unusual viscosity similar to chocolate milk; I eyed the alien drink suspiciously. Gwandaloo chuckled. "I know, I thought the same thing when I first saw the stuff. It's perfectly safe, though the taste takes some getting used to." He raised his glass an held it at arm's length. "To progress." I touched my glass to his and parroted his toast, waiting until he drank before following suit. There was a sweet piquancy to the liquid, coupled with a strong fungal finish.
Gwandaloo placed his glass upon the desk and returned the bottle to its drawer. "So, Joseppe, I'd like to ask you again if there is anything I can do to make your stay here more comfortable." I swirled my drink gently, examining it as I thought about the question. "Actually, I'd like a higher security clearance. I feel I'd be able to accomplish much more if my access weren't so restricted." I took another light sip and looked over to see a pleased smile on Gwandaloo's face. "That's part of why you're here already. I've seen how much you've accessed on the lab terminals; your passion is quite impressive. I want you to become a more integrated member of the base. Be Daemicifor's colleague rather than assistant. Naturally I can't just give you top security clearance right away, but you'd be granted a higher one than you currently have. This is a huge step in the right direction."
It was a very appealing offer, but I wanted to make sure I was aware of the angle it came from. "How would my responsibilities change? What exactly is it you want me to be doing?" Gwandaloo stood and picked up his glass, walking over to a map of the ants' nest on his wall and staring thoughtfully at it. "Daemicifor told me about what happened between you and her. I know she stole the ants. I want you to provide a degree of oversight - I'm not sure she can be trusted." I stared into my drink. Gwandaloo's distrust of her resonated with me, but I wasn't sure I was comfortable being his spy. "What reason has she given you, personally, to be so suspicious?" I asked.
"She controls the ants" he replied, taking a heavy drink from his glass afterward. "An effective repellant was all I'd instructed her to create, and now she treats them like pets." Gwandaloo finished his drink and sat back down at the desk. "Joseppe, I'm a humanist. The whole reason I'm down here is to help the world and I'll do anything in my power to accomplish that. You as well as anyone know what Daemicifor is capable of, and she's been getting increasingly brash with the ants - her having them go to the surface and bring you here crossed the final line. Our success hinges on absolute security; even though our enemies are seemingly in a state of disarray at the moment their forces and resources are global in measure."
I finished my drink and placed the empty glass on the desk in front of me. There was a rationale behind Gwandaloo which I understood all too well; he shared the same passion I'd used to become the very thing he was fighting against. If the ants were to become a threat he would surely eliminate them, and I had no doubt there was an ace in the hole which would allow him to. "I'll do it, but only in an oversight and advisory capacity. I'll have no part in policing Daemicifor if you deem it necessary, and you leave the ants out of it." The words didn't sit comfortably with me even after I'd said them. I felt like I was betraying a friend despite taking the assignment in the best interest of the ants. My right hand rested heavily on my pants, through which I could feel the toe bone in my pocket.
Gwandaloo enthusiastically congratulated me and went over some finer details, explained my reporting schedule, and increased my security clearance. He filled our glasses once again and had me verify the accuracy of Daemicifor's reports over the last month. We finished shortly after my duty shift was over. After being excused I exercised my increased freedom by going to the lab and was able to gain access by myself for the first time. It was dark and shut down - Daemicifor was likely at her quarters by now. I flipped the appropriate switches and walked over to the large windows, the great writhing mass of ants coming to view on the other side while the lighting flickered to life.
"You're safe" I said to the insects as they milled about in ambivalence. "I won't lose you. Not again." I watched them in silence for a few minutes before shutting the lights down and heading back to my quarters.
|# ¿ Oct 30, 2011 16:16|
I do intend to finish this.
There has been an unusual confluence of coincidence preventing me from working on this since my last update; a trip to NYC, Thanksgiving, a change in my class schedule, a MASSIVE sinus and upper respiratory infection, and of course Christmas and the new year right around the corner. A few friends' birthdays and general drunken shenanigans were interspersed among those events as well. I've had little time to write lately with all this stuff going on and when I've sat down and tried the results have been unsatisfactory due to my focus being elsewhere.
