The slight sting burning on the meaty part of my index finger felt reminiscent of a rope pulling taut, held desperately by the fire ant whose disproportioned jaws had sunk into my skin. That mouth could probably cut a wayward caterpillar in half with a few clean, mechanical strokes; however, it couldn’t hope to even lacerate my finger enough to let loose a trickle of blood before it dropped dead of exhaustion. I glanced down at my feet and imagined horrified faces staring up at the fellow I accidentally abducted, awestruck with the size of the giant who had lifted their comrade into the outer reaches of their universe.
Instead, they just kept scurrying, dutiful soldiers unfazed by the loss of their brethren. Selfless, mindless, flawless zombies that are mere platoons of what surely constitute a grand, Napoleonic army. A swarm of Jihad.
My coach let out a hoarse, tortured bellow that jarred me from my thoughts and sent my feet scrambling in an autonomous dash for the red dust of the baseball field. Again I imagined the looks of terror and disgust as soot-covered, six-legged soldiers garbed in olive drab fatigues stumbled upon the hideous, mangled corpses of their squad mates, crushed flat beneath my shoes. A glance back proved otherwise, and as I turned again to face the diamond, I had a revelation; my shoes were untied.
I was a blonde comet falling from the heavens, spectator to an arid battlefield below. With a ringing crash and an explosion of light, my interstellar body slammed into the earth, the shockwave that would be heard around the empires of the ants and bring peace like a bolt of divine fire. A Holy flood.
In other words, I ate dust.
As the smoke from my impact dissipated into the cool, spring breeze, I felt a slight sting on my index finger, the one on the hand that was wedged painfully between the plastic cup that covered my crotch and the dry, clay ground underneath. I lifted the warped extremity out from under myself and saw him, beaten, battered, burnt and two of his legs badly wounded. His helmet was missing and his microscopic M16 nowhere in sight. I watched his desperation, no doubt fueled by a life spent soaking up the torrential downpour of propaganda like a perfect little sponge. I then crushed him between my fingers, at the time considering it a mercy killing. I still do consider it that, innocent euthanasia, but somehow time has changed its context within my head. I noticed that none of my teammates had come to my aid, even so much as saw me plummet to the earth from my galactic perch above. They just kept passing around the baseball, either ignorant or savagely uncaring.
I believe in invisible wars, Islam in insects, and that if we pull our heads out from the trenches we might be witness to something extraordinary. I believe that if you listen close enough, you can hear the crunches of casualties beneath your shoes and that the final product of violence is never peace.
I believe that I would fall asleep on baseball fields without the jolting nips from the maws of fire ants, unless I’m up to bat.