Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Valley (08/10/06)
TITLE: Home Sweet Home
By Gary Sims
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"I know, Jake, I know. You're worried about that fable we read when we were kids. The Queen will never bite off our heads. Do you think that just because we live in this stink-hole of a valley we're uncivilized? There are so many workers around she'll never know if we are a little late, besides she has a whole new batch of larvae to attend. Did you see the size of the new colony? There must be a thousand new workers coming to work each day. We've put in our due. It's time to relax a little."
"Jeb! Relax? Where did you get such an idea? Our job is to work. We have to find food to feed the colony. If we stop, even for a moment, it could mean disaster. You heard what happened to the colony at the other end of the valley. I'm told it was caused by not having enough food."
"That's ridiculous, Jake. The colony simply moved. How else can you explain the big hole? The walls simply fell in when all the ants left."
"In the middle of the night? I don't think so. I heard that the Queen got so hungry she ate everyone and then she blew up."
"Jake, you have too big of an imagination for this valley, and that's my point. We were meant for better things. Day in and day out it's the same old thing. Get up in the morning and scour the walls of the valley for any crumbs that may have come during the night. We work our fingers to the bone every day and for what? So we can do it all over again the next day. This valley is depressing. There's no view. There's nothing new. It is boring and we were meant for better things."
"What better things, Jeb? There isn't anything else to do. We gather food. It's our job. The colony depends on us. Yes, sometimes it's a little hard getting out of bed in the morning. The aches and pains just don't go away as quickly as they used to. But it's not a bad life. Usually by the time the sun is halfway over the valley the stiffness in my legs has gone. There is nothing like a few laps around the yard to get the blood going.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah... But don't you see, Jake? There has to be more to life than this pit. I think I was meant for better things. I want to find my true purpose in life."
"What if you have already found it? What if your true purpose is to carry food to the Queen?"
"It can't be," Jeb screamed. "I don't want to be stuck here forever. I want to explore and see the world."
"Now? Where are you going? Jeb, you can't go up there. It's too high. No one has gone that high before. Wait up."
The two ants scurried higher up the valley wall then they'd ever been before. Jeb arrived at the rim a split second before his partner. He stood is awe. He had never seen anything so beautiful. Breathlessly Jake arrived and looked at the shock on his friend's face.
"Phew! That was a climb and a half. It sure got the blood flowing." Jake looked back to see the source of Jeb's stunned silence. The two of them stared at the scene below them in utter amazement.
"I...I...I never realized," Jeb stuttered. "It's so beautiful."
Stretched below was the valley they had called home their entire life. They could see the opening to the colony, nestled cozily under a large rock. Beyond it were the fields they had roamed hundreds of times in search of food. Instead of broken down twigs and clumps of dirt, they saw a panoramic view enflamed by the setting sun with every hue the world could offer.
"I never knew we lived in such a wonderful place," Jake whispered. "Aren't we the luckiest ants in the world?"
"You are right, my friend, so right. Let's go back home. It's where we are meant to be."
As they walked down the slope towards home, the image of their beautiful valley burned deep into their memories. It was a sight they would hold in their hearts the rest of their lives.
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