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A collective consciousness, in which every individual or entity shares the same collective mind. I don't believe any terran species has been proven to have a hive-mind at this time. In other words, it is theoretical.

It can be said that hive-living creatures, like the ant or the burrowing naked mole-rat, share a collective intelligence. In the case of ants or the Borg, the individual has no concept of itself. There is no personal concern: individuals lay down their lives as necessary for the good of the group. Add to that tenet a reliable system of mass communication and you've got a great society for the promotion of the group. There are no heroes, alas, in the hive...but the hive itself is the organism, that which must live and succeed.

Some fear the hive mind and speculate that humanity is evolving that way with the kind of technology we're becoming increasingly more reliant upon. Not me, though. I'm witnessing just the opposite: maybe we're not getting more enlightened, but we're certainly becoming more vocal about our individuality...nonconformity is the standard we conform to where I live.

A humbabba-rescued nodeshell--your donations at work.

The ants were back in the bathroom. They’d made multiple trails from the floor up the wall to a crack in the window frame. Wiggly lines of living, moving creatures. They were after the wet cat food again. It was fascinating even though it also gave Sarah the heebie jeebies to see hundreds of them here like this all at once.

She knew they communicated by scent and she could see the ants on their way out and up touching feelers with the ants coming in and down. Food this way, they must be saying. She resisted the temptation to anthropomorphize them any further, though. Just made it harder to kill them.

There were at least a couple of the ant bait thingies left from the package she bought on Amazon a few weeks ago. They worked pretty well. You cleared away the food and left one of the baits there instead. The label said they were pet safe. Borax based, she recalled reading somewhere. The ants switched over from the cat food to the bait very dependably. They carried the poison back to the hive in tiny, tiny droplets. In a few hours the trails would start to thin, and in about a day you had wiped them out entirely.

She always felt bad about that, especially when there were just a couple of lone ants left hanging around, looking listless and directionless. But what other choice did she have? She wasn’t going to share the bathroom with them regardless of how many times their weight they could carry and how amazing a feat of evolution they were.

She was about to leave to get the bait when she had second thoughts. For whatever reason, she would never be able to say why, she decided that she would just clean up the food and wait for the ants to leave on their own. Then she’d put the cat bowl in a plate with a little water in it. That should do the trick. If they couldn’t reach it, they wouldn’t come back.

 She noticed then that one of the trails was no longer a straight line. It had looped back on itself. That was weird. In fact there were multiple loops going on here.

One of them, the second stream from the left, looked a little like the letter “e.”

 

                             x

                                         x

                                         x

                                             x

                                           x     x   x

                                        x                 x 

                                         x   x     xx

                                          x

                                            x  x    x   

                                                        x

                                                      x

                                                    x

                                                    x

 

The ants were moving in four vertical streams down the wall and these were all bending and twisting as she watched. The second stream from the right had morphed into an “f” shape. On the far right it looked like a “t” now. The stream on the far left had looped into a cursive lower case “l.” Impossibly, the four streams now spelled out the word “left.” And just as soon as it was recognizably a word it all began straightening out again. In less than a minute the streams were more or less linear once more.

“What are the odds?” Sarah whispered, already regretting that she hadn’t grabbed her phone and taken a snap. To do what with? Post on Facebook or Instagram that her apartment was infested with insects? Gross. But that was hella weird.

 

 

__________

 

 

She was one of six people in the lunch room when the first shots rang out. Her father, a hunter, had taken her to a firing range when she was fourteen. She remembered the sound. She knew instantly what was happening. It was, the police would say, an active shooter situation.

The cafeteria had two doors. From her perspective everyone was heading for the door to the right, which exited the building. Though that door you’d find yourself in the parking lot with room to run.

She sprinted for the door to her left. She had just reached it when the other door opened and the shooter confronted her coworkers attempting to flee. He cut them all down. She was the only one from the lunch room to survive.

 

 

__________

 

 

Sarah put the cat food down in the bathroom that night, but she didn’t set it in a plate of water. She wanted the ants to come back. She knew it was insane, but she wanted to thank them.

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