Flowers and Kittens

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IshaJohnson,United Kingdom,Professional
Published Date:31-07-2017
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The Vegan “I would never hurt anyone,” says Maggie Fran. “I’m a vegan.” Maggie’s at home in her small, one bedroom apartment watching her favorite cop show, Stinky Bad Guys. “I don’t eat meat or food products that are cruel to animals,” she tells the television set. As she sits on her old couch, her cat, Mr. Crazy Head, jumps into her lap. Maggie reflexively pets the feline. The fuzzy gray cat purrs and accepts Maggie’s affection. Petting the cat relaxes Maggie even more as she watches Stinky Bad Guys. Oh Here comes the best part The detective saunters over to the criminal and says, “I knew it was you all along.” “How did you know?” the criminal asks. The detective replies, “I can always smell a stinky bad guy.” Cue music. Roll credits. “Yeah,” Maggie hoots, pumping her fist in the air. “The bad guys lose again.” “Meow,” says Mr. Crazy Head. Maggie translates, “Get up and get me some food, woman.” Maggie sighs and follows her feline master’s orders. Her cat reminds her of her boyfriend, Johnny, another bossy carnivore. Maggie grabs a cleaver and hacks off a piece of meat from a slab laying in the kitchen. She cuts up the hunk of flesh into bite-size pieces and disposes of the bones. She puts the fleshy feast into Mr. Crazy Head’s bowl. The cat sniffs the meat and accepts the tribute. Maggie stares at her cat as it eats. It reminds her so much of Johnny. After a wild night of sex, Johnny just moved in like he owned the place, like he owned Maggie, but the sex was SO great. Maggie looks at her arm. She has a scratch on it from Mr. Crazy Head. The cat was in a bad mood when she tried to pick it up. Mr. Crazy Head scratched her. Johnny does the same kind of thing, only he does more than just scratch. Maggie moves back to the couch. She almost trips over a bag of trash in the kitchen. That Johnny, Maggie thinks. He forgot to take out the trash again. Still something about the trash bag looks familiar, yet strange. Where did she get that hunk of meat from? Maggie looks down at Mr. Crazy Head happily eating its well- prepared meal. Maggie dismisses the thought and continues her move back to the couch. Another episode of Stinky Bad Guys is starting. Maggie watches another episode of her favorite show and wonders why Johnny couldn’t get into it. How could he not appreciate the never-ending battle between good and evil? The show’s plots are formulaic, but that’s just to make the show simple and easy to enjoy. So what if all the bad guys have a distinctive smell that the hero can always detect. Realism doesn’t necessarily equal entertainment. Some people enjoy campiness. Sometimes Maggie doesn’t want to think. Sometimes Maggie wants to just sit down and escape from reality. Reality can be cruel sometimes. Why couldn’t Johnny just let her escape? As the show goes on, Mr. Crazy Head jumps on Maggie’s lap. It purrs as she pets it. 2 “You like Stinky Bad Guys, don’t you, Mr. Crazy Head?” Maggie asks. “Meow…” “Oh, you miss Johnny?” she asks the cat, “That’s okay. He’s at work. Y’know, he finally got a job. He’s gonna help take care of us, instead of me doing it all on my own.” “Meow?” “Do we have to watch this?” Maggie translates. Her nostrils flare. “What do you mean, ‘Do we have to watch this’? This is a great show” The cat starts to back away from Maggie, as she rambles, “This is probably the greatest show ever aired on television. You should feel privileged to watch this show. If you really loved me, you wouldn’t try to take this show away from me. I do EVERYTHING for you, Johnny, and now you say I can’t even watch my show” “Meow.” Maggie catches herself. “Sorry, Mr. Crazy Head. I didn’t mean to yell. I… You’re not Johnny. How could you be? Johnny’s at work. He finally got a job. He’s doing so much better now.” She sees something on Mr. Crazy Head’s muzzle. “C’mere, kitty. C’mere, Mr. Crazy Head.” The cat is hesitant, but comes closer anyway. Maggie examines the cat. Its muzzle looks reddish, but the cat doesn’t appear to be bleeding. “What have you been doing, Mr. Crazy Head?” she asks the feline. 