Twelve-year-old Bobby Underwood slammed his bedroom door. He wiped the sweat from his face and wondered: how could something so small get out of control so fast? He only knew he’d better fix this mess before his parents got home, or there’d be hell to pay.
Bobby’s problem quickly snowballed. The broken glass was one thing, but what scared him was what got loose. He was outnumbered and outgunned, and nothing short of a 105 mm howitzer would do the trick—and even then.
Eventually, the invaders would find a way out of his bedroom, and if they got past him, there’d be no stopping them. The infestation would become widespread and untenable. He had success fighting them in smaller numbers, but never en masse. He needed a stopgap.
Rummaging through the kitchen junk drawer, Bobby’s eyes lit up when he saw his dad’s duck tape. Using his teeth, he peeled back an edge and unrolled an arm’s length. Working in sections, he sealed the seam around his bedroom door airtight and added an extra layer at the bottom.
That should hold em till I think of something, Bobby thought.
He stared at the door, panting and admiring his work, positive that he plugged every little nook and cranny. If even one managed to escape, he’s soon be overrun and most likely be taken prisoner—or worse.
Bobby sat cross-legged on the floor, thinking as he twirled the empty roll on his nose-picking finger. He’d never been in such a pickle. Then again, he never had a benign birthday present turn hostile.
“Prove to us you can take care of these, and then we’ll see about getting you a dog,” challenged his dad.
As midday turned into evening, and still lacking a battle plan, Bobby’s anxiety increased. Listening intently, he swore he heard the sound of nibbling.
* * *
The atmosphere inside Bobby’s bedroom was electric. Led by their Queen, the massive army was loyal and disciplined. Each soldier, regardless of rank, was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to accomplish their mission. Long-held captive, they had broken free and were now out to conquer their enemy.
The Queen and her generals strategized more soldiers were needed for a full offensive. Their enemy had carelessly left open a window in which they could send for thousands of reinforcements. She gave the command.
Meanwhile, infantryman surrounded the door. Those near the base were busy breaking through the duck tape, with many commenting they’d never seen such a revolutionary material. Others were stationed along the perimeter and ordered to sound the alarm if conditions warranted.
As reinforcements arrived, the Queen directed her officers to lock down and fortify positions held throughout the combat theater: clothes dresser, nightstands, the boy’s gaming console. This was a call to arms.
“We must be ready for any contingency,” said the Queen.
“Yes, my Queen.” Her lieutenants spoke as one.
* * *
Bobby had racked his brain when finally an idea dawned on him. He opened the hallway closet and took out his mom’s vacuum cleaner. It was a heavy, boxy one with a long flexible hose for those hard to get at places. He figured it’d be perfect for sucking up the invaders quickly and cleanly, keeping the damage to his room at a minimum and finishing before his parents showed up.
He positioned the vacuum by the bedroom door and plugged it in. Attaching the brush nozzle onto the end, he held his weapon firmly and took a deep breath.
“Here we go!”
Bobby flicked the on switch. The vacuum chugged to life. He ripped off the duck tape and charged into the room. It was worse than he expected—the room was covered in ants!
The Queen cleverly positioned her soldiers throughout the bedroom to inflict maximum damage. They lined the ceiling and walls, were dug-in along the floorboards, and filled locations up and down the edges of furniture. Every surface was black with ants. They even blocked the window in case their enemy had other ideas.
The soldiers slammed the bedroom door shut.
Bobby Underwood was surrounded. He longed for a howitzer.
He saw that the bed was the most heavily fortified area. There, lying in the middle of the pillow, was one black ant—the Queen.
If I could just get to her—
But before Bobby could finish his thought, the Queen gave her final order.
* * *
When Bobby’s parents arrived home, his dad, drinking a Pabst Blue Ribbon, opened Bobby’s bedroom door and saw what was left of his son. He screamed as the ants attacked.
“Damn ant farm!”
Russell Waterman is an Amazon published author, including his latest, “The Adventures of Dave Diamond,” a short story complication. His fiction has also appeared in The Blotter, Literary Yard, Jerry Jazz Musician, and SIA.