It was a balmy afternoon. The occasional wind caused the leaves to rustle. Marty walked across the field, away from his farmhouse towards a towering hundred-year-old tree. A ladder rested on its thick, dark brown trunk that led upwards to a little treehouse. It was built by Marty’s grandfather for his twin daughter and son. Marty’s father and aunt used to spend their afternoons up there to do their school work followed by leisurely hours of fun with boyish and girly projects. They would hang around until their mother called them down for dinner. In some rare cases, their parents had to literally drag them home.
The treehouse was abandoned when they grew too big to comfortably fit in but in keeping with tradition, Marty’s father cleaned and fixed up the place for his son. He was wise to realise hours up in the treehouse was far more beneficial to Marty than hours spent in the room with mobile gadgets and games machines.
Marty climbed up the ladder, turned on his music player and flipped open his favourite storybook. He sat back and started reading. Gradually, he slid lower and lower until he was lying on his back. The summer sun was shining in through the window so he propped his book on his face to shield himself.
The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah... Marty’s favourite song was playing. Together with the chirping of birds, the combination of music and sound of nature provided a rhythmic lullaby that gently turned Marty's eyelids to lead. As he dozed off, his deep and slow breathing sent a signal to the little critters hiding in every nook and cranny in the shadows. Forever fearful of encounters with humans, the critters appear when there was silence or when it was dark at night.
Marty's titular character ants in his favourite song came marching out of the cracks of the floorboards to resume their duties. They had to carry their sweet findings from the treehouse down to the ground where their queen and newborns nested. A spider resumed spinning its web to lay a trap to flying insects. A curious grasshopper hopped into Marty’s dark hair but after a while, hopped out the window when it decided that this little boy was of little interest.
Higher up under the pitched roof, there was a sudden electrical buzzing sound. A web of corona discharge flashed outward. From the centre of the source, a swirl of dark smoke appeared. Slowly, the smoke and electric discharge gave way to a portal ring. Tiny, dark, gloved hands reached out to grab the ring. A dark figure like a miniaturised human heaved himself out. He jumped and somersaulted on to a wooden truss. He scanned the surrounding with his red, glowing eyes until he saw the ants. The figure was featureless except for those burning eyes. He surveyed the trail of ants and locked on to the largest, shiniest red one.
“Delicious,” he smiled, revealing sharp metallic teeth.
He braced himself on the truss and sprang toward the ant. As he accelerated towards the insect, he spread his arms wide. Sheets of flexible material joined to his arms and body like wings so that he could glide and control his flight. As he inched closer to his target, he flicked both his arms and blades projected out of his forearms.
He landed on his target which was twice his size. He grabbed hold of one of the antennae to steady himself. He raised his other arm and readied for the kill. He was too engrossed in his actions that he was unaware that another figure had appeared behind him through a similar portal. Just before he managed to plunge the blade into the ant, the new arrival tackled him and they both fell onto the ground, rolling. The commotion had alerted the ants. They scattered and ran away from the two figures.
“You have interfered for the last time, Blue,” the figure with the red eyes snarled.
“It won’t be the last until I’ve finished you off, Red,” the other figure said. He was similar in height and size as Red. While Red was dark as night, Blue was a shade lighter and like his namesake, had glowing blue eyes.
Without another word, Red leapt into the air and sent a flying kick towards Blue which he skilfully sidestepped. Blue raised his left leg and kicked Red but the darker one managed to push Blue away. The two of them attacked each other and parried without much effort. They were equally matched. They were just waiting for each other to make a fatal mistake that can be taken advantage of. In the backdrop was Marty, sleeping peacefully, oblivious to the battle in front of him.
Blue and Red started to become restless as impatience set in. Their fighting moves started to become erratic. Mistakes were aplenty but still the other always managed to block the blow. Somehow, someway, they could read each other’s minds. Desperate to conclude their fight, they jumped at each other and ended in a bear hug. They rolled around and tried to get at each other but they were locked in an endless struggle. In one last move, they crashed their heads at each other...
“No!” Marty woke with a start. He opened his eyes like he was waking up from a trance. He sat up and looked around, still hazy. As the dream faded away, he began to relax and lied down again. Marty stretched and propped his head up with one hand to look out the window of his small little treehouse.
“What was I dreaming about?” he asked himself. “Was it a bad dream? Why did I wake up so suddenly?”
Marty’s head started to ache as he tried to force himself to remember. Eventually, he decided to give up. It must have been something trivial if I can’t remember it.
He sat up and stretched again. He took a pack of junk food from his stash at the corner of the treehouse and snacked away. A piece of the potato chips fell on the floorboard. Feeling greedy and well aware of the two seconds rule, Marty quickly picked the piece up and put it in his mouth. That was when he noticed the trail of ants moving across the floor.
A voice in his head told him to squeeze the ants. It would be fun, the voice said, so Marty stuck out his index finger and aimed for one of them. He was going to squeeze it when another voice told him not to. It was like Deja Vu. Marty disliked these conflicting emotions but that was part of life. There will always be a good voice and a bad voice.
Marty decided to call it a day and climbed down the treehouse. Blue bathed in glory as he managed to prevent Marty from killing any ants but Red lived on to fight another day.