3 Maggie gets up from the couch and looks at Mr. Crazy Head’s empty dish. There’s a red fluid around it. A whiff of foul odor tickles her nose and she looks at the trash Johnny forgot to take out. The bag is leaking red fluid and somehow the red fluid got into her cat’s food bowl. Hmm… Boom, boom, boom “Open up This is the police” a baritone shouts through the front door. “Coming” Maggie answers, fluttering to the door. She unlocks it and opens the door. “What seems to be the problem, officers?” The policemen on the other side pause before sniffing the air. They push past Maggie into her home. Maggie squeals with glee. “Look, Mr. Crazy Head The cops are here because they smell a bad guy.” One of the cops steps into the kitchen. “Oh my God” he exclaims. The other cop joins him and wretches on the floor. Maggie comes up beside them. “Oh, that? That’s just the trash my boyfriend left behind. He’s at work right now. He finally got a job. He’s doing much better now.” The cops point their guns at her. “Hands in the air NOW” Maggie complies as the foul odor returns to her nostrils. “There’s a stinky bad guy here I smell ‘em I smell ‘em” The cops turn her around and handcuff her. “What are you doing?” Maggie cries, “There’s a stinky bad guy here.” The cops turn her around to face the trash in the kitchen. 4 …But it’s a slab of meat…no, no, it’s a bag of trash. The cops read her the Miranda rights. Maggie looks at the meat again. Or is it trash? It’s wearing dirty boxer shorts and Johnny’s old t-shirt. It’s missing a foot. Mr. Crazy Head walks over to it to nibble at the stump. Maggie notices that there’s red fluid splattered all over the kitchen and on her clothes as well. Maggie laughs. “I know what that smell is. I’m a stinky bad guy” Maggie’s laugh becomes hysterical. “I’m a stinky bad guy The show is real I’m a stinky bad guy The cops haul Maggie away, cackling as she goes. The cat takes another nibble from the corpse. Then it leaves, completely uninterested in the problems of humanity. 5 The Day It’s just another day in this town. My town. It has problems like any other town. Every town has a problem that’s unique. Our problem is the Shoveler. He’s a weirdo, for sure, but us cops got him under control. The Shoveler’s some kinda magical, demi-god schmuck, but this town’s got other problems. Today’s Monday. It’s my day to deal with him. I’m on my beat in a residential area. Picket fences. Lemonade stands. A mother is walking with her little boy. They pass by a man sitting at a table. The man hands the mother and child a puppy from the basket he has sitting in front of him. My gut says something’s wrong. I step out of the squad car. The puppy’s licking the boy’s face. This could be bad. As I walk across the street, the man stands up as the little boy hands the puppy back. He’s a Caucasian male, five-foot-eleven, blond hair, with a muscular build. He puts the puppy back in the basket. I step up my pace. The man smiles as he reaches beneath the table and pulls out a shovel. “Get down” I yell. The mother instinctively shields her child. The man swings down with his shovel. He’s aiming for the puppies. PANG I’m lucky today. So are the puppies. They’re yelping in fright, but I got them in time. Yeah, this is the Shoveler. I set the basket next to the table and send the boy and his mother on their way. 6 “Good day, Officer” he greets. I put my fists on my hips and take an authoritative stance. “Look” I say, “I’m going to need you to put the shovel down and go back to where ever you came from.” The Shoveler puts his tool on the table. “Have we met before? My name is Shoveler Schitt. Call me ‘Mr. Schitt’.” “I’m not calling you that,” I huff. He reaches for the shovel. I slam my hand on it. “We can do this the easy way or the hard way.” He gives me a look, like he just stepped in something. Then he vanishes. He’s just gone, the table too. And the shovel. “Looks like he took the easy way,” I say to myself. I breathe a sigh of relief. Now I personally, have never popped a shot at the Shoveler, but I’ve heard stories. One guy hit the Shoveler twice in the chest. Shoveler just laughed at him. I mean, it’s kinda convenient that he’s immortal. You see, he never really kills anyone. He might beat a guy up if provoked, but he never presents himself as an imminent threat. Still, most guys on the force don’t take kindly to schmucks that beat up puppies in front of kids. I’m just saying, the Shoveler helps out in the whole police brutality area. Some guys’ll bust a cap in the Shoveler just to let off some steam. The captain don’t mind, as long as it’s the Shoveler. As for me, I don’t want the extra paperwork. That’s why when it’s my day to work with the Shoveler, I keep my piece in my pocket. A couple hours later, I get a call on the radio. There’s a fight at the pool hall. I let it go. It’s not on my beat. Then the dispatcher says it’s a Code “S”. Code S is my jurisdiction today. I hit the siren and rush across town. The pool hall’s on the rough side of town and it’s known already for its share of scuffles, but the call is a Code “S”. I need to be ready for anything. 