Russell A. Mebane - African American Science Fiction Writer
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Here's another short story from me
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My Blog

Here's another short story from me

Okay, it's been a while since I've blogged.  I've been working hard on "Ruins of the Fall: Rise of Ramsus" and promoting my current book "Squirrels & Puppies: Dark Morality Tales".  Still, I should put something out for people to see.  I wrote this story to put on another site, but I haven't heard anything from them, sooo....here you go!  Enjoy!


The House
By Russell A. Mebane   

“You shall not enter the House of the Gods,” said the old ant, whose name was Dan.   

“The Gods aren’t real, Dan,” said Ben, the leader, “I’ve never seen one, so they don’t exist.”  

“There are the stories, my love,” said Becca, the future queen of their new colony. 

They were part of a small group of a dozen ants moving away from their home colony to forge a new one.  Ben had convinced Becca that he had the perfect idea for a new ant colony.  He was leading them to the House of the Gods.  It was unexplored territory, full of stories and mysteries.   

The grass above the ants was tall, but the House was even taller.  It overshadowed the grass and blocked out the sun at dawn.  Of course, what these ants saw was only one wall.  If they went too far to the left or right, they’d 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 feared these murderous rivals more than he did these fictitious “Gods”.  He’d faced the rival ants in battle before.  He knew what they were 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 said.  Fields of white ground covered in brown manna, they spoke of.  They told stories of food as far as the eye could see.  How could Ben pass up the chance?      

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Sharee was in love with the house.  It was a small rental property, but she would make it a home with her new husband, Trevor.  As she walked through the house, she could see it was still dirty.  She checked the bathroom.  The white porcelain was covered in brown filth.  If she didn’t clean it soon, bugs would probably come in and try to take over the place.   

Trevor was still at work, so she decided she’d surprise him with a clean house when he got back.  He’d worked so hard moving the stuff from both their apartments into their new home.  He deserved a warm welcome when he returned.  Unfortunately, Sharee and Trevor hadn’t packed any cleaning supplies.  Sharee would have to take her car to the store to get some.  She should probably buy some bug killer too.  He’d be so pleased when he returned.      

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They had dodged a couple of rival ant patrols, but the ants had finally made it inside the wall.  Becca was full of hope.  She was going to establish a new colony with her brave consort, Ben.  He was going to impregnate her with hundreds of thousands of eggs.  She would probably spend the rest of her life laying eggs and making babies, but she would be doing it in the House of the Gods!  She had heard the stories too.  Maybe the Gods were real.  Maybe they weren’t.  She wasn’t sure what she believed, but she knew she believed in Ben.  Old Dan, however, needed some convincing.   

“We are committing the gravest of sins by coming here,” said 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.”  
“Where you belong maybe, old ant,” sneered 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 shook his head as they wandered through the darkness of the wall.  Ben was a great leader, corrupted by youthful ambition.  Dan loved Becca.  He loved Ben.  They could make a beautiful colony, if only they would listen to reason.   

“The old stories speak of deathly pheromones,” Dan said, “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?  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 scoffed 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 responded, “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.”  

“I’m aware of that,” said Ben, “We’re heading to the land of dreams right now.”      

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Trevor was God-sent, Sharee thought as she drove home from the store.  She had spent years praying and fasting for a good man, and the Heavens opened and revealed Trevor.  He had a decent job.  He was easy on the eyes, and he loved Sharee.  Oh, how he loved 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 said she was silly.  Sharee thought it was 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 had to get the house in order for her husband, while her girlfriends from church were still mired in sex, lies, and drama.  As soon as she got home she headed to the bathroom.  That bathtub would be the first thing she cleaned.  She flipped on the light switch in the bathroom as she walked in.       

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At last, they had arrived.  Ben led the troop of ants through a crack in the wall into Paradise.  The ground was smooth, white, and immense.   

“It’s beautiful,” gasped Becca.  The white ground they were standing on gave way to a humongous canyon.  The other ants in the group moved to the edge of the precipice and slid down.  Ben and Becca walked together to the edge and wondered at the enormity of their new home.  An ant crawled up from the bottom of the white canyon.  

“Look, my queen!” said the ant, “Manna!  Brown manna!  Here, take some.  It’s delicious.”  

Becca grasped the brown matter between her mandibles and chewed.  Flavor inundated her with electric euphoria.  Her head reeled back from the oral sensation.  She passed some to her consort, Ben.  He was also taken aback at the boisterous taste of the brown manna.  They had truly entered the House of the Gods.   

The couple slid down to join the other ants in their feasting and gathering.  Everything was going according to Ben’s plan.  This was the profit of relying on one’s wits instead of some outdated fairytales.  Old Dan stood away from the other ants, morose and unimpressed.  

Ben placed 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 flooded the canyon, reflecting off the alabaster surface into their eyes.  The ants scattered in fear and alarm.  A series of tremors shook the earth.  The queen hurried to her consort.  

“Ben, what’s going on?” she screamed.  

Before Ben could answer, old Dan offered the explanation:   “A God walks upon the earth!”  

