Short Stories

Short Story: They Were Gone

The six legs, not eight as that would mean an arachnid nor more than eight as of this way it would be Myriapoda, crawled onward in perfect unison. He watched it go. His cheek pressed on the ground. Even if he wanted, he couldn’t move. He tried to whisper to the bug, Anoplotrupes Stercorosus to be precise, not to leave him there. Beg it to help a fellow up, but that would mean speaking and speaking was a strenuous act. And he would have to address the issue that the bug was a long way from home, the forest. Granted, his yard had turned into a forest of its own. The trees growing wild. Bushes, too.

Another six legs passed him. This time it was an ant. Formica Rufa if he was correct. The ant stopped its way, staring deep into his eyes. Or as deep as an ant can, which is not much. To it, he was a blurry mountain—part of the landscape. So rather than trying to speak and open up his windy cave, he stared back at the tiny creature and wondered would its worker friends follow her. As it was most likely her. All the workers, soldiers, and the rest tended to be female. It was only the human variety who had suddenly begun to think ovaries restricted action. The ant passed him, which he considered somewhat fortunate; who knows where he would have ended if she and her worker friends would have decided to carry him somewhere. Granted that he was too big for their taste. Also, transport back into his house would have been welcomed.

Nothing moved except the grass swayed against the light wind. Somewhere back in his mind, he knew he only had to lift his head, push his hands on the ground, and get up. He just couldn’t. It was a lot easier to lie there and watch the grass grow. And at some point, he would have to eat, and pure instinct would drive him back indoors to look past the spoiled milk. For now, he watched as another six-legged insect made its way around the yard, flying from a Taraxacum to a Taraxacum or dandelion as they were more commonly know. It was a good thing someone had a better use for his yard than he. The bumblebee, Bombus Terrestris, went on ignorant of him. If he had dark-colored clothes on, he might attract it towards him, as was the case with most insects.

One good thing that came from being stuck like this was, he noticed what a magnet his unkempt yard was for life, for the first time. This was more life than he had seen in ages, being mostly the reason why it was hard to go on. Hard to push his hands on the ground and move. 

“You know,” he addressed the bumblebee, which had venture the close by dandelion. “I never noticed you before. Not before they were gone. I have read every book inside my house and the houses beyond my house, and you and your fellow insects do a helluva job to keep this land going.” He pushed himself up.

The bumblebee ignored him.

“I know you won’t answer back, and I’m very grateful for that. Still, I find you an excellent company. It has been hard since all the humans disappeared. You can talk only so long to the manikins at the shop windows or read every book you find before going bonkers. And if you are wondering why I was left behind. I have no clue. Maybe I stink. Who knows? I don’t. I stopped trying to figure that out months ago. Why bother.”

As he expected, the bumblebee had no explanations for him. It was just doing what it was supposed to do, which was pollinate and forage for its nest and queen.

“You like that I haven’t touched my yard ever since, don’t you? Tomorrow when I walk into the town, I buy seeds with Pete’s money. He went and foolishly left his wallet behind. What would you like? Lavender maybe, I bet you would find it tasty.” He got up and walked into his house, and shut the door behind after the bee was gone.

Thank you for reading, and have a lovely day ❤

© K.A. Ashcomb

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