Writing prompt: “She watched the autumn leaves fall”

Time: 7 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“She watched the autumn leaves fall”

She watched the autumn leaves fall. The floor of the forest must be covered in several inches after the last week.

It’s under there, she thought. She gazed at the sea of golden and brown leaves. It was tempting to notice how pretty the scene was, golden late afternoon light spilling through the nearly bare branches. But it was more like looking at a new ocean that had just formed, a great useless barrier in between her and her prize. How long would it them to find the city under this mess? If she couldn’t, would it be too late by spring?

Five years ago, when she had started the research, the danger of it had never occurred to her. Ants were nifty, clever little critters. Somehow, she still didn’t know how, but somehow she had changed them. They were smarter. They plotted. They got to things normal ants shouldn’t get to, like the morning she arrived to find the sugar-water solution in the next room down a quarter in volume. It hadn’t been her imagination, she realized, when the birth rate went up the appropriate time later.

Somehow, a week ago, a few had stowed away on her person. She wouldn’t even have noticed, except that somehow she’d killed one. What a shock it had been to see one of her hot pink ants in her pocket, the worst kind of smoking bullet. She’d traced her steps back to her cut-through home. Even her ants were remarkably camouflaged this time of year. Had they planned it?

People probably imagined that viruses or bacteria engineering would eventually wreak havoc on the world. But no, she shook her head; it was going to be her Technicolor ants. Maybe they wouldn’t survive the winter.

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