A Downward Spiral


I first noticed the ants on the morning after the barbeque that she and I had hosted. I spotted them as I was taking my coffee on the patio. They emerged from a crack between the pavers and were carrying away scraps of food that had fallen the night before; pausing to break up pieces of bread and such that were too large to fit down between the tiles. Soon they had scoured the entire area, and no trace of food remained above ground.

Did they store it down there? Did they eat it right away? Was a banquet in progress for the queen, even as I watched their industrious labors? What else were they taking?

I worried.

War was declared and I battled the invaders using pesticides, ammonia, bleach, and water. Every day I deployed new weapons but nothing stopped them and I became obsessed – so overly focused that I ceased to care about the people and things that I loved and that were important to me. In turn, the ants would catch me unaware and climb up my pant legs biting and stinging until my ankles were covered with a bright red rash. They also began foraging in the house. I doubled my efforts.

#

When I found her note telling me she was leaving she had already been gone for two days. I hadn’t noticed. I was battling ants, like a fool. I had been mixing up concoctions of dish soap, vinegar, or lemon juice. I had built a wall of boric acid powder around the entrance to their nest. I sat heavily on the stone pavers, not far from where the ants,who obviously knew she had left, would emerge to laugh at me before quickly ducking back down into their underground labyrinth. The weight of what I had lost was heavy and my heart crashed to the ground where it was quickly retrieved by my enemies. Numbly I watched them carry it over the ineffective poison wall I had built to contain them. I stared blankly for hours as they tore my heart into pieces small enough to fit down into their warren. There was nothing I could do to stop them.

When the last piece disappeared below ground, darkness had fallen and I realized that I was now faced with a choice.

I could steel my resolve and re-double my efforts to eradicate my enemies from the face of the earth or I could find a way to live in harmony with them, much like the way we had coexisted before the morning I first noticed them.

What had changed that morning? Why had I turned them into monsters? Why had I been compelled to exterminate them?

I had lost so much. My lover was gone; I could feel my sanity slipping. Was it their fault really?

My heart was missing. I felt nothing, I was broken. I determined that it was indeed their fault and I must punish them. Using a five gallon Jerry can, I poured a path of gasoline from the front door to the patio, generously splashing walls and furniture along the way. I soaked the entrance to their home and everything surrounding it. I returned to the front door and tossed a match onto the petrol soaked carpet so I could watch the flames run down the hall towards the patio at the back of the house. I closed the door and moved to the middle of the road waiting to savor my victory. My only regret was that I could not hear them scream. Now, they had truly taken everything from me; my companion, my home, and even my humanity. As the fire engines arrived the gas can exploded on the patio and I began to have second thoughts, but it was too late to ask for forgiveness.

I was the monster now.


 Got cold in here again. Enjoy.

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12 thoughts on “A Downward Spiral

  1. I love this Thom. The process of this guy’s breakdown is so well illustrated by the magnitude that you make the battle with the ants take on. The exposition in the build up is beautifully subtle in that it is narrated from a POV that clearly thinks this is normal behaviour, in turn allowing us readers to see the real issue.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh man, this is nail-bitingly intense. And disturbing. And so fantastic! Love how the narrator’s obsession slowly takes over his whole life, escalating to that awesome ending.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really like how the main characters descent into madness is not fully realized until that ending–I imagine such a guttural devotion to his task leading to a burning home could cause anyone to appear mad. Excellent work with the prompt! Really like this piece!

    Liked by 1 person

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