Rest assured that this won't become yet another unfinished goon project, though it'll remain on hiatus for another couple weeks. I'll get the ball rolling again in January when I'm not so preoccupied.
|# ¿ Dec 18, 2011 22:30|
Allowed access to the entirety of the research done over the years I soon found myself able to understand and commune with the ants to a degree that made me feel truly in tune with them. My virtually instinctual rapport was honed to fluency in a few short months. Daemicifor was delighted; the immediate results of my progress aided her research in a very practical manner by allowing us to spend more time "in the wild" as she called it. As my awareness of the colony expanded it seemed more of a nature preserve than wilderness. The idea was one of many grains of sand upon my mind, an unwelcomed impurity which prevented the mechanism of my thoughts from operating freely.
Daemicifor's enthusiasm was soon tinted with disfavor as I began to explore the nest alone despite her urging to the contrary. I was able to be out for far longer periods of time in her absense - I attributed it to my more sparing and "gentle" use of chemicals when I signaled the ants. I was frequently away for days on end once I discovered I was able to sleep comfortably within the nest given proper preparations. In these all too short expeditions I would let go of everything else entirely and simply allow myself to exist in the ants' reality.
After five months I found myself returning to the facility only as necessary to file my reports and re-stock my supplies for ever longer, deeper treks. When my awareness of time slipped and my work became sporadic Gwandaloo expressed concern. There was something in his voice and manner which ground against me; a subtle, threatening way in which he projected his demeanor of advantage. Increasingly I had felt at odds with my compulsion to work with the man. Our patience had grown mutually terse as Gwandaloo made it expressly clear that such a disregard for his command would not be tolerated - his warning was white noise. The manipulations and machinations of Gwandaloo's domain had grown more pointless to me every day.
I knew it was only a matter of time until my security clearance was revoked and I had no doubt there would be additional consequences to follow. Leaving seemed a logical conclusion, and my departure was uneventful by design as late one evening my mount and I hurried off into the winding chambers where I belonged. I had been building a series of camps among the reaches of the nest at various underground water sources. Some of these outposts had the barest of supplies and were only suitable for a few hours stay, but others were stocked with fungal gardens to provide food and the chemicals I would need to communicate with the ants. I reasoned that by moving between them and setting up new ones I could survive indefinitely.
Arriving at the third camp I had visited since my departure I believed myself fairly familiar with the "daily" routine. I had come to one of my favorite locations; a sizable island in a vast underground lake which required no chemicals to keep the tide of insects at bay. The lengthy yet manageable swim put me at enough distance where the ants on the closest shore were only vaguely aware of my presence. For the most part they ignored me, though when I was on the near side of my island the larger ones would occasionally wade uncomfortably into the water as far as they could and wave their antennae in my direction. I always replied with a friendly wave in return. Due to the water's reflection I often felt as if my island was adrift in space. The interior of this place was so expansive as to seemingly exceed the bounds of existence itself, stretching into an immense mass of infinite darkness in the distance around me. I could hear the constant echo of moving ants as they scurried restlessly over the entire chamber. The din was a beautiful music which blessed every moment, yet it brought forth an unusual sadness in the depths of me.
Left alone with the haunting melody I was reminded of the house where Daemicifor and I worked together to bring up the colony. It was a lifetime ago; a world banished with such fervency that I'd sacrificed a digit to erase any fondness of it from my mind. I'd avoided the memories for so long that only the briefest of moments still remained - this sound reached through the immaterial expance of memory and laid its etherial grip upon my very soul. When I slept my dreams were still of people, things, and situations concerning the human world. Many of them involved Daemicifor. I wondered how long that was going to last and if at some point I would simply forget about the life I lived before. While these thoughts were but brief distractions from the happiness of my new home they would cause me to hurriedly clutch my toebone and allow my tightening grip to burn away these complications born from an alien realm.
In the immeasureable splendor of this world beyond time I found swimming to be an especially enjoyable experience. Without any chemicals I would slowly get ever closer to the ants, watching as they reacted to me. It was an impressive sight when I piqued their interest by drawing near. Hundreds of small and moderate sized ants would melt into thousands larger than horses, mandibles like cartoonishly oversized scimitars gnashing relentlessly in my direction. I would swim parallel to the shoreline, staying just far enough away to keep my roomates from getting too excited and attempting to build a bridge of themselves toward me. It amazed me to no end just how powerful an influence the fungi had, placating such tireless and deadly creatures to the extent that they could be ridden.
