Volume 3 in the "Home, and About" trilogy. This one is about an anteater who decided to become a hermit. Or a druid. And what became of him in the end.
“Tying the Loose Ants” is about Theodore, a purple anteater of noble lineage and high principles. He is wise but very pompous. His mission is to become a hermit – or druid (depending on his mood) – and to preach the Apocalypse to the world. Like St George of the Dragon fame before him, Theodore battles deadly enemies and bumbles across England, carrying his message like a banner. Will the world listen to our brave hero, or will he be judged a harmless lunatic?
Chapter 27: A Hermit at his wit’s end
Meanwhile, in the desert somewhere between Australia and New Zealand, Theodore Roosevelt, a hermit, was trekking. He had a bandage on his head as it had been hurt badly when he landed head-on into a rock, splitting it in half. He freed himself by fasting for two days and two hours, until his head got smaller and he was able to extricate it from the split boulder.
The sun was beating down relentlessly. The crust of the earth was chipped and splintered like burnt bread. It made Theodore think the most unthinkable and terrifying thoughts. They were thoughts about the end of the World as we know it.
He saw, as any hermit would, the Riders of the Apocalypse riding their black horses, hellish fires smouldering under their hooves. He saw the earth splitting in half like a double-decker burger and drowning in stormy oceans of boiling blood, not unlike a spilled bottle of tomato sauce. He saw Zaba holding on to a jutting potato root, stretching out her other paw from an abyss of grey smoke, but he could not reach to her for he was somewhere else, had a splitting headache and not enough time to make it back Home before Zaba let go of the root and fell off the cliff. Theodore sobbed (which made his headache even worse).
He pulled himself together by lifting his sagging tummy to his chin and twitching his nose, and resolved to warn the World against the Apocalypse. That would hopefully stop Zaba from venturing to the cliff marking the end of the Earth, and falling into it.
Theodore searched for a suitable venue to deliver his warning speech. A cave seemed like a good place for a Hermit with a Message to the World.
At last, Theodore had found one. It was a spacious cave, with all mod cons, under-floor heating, double-glazed windows and rubbish bin collection day on Tuesdays, which was particularly to Theodore’s liking as Tuesday was his favourite day straight after Monday.
He crawled in, but soon realised that the cave did not sit well with him. Somehow, the ceiling was too low and it leaned against Theodore’s back. It felt as if the weight of the entire World was on his shoulders, and that weight, after all, was not in the hermit’s job description.
Theodore moved to the greener pastures of another cave. It was very cosy, but way too deep. Theodore nearly drowned in it and only his nose with loose threads stood out. Still, Theodore decided to give it a go. “The End of Days is near! Prepare! Repent for your sins!” he hollered, and the echo yelled, “SIN... SIn... Sin...sin” which was exactly the opposite effect to what Theodore intended.
To top it all, a bird took a break from flying and alighted on Theodore’s nose that was protruding from the cave. Theodore sneezed, and the bird flew off, flapping his wings angrily at Theodore for he had given it an almighty fright. Of course, the Angry Bird did not say, “Bless you” or anything remotely polite, but Theodore did not expect much etiquette to be observed in the land of Rough and Lawless Desert somewhere between Australia and New Zealand.
Still, as a Hermit, Theodore had a duty to deliver the message of The End of Days to the World. He remained steadfast in his resolve and undeterred by vicious Agents of the Dark Side, such as the Angry Bird. At last, there was a family of wooden poles stuck in the ground for no particular purpose, which gave Theodore the idea that they were there for him to climb on and deliver his Message. So he did.
He made himself comfortable (as comfortable as a self-sacrificing Hermit could be under the circumstances) on one pole and had his afternoon tea served on the neighbouring pole. Finally, he was ready and his voice began to thunder through the air for all to hear the message of Apocalypse, “Repent, you sinners! You crossed-eyed, good for nothing, jelly-brained, banana-eating consumers for the End of the World is near!”
At that moment, a gust of wind blew from the North and knocked down Theodore’s tea pot and his cup. They crashed to the ground and shattered into pieces. Theodore took it as a sign of Nature’s wrath, and he went on even louder, “Prepare yourself to die!“
It was then that another, even stronger and more malicious Gust of Wind, came down from the North and pushed Theodore off his pole halfway through the sentence.
Theodore landed on his already well bruised bottom and yelped in agony. He got to his feet, wiped the dust off his sandals and walked away from the desert and from his job as a hermit. That Gust of Wind was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. If the World did not want to know about its own end, then Theodore would most certainly not risk his life and limb to warn it.
“Serves them right!” he murmured to himself as he stepped out of the desert and into the greenery of an English meadow. He would now become a druid.