7 When I step through the door, I don’t see the honky-tonk brawl you might expect. I see a bunch of guys circling around a pool table. Standing on top of the pool table is a monkey holding a pool stick. Now I’m not good with animals, but I’m guessing it’s a howler monkey because it hollers real loud as it smacks two guys in the head with the pool stick. I mean it’s got these long arms and it’s swinging the pool stick around like it knows karate. Tough guys that I know are tough are hitting the floor, while the monkey’s just twirling its pool stick on one hand. I see the bartender try to sneak up behind the monkey with a rifle. “Don’t shoot” I yell. The bartender ignores me. Fortunately, I get down behind another pool table before the bartender blasts the monkey. When I stand back up, the bartender’s on the ground, wounded and losing blood. The monkey’s still howling and whooping without a scratch on it. I can see why this is a Code “S”. The monkey probably used the pool stick to block the gun blast and swat the shot back at the bartender. It’s something the Shoveler would do. I radio for an ambulance and try to calm the thing down. I walk towards the monkey with my hands up, slowly. The other guys see me and begin to calm down. The monkey holds its pool stick like it’s about to bring a Babe Ruth/Hank Aaron, ultra-combo to my face. Now there ain’t nothing in the police book about dealing with dangerous kung-fu monkeys, and I really doubt animal control can stop something that deflects gunshots. My hands stay in the air and I wiggle my right hand to get the monkey’s attention. While it’s looking at my hand, I slowly reach down with that same hand towards my wallet. I pull it out. Then I pull out a twenty dollar bill. The monkey backs up and jumps off the pool table. It slaps a hand on the edge of the table. I put the money down. The monkey waddles over to the pool cue rack and tosses me a stick. I rack up the balls. We play pool. 8 As we play, I try to figure out what happened. Turn after turn, one thing becomes clear: this monkey stinks at pool. It probably lost a couple games and threw a fit. Now I’m wondering why I’m deducing a monkey’s motivation. I guess it just comes with the territory in this town. Still, I need to calm this monkey down so the paramedics can get to the wounded bartender. There’s only one thing to do: Let the monkey win. It’s a harder than it sounds. This monkey is really bad at pool. Five minutes in and the monkey’s only sunk two balls. I sink one and play stupid with the rest. The monkey sinks another ball, and starts whooping. Good, it’s getting confident. I look back at the pool hall door. The paramedics are here. One of the guys must’ve told them the situation. They stay put and don’t antagonize the ape. I look at the bartender. He’s getting pale, and the monkey’s taking too long to win. I know what I have to do, but I don’t want to do it. It’s gonna hurt, but I swore an oath to protect and serve. I look back at the paramedics and give them a slow nod. They know to move on my signal. I get close to the monkey as it takes its next shot. Then I snatch its pool cue and snap it on my knee. The monkey goes ape, pun intended. It jumps on me, flailing its arms. I keep my head and fall to the floor. If I’m on the ground, the monkey won’t see the paramedics as they sneak past to help the bartender. I take the lumps, but this monkey can hit. Mama didn’t raise no punk, so I curl into a ball to get a hand free for my taser. I zap the monkey. It screams and hits me again. I zap it again. It howls and takes another swing. I zap it again, and finally, it falls off me. It’s twitching on the ground. Don’t tell anybody, but when I get up, I kick the bastard. Then I radio animal control. Why didn’t I tase the monkey first? I’ll say it again, the monkey deflected a gunshot. I wasn’t exactly confident about the taser. I did what I had to do. 9 Anyway, one of the paramedics gives me a quick touch-up and tells me to go to the hospital. Once I’m there, I get six or seven stitches. Then I take a lunch. Captain gives me a call, tells me to go home. I tell him thanks, but no thanks. I got a job to do, and I intend to do it. I mean, we’re undermanned. We’re underfunded. We got bullet- proof bozos and kung-fu monkeys on the streets. I figure we need all the help we can get, y’know. The captain lets me get back to work, but says if I get hurt again, he’s putting me on medical leave. The stitches on my head still sting a little as I head back to my beat. It’s a good beat. I’ll admit it. Some of the other guys are a little jealous. But I worked hard to get this beat. Captain didn’t give it to just anybody. I earned those picket fences. I earned those safe streets. I been with the force over ten years. I’m just saying. I do what I do to get what I got. I work like everyone else. Anyway, I’m driving back to my beat when all of a sudden. BAM Something hits the cruiser so hard, it flips on its side. I’m a little dazed. I’m dazed and I’m pissed because now I gotta take medical leave