Friday, 9 July 2010

Why I hate nature and it must be punished

Remember when you were six and used to grub around in the dirt, pretending to dig holes and tearing insects in half for the noise it made? No? Just me on that last one? I was a strange child. Anyway, in the last week, I had an opportunity to study nature and get back to that blissful primordially muddy state. Or so I thought.

Now, I passed my childhood in the magical far off land of Birmingham, a place not quite North and not quite South, and this means the pixies there must have been particularly hungry, as one thing I noticed which wasn't there in my childhood was ants. I was there to count centipedes and measure moss, which is exactly as thrilling as it sounds, but the trip soon turned into a battle against the forces of ant-kind, or, as we ended up referring to them, evil tiny unkillable biting bastards. There were adders in that forest. There were wolves. (In cages.) There was the malevolent ghost of Adolf Hitler (possibly). The ants were still the most evil thing there, swarming and biting and devouring all things. One intrepid explorer dared to venture near an ant trail with a particularly determined look in his eye, and the mass of black insects swarmed up him and stripped the flesh from his bones. Also, one of them bit me on the hand. One of those is actually a lie.

Anyway, this meant war.

We had to select a champion for our battle to reclaim the forest: we settled on a pill millipede we named, imaginatively, Pillipede. A giant of the bug world, he was huge, majestic, and armoured. If one man were to save us from the insect threat, it would be Pillpiede, in his gleaming exoskeleton. We placed Pillipede carefully, almost reverently, in a jar, and nurtured him lovingly. We prepared him for his big fight, giving him a rousing pep talk and a Rocky style training montage.

Yes, that millipede has opposable thumbs, why do you ask?

Pillipede, we judged, was finally ready to fight. To make his clear size advantage more fair, he would face three ant opponents, who were already in fighting spirits (the little fuckers bit all the way into the jar).

The ants were with the millipede. That's the most secret-spy-code-like sentence I've ever typed that wasn't secret spy code. It was time for the fight to begin...

A heated, if somewhat slow, battle began, Pillipede lashing out at the ants. Soon, a strange yellow liquid dathered on the floor. "Aha!" Thought I, "The ants are soiling themselves in sheer fear at the sight of our mighty warrior!" But as the fight continued, it was fairly clear the liquid was blood - and not ant blood. We began to face the unfaceable truth.

Pillipede was losing.

The ants, it was fairly clear, had won this battle by fair means. There was only one option left to us.

We would cheat. Pillipede was going down, but this was no reason not to take the ants with him. It was time to re even the odds a little.

We flooded the jar with water, hoping to let Pillipede show his as yet unseen amazing swimming skills and a talent for naval warfare. Unfortunately, this last shock was too much for his somewhat battered health, and he died. The ants?

They kept going.

We acknowledged our defeat - the forest was theirs. We buried Pillipede, a true hero, in the leaf litter, but under heavy observation from the forces of ant-ness. We had fought, and we had lost.

We left two days later, never to return.

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