Sometimes the things that occur to me, unbidden, during what would otherwise have appeared to be a good night’s sleep, can be a little disturbing:
A group of prisoners, interned during a terrible conflict on a large and verdant island surrounded by treacherous seas, watched helplessly over a period of weeks, and then months, as the land of their captors was bombed into ruination. Some, then more, of the prison’s guards were evidently called off to conflict, and not seen again; eventually, so few guards remained that the prisoners felt empowered to make an attempt at escape. They succeeded, overpowering the last few guards, and poured forth from the prison walls. But they found that, so devastated was the island by repeated bombardment that it seemed, of all the land’s former habitantions, only the prison remained intact, and none of the other inhabitants had survived.
It turned out that this perception was not completely accurate. Though they did indeed have the island to themselves, it was not just the prison which had withstood the bombardment. At the island’s other end, they found a valley, green, miraculously spared the ravges of war, which still sustained orchards, farmlands, and one pristine, deserted village. They moved in.
The village was a wonderful haven: the former prisoners soon set about establishing livelihoods, and enjoying their liberty. There was, however, one small problem … one fly in the ointment, if you will. The village was infested, heavily, by large black ants.
The escapees tried every trick they could think of to rid their new home of these pests: they set out poison, they laid traps, they stretched trails of honey and sugar leading away from the area, in the hope that the ants might just leave. They tried smoking out the pests; they poured cold, or boiling, water, or even oil, over the ants’ many colonies. But nothing worked: the ants were too hardy, and too numerous, and simply too tenacious to dislodge.
So the former prisoners gave up the attempts, realising that the price of freedom is eternal village ants.