because some schmuck couldn’t watch where he’s going. I crawl out of the cruiser, ready to make an arrest. When I get out of the car, I see him. A five-foot-eleven, Caucasian male with a blond hair. It’s the Shoveler, but this time, he’s on a pony. He points his shovel at me. “You spanked my monkey” I just shake my head because this guy… “You laid hands on my monkey,” he says. “You spanked him and made him go limp” “Look,” I explain, “You just crashed my cruiser. I know you’re magic and all, but you’re really working my nerves. So I’m about to go back to the hospital and then go home. I strongly suggest you do the same.” 10 The Shoveler rears up on his pony and says, “Nay You have spanked my monkey and now we must duel. I propose a race.” “I’m not racing your pony.” “Oh, yes, you are,” the Shoveler insists. Something furry pokes out from in-between my legs. It picks me up and slides me down onto its back. It looks like a horse, maybe slightly smaller, like a donkey, or… “This is my ass” the Shoveler roars. “You will race my ass to the hospital. If you win, I shall forgive you. If not, I will kick a car with my pony.” I look back at my flipped cruiser. It has hoof prints in it. I don’t think I want the pony kicking any more cars. Still… “Hey, Buddy,” I say, “There’s gotta be another—ˮ “You, sir, have spanked my monkey. Now you shall ride my ass” The ass charges forward and the race begins, whether I like it or not. I hang onto the ass’s neck, just trying not to fall off. I hear the clippity-clop of pony steps behind me. The Shoveler’s gaining on me. If that over-powered pony kicks a car, someone could get hurt, Y’know, my mother wanted me to be a doctor. Now here I am racing a pony, while riding some guy’s ass. I smack the ass on the rump to make it go faster. The hospital’s not far. I can hear the Shoveler behind me. “That’s it Ride my ass Ride it hard” I’ll be so glad when this day is over. Finally, I ride the ass/donkey/whatever into the emergency room at the general hospital. Stumbling, I get off the animal. The Shoveler rides in on his pony and hops off. 11 “Congratulations” he cheers. “You have won the day You’ve spanked my monkey and ridden my ass most excellently.” The Shoveler walks up to me. “As an added bonus, for being a good sport, I will grant you a wish, any wish you choose.” I pull my piece and shoot him in the head. He ragdolls to the ground. “Wish granted,” I say. The ER doctors scold me for firing in a hospital, and they’re right. I was wrong. I admit it, but that guy was on my last nerve. He’ll be back tomorrow anyway. His body’s already disappeared, along with the steeds. The doctors treat my cuts and bruises. I call the station and get a ride back there. I fill out a mountain of paperwork and go home. All in all, it was an okay day. I mean, I did, technically, get injured, but there are guys in other towns that deal with bombs and gangs. Those are the guys I feel for. We just have Shoveler Schitt. Anyway, life goes on. I go home to my wife and kids, especially my son. He loves these stories. 12 The House “You shall not enter the House of the Gods,” says Dan, the old ant. “The Gods aren’t real, Dan,” says Ben, the leader, “I’ve never seen one, so they don’t exist.” “There are the stories, my love,” says Becca, the future queen of their new colony. They’re part of a small group of a dozen ants moving away from their home colony to forge a new one. Ben has convinced Becca that he has the perfect idea for a new ant colony. He’s leading them to the House of the Gods. It’s unexplored territory, full of stories and mysteries. The grass above the ants is tall, but the House is even taller. It overshadows the grass and blocks out the sun at dawn. Of course, what these ants see is only one wall. If they go too far to the left or right, they’ll enter territories of rival colonies. It was through their encounters with rival ant colonies that they’d heard rumors about the house having other walls. Ben fears these murderous rivals more than he does these fictitious “Gods”. He’s faced the rival ants in battle before. He knows what they’re capable of. When taking prisoners back to the colony to be devoured, they would speak of these walls. They would tell tales of holes in these walls. Treasures were in the House, they’d say. Fields of white ground covered in brown manna, they’d speak of. They’d tell stories of food as far as the eye could see. How could Ben pass up the chance? 