Monday, December 12, 2005
Steve holds the shovel tightly in his grip as he makes a 180-degree swing. A hollow thud is heard as the shovel hits the clay target. He is about to make a follow up shot but a voice interrupts him.
“My, oh, my, Stevie, what are you doing?” Grandma’s irritating voice pierces Steve’s ears. And with a smirk, “Stop that, Stevie, you may hurt the little people.”
He hates to be called Stevie, for he’s already a grown up, but the more he hates to hear his grandmother’s admonition on silly matters. The old woman is an incurable superstitious fanatic, turning the anthill into a mountain of fear. In this age of high technology, who’s going to believe in little people living inside the anthill? None but Steve’s grandma.
Steve gestures “this is nothing” and sits in front of the 2-foot anthill like an archeologist examining a newfound relic. The sticky soil, from what Steve had learned from his grandfather, is the best material for making claypots. Steve grins as he sees several big ants coming out by the roof of the domed colony. Simultaneous with his glance on the shovel, he grimaces as a big red ant bites his leg.
“You see, you see! The little people will not take it sitting down.” Grandma’s voice sounds more irritating than the ant’s bite. And with the usual smirk, she warns “Why don’t you just leave them alone, Stevie?”
“There’s no little people inside, Grandma. It’s an anthill or maybe worse, a termite colony that will eat all the wood in our house. See those big ants coming out? They’re looking for food. Do you want to serve them the door or the window sill?”
The ringing phone cuts short the argument as Grandma runs to the house. Steve grins again with the feeling of victory. He’s alone in the backyard now and he can do what he wants. Once and for all, the gigantic anthill needs to be removed. Aside from an eyesore in the corner of the backyard, the clay domed colony is surely a source of pests that feast on his grandma’s roses. He had consumed a couple of insecticide bottles already but it seemed to have no effect at all. Like a squatter area, the colony just kept on prospering.
Steve stands and sizes up his target. He glances at the kitchen door before collecting a momentum for the spade. Another hollow thud and the top of the clay dome gives way to the impact of the spade like a cake being sliced from the top. Steve’s effort bore a two-inch hole that can serve as a peephole to a showcase of treasures. And before Steve can take a look, Grandma comes out from the kitchen door.
“My gosh, Stevie, what have you done?”
Steve rushes inside the house, leaving his grandmother with a shaking head and leery eyes that are following him. It takes a while before Grandma musters the courage to take a look at the colony.
“This will spawn the ire of the little people, that’s for sure.”
The phone rings again and Grandma, by instinct, rushes to the door just in time that Steve is coming out. Like opponents in a game, Grandma and Steve exchanges glances. Steve walks to the ant colony with his ubiquitous grin and Grandma goes to the phone with her usual smirk.
Steve puts down the stack of old newspapers beside the anthill. He crumples some and fits it on top of the clay dome. Carefully, Steve lights up a matchstick then sits on a stool not far away from the burning colony. He crumples some more newpapers to add fuel to the anthill’s funeral pyre.
The big red ants are chaotic in their movements as the heat penetrates the insides of the colony. The appearance of the dreaded smoke signals danger.
“Nothing, I guess it’s just the giant.”
“Do you think so? All right, let’s mobilize the slaves.”
“No need, they’re coming out now and probably attacking the giant. Let’s continue with our documentation.”
“There’s a sort of colored vapor coming inside our structure. Do you think we are not in danger?”
“No need, I guess. Let’s continue with our work. The invasion is due in a cycle and a half so we have to….”
“It’s getting warmer I say. Do you think we should evacuate?”
“No need for that I say. The structure is fail safe. We had dutifully followed the architectural design apt for this place. Why worry?”
Steve grins at the countless of red insects seemingly decorating the clay dome which is like an oven now with the big fire on top. Only a few red ants are crawling. Steve lights more newspapers to ensure the annihilation of his little enemies. And it seems that Steve is winning the battle.
“But… it’s hot, it’s searing hot.”
“Oh, no. Our trasporter…”
“Do you think we should evacuate now?”
“No need, there’ no more time.”
“I’ll transmit the files hoping that it will reach the destination correctly. We are doomed, all right but the giant will pay for all of this. The nuclear pile in our transporter is sensitive to heat.”
“Do you think so? Ha? Do you think so? Come on, answer me. Hey, wake up…”
Steve heaves a sigh for a job well done. There are no more ants coming out and he is sure that those trapped inside would be dead by now. For good measure, Steve puts the remaining newspaper on the flickering fire.
“My God, Stevie, put out that fire. Now! I said now!” Hands on her waist, Grandma shows her grandmotherly attitude to a naughty boy of twenty.
And being twenty, Steve just grins at her grandmother.
“The little people will get you for this,” Grandma shakes her head ominously.
The explosion is louder than any firecracker heard on New Year’s eve. Grandma rushes to Steve’s aid who is laying prostrate, covered with clay all over. Steve, with a mask of clay, smirks while Grandma lets out a silly grin.