In The Company of Ants
An army of ants sit on the lip of a tea cup, eyeing the sugary residue that awaits. Huddling together they argue with one another about the best means to overcome the gravity of the mission.
“A wide birth and we can circle the cup to the bottom.” Stone is the pseudo-leader of the motley crew, always quick to measure the situation and weigh up the likelihood of their demise.
“We are ants. Why can’t we just walk straight down?” Thorn is ever present in the side of Stone, automatically countering any plan if only to resonate what has already been implied.
“And risk hitting a rogue patch of Earl Grey somewhere along the walls? I think not.”
“That will take forever, and could lead to the same result, Stone.”
“I don’t like either, but I’m not sliding down that face only to have the last thing I do to be sipping on tea.” Oak settles the argument with his weathered wisdom.
“We could do both, sliding and scaling?” Leaf as ever, blowing in the wind between them all, finding a way to always stay up in the air.
“And how do you propose that, Leaf?” Stone interjects, seeking practicality.
“Well, if we get a running start, we won’t go straight down when we go over the edge.” He turns to his fellow soldiers, seeking approval with his wide-eyed gaze.
“I’ve heard of worse plans.” Oak reflects and resonates, simultaneously.
The words wash over Stone, but only the fuller ones penetrate.
“I will go first. Then Thorn. Then Leaf.” He doesn’t say it as a command, but as a course of action.
“Oak, you got the rear, give you time to catch your breath.”
“We both know I was doing this stuff whilst you were still squirming in your lava sac, Junior.”
“Shouldn’t you be retired then, Old Man?” Stone throws back over his shoulder as he moves into a run.
He spots a point off in the distance and automatically adjusts to the calculated speed necessary to hit it. The lip starts to fall away under his feet and he is clinging to the wall while his body lives out in space above a pool of lukewarm tea.
“I’m not sure this was such a good idea.” Leaf reflects.
“Sometimes the best ideas aren’t.” Oak comforts without cushioning.
Stone continues down the inner skin of the cup until he comes to rest just at the edge of the pool of sweetness.
“Your turn, Thorn.” Oak’s words are concrete slabs, building a wall behind his juvenile counterpart, not allowing him retreat.
“I know, Oak.” Thorn retorts without turning around. His focus is directly at the spot Stone choose for his decent.
As he moves off, Leaf edges forward, revealing his trepidation. This is quickly subdued as Thorn arrives at Stone’s location slightly quicker than his predecessor.
“I thought I was going to have to hold your hand, Captain.” Thorn gestures, slightly out of breath.
“Just paving the way for you, Thorn.” Stone says with a slight amount of relish as his eyes scale up the cup.
“Your turn now, lad.” Oak reassures the obviously worried youth.
“… this was my idea? What was I thinking?!” Leaf has had too much time to think over everything that could possibly go wrong with his plan and now his feet are giving him away as he incrementally backs up.
“It is a sound plan. And like every sound plan it comes with risks. You just have to remember to balance the risks and the reality. Sometimes we focus only one, which can be folly.” Oak’s memories wash over the sentence, revealing many trials of risk and reality which soothe the youth’s nerves.
“It was… my plan.” He moves forward and takes the plunge down the lip.
As he picks up pace, he measures where he should be by looking down the remaining distance between himself and the bottom. This proves to be his undoing. He catches a slippery puddle and tumbles. His comrades notice the mistake almost before he does. Leaf’s body slams into the middle of the pool of tea.
“Leeeeeaf!” Thorn is the first to scream out. He breaks position and heads to the edge of the pool.