ZITA scurried down the sandy pathway, meandering her way towards the Drone chamber. At any sound—either real or imagined—she skittered into tiny holes that lined the walls of the Hill.
Her heart was thudding hard in her head not in her backside, she could feel it. Should Doga, or even worse still Kaza, catch her then she was as good as dead. Yet for some inexplicable reason, the thought of their crawling upon her seemed only to fuel her desire to quickly reach her destination instead of retreating from the danger it posed.
“And where are you sneaking off to?”
Zita nearly tumbled over in deathly shock at the sound just ahead of her but she quickly recognised it as Kiki’s voice.
Twitching her antennae in sheer relief, she scurried closer toward the voice. “Kiki, you nearly had my heart shooting out through my head. What are you doing out here all alone?”
“That should be my question, Zita.” Kiki retorted, her tone annoyed. “Where are you scuttling off to at this hour?”
“Ah…” Zita scanned her head for a plausible lie. “I was…”
“Azzz, don’t bother with the lie.” Kiki cut in impatiently. “I can see through it already.”
“Fine. If you must know, I am on my way to meet Zoro.” Zita defiantly tossed out and made to crawl past her.
Kiki did a sideways march and blocked her. “Azzz! What is the matter with you two?” She struck Zita with her antennae. “Do you both have a death wish?”
“We are all going to die at some point.” Zita was annoyed at the interference.
“And you wish that point to be today?”
Zita ignored the uneasy feeling caused by the concern in Kiki’s eyes. The last thing she wanted was fear crippling her resolve. “I’m not going to die today and neither is Zoro.” She tilted her head in stubbornness. “I need to get going. You get back to the chamber and have some rest, I’ll be back later.” She hastened forward.
Kiki followed her. “Do you realise that Kaza could be on her usual crawl around right now?”
“Yes I do. But I need to…”
“You need to get back with me right now before you have your unthinking head squashed by a Kaza.” Kiki told her, jumping right in her path.
“If you are worried about Kaza, then go back now.” Zita dodged her blocking. “I’ve got a place to be.”
But she’d hardly taken her next step when Kaza’s deep commanding voice halted her.
“And what are you two doing out here at this hour?”
Her antennae fluttered in fear and Zita took a step backward. “Ha… Kaza…”
“We observed some disquiet among the broods earlier on and had gone to check it out.” Kiki responded hastily, ambling forward. “We were heading back when Zita requested we go take another look to make sure they were still okay.”
Kaza slowly observed the two, her eyes lingering on the cowering Zita. She hated loitering and idleness, but there was nothing wrong with being diligent in one’s duties.
“Hmm.” She bobbed her massive head. “You should have had Doga check it out for you. Now get back to your chamber, I will go check on them myself.” She ordered.
“Thank you, Kaza.” They both chorused, turning and scurrying down the Hill.
Kaza made another hmm sound before sweeping around in the opposite direction, eyes scanning right, left and centre as she crawled in calculated measured steps.
The minute they were back in the safety of their chamber, Kiki fell flat on her belly. “That was close. I thought my heart was going to cease pumping blood to my head.”
Zita didn’t say anything, just crawled to her sleeping position and flattened her frame.
Kiki shifted from her position to join her. “You see for yourself how dangerous this madness that has overcome you and Zoro is?” She murmured.
Zita didn’t respond for a minute and when she did, it was a low whispering sound. “I love him, Kiki.”
“Azzz!” Kiki cried in exasperation. “Not this madness again.”
I marched forward and backward, my eyes scanning in all direction, hoping that my Zita would crawl out from any part of the Hill. I’ve been waiting for longer than an hour and though something in my head told me she wouldn’t be coming, something else in my heart wouldn’t just give up.
A movement behind me made me turn hastily. It was Dima, the Worker attached to our chamber.
“Why are you out here pacing back and forward?” She demanded, drawing closer.
“Just taking in the night air.” I lied without qualm.
She studied me for a moment before making a slight movement with her head, as if agreeing with me. “You should go inside and take your rest.” Dima counselled. “I’m heading back to my chamber. Rest well.” She crawled off.
I watched her as she made her way steadily in the direction of the Worker’s resting chamber, she will probably see my Zita before she closed her eyes to rest tonight but I, whose heart beats heavily for her, will not lay my eyes on her.
Head drooping and heart heavy with sorrow, I crawled into my chamber, cursing the fate that made me an ant governed and restricted by so many rules.