Ben could take it no longer.  The old ant’s ramblings were frightening the others.  Dan had to be taken out to establish peace.  He moved towards Dan.  Then a shadow fell over the white canyon.  Ben froze along with the other ants.  He turned around to look at what could cause such sudden darkness.  What he saw was a creature, a being that was neither insect nor bird.  It resembled a squirrel somewhat, but it lacked fur on its face and limbs.  Its eyes weren’t on the sides of its head either, but squarely in front, like an owl hunting for prey.   

It was humongous.  

Only Dan could find the courage to speak.  “Behold, you unbelievers!  You stand before a God!”  

The Great Being looked on the dozen ants.  Then it opened its great mouth and punished them with a deafening shriek, dizzying them.  

“The Great One is angered!” shouted Dan.   

“Gee, old Dan, you think?” scoffed Ben.  He’d seen enough.  Wounded squirrels and birds had been ripped to pieces under his leadership.  This “God” would be no different. 

“Troops!  Fall in.  You’ve trained for this.  Alpha formation!  Let’s take it down!”  

A large cylinder appeared in the Great Being’s hand.  With the slightest movement of its finger, it shot mist from the cylinder at the ants.   

“Behold, the Deathly Pheromones!”  

Ben stood his ground.  “Stand firm!  Pheromones only take effect if you breathe them in.”  

“Aaargh!  My eyes!” shouted an ant.   

“It burns!”  shouted another.  

The ants fell into chaos.  Panicked breaths sucked in the toxic gas.  Vomiting soon followed.  Ben stood firm.  He was no stranger to pain.  It was pain that taught him how to survive, not some silly superstition.  He shouted at the Great Being, “Is that the best you’ve got?  Giant farts from on high?”  

As if in reply, Ben felt a thud to the left of him.  He looked and saw the flattened, mangled remains of one of his troop.  He felt another thud behind him.  He looked and saw another crushed corpse.   

“Beware, unbelievers!” Dan cried out, “It is digito Dei, the Finger of God!”  

Ben glanced at the vast, white battlefield covered in vomit and carnage.  Every strike of the Great Being’s Finger brought it closer to Becca.  He rushed to Becca’s side, but the digito Dei, the God-finger, was faster than anything he’d encountered before.  The other ants were running to protect the future queen as well.  Then the Finger would smite them.  Ben ran as fast he could, but it just wasn’t enough.  Becca was crushed beneath the Finger of God.   

Ben could only watch as the Finger rose, taking Becca with it.  The viscous fluids of her broken body had glued her to the tip of the Finger.  The Finger rose up and up until it reached eye-level with the Great Being.  It looked at Becca with disdain.  Ben could still hear her screaming for help.  The Great Being lowered its hand and, with a small gesture, sent Becca hurdling to the hard ground next to Ben.   

In the throes of death, she uttered, “…we could’ve…been…happy.”  

Ben’s lover was dead, but he had no time to mourn.  He and old Dan were the last ants standing, and Ben doubted the Great Being would smite the old believer.  He jumped quickly to the right just in time to miss the digito Dei striking the ground.  He leaped upon the Finger and held on with his six legs.  The Finger rose up and he soon was face to face with a God.  Ben stood up to the Great Being, and said,  

“I am Ben and you are a False God.  I am not afraid of you.  Your powers are great, I’ll admit, but you are responsible for the great atrocities that happen right outside this House.  You do not help us conquer our enemies.  It’s your fault that my ant colony battles endlessly with our rivals.  If you would simply come outside your House and smite our enemies, my colony would prosper.  But you neglect us.  You ignore us, so I will sin against you.  I will go back to my colony and find another queen to create a colony in your House.  You will not stop me.  I smell your flesh.  You are a female God.  You serve no other purpose than to give birth.  I am a male.  I am a fighter, a disciple of pain.  You know nothing of hardship or suffering.  I will hurt you, and you will crumble beneath my wrath!”  

Then Ben bit the digito Dei, the Finger of God.  The Great Being bellowed at Ben.  

“Yes, you felt that.  Now kneel before—”      

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Sharee squished the ant on her finger.  The little bastard bit her.  It hurt too.  She looked down in the bath tub.  There were ten, tiny ant bodies down there, not including the one on her finger.  Sharee was not happy.  These creatures had invaded her perfect little home.  Trevor would not like insects in the house he chose for her.  The ants had transgressed against her, her new husband, and the love that had brought them together.  Sharee saw one final ant crawling around the tub, and an idea popped into her brain.  She left the bathroom to get a long-nosed lighter.      

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Old Dan wandered among the bodies.  He had warned them.  They had scoffed at him.  They said Gods weren’t real.  Then a real God smote them quickly and mightily and allowed the one believer to live.  He looked and saw the Great Being returning with a wand in its hand.  Had the Great One come to reward him for his faith?   

“I am here, O Great One!” he proclaimed, “Give me the reward for my belief!”  

The Great Being pointed the wand at Old Dan and destroyed him with flames.  As his juices boiled and his organs popped, Old Dan realized:  he should not have entered the House of the Gods.    


If you liked this story, there's more in "Squirrels & Puppies: Dark Morality Tales"

4 Comments to Here's another short story from me:

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