Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: SLOTH (indolence; laziness) (01/29/15)
TITLE: Argon the Azteca Ant
By Diane M. Bowman
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Argon should have been a worker ant, but he wasn't. Argon was lazy. He could work hard if he wanted to but that rarely happened. Most of the time, he used his imagination to find ways to get out of working. Sometimes it even involved more effort than if he had actually done his duties.
He discovered there were so many ants running around that he could just slip into a dark corner when the hunting parties were heading out each morning. Once everyone had left the tree for the day, he'd go out and tie a nice big leaf between two sticks. A little bounce and he'd land in his homemade hammock. Pull another leaf over top and no one would ever notice him.
At the end of the day, Argon would return to the tree as the others came home. If he snuck in and helped carry part of the day's prey, it looked to everyone as though he'd been busy hunting all day long. He spent his nights feasting with the rest of the ants. Argon's life was good.
Until one day, it all changed.
As the ants were feasting away after a particularly successful hunt, the colony queen walked into the middle of the room.
"Attention!" She cried.
The workers grew quiet and stopped eating. No one ever interrupted an ant's meal. All eyes turned toward the queen. What announcement could be so urgent?
"There's been a meeting of the colony council today. We've been informed of certain worker ants who are not working. From this moment forward, those able-bodied ants who do not work will not eat. The leader of each hunting party will give report at the end of each day of each ant that was with him. Leaders, come give your reports."
Argon quickly grabbed a bit more food and fled to his nest. What would he do? He couldn't survive without eating!
The next day, he snuck out as usual. Lying in his hammock, his stomach began to growl even though he never ate this early in the day. Just the suggestion that he might not get anything to eat that night was enough to make him famished. He racked his imagination but he couldn't think of a way to convince anyone that he'd worked all day. Of course, the thought of actually doing the work never entered his mind.
He couldn't even nap; he was so worried about food. Finally, he decided to just do what he usually did and hope the leader of the party he joined at the last minute didn't notice that he hadn't been along all day.
It didn't work.
"No, Argon, you're not slipping in again." The first leader yelled, just as he thought his plan was going to work.
And so it went. Not one hunting party allowed him to take credit for their work.
Argon was hungry.
He knew the queen would never back down and let him eat unless she thought he'd worked. He slunk away to his nest and tried to sleep in spite of his growling stomach, the smell of food, and the sounds of feasting.
It was no use.
The next morning, Argon was tired and hungry. Making a hammock wasn't so fun anymore or even as easy since he felt a little weak. What would he do? He needed food. As he lay there, not even bothering to cover himself up, he heard footsteps.
Crunch, swish, crunch.
He bolted upright, mortified to see the queen walking towards him.
What! She never left the tree. He jumped to the ground and bowed silently before her.
"Argon. I hate to see you so miserably hungry. Hasn't it occurred to you to just go out and work with the rest of the ants?"
He replied in a very small voice, "No."
"Come," she said. "One of the hunting parties waited for you. Now run, and go with them."
Argon ran. Well, it was more like a shuffle, since he was so out of shape. He caught up with the hunting party and tried to help as much as his weak muscles would allow.
That night, he walked in with his party carrying their day's catch and happily added it to the feast.
And guess what?
His food tasted better than it ever had before.
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