A short story, under 500 words, fiction with a different perspective.
From the deepest bowels of the well within the basement, Illustro strove upward. His six legs worked mud and wood fibre into a tunnel to lead him from the darkness of below to the lights from above.
More than anything, Illustro wanted to see light. A creature of his ancestry had no right to dream of such a thing, but they’d named him a light-bringer and in that naming they’d created his life quest.
To purify through sacrifice, to illuminate. His name. His purpose. Bring light to the colony, or take them to the source of light. Whatever he had to do, whatever the personal cost, Illustro would fulfil his quest and enable his family to return to their rightful place at the top of the mound, where the heat warmed the carapace, where the food was fresh and energising, where the eggs grew strong, and the pupae emerged whole and hale.
Illustro’s colony was the last of the many hundreds of colonies that once foraged this plain. A regular problem came with the influx of mammals. Colonies were damaged, lives were lost. Mammals showed no respect. But they grazed, ate, moved on to better pastures. The problem moved on.
Then came the ones who strode on two legs, who came in clumps of family groups, who pulled down trees and dug into the ground, who destroyed colonies and used the soil from the mounds to make their own homes.
Bricks and timber, mud and wood, all turned to provide permanent placement of the new pestilence.
Storms came. Wind blew across the plain. Rain scoured deep furrows, water surged into the mounds, drowned millions. Eggs floated into the light and shrivelled to dust.
Fires came. Not a fast-flying flash of heat that burned off the refuse of the grasses and seeds. The new fires came hotter, stayed longer, scorched the mounds to less than dust. The eggs fried.
One. He was only one, but without a successful quest, he was the last of his family, the only remaining male with a whole body, and he bore their destiny with the desperate need to capture the attention of a female on her first flight. The beginnings of a new creation, a new mound.
A swarm. He dreamed of a swarm, of millions of females filling the skies with hope. With dreams. With an army.
The last colony moved deep underground, strove toward moisture to ensure the safety of the remaining eggs.
Illustro, the last male of the last colony, the last with a quest, strove to destroy that which had destroyed his family. He moved mud from below the cellar that kept the enemy alive, built a tunnel between two sharp-cut pieces of timber, and strove to reach the summit of their mound, their home.
He needed to be high enough to sing, to send a message to any surviving mounds, to call them together for the war against the invaders. He needed to reach the light.