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.
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 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.