The church camp I went to in Florida was in a humid, rainy woodland. I did not know anyone there the summer of 2009. The first thing that happened at church camp was an assembly in the cafeteria. This assembly included a lecture from a greasy sixteen year-old boy. He began, “I am going to tell you a story about the ant who survived the apocalypse.”
“There was an ant named Todd. He was five feet tall and stood like a human man. He could only travel by killing. After killing, he would travel in the carcass of his victim. He did not feel bad about it. He saw a rabbit in the grass. He ran up to it and dug his fangs into her stomach.”
The kids around me were laughing. One kid had his finger so deep into his nose that I could only see the knuckle of it. I remember having a confusion as deeply rooted as that kid’s finger. My consular whispered to the co-consular, “This story is four hours long.”
It did. I will spare you the length of the story. The progression of events went like this: the ant travels in the body of the rabbit until he reaches a pelican. Upon reaching the pelican, he kills it. He flies around and has a revelation about Holiness. Then, he kills a fish. He, as a fish, travels to a playground. The story ends with the fish, who is actually an ant sitting in a rotting corpse, sitting on the playground as the last creature alive after the apocalypse. There was no particular moral to this story. It was reliant on shock value, and after about an hour the audience had been drained of shock value.
I think about this story often for two reasons. Firstly because, as a writer who prefers to create poetry and prose, form is highly experimental. The storytelling at church camp was resonant in the way that someone had devoted time to creating a four hour long story about a murderous ant and that proved that if an individual is determined to do something, be it abstract to the point where it is appalling or not, an individual can do it. Secondly, it was memorable because it was an odd, inconsequential storytelling that ultimately holds no significance to my life and personal choices beyond a common lesson in absurdity.