There was a cloud in the sky and it looked like a balloon with teeth that were jagged and raw like it just ate a poorly constructed falafel. Gene stared up with big wide gaping eyes and as he did the clouds changed and became new objects. The balloon with teeth turned into an elephant with a whip, a shark with a smile, and a pile of broken bricks and then finally a lizard.
Gene snapped out of his cloud gazing when he discovered an army of ants crawling casually over his thick dense fur. He jumped to his feet and struggled to brush the ants off, smacking his body to and fro to no avail. The ants were of the firebrand and they were starting to burn and bite and tickle all over. Gene ran back and forth across the field in the park screaming at the top of his lungs and calling for help. The other people in the park watched him, withdrawn and uninterested. One person pulled out his cell phone and began to record Gene as he twirled and flipped and ran and screamed. At one point he ran straight into the camera lens and screamed bloody murder, cursing in a foreign language that might have been Romanian. The shaking and moving didn’t do anything to curtail the ants. They had already reached the Promised Land – Gene’s lush skin. His was the kind of skin that doesn’t get tarnished from the sun or really anything for that matter. His thick hair had protected his skin in such a way that it was soft, pale and rich with nutrients.
The ants had reached a gold mine. It was an hour prior that the ant they call Hermes came upon Gene lying in the grass. He got into a fight with Joker, another member of their army, and Hermes decided to go get some fresh air on his own. It was soon after that he stumbled upon this mount of luscious nutrients and untapped resources. Gene was as much a get as any Hermes had seen in his short ant life. He sent out the ant equivalent of the bat signal and within minutes the elders of his army had arrived to snuff out the situation. They came with doubts but left in haste, rushing to inform the rest of the army so that they may seize the golden opportunity before it was too late. Hermes stood by Gene along with a few of the elders that stayed back in order to keep tabs on the potential haven should it move or do something counter to their plans. They were lucky though – Gene hardly moved. He was caught up in the ever changing cloud formations and blissfully unaware of the war that was brewing between him and a local ant army.
The rest of the army arrived in droves almost out of nowhere. They came carrying all of their belongings and most precious treasures. Mothers carried children and men carried supplies and the elderly. The army was prepared for such an event, though; many generations came and went without such an occasion. They practiced their technique and ran drills to prepare themselves. Little communication was required at that point because once the signal had been sent; all ants knew what to do.
The ants covered his body in a matter of moments. It was somewhere around the time where the cloud looked like an elephant that the last ant on the ground made his way onto Gene’s body. The rule they were taught in drills was to travel inward and find something to grab. The nutrients – the holy grail of sustenance and parasitic life – would be there. Gene couldn’t sort out what to do. The ants were already nestled so deeply into his coat that he couldn’t even see them. He felt himself growing nauseous with the thought of what was happening to his skin. The stings, the burns, and the bites – they were happening so frequently that it was following the rapid rhythm of a Disney fireworks show.
Finally, an elderly woman with an ancient station wagon offered to give Gene a ride to the hospital so that he may stop scaring the children. She told him to climb in the back and try to think of happy thoughts. Gene did just that. In the station wagon he thought about summers at the camp in Kennebunkport, where he met some of his best friends. They would run and play and swim in the ocean all day long… The elderly lady Samaritan escorted a dizzy and disoriented Gene into the emergency care facility. Gene could barely speak at that point, only muttering the words, “ants, everywhere, ants.” And then he passed out.
The ants didn’t know what hit them. The new forest was so dense that certain groups were quickly separated from others. All the training and drills had only prepared them for so much… It was then that the giant blade from the sky came down and started to tear down the forest. Some of the ants were swept up with the blade. Others were drowned in some kind of clear liquid that was dropped from above. It had a terrible odor and killed most if not all of the ants on contact. The few that survived struggled to find each other. They ran from the blade but as the forest was torn down, more and more they were easily spotted and slaughtered. It wasn’t long before the entire colony was left for dead.
When Gene awoke, he had a light fuzzy feeling in his head. He chuckled a bit as if waking up after hearing a joke. He looked around at the hospital room and wondered where he was. Then he looked down at his body. He couldn’t see much – a blanket was covering him but he already sensed the worst. There was a draft in the room, something he had never felt. He never got cold – too much fur. Gene lifted the blanket and his worst nightmare came true. His entire body looked as if a person who just learned to use a razor had shaved it. Large patches of fur were missing and few patches remained. What did remain was a disheveled mess. His body reeked of chemicals and his pale skin was covered in goose pimples and red bite marks, red puffed up skin, and what he could only assume were growing rashes.
Gene started to shriek loudly for he didn’t know what to do. He just wanted to watch the clouds but at what price? The ants were all dead now but so was Gene’s beautiful coat of fur. The nurses came rushing in – the other patients were deeply disturbed by Gene’s high-pitched cries for help. They gassed him back to sleep and covered his wrecked body back up with a blanket.
Eventually, Gene’s fur grew back. But it was never the same again.
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