Plot: Meet Charlie, an accident in a group of scientific experiments mixing human and animal DNA. Unlike the others who are programmed to follow Dr. Adler’s orders, Charlie is a fire ant who broke the mold to become a hyper superhero.
Shane tiredly left the café after a long day at work. This had become his evening routine, it was a nice break from the noisy job he worked during the day. He paid the waiter with a soft smile, grabbed his briefcase and left.
A warm breeze made his loose tie blow to the side a bit. To get to his apartment, the 35-year-old had to walk through an eerie looking alleyway. Nothing had ever happened to him while taking this quick route, little did he know this would change. To keep himself calm, he would talk to himself to try and offset the ominous feeling he got while walking past trash cans and seeing rats scuttle close by. The area smelt of old trash.
All these thoughts disappeared in a flash as he felt a pair of hands shove him into the pavement below. The attacker, a thin, balding man with a knife and smiling looked down at Shane. “Give me your money!” Shane trembled, he was never one to attack even in self-defense.
Lots of memories came up of high school and being bullied-except this time his life was on the line. The attacker swiftly kicked Shane in the gut, with a grunt he fell backwards, his stomach aching. This was it. He would die in this horrible alleyway, he knew he shouldn’t have taken this route. Now he’d pay the ultimate price.
Trying to get a view of his crazed villain, Shane noticed a few feet behind the attacker, a shadowy figure, silhouetted against the street lights down the road. Perhaps it was his mind playing tricks on him, but he swore he saw a pair of antennae sticking from his or her head. His voice a tad bit high, but still human sounding. “Can’t we all just get along?”
Lunging his knife with a slight yell, the attacker swung for Shane, ignoring the figure.In a flash, the half-insect half-human grabbed the robber’s wrist and twisted, which proved to be effective, this hero was buff. His skin dark red, his arms extremely flexible as he seemed to be able to move very acrobatically. The odd creature then threw a kick to his stomach. He moaned in pain and didn’t try to move again.
His gloved hand grabbed Shane’s hand tightly, pulling him up. Shane had to look slightly downward to get a better view, as his hero was a little over 4 feet tall. His features were that of a typical fire ant, apart from pinchers and instead of six limbs sticking out from all sides, he had two arms placed on either side of his toned body. “Thank you, sir. You saved my life.” Shane’s voice quivered as he was still in a state of shock. “Name’s Charlie.” He said with a kind smile, looking up at the human he just saved. “Are you a monster?”
Shane asked in a nervous tone, hoping he didn’t offend him too much. “An unflattering word for an ant, but maybe to some!” Charlie rubbed his neck while giggling. Of course, seeing a talking, clothes-wearing insect brought upon quite confused feelings as Shane sat on a nearby curb with a huff. Maybe he was going crazy? Should he check himself into an asylum? It didn’t seem like a bad idea until Charlie sat by Shane, his antenna wiggled, slightly brushing Shane’s hair. From science class, he remembered that’s how ants could get a feel or smell of something.
The slight brush of this meant to Shane that either he really WAS crazy, or that whoever or whatever it was seemed concerned for him was in front of him. Cocking his head, Charlie tried to get a better view of his new acquaintance, he never seemed to stop giving off his warm smile. “You okay buddy?” With a pause, Shane couldn’t stop staring at the guy who saved him. “I think I’m going crazy. There’s a giant ant in front of me.”
He began to stutter. Charlie stayed quiet. “And the man, he attacked me! But, I’m not dead. You saved me.” Sensing his tone go up, Charlie put a hand on his shoulder. “Let’s get you to my place, okay?”After a short walk to the apartment, Charlie and Shane sat at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee in each hand. “Are there more like you?” The ant nodded softly. “Born in raised in a lab, I saw a lot of weird stuff.” “So, you escaped?”
Charlie finished his drink. “Yeah. It was fun.” Shane’s eyebrow rises. “Fