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Infestation by Myfanwy Collins

 

The ants came in droves. Not like a sea or a carpet as one might think, but more like a mass or a tumor. And what I didn’t know then was that if you squished them, more would come to their aid. When ants die, they emit a scent that draws other ants to them. Then they pick apart the pieces of their dead comrades and carry them home.

I learned all kinds of facts about ants as I researched how to eradicate them from my home. I found a recommendation online for a truly disgusting method of ant extermination. According to one website, if I put a dish of boiled tar near the ants’ entry point, they would be drawn haplessly into it, where they then would stick and eventually die. Besides being a horrible method of extermination, where was I supposed to buy tar?

Ants by Roberto Biagi
"Ants"
by Roberto Biagi

I read that sage leaves and cinnamon act as ant deterrents, but I just couldn't see these working on my ants. There were too many to deter. Also, I'd heard that petroleum jelly or a line of chalk would keep them away. Since I was suspicious of solutions this simple, I bought some severe ant gel instead. According to the directions, I was supposed to plunge the gel's applicator (shaped like a tampon applicator) into the ants' point of entry. The key was to find the right point of entry, which I did. Wily, the ants seek a crack in a wall or a loose window molding. I knew this and found the ants underneath the built-in shelves.

ants

I have applied the gel and soon the ants will die. Right now, they probably are writhing around in it, and eventually will take it back to the lair (I am not pleased that a lair exists in my house) where the other unsuspecting ants also will be infected by the poison.

This is what is going on in the room below me. Ants are dying. They have been poisoned. I killed them, slaughtered them. My karma is fucked.

ants

I feel infested and I know that’s wrong. There are a few ants. But my skin twitches and itches as though there are things crawling over it. An ant slowly crept across my foot this morning, in its death throes—a helpless ant—and I screamed. An overreaction or real fear? I don’t know. It could have been that I was still wiped out from the sleeping pill I took last night to get the ants out of my head. They are infesting my brain, too.

ants

When I was eleven, rats infested our garage and it was my fault. I set up my rabbits’ hutch out there, partially inside and partially outside of the garage. My stepfather made the rabbits' home by cutting a hole in the garage wall so the rabbits could have their outdoor screened porch.

Though I love animals, I am ashamed to admit that I was neglectful of my two California Giant rabbits, Sweetie and Poopsie. They were nice, sure, but my father had died a few months prior, we had moved to a different country, and I was going to a new school. More than a little depressed and then saddled with unexpected rabbits on my eleventh birthday, I probably wasn’t the world’s best surrogate rabbit mother.

I thought I’d be able to leash train them as a book suggested. Instead, they learned how to scratch me, often shredding my skin with their evil claws. They were skittish and scared, and all they really did was eat, crap, and maim me. Although I fed and watered the rabbits every day, I wasn’t so good about cleaning their cage and securing the lid on their food container.

For a few weeks, I didn’t feel safe in the old, dark garage after school. A separate building from our house, it had once been a barn. And it wasn’t because my fear was justified on the day when I opened the door and saw something—big, low to the ground—scuttle out of the light. It really did scuttle—all scraping claws and slithering tail. I ran back to the house and told my mother.

“It must be a rat,” she said, not an ounce of panic in her voice. I wanted to die.

I felt poor. I felt dirty. I felt infested.

ants

I no longer fed my rabbits alone, but required a bodyguard. All I could think of was that I wanted the rats gone. I wanted them to die.

So my stepfather put out “special” poison for the rats. He told me the rats would be attracted to it, and would gobble it up. A horrible, horrible thirst would come over them after that. They would seek out water and, when they found it and drank a long, grateful drink, their bellies would explode.

We waited.

ants

Eventually, the rats died. I know this because I witnessed it. On a surprisingly hot, early spring day, I was at the top of the driveway—just out of range of the garage—using a stick to open up little rivers in the melting ice-snow. It was so satisfying to undam the rivulets and release the water down the driveway to the road below. I felt fine and happy.

Then something came out into the light. A creature, weaving this way and that on unsteady legs. It bobbed and bowed and made its way toward me, eyes seeking mine.

Help me, I am so thirsty.

I froze, stick in hand. Should I let it drink the melted snow? Should I club it with my stick? Should I run and scream and hide?

Instead, I waited. And as I waited, it died.

There was no belly explosion. It just fell over and stopped breathing.

ants

The ants are in the room below me now, dying in some horrible way. They are dying because this is my house and they are where they should not be. They are dying because I imagine them crawling into my bed at night and finding all of my soft places. They would take my eyelids first and then my lips.

I can’t go on.

They are dying because I am a coward. I cannot feel poor or dirty or infested. I must contain this invasion and let the poison do its work. It’s me against them. The ants must die or I will.

ants

Author Bio: MYFANWY COLLINS is a freelance writer and editor. She lives in the woods with her husband and her dog. Visit her at: http://www.myfanwycollins.com Email Myfanwy at: myfanwy@adelphia.net
Author Myfanwy Collins

 

Artist Bio: See more of Roberto Biagi's work here - http://www.absolutearts.com/portfolios/r/rbiagi/


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