Over time the peaceful energy of the place seemed to rejuvenate me; while the complexities and considerations which had so ruthlessly constricted my thoughts were still present I became less consumed by them. I was able to relax and began once again to feel alive, unhindered by worry and doubt. I felt myself growing stronger for the first time in a long time. As it occurred to me I would have to move to another camp soon in order to allow my gardens here to repopulate I realized how sorely I would miss this place. It imparted upon me a gift only those who've lost it could ever appreciate. Once again I was able to sleep as someone excited to wake up the next day.
|# ¿ Jun 18, 2012 22:13|
Very relevant Onion article: http://www.theonion.com/articles/ca...ay-after,28532/
The funny part is that Appleton, WI is only about 20 minutes south from me. In fact, I drove through there earlier today.
|# ¿ Jun 20, 2012 20:37|
I do all my writing in notepad and have a .txt file with the unedited (spelling mistakes abound) contents of this story. At the bottom of it there's another 15,000 or so words worth of cut sentences/paragraphs/ideas.
I don't mind you having compiled and posted that, rawillkill. It's nice to have a page count and I'm rather flattered that there's such interest. To anyone who wants to "print it out and leave it somewhere" I'd appreciate if you didn't. At least for the time being. Having reread the first few parts I see it's in need of a final edit, and I want the story to be finished before it actually gets into the wild.
There's a bunch of "reasons" as to why this has taken so long with such massive stretches of inactivity. They range from severe medical and legal issues to spending a lot of time without drugs and actually socializing offline. Hell, I even got a job again after being unemployed for a year and a half. While I may enthusiastically piss all over deadlines simply because they've been made, I wasn't bullshitting when I said this will be finished. The rest of the story is all conceptualized and it's merely a matter of taking the time to put it into words... which is TEDIOUS AS gently caress without drugs.
|# ¿ Jul 10, 2012 16:36|
I didn't even know this was bumped. I got a PM asking what's up and figured I'd update the thread.
Yay drugs! I am back on my medication - it's nice to be motivated and productive again. Also found the nonscrips I've been looking for. I'm moving out of this filthy punk house in December... it'll be nice not to live with people who treat a home like it's a goddamn dumpster.
Looking back over the thread I'm amazed by how severe an impact this shithole environment had. Just _knowing_ that things are changing for the better is having a pretty big effect, and while I'm not making any promises I may actually sit down to write at some point between work and packing up boxes. In any event, this story won't be finished before the new year but it will certainly be done in 2013
|# ¿ Nov 16, 2012 17:52|
I nominate this for the Summer blockbuster remake
|# ¿ Nov 18, 2012 03:23|
Can we get some New Year's love for this thread please Illegibly Eligible?
Too busy sledding, and I have a big ski trip coming up in a couple days - it's important to stay physically active during winter months lest the beast of dark thoughts rear its head. Most certainly after the season. Truth be told I've been drafting, editing, redrafting, reediting (and so on) the next few installments since November but I just can't seem to get it beyond a point where it feels awkward and contrived.
|# ¿ Jan 2, 2013 21:19|
The level of the lake had been steadily rising for quite some time now - somewhere in the encroaching darkness was the gush of falling water. Standing on the last dry spot of my island I lamented the fact that leaving this chamber through the entrance I'd used was no longer an option; in the fading light a crushing flood of panicked ants seemed far too dangerous a risk.
A numberless blanket of movement spread ever closer as the insects forced each other off the shrinking walls in order to survive. The fallen would thrash in the water, climbing frantically over each other in a mad scramble toward the wall. It seemed as though not a single one made it. I realized that I would soon have to swim out into the infinite blackness in hopes of finding an exit.
I hurriedly packaged some supplies to float before wading forth into the unknown. Sounds of the ants' struggle for survival echoed in all directions as the untold millions clashed, becoming louder and faster as I went. The desperation in the air and water drew swiftly into a violent rush around me. With but a single option left I breathed deeply and dove. Behind me a wall of thrashing insects reluctantly gave chase while being forced deeper by the rising water.
Driven forth to avoid the horrible blender which licked at my feet I pushed myself past the point where I believed I could make it back for air. The instinctual urgency to breathe mounted to a panic; my lungs began to pull at my throat as even the pitch blackness sank into a supremely more vivid form of dark. I could hold out no longer, and the incoming flood caused me to almost immediately gag and cough as my eyes sprang open.
I gasped and choked desperately on the air while my body struggled against itself to breathe. Existence stabilized in pulses. I remembered having left the lake long ago and staying at sites other than my current location. Had it been weeks? Months? The massive, unruly beard which hung from my face was indication that I'd been among the ants for quite some time. Perhaps years by this point. My thoughts had become all but impossible to gather in temporal regard.
