The View From Here
It was hot. Humid. The tall vegetation was dense. Almost impenetrable. Beneath the canopy of green the light was dim. Occasional brilliant shafts of sunlight broke through, which only accentuated the general gloom.
I had been sent out to forage for food. For a long time now it had been hard to find. Many generations ago there had been an abundance of food and we had thrived. Now empty bellies and futile hunting trips were the norm. Because of this I had ventured out much further than I had ever been before. I had travelled in a huge arc but was now headed back home.
Nearly at the limit of my strength, faint from hunger and almost ready to give up I had discovered an area where food was plentiful. I had eaten and rested for as long as I dared. Now loaded down with as much food as I could carry, it was becoming increasingly hard to push my way through the vegetation. I was beginning to feel very tired again and knew that I was also very vulnerable to attack by an enemy. The food that I had eaten had given me some new energy but I knew that I would not be able to defend myself for very long against an attack by a fit, well nourished, opponent.
Instinct told me that home lay straight ahead; I would have to cross an open rocky desert area to get there. This barren stretch of land littered with huge boulders was a forbidden area. I knew this, but was eager to get home to receive the praise for finding so much food. To circle back the way I had come would take much longer. Still in the back of my mind were the stories, passed from generation to generation, of the time when the gods ruled the world. This is where they had lived and dreadful things had happened to anyone who had violated their land. The gods had made the very ground tremble with their wrath and one’s body shake at the sound of their voice.
I stopped for a rest, had a drink from water collected in the hollow of a low lying plant, readjusted my load and started out again.
I had only taken a few steps when I heard it; the nearby rustle of something very big moving through the vegetation. I froze and could do nothing other than wait. It passed very near but did not see me. Trying to make as little noise as possible I continued.
In due course I reached the edge of the stony desert. It stretched out in front of me, seeming to continue on forever. I knew that somewhere in the distance it must end just as abruptly as here where it started. On the other side were many markers that warned of danger if the taboo was broken. Here, where no one had ventured before, there were none.
For a moment I paused. Was it wise to break the age old taboo? My courage nearly deserted me. The knowledge of what this new source of food would mean strengthened my will. Adjusting my load into a more comfortable position I lowered my head so as to minimise the glare from the rocks and started out.
It was so different from the cool shade that I had just left. The sun was hot on my back and my feet hurt from the sharp rocks. Exhaustion was slowly creeping over me. The effort of climbing over the smaller boulders and constant detours around the larger ones was sapping my strength.
Surely by now I must be at least half way across.
Without warning it started.
A horrendous noise. So loud that I felt my body vibrate.
I dropped my load of food and fell to the ground.
It was unbearable.
Then just as suddenly as it had started it stopped.
I had angered the gods.
I was going to die.
Fear energised me; made me run for my life.
The ground started to tremble and I heard the thunderous noise of the approaching gods.
The bell, signalling the start of the new school year, had been rung. It was time to go to the classrooms. The excited children ran out from the playground, along the gravel path, past the bell tower and towards the main building. They did not see the small black ant.
Bio: John is a retired airline manager who lives in the beautiful Blue Mountains. He enjoys writing short stories, some science fiction and his life philosophy is that life is short, fragile, and meant to be enjoyed. John’s latest ebook, My Patch: The life of Reginald Smithers, a village policeman, is available now from Amazon (for Kindle) and Smashwords (for iPad and Android).