À cheval

by Pierce Nahigyan

A contingent of fire ants gathered around the stream of soda pop on the playground. Two contingents, as it was soon to be deduced. The fire ants took up one side of the stream, the black ants on the other. Ant vision is very poor, so the two armies did not enter battle readiness until the news of the enemy was danced down their ranks.

“Miserable cretins,” the fire ant general spat. “Send out some dancing scouts. I want a dancer on every critical point. How far back are our supply lines?”

His adjutant crawled over. “Soda hasn’t evaporated yet, sir, and we can eat the workers if we get hungry.”

“That’s what I like to hear! Can do attitude!” The general bit off his adjutant’s head and munched on it thoughtfully. “Terrible position for maneuvers, à cheval. Still, who wants to live forever, eh?” He called over his adjutant. The next insect in line stepped up. The general bit off his head as well and contemplated the soda. “Alright, first I want everyone to drink up the pop. Let’s see if we can’t beat those black bastards to it, eh?”

His orders were danced down the line and the ants scrambled into the brown carbonation to drink their fill. On the other side, the black ants were doing the same, though their ranks were rapidly thinning. A toddler had been left in the sandbox unattended and was happily scooping sand and ants into her mouth. When the soda had soaked into the sand, the fire ants crossed the damp ground to do battle and met the same fate.

The news was danced back to the general, who wept into the half-eaten carcass of his third adjutant. “C’est la guerre!” he cried.