13 Sharee’s in love with the house. It’s a small rental property, but she can make it a home with her new husband, Trevor. As she walks through the house, she can see it’s still dirty. She checks the bathroom. The white porcelain’s covered in brown filth. If she doesn’t clean it soon, bugs’ll probably come in and try to take over the place. Trevor’s still at work, so she’s decided to surprise him with a clean house when he gets back. He’s worked so hard moving the stuff from both their apartments into their new home. He deserves a warm welcome when he returns. Unfortunately, Sharee and Trevor haven’t packed any cleaning supplies. Sharee will have to take her car to the store to get some. She’ll probably buy some bug killer too. He’ll be so pleased when he returns. They’ve dodged a couple of rival ant patrols, but the ants have finally made it inside the wall. Becca’s full of hope. She’s going to establish a new colony with her brave consort, Ben. He’s going to impregnate her with hundreds of thousands of eggs. She’ll probably spend the rest of her life laying eggs and making babies, but she’ll be doing it in the House of the Gods She’s heard the stories too. Maybe the Gods are real. Maybe they aren’t. She isn’t sure what she believes, but she knows she believes in Ben. Old Dan, however, needs some convincing. “We are committing the gravest of sins by coming here,” says the old insect, “The Gods are immense beings with limitless power. We should make our homes outside in the grass and soil where we belong.” 14 “Where you belong maybe, old ant,” sneers Ben, “I’ve got plans. Big plans. Becca and I are going to change the world. She will give birth to an army that will move and wipe out all of our enemies. Our colony will be the supreme colony. No animal will dare touch us, not birds, not squirrels, and not even your precious Gods. Today, we have a dozen ants. Tomorrow, we will have legions.” Poor, old Dan shakes his head as they wander through the darkness of the wall. Ben is a great leader, old Dan thinks, but he’s corrupted by youthful ambition. Old Dan loves Becca. He loves Ben. They can make a beautiful colony, if only they would listen to reason. “The old stories speak of deathly pheromones,” Dan says, “Aromas that fall from above, enter your body and devour you from the inside out.” “There’s no such thing, old Dan.” “How can you be sure?” Dan asks. “Our stories have been with us for generations, Ben. They are part of our culture, our heritage. They keep us out of harm’s way.” Ben scoffs at Dan. “You mean they keep us limited and stagnant. Did the Gods save us from the wasp raids and ant wars? I’ve been on the battlefield. I’ve seen Death. Your stories didn’t save my soldiers from slaughter. I did. Have you ever had to carry your comrade’s severed head in your jaws? Have you ever tasted the secretions of fear while ripping open the bowels of your opponent? I have. And there’s one thing I do know: whether the battle was won or lost, it was fought with ant blood and ant wits. I’ve never seen a God on the battlefield. That’s where they were needed. If they weren’t there, then they’re definitely fiction. What Gods would allow such atrocities to occur right outside their own home?” “The concerns of the Gods are far beyond our understanding,” Old Dan responds. “We can’t expect the Gods to interfere in the affairs of ants. There are things in this world that ants may only dream of.” 15 “I’m aware of that,” says Ben, “We’re heading to the land of dreams right now.” Trevor is God-sent, Sharee thinks as she drives home from the store. She’s spent years praying and fasting for a good man, and the Heavens opened and revealed Trevor. He has a decent job. He’s easy on the eyes, and he loves Sharee. Oh, how he loves her. He put in extra time at work to pay for the move. His friends helped. All Sharee had to do was pack her things and follow her heart. She’d saved herself for marriage. Her friends had laughed about that. They’d said she was silly. Sharee thinks it’s silly to open herself to hurt, harm, disease, and single parenting. Her girlfriends at church told her to give Trevor a little taste after they were engaged. Sharee still waited, and so did Trevor. Sharee wasn’t a grandstander waiting for a big wedding and a platinum ring. She and Trevor were married at the courthouse. Sharee was just following what she had been raised to believe. Is it silly to believe in the irrational when it leads to rational decisions? Sharee has to get the house in order for her husband, while her girlfriends from church are still mired in sex, lies, and drama. As soon as she gets home she heads to the bathroom. That bathtub will be the first thing she cleans. She flips on the light switch as she walks in. At last, they have arrived. Ben leads the troop of ants through a crack in the wall into Paradise. The ground is smooth, white, and immense. 