I, Ant
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Moved into my new cube at PackMore today. I’m working with humans again. Received a few admiring stares from men and women both. It’s not unusual. I’m cut and pretty energetic, not to say indefatigable. I hefted my 250-pound file cabinet into a different corner and single-handedly repositioned my cube walls outward a few centimeters by pulling up the floor studs and shouldering the walls, all without the use of tools. Caught the eye of the cute Information Systems staffer northeast of me.

“You’re in really great shape,” she said. “That waist of yours doesn’t exist.”

“I’m nipped-in at all the right places,” I rasped on my stridulatory organ, hoping she’d understand me. “Constant working out on the stair-climber at my club keeps me trim and well-segmented.”

“There can’t be an ounce of fat on you anywhere,” she said. “Even though you’re about 1,000,000 times bigger than, uh, anyone like you I’ve seen before. You’ve got a terrific tan, too.”

  
 
I smiled, went over and stroked her some with my antennae to show my appreciation, and then followed a trail of sugar grains out to the kitchenette. There I put a quarter in a jar and helped myself to a cup of coffee with loads of cream and sugar. A couple of other workers were there at a table, discussing my sexual orientation in hushed tones. I congratulated myself on wearing clothes that kept the issue open, and I chuckled at their confusion. Of course I was female, like all of the workers in my family, but my standard business suit and no-nonsense grooming made this difficult to discern unless you threw your antennae around me and probed, and these people didn’t seem to be into probing. They didn’t even have antennae.

I was back in my cube, still combing the coffee and cream from my maxillae and downloading files, when another co-worker stuck his head in.

“It’s Bill,” he said, grasping one of my forward legs in a friendly way. “We’ll be working on the new financial program together.”

“I’m just here to serve the Queen,” I said. “Feed her, stroke her, defend her eggs, and so forth. So if she wants me to help out with the new financial program, I consider that an imperial order, and it’s cool by me.”

To thank Bill for this intel, I squeezed my crop and regurgitated a big drop of nutrient liquid for him to ingest. But I think he thought I was sick and vomiting, since he turned quickly and ran off. Oh well, there was plenty of time for me to remember the rules of social engagement here. Maybe there was a manual about it somewhere, or I could sign up for some refresher training.

A bit later, I got a departmental e-mail that we’d all be meeting with the Queen at eleven to welcome me and go over a new organization table. As if castes and work assignments weren’t already determined by nature! In amusement at the way humans operated, I cracked all the joints in the hard exoskeleton of three or four of my legs. It made a hell of a racket.

At meeting time, I followed the impossible-to-miss trail of pheromones laid down by a male in my department to the conference room.

“Great pheromones,” I told him. “Can’t miss the scent.”

“Oh, you mean my British Sterling cologne? Thanks.”

“Can’t miss it, all right,” said a pretty blonde worker as she went past us into the room, holding her nose. “I’m sitting by a window.”

In the room, Her Majesty sat at the head of a large table between two frail males. If things went the natural way, the males would have sex with her and soon die. They kept batting their compound eyes at her, if they were compound—I couldn’t be sure, since they both wore glasses—and they appeared more than willing to give their lives to keep the eggs coming. Of course, we all felt the same way.

The Queen introduced me first of all. “Everyone, this is, umm, Jamie. Jamie has come to join us from our underground office.”

With my gaster, I tapped out a greeting on the table, and everyone smiled at my friendly vibes. The Queen, whose name was Linda and who called herself a section chief, then said that the twenty new computers she had purchased for everyone were still in boxes in the basement, where they’d been for a week, since no one in maintenance was free to load them on the freight elevator and bring them up. In despair, she might have torn her wings off right there, if she’d had any wings to tear off. I said I’d stack the boxes on my back and have them up in two trips, max. They all cheered, Queen Linda included.

The meeting went fine, and at the end I proposed that we all clump up to lick Linda and then press our mouths together to share some regurgitation in the true fashion of pismire co-workers.

Everyone said they were too busy.

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