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The Essay
Show #135
Ant Farms: The True Story
David Gunn
Bobby and Ninkota were hunched over the dual controls of the skittering transport pod trying vainly to wrest control of the vehicle from the combined minds of the Paroleans. Blotting out the harmful pheromonic rays which the aliens projected was difficult but not impossible. By concentrating on the image of the Antarean antsucker, the Paroleans' natural enemy, the two youngsters were able to make a crack in the mindshield and gain sluggish response from the steering mechanism. Still, the aircraft continued ever downward on a trajectory that would converge with the rupture in the space-time continuum which had been breached by the Algonquin Hole. The wings of the aircraft glowed a deep phosphorescent blue as it plunged into the Earth's argonosphere. Heat from the outer hull seeped into the cabin, and the two adventurers shucked their space parkas. The vial of bug blood that Ninkota had extracted from the queen during her sleep period -- and the reason the Paroleans were in such hot pursuit -- had turned white hot and bubbly, threatening to burst. Soon Bobby would have to decide whether to abandon the ship and the mission, or whether he and Ninkota could weather yet another alien storm.

Just one week ago, the Paroleans had been sedately living a life of socially organized leisure in 566 contiguous ant farms in Roswell, New Mexico, as part of a covert research project funded by the Department of Defense's Alien Incursion Response Team. They had been living there since 1957, when one of their exploratory spacecraft had crash landed in the nearby desert. They closely resembled common Earth ants in both size and diction, and likely would have been overlooked by the Air Force patrol that had arrived to investigate the crash but for their sophisticated laser armament. After a minor "take me to your leader" misunderstanding had led to the destruction of their spacecraft by the trigger-happy squad leader, and the reciprocal incineration of the squad leader, the Paroleans had been transferred to AIRT Hangar 52 for temporary lodging. The scientist in charge, Milton Levine, built a 9" wide by 6" high by 1" thick containment facility in which to house and study the aliens. The Paroleans took to it like magnets to a refrigerator door and actually were the first space aliens to breed in captivity. So successfully did they procreate that Levine had to build dozens, and then thousands more facilities. Eventually he sensed a mass market appeal for his product, got himself debriefed from the AIRT, and went into business marketing Uncle Milton's Ant Farms. Using terrestrial harvester ants, the escape-proof and break-resistant ant farm containment facility was an instant hit, and for 40 years it had been part of both Americana and national alien security.

But then a week ago, a peculiar distortion in the space-time continuum coupled with a increased Parolean displeasure with the quantity of clean tunneling sand caused the unthinkable to happen. Socially organized leisure gave way to arthropodic anger, and a hundred million metapleural glands simultaneously released a caustic formic acid solution that quickly nullified the ant farms' escape-proof clause. With tiny but lethal laser weaponry clutched in hair trigger mandibles, they systematically vacated their hermetically enclosed environs of 40 years. Their objective? I said it was unthinkable. What I meant to say was that I can't think of it, at least not now. Maybe later .. say, next week, after we've all had a chance to recover from this, the 135th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar and all of its musical appendages, not the least of which is the following unflambeaued articulation from Kalvos.