The Swarm #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about swarms. What could swarm? How does the swarm impact the people or place in your story? Is there something unusual about the swarm? Go where the prompt leads!

I was pleased to have an extra week to respond to this one as I was unable to get it done during the first week due to family (holiday) commitments.

This is my response. I hope you like it and that it makes sense.

The Swarm

People swarmed like ants to a plate of jelly. Jodie stretched on tiptoes but saw nothing. She peered first left, then right, but heads blocked any view. There was nothing to hear — no singing, no instrument, no announcement. The crowd was silent and still. Jodie might have left but was trapped by others who’d filled the space behind. “What is it, Mummy?” her child whispered. Frowning faces pressed fingers to tight lips. “I can’t see anything,” the child declared. “Shhhhh!” the crowd admonished, breaking the spell. The swarm dispersed. “What was it, Mummy?” Jodie shrugged. “Nothing. It was nothing.”

So, what do you think? Did it make sense to you?

There were two things that influenced my story.

1. I was in the city recently and saw a long trail of people snaking through the mall. I wondered what they were queueing for, and whether they even knew.

Have you ever noticed that people like to crowd or queue when they see others doing so? I think it may be caused by a fear of missing out (FOMO) or perhaps a need to follow blindly. I’ve sometimes wondered how long it might take for a crowd to form if just one or two of us stood and stared at something (nothing) for a while.

I didn’t join the queue, but of course I was curious about what had attracted them. When I got near to the front of the queue, I could see a large wheel, what we call a ‘chocolate wheel’, that is spun for a prize to be won. Everyone was getting a turn to spin the wheel and win a prize. I don’t know what the prizes were but I’m fairly confident that they were probably nothing that anyone really wanted or needed, and quite likely required spending something to be of any benefit. Whether my assumption was correct, I’ll never know, but I find the whole queueing/crowding thing interesting.

2. These thoughts are similar to the theme of one of my favourite Hans Christian Andersen stories, The Emperor’s New Clothes. In this story, two fraudsters trick the emperor into believing they have designed his new clothes with a fabric that is visible only to clever people. Of course, word of this special fabric gets out to all his subjects who line the streets and ooh and aah when the emperor leads the parade in his ‘new clothes’. The only one who isn’t fooled (who didn’t get the memo) is a child who cries out that the emperor is naked and wearing nothing at all.

What do you think? Was I successful in linking these two ideas?

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Freedom, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

43 thoughts on “The Swarm #99WordStories

  1. pedometergeek

    You definitely accomplished what you set out to, Norah. Well done.I have noticed this phenomenon myself and on occasion, have played that card myself. That is, looking at something in a store only to have someone edge me out of the way so I find something I have no interest in at all and “ooh and ahh” over it, which attracts the original person over to the new item and then I return to where I was. .

    Liked by 1 person

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  2. Liz H

    I got a creepiness vibe from this one, went to aliens or a magical infestation, with more to come. But that’s me…Lol!
    Your discussion after put in the needed (forme) context & I was fascinated.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      I’m sorry my story creeped you out. That certainly wasn’t my intention. But zombie-like crowds can sometimes do that! 😂 Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  3. Pingback: Swarms Collection « Carrot Ranch Literary Community

  4. Charli Mills

    Hope you had a good time with family, Norah!

    You are right about people being attracted to what other people gather to gawk at, just like the story of the Emporer’s New Clothes. You made a subtle reference to the tale, using “it’s nothing,” and I think that was hint enough to draw a smile from the reader.

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  5. Mabel Kwong

    Very cleverly written, Norah. You said quite a bit with a few simple sentences, and dialogue too. I think you weaved both ideas in seamlessly. Your experienced seeing people queue up for spinning the world got me thinking. People do tend to follow each other, and I guess that’s because (for most part) it’s human nature to be around others. It got me thinking that that’s such typical behaviour, how most of us live typical lives and we go with the crowd with our eye on the prize that lies ahead.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you so much for reading, Mabel, and for your thoughtful comment. I guess it is true that we all want to be around other people and do the same things as everybody else. I guess that why we have peak hour traffic jams. It can be difficult to see outside the box sometimes.

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      1. Mabel Kwong

        You are welcome, Norah. Your writing is always so clever with insightful messages. Yes, we like to be around others and I guess with the spinning chocolate wheel, people like surprises and the joy of winning…something different than being stuck in traffic jams. Hope you are staying warm this winter, Norah ❤

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        1. Norah Post author

          It’s a cool winter for us up here, Mabel, the coolest for a while. I guess it is for you too. I don’t mind a bit of respite from the heat, but I don’t like it too cold either.

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          1. Mabel Kwong

            It really does sound cool up there for you. I saw something in the news about it. It got down to 1’C here last night, the coldest it has been in a while. Really don’t like the cold so here’s looking towards some more warm weather 🌞😊

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  6. Jules

    I did think of something that a child’s eyes needed to be sheilded from … first a person who perhaps wasn’t clothed properly, but then it could also have been someone who was down due to having a health issue.

    Often at sports events, sometimes there are sponsored vendor tables. They want your name and address and offer free inexpensive worth nothing do-dads. Just to get your address for a mailing list. Some offer free vacations or even cars. But often there is such a slim chance that it really isn’t worth playing.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      Yep. I am always surprised at how many are enticed by that ‘slim chance’. I guess you have to be in it to win, and someone has to win it. Don’t they? I’m never too sure about that.

      Liked by 1 person

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  7. robbiesinspiration

    Hi Norah, I did need your explanation to give context to your piece, but it make perfect sense to me. I am not one of those people who gathers or queues like this. I avoid crowds and am not ‘easily influenced’. I am glad about that.

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. Hugh W. Roberts

    Yeah, I think you told the story well, Norah. The fear of missing out is a real problem these days, especially on social media. We see people looking at their screens all the time rather than looking around at what’s happening in the real world.

    I’ve seen people drawn into joining others who are all looking up or in a queue when there is nothing particularly interesting to look up at or at the front of the queue. Again, it seems to be the fear of missing out on something.

    Liked by 1 person

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  9. petespringerauthor

    Excellent observations, Norah. The fear of missing out is a real phenomenon. I was at the zoo recently, and I saw this principle multiple times.

    Liked by 1 person

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