“The Ant Tells Me Her Dream”


“Ants Tunneling Through NASA Gel” by Steve Jurvetson https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

When I was a little boy, I had an ant farm.

I wanted to know if my ants were happy, so one day, I made myself very small, and I climbed inside my ant farm.

Once I was inside, I saw four ants sitting on a plastic swing set.  I walked up to them and asked them what they thought of life on the farm.

“It is very good,” said the first ant.  “We never worry about going hungry.  Once a day, a giant drops food down on top of us: fruits and bits of meat and pieces of cake.”

“It is very good,” said the second ant.  “We’ve dug all the tunnels we can ever dig; there’s no dirt left.  So there’s never any work that has to be done.”

“Indeed, it is good,” said the third ant.  “For every ant that dies here, the giant drops another one from the sky.  So our numbers are always the same.”

“And you?” I said to the fourth ant.

“It is good,” she replied, “but I had a terrible dream the other night and now I have trouble sleeping.”

“What was the dream?” I asked.

“I am buried deep within the earth,” said the ant, “and I am surrounded by thousands of my kin.  We are at rest.  But then we feel the earth growing warm, all around us, and we know the time has come.  So we crawl to the surface, and there we must search for food – anything we can find.

“It is perilous on the earth’s surface.  Flying beasts, eight-legged monsters, giants…they snatch us up, eat us, crush us under their feet.  Or water falls from the sky and some of us are washed away.  Or a strong wind comes by, and we are blown many leagues from home.  Still, every day, we march to the surface to find food.  And we dig.  We are always digging.

“We do this all for our beloved queen, whom we love more than we love ourselves.  When we’ve finished our day’s work, we return to her and to the nest, deep underground.  We eat and play and dance in a circle around our queen.  And she tells us stories of Hymenoptera, the Cosmic Ant, She who holds the earth in Her giant mandibles.”

The ant fell silent.

“What a horrible dream,” said the other ants.

“It was horrible,” said the fourth ant, but she wasn’t very convincing.


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