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The Colony

by  Victor Gente Delespejo

Posted: Saturday, December 15, 2007
Word Count: 832
Summary: How do we know that the overwhelming phenomena we face in this world are not the byproducts of organisms that are so beyond our scale that we cannot conceive of them as they truly are?

'Hi there auntie, how are you today?'
'Mornin' Termy, I'm fine, praise the Lord, blessed Lord,' said auntie, looking up at the dome. She didn't look as good as she claimed though. Termy noticed it. Wasn't hard to.
Normally he wouldn't have said anything. But this wasn't a normal day. Everyone was acting strangely.
'Worried, auntie?'
'How can I not be, child? You heard the warning, haven't you? Sure you have, everybody has,' she replied with a sigh.
They both looked around. An eerie calm was wafting through the atmosphere, stretching the sinews of composure. She knew the feeling very well. You never could tell when one would break with a twang, shattering the calm and activating the undercurrent panic.
'Auntie, do you think our Lord and Queen hates us?' asked Termy, his eyes full of question marks, yet completely devoid of fear.
'Termy!' gasped auntie.
She felt like scolding the child, but she reconsidered when she saw the innocent wonder in his eyes.
'Termy, our Lord and Queen loves us and provides for us every day. Why, everything you see around you has been provided by the Lord. Our structure, our order, our wealth, our friendship, our love and respect for each other.'
'Then why is the Lord sending another threat to us?' he asked, clearly eager to understand the contradiction. 'At home, they say that this threat is moving in our direction with "disastrous pace," that "her steps are... thunderous," and that her eye is... "glittering."'
'They said that when she gets here, she'll "...blast through the dome, pick us off the ground, and wreak havoc to our colony." I memorised it auntie,' he added, proud of his fluent recitation.
He looked up towards auntie, waiting for praise. She always praised him when he did something well. Sometimes she'd even give him a treat. The threat was no longer in his mind. It had vanished in thin air, under sweet images.
But it was very much present in auntie's mind. She just gazed around again, trying to not lose her cool, not in front of Termy.
'What's wrong auntie? Didn't I say those things correctly? I'm sorry, I'll do better next time, I promise. I'll go back and listen to them again and learn them...'
'No no, child! You did just fine. Now, forget them. There's other things to work on, so many things to learn.' She caressed him, and a smile lit his face up. She smiled back at him.
A faint rumble rose from the ground just then. They both felt it seep through their limbs, right into their thorax and abdomen. Their smiles disappeared.
'Is that the threat auntie? Is that her? Is that her?' he asked, pulling her by the arm.
She was ready to answer 'no' and change the subject, but a loud announcement interrupted her, echoing through the chambers.
'Attention, attention, everybody to emergency stations... I repeat, everybody to emergency stations...'
Twang! The quickening had arrived. An extreme urgency overflowed the chambers. Millions started dashing through the corridors, rushing to their positions, bracing for impact. Most had already left the colony, but she and her whole family had chosen to stay there, along with many others. It was her home. She could never abandon it.
She picked Termy up and scampered to the shelter, running as fast as her aging legs could carry them both. The rumbles were getting stronger and louder, and a series of terrifying shrieks resonated in the chambers. They were coming from the exterior, from beyond the dome, merging with the chaos and drowning everything in a current of mayhem. Disaster felt terrifyingly close. The warning announcements could barely be heard anymore.
'Attention, attention... Brace for coming impact... I repeat, brace for coming impact... Katrina approaching... Katrina approaching...'

Meanwhile, on the outside, the approaching entomologist stopped for a moment. Was someone calling her name? Couldn't be. There was no one around for miles.
She reached into her side pockets, looking for a piece of gum, her eyes getting caught by her embroidered name tag. It always seemed that read upside-down as it appeared to her now, her name took on an alien, aggressive form, anirtaK. AnirtaK. Like some sort of ancient demon. How unfair! Katrina was a wonderful name, sweet and girly and playful just as she was, and she could never really accept its dark and ominous reciprocal.
Forgetting all about the gum, she resumed the tune she had been whistling, eager to chase away those damp and disturbing thoughts.
She turned towards the mound.
'Wise men say, only fools rush in...'
She dropped her heavy backpack on the ground and grabbed a tiny pickaxe from its side pocket.
'But I can't help...'
She slapped the mound walls with her other hand to test their composition.
'Falling in love with you.'
She raised her arm high, with pickaxe in hand, still whistling, and started picking the mound in a slow, steady rhythm... digging a hole in its walls...