The Ants

Ants Crawling - Illustration for short funny story The Ants

A Strange Short Story

Detective Nick Wergild returned to his office after a particularly grueling day’s work. A new client had hired him to find out if her husband was having an affair, and if he was, to get proof for the divorce lawyers. So Nick had spent several hours hiding in his bushes and waiting for a girlfriend to make an appearance. He spent the rest of the day taking photos of sexual acts so kinky he doubted they even had magazines devoted to them yet.

Nick trudged inside, exhausted. He took off his coat and tossed his gun onto his desk. He turned on the ceiling fan and the desk lamp and collapsed into his old, leather chair. It was then that he noticed the ants. Early that morning, Nick had stopped by a local Mexican restaurant and purchased a burrito platter for breakfast. The platter was too big to finish, so he had left half a burrito on his desk all day. Now it was covered in ants.

“Gross… I should throw this in the dumpster outside. Oh, what the hell. I’m not going to eat it. Why not let them have a little fun for a while?” Nick pulled a bottle of scotch from one of his desk drawers and toasted the ants to their good fortune. He spent the next two hours drinking the day away, eventually falling asleep in his chair.

Nick woke up about an hour later. He noticed that several of the ants were dragging something across his desk. This particular burrito had been held together by a toothpick with a tiny Mexican flag on the end. Apparently several of the ants had worked it loose and were taking it somewhere.

“What in the world are you guys doing with that thing? Does the Ant Queen have some spinach in her teeth?” The ants didn’t laugh… They preferred prop comedy.

Nick had a few more drinks, and soon he fell asleep once more. He had a nightmare about his father burying him up to his neck in an anthill and pouring honey on his head. He awoke with a start. He noticed that the ants had abandoned the burrito. They had gathered at the other side of his desk, next to his gun. The group of ants with the toothpick were at one end of the gun, and they seemed to be waiting for the other group of ants to join them.

“What the hell are you guys doing? Are you going to claim my .45 in the name of Mexico? Or maybe it’s just the wood you want. I suppose you could build a log cabin with it, after you climb to the top of Mount Bang Bang.”

Nick tried to concentrate, to watch the ants for a little longer, but the alcohol overwhelmed him and he blacked out once more. His eyes opened again a few minutes later. A group of the ants were now on top of his gun and they had dragged the toothpick up with them. Nick stared in fascination.

“And here I thought you guys just dragged food back to your little ant holes. Shouldn’t you guys be on your way back outside? What the hell are you doing?” There was a soft clink as the ants shoved the toothpick down the side of the gun, so that it landed resting against the trigger. The ants moved down after it.

“What’s going on here?” he thought. “Are the ants actually– no, this is insane. Why would those ants want to kill me? What did I do to them? I’m a detective, not an exterminator! I’m not like… my dad.” Nick’s father had been an exterminator for over thirty years. In fact, he was the most successful exterminator in the state, until he died of a heart attack. Was that it? Had the ants been too slow to kill his father, the “Bug King of San Diego?” Were they now taking revenge on the exterminator’s son?

Nick realized that he could quite easily reach over and sweep the ants away from his gun. It could all be over in less than a second. “But if I did that,” he thought, “it would be because I think the ants are trying to kill me. But I don’t! That’s not possible! The gun isn’t even pointed this way!” Nick noted that the gun was actually pointed at the filing cabinet behind him. If the gun somehow went off at that moment, the shot would miss his left elbow by a good six inches.

“Ants can’t even think. They run on pure instinct, like rats or birds or… a third thing.”

Nick noticed a sound that was so faint he wasn’t certain he had actually heard anything at all. He held his breath and listened. Yes, there it was! A soft scrape, scrape, scrape. Nick leaned down until his face was almost touching the desk. The large group of ants had gathered on one side of the gun, and they were pushing it in unison! Nick imagined an ant with a tiny megaphone shouting “On the count of three! One, two three! One, two, three! One, two… C’mon, put your backs into it, men!”

“This can’t be happening!” thought Nick. “This just can’t be real… I must have had too much to drink. That’s it; I’m drunk! I’ve had far too much to drink, and now I’m imagining that the ants are pushing my gun across the desk. Even if they could get it to move, how would they pull the trigger?”

Nick felt the room start to spin again. He decided to close his eyes for a minute, just until the dizziness passed. He opened his eyes several hours later. He looked down at the desk. Unbelievably, his gun was now pointed squarely at his stomach.

“I have to stop the ants!” he thought. Nick raised his hand, ready to sweep the tiny insects to the floor. “No, don’t. Only a nut would do that. Only a nut would think that ants could get into his office and murder him. How would ants know that my dad was an exterminator, anyway? Or hey, maybe it’s not a murder. Maybe it’s the world’s slowest mugging!”

Nick decided that his little joke had earned him another drink. He finished off the last of the bottle of scotch. When he looked down at the ants again, he saw that some of them had climbed the toothpick. The toothpick was still resting against the gun’s trigger, with the tiny paper flag flying away from the ants. More ants were climbing up behind those ants, and a third group was climbing up behind the second. The ants were forming a miniature tidal wave of bugs.

“I see your game!” Nick said. “You want me to question my sanity! If I sit here doubting you long enough, that gives you enough time to use that toothpick to press the trigger, and ol’ Nick ends up with a slug in the chest! Well, I’m not falling for it! I know you ants can’t kill anybody. So I’m going to sit here until you either kill me or don’t!”

Nick squeezed his thumb and forefinger together, trying to remember exactly how much pressure it took to pull the trigger. Surely a group of ants wasn’t strong enough! How could they be?

The ants spilled over the side of the gun, toothpick and trigger unmoved. Nick stood up and screamed. “I told you! You little bastards! Even a thousand ants aren’t heavy enough to move the trigger of a .45! And that’s why man is at the top of the food chain! That, and the whole logical thought thing. That’s important, too. And opposable thumbs. Insects don’t have thumbs!” Nick decided to use his opposable thumbs to mush each ant, one by one. There would be no insect vendettas carried out today!

As Nick crushed his tiny enemies, he noticed the light in his office had gotten brighter. The sun was rising. Apparently his battle of wits had lasted all night.

Judith Hawkins arrived at the office building early that day. She had decided to get up before sunrise so she could finish her cleaning duties before noon. She would have an early lunch and then start her vacation.

Judith knew that Nick’s office was usually filthy, with old food and empty liquor bottles scattered everywhere. She walked over to his door and just as she opened it, there was a ear-splitting crash. The ceiling fan came down on Nick’s head, killing him instantly. Judith called the police, and they arrived a few minutes later. The police said there were no signs of foul play, just a lot of termites.

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