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The Inaugural Ball
by Michael A. Kechula

When ants infested the chocolate cake on the picnic table, Artie told his three cousins what happened.

“Let’s find out where they live and wreck the place,” Billy said.

“How?” asked Chucky.

“We’ll use this cherry bomb,” said Danny.

Chucky liked ants, figuring they were better and more industrious than his dad, a jobless, chronic alcoholic. He refused to participate.

While the other boys searched for the anthill, Billy said, “My dad told me somebody killed an elephant in the zoo with a cherry bomb. Blood and guts splattered everything for a whole mile. Imagine what it’ll do to a bunch of crummy ants.”

“It’ll be like an atomic bomb blast,” Danny said.

Before long, they found the anthill.

The boys didn’t know that a civil war had recently ended between two ant factions. The winners formed the world’s first ant republic, ratified a constitution, and held presidential elections. The winner was sworn in that morning.

Had the kids looked carefully through a powerful magnifying glass, they would’ve noticed tuxedoed and beautifully gowned ants entering the anthill to attend the Inaugural Ball. Had they examined ants coming from the picnic, they would’ve noticed waiter uniforms and chocolate cake morsels heading for the Inaugural Banquet.

The boys placed the cherry bomb on top of the anthill and lit the fuse.

Countless celebrating ants died. Blood and guts were strewn for a mile. Some fell on Chucky’s head as he sat at the picnic table. Wiping the gunk, he noticed bloody ant parts. He wept deeply over the carnage.

Though disoriented by the surprise attack, the Ant Intelligence Network, AIN, summoned their vast network of secret informants.

That night, a million AIN agents invaded every boy’s bedroom in town. They dusted the boys’ fingers for traces of firecracker gunpowder. They figured the task would take all night. However during their search, the AIN Director sent a text message ordering all agents to stop their activities and converge on apartments occupied by Artie, Billy, and Danny.

When dusted with AIN’s forensic chemicals, the boys’ fingers turned bright blue, indicating they were the assassins.

Before sunrise, Artie, Bill, and Danny exploded simultaneously. Their blood and guts were strewn for a mile.

Everybody wondered why such a horrible thing happened to three, cute kids. But the ants knew. They too had cherry bombs, and retaliated by inserting one into each sleeping boy's mouth.

Years later, Chucky’s grandchildren asked him to tell some scary stories, as they sat around a campfire. He told them about the guy who blew up an elephant with a cherry bomb. They squealed with pleasure when they heard how blood and guts covered everything for a mile. The kids clamored for more bloody tales. Chucky told them about his three cousins who'd suffered the same fate at the hands of the Ant Intelligence Network.

The kids didn’t believe him.

Until he showed the citations and medals he received from AIN for squealing on his three cousins.