16 “It’s beautiful,” gasps Becca. The white ground they’re standing on gives way to a humongous canyon. The other ants in the group move to the edge of the precipice and slide down. Ben and Becca walk together to the edge and wonder at the enormity of their new home. An ant crawls up from the bottom of the white canyon. “Look, my queen” says the ant, “Manna Brown manna Here, take some. It’s delicious.” Becca grasps the brown matter between her mandibles and chews. Flavor inundates her with electric euphoria. Her head reels back from the oral sensation. She passes some to her consort, Ben. He’s also taken aback at the boisterous taste of the brown manna. They have truly entered the House of the Gods. The couple slides down to join the other ants in their feasting and gathering. Everything’s going according to Ben’s plan. This is the profit of relying on one’s wits instead of some outdated fairytales. Old Dan stands away from the other ants, morose and unimpressed. Ben places a piece of manna in front of the old insect. “Eat, old ant Has your antiquated faith stripped you of the joy of success? We’re here. It’s the House of the Gods And from here, we will establish an empire that will stretch to all sides of this house, to the fence, and to the forest beyond that. We will be conquerors of the known world. Aren’t you happy?” “How can I be happy in the face of certain doom?” “Oh please, Dan For the last time: THERE ARE NO GODS” Suddenly, light floods the canyon, reflecting off the alabaster surface into their eyes. The ants scatter in fear and alarm. A series of tremors shake the earth. The queen hurries to her consort. “Ben, what’s going on?” she screams. Before Ben can answer, old Dan offers the explanation: 17 “A God walks upon the earth” Ben can take it no longer. The old ant’s ramblings are frightening the others. Dan has to be taken out to establish peace. He moves toward Dan. Then a shadow falls over the white canyon. Ben freezes along with the other ants. He turns around to look at what could cause such sudden darkness. What he sees is a creature, a being that is neither insect nor bird. It resembles a squirrel somewhat, but it lacks fur on its face and limbs. Its eyes aren’t on the sides of its head either, but squarely in front, like an owl hunting for prey. It’s humongous. Only Dan can find the courage to speak. “Behold, you unbelievers You stand before a God” The Great Being looks on the dozen ants. Then it opens its great mouth and punishs them with a deafening shriek, dizzying them. “The Great One is angered” shouts Dan. “Gee, old Dan, you think?” scoffs Ben. He’s seen enough. Wounded squirrels and birds have been ripped to pieces under his leadership. This “God” will be no different. “Troops Fall in. You’ve trained for this. Alpha formation Let’s take it down” A large cylinder appears in the Great Being’s hand. With the slightest movement of its finger, it shoots mist from the cylinder at the ants. “Behold, the Deathly Pheromones” Ben stands his ground. “Stand firm Pheromones only take effect if you breathe them in.” “Aaargh My eyes” shouts an ant. “It burns” shouts another. 18 The ants fall into chaos. Panicked breaths suck in the toxic gas. Vomiting soon follows. Ben stands firm. He is no stranger to pain. It was pain that taught him how to survive, not some silly superstition. He shouts at the Great Being, “Is that the best you’ve got? Giant farts from on high?” As if in reply, Ben feels a thud to the left of him. He looks and sees the flattened, mangled remains of one of his troop. He feels another thud behind him. He looks and sees another crushed corpse. “Beware, unbelievers” Dan cries out, “It is digito Dei, the Finger of God” Ben glances at the vast, white battlefield covered in vomit and carnage. Every strike of the Great Being’s Finger brings it closer to Becca. He rushes to Becca’s side, but the digito Dei, the God-finger, is faster than anything he’s encountered before. The other ants are running to protect the future queen as well. Then the Finger smites them, one by one. Ben runs as fast he can, but it just isn’t enough. Becca is crushed beneath the Finger of God. Ben can only watch as the Finger rises, taking Becca with it. The viscous fluids of her broken body have glued her to the tip of the Finger. The Finger rises up and up until it reaches eye-level with the Great Being. It looks at Becca with disdain. Ben can still hear her screaming for help. The Great Being lowers its hand and, with a slight gesture, sends Becca hurdling to the hard ground next to Ben. In the throes of death, she utters, “…we could’ve…been…happy.” Ben’s lover is dead, but he has no time to mourn. He and old Dan are the last ants standing, and Ben doubts the Great Being will smite the old believer. He jumps quickly to the right just in time to miss the digito Dei striking the ground. He leaps upon the Finger and holds on with his six legs. The Finger rises up and he is soon face to face with a God. Ben stands up to the Great Being, and says, 19

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