The Ant Colony

Symbol Of The Dignity Of The Bourgeois Life

To live a life of luxury and decadence, Mrs. Jane Poulter had married the man of her dreams. Jane’s dreams were not of a loving a dutiful husband, definitely no Prince Charming, her husband was a cold and distant man, but of course, this was of little consequence to Jane.

Jane had come to know Master Nikolas Poulter Jnr. as a young girl. During a decidedly disordered attempt at climbing the slippery ladder to a higher socio-economic status, her father had entangled himself with the renowned factory owner, Mr. Nikolas Poulter Snr. When Jane was old enough to understand why her cheeks flushed red when Nik Jnr. brushed passed her at an important social gathering, she had taken to asking her father whether she was expected to marry this brash man. Jane and Nik had exchanged more eye contact than they had words. Jane was not all that sure of his ambition in life, but there was a confidence, an air of assertiveness that accompanied his presence in any room. From this self-assured manner she knew he would offer the stability of wealth and the respect that ignited the fire behind her fathers eyes, and with a husband like that, surely she could finally achieve the approval she so strongly desired of her father.

After the death of Nikolas Snr. Nik had inherited his father’s wealth along with his array of factories and the accompanying work force. The competence of Nikolas and the inefficiencies of Nik permitted the enjoyment of all the trappings of the upper class for somewhere in the range of 14 years, 3 months, 24 days, 4 hours and 14, no 15, minutes. The rumblings had started at the bottom, it was becoming ever more common for factory workers to meet at the local public house after work to discuss their working conditions. They were unhappy that their 12 hours shifts were turning into 14 hours. They were constantly producing more and more fabric to be loaded onto the ships only to float away, exported over the world. All the while their children were forced into tattered discards. Even then, much of the tatty children’s outfits were snuck out of the factory, always with an overbearing fear of being caught. When Tristain had been caught with enough cloth for his wife to make his 3 girls a dress each, he had got off lightly, he had lost his job at the factory. When Albertus was caught trying to get out with enough cloth to make all his brother’s new suits, he had received a particularly wicked punishment. Strangely, he didn’t lose his job at the factory, but in order to maintain his employment, he was required to surrender his fingers, on both hands. The real cruelty was when Albertus was reassigned to the threading station, still employed at the factory, paid for each needle he could thread. With no chance of employment opportunities elsewhere, he had no choice but to attempt needle threading with his lips. Suffice to say, a cruel punishment for Albertus, but a grand statement for the other employees. Don’t step out of line.  

It was a Thursday afternoon that the rumblings began to overflow and tumble into a full scale uproar by the woefully ignored and exceedingly oppressed workers. Nik happened to be visiting his local factory on this particular Thursday. Although whether it was his presence, with it’s accompanying air of arrogance and self entitlement, was the cause of the ensuing revolt, it is hard to say. As it turns out the workers were already primed to overflow that day. One of the key members of the revolution, known simply as Rittuania, had given a particularly rousing and stimulating speech to a crowd of 5000 the night before.  Although to call it a speech is sure to under appreciate the passion and vigour for which she was able to mobilise her fellow factory workers into a mass uprising.

Nik was sat scrutinising some papers on his desk. The factory manager and the mill foreman were reading over his shoulder, along with a small group of advisers, with a particularly nervous looking accountant sat across from the small crowd. Standing either side of the door were Nik’s two personal protection agents and a third observing the factory floor through a grand window opposite the desk. A knock came at the door. The knock was casual but was answered with a rude and disparaging reply,

” Not now, I informed you, I will call when I am finished here. I will deal with the workers conditions when I’m ready. Now fuck off” Nik was far too caught up in the unreasonable valuation he had put on his own time for pleasentries. 

The knocker persisted, trying two more knocks before ceasing. Some gentle mumbling could be heard from the other side of the door. What ever was said, it resulted in a frantic, panicked rapping on the door. The handle was being rattled and a voice pleaded, 

“Please sir, you have to come see” 

Nik glanced up from his papers and gave one of his advisors, a large gentleman of exquisite appearance, having spent more time being groomed that morning than any of the workers had as a daily break. He wheezed as he heaved his great weight from the chair and shifting his weight on a walking stick, shuffled over to the door. He unlatched the lock on the door. At the sound of the metal latch being released a host of bodies burst through the door, knocking over the overweight man and sending him falling backwards with a thud. The workers were swarming into the room. Each of the men, in all their finery were seized by the invaders, there was no chance of escaping the grasp of the collective workers.

The largest physique in the room had Nik held by the scruff of his collar, flanked by two others, both also bearing biceps larger than Nik’s head. the three men lifted his weight and carried him, struggling against their solid grasp to the window over-looking the factory floor. The four men peered down in unison, they were the height of 4 stories above the tumult below. The whole factory floor had been over run by thousands of the working class. Nik looked on in disbelief. Like a colony of ants, the men all circled around a central podium. In the centre, rising above the men, standing proudly on the podium, with everyone chanting her name, “RIT-TUAN-IA, RIT-TUAN-IA, RIT-TUAN-IA”. The eminent instigator of the mutinous uproar. Nik’s glasses had be knocked off in the scuffle, but he was sure he recognised the blurred outline of the protagonist in this spectacular exhibition of collective strength. The central figure raised a hand, and like a Roman Emperor, wielding power over life and death, and not entertained by the gladiators, signalled to the window that Nik’s time had come. The man to Nik’s right, smashed through the great pane of glass with his elbow. As the glass shattered, shards falling away, the jeering and chanting of the workers below flowed in through the gaps and burst into the office along with a rush of cold air. With a combined effort, the three men launched Nik from the window. He flew through the air, screams inaudible above the crowds cheers. Falling. Sounds muffled. Air rushing past. Floor approaching. His eyes locked onto those of the central figure. For a split second, he locked eyes with Rittuania, the Eminent Instigator, the Roman Emperor, what he saw shocked him to his core. Convinced the face looking back it him, contorted with power, but none the less recognisable, the conductor and queen of the mighty orchestrations, was that of Jane. Before everything went black as he hit the floor with an unearthly crunch that stunned the crowd into silence.

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