A rather ragged condition was upon me. I had made such remarkable leaps in fluency in my communications with the ants that the immediate effect of malnourishment from my strictly-fungal diet initially escaped my notice. I was to the point of periodically lapsing into delirium, and no longer absolutely sure at any moment if I was actually sleeping, awake, or somewhere in between. I tried not to think about it much; reality melted into a strange never-ending kaleidoscope of transience and fragmented psyche as a result.
Despite my searches I had been unable to locate any access to the surface, and in my discombobulated state it was becoming ever more fruitless to continue looking. There were no signals I could use to command the ants to excavate, either. A grim conclusion came upon me; returning to Gwandaloo's base was the only option for survival. I quickly learned I was fighting myself to accomplish this endeavor. On multiple occasions I found myself slipping into lucidity somewhere deep in the colony, my progress abated, accompanied by a message in my own writing regarding the virtues of dying among the ants. By the time I would get my bearings and begin heading back to the base I'd be exhausted and require rest. Other times I would awaken to realize an untold amount of my travel had been merely a dream. Frustrated and confused, but imperatively driven, I carried on.
Through the thick fog of my degraded awareness I began to encounter junctions and chambers I recognized as being near the base entrance. I was getting close, though something was undoubtedly amiss. The ants seemed to become increasingly unsettled, and in spite of my extensive familiarity with their communications an increasing amount of chemicals were required to convince my steeds to move onward. Soon I was once again forcing them to my will in order to make progress, and as I harvested the last of the signalling fungi from my camp nearest the base I wondered if it would indeed be enough to provide for the final approach. At this point, though, I had no other options than to make one last push.
I sensed a clinical sterility - a stillness in the air as I drifted in and out of consciousness during my final approach. No longer did I feel surrounded by the pulsing life force of my sisters; a sadness reminiscent of when I lost the ants all those years ago welled within me. I hugged my body tightly against my mount as we scurried through the tunnels, half in an attempt to simply hang on and half as a good-bye. What Gwandaloo would do upon my return was unknown, but I understood my situation to be that of entering the lion's den. Up ahead the light across from the entrance to Daemicifor's garden shone brightly from around the bend. In an instant we were there. I dismounted with a weakened, heavy stumble and sent the ant away before stepping in through the door and collapsing.
Illegibly Eligible fucked around with this message at May 14, 2013 around 11:07
|# ¿ May 14, 2013 11:01|
If it makes you feel any better I'm fairly certain I've read this before too. Maybe even on the forums.
Well the thread is almost two years old at this point, so there's a chance you've read it in the past and basically only half-remembered it. AFAIK this is all original, though a thousand monkeys at typewriters and all that. I haven't shown this to anyone else but you lovely goons, and only parts of it to two people I personally know IRL. There is the possibility that someone posted this outside of the forums - which I would find disappointing as this isn't the finalized form and I specifically requested my unfinished work not be shared. I'd like to think goons are a bit more courteous to each other than that, however.
If by some chance you've come across something eerily similar and are able to remember what it is please let me know so I can hate myself for unintentional plagiarism and/or request it be taken down if in fact it is crossposted somewhere.
EDIT: While I enjoyed "Willard" and "Ratman's Notebooks," as well as the "SandKings" short story (and episode of the Outer Limits TV show), none of that was really an inspiration for this story. I just particularly enjoyed the game "Sim Ant" as a child... the initial post was made entirely during the influence of a mushroom trip (please don't ban me, mods). I sort of fell in love with this thread after the hilarious goon contributions, and two years later here we are. This thread actually lead me to find "Archer" which is perhaps my favorite animated series of all time.
EDIT 2: vvv I don't let it get me down, and in fact I feel it flattering to a degree. I enjoy a lot of the early contributions in which the funny was related to associations with other media.
Illegibly Eligible fucked around with this message at May 15, 2013 around 17:46
|# ¿ May 15, 2013 16:56|
|# ¿ May 21, 2013 16:00|
Woah. The last proper update before this one was 12 June 2012, and yet when I read the latest addition it seemed like I had only just read the rest of the story yesterday. Keep it up!
I like to gently caress with the idea of time - in this story I've tried to incorporate varying degrees of connection/disconnection from the concept, and your implication that I've even partially managed to accomplish this is very encouraging. Thank you for enjoying the story
Illegibly Eligible fucked around with this message at May 17, 2013 around 01:30
|# ¿ May 16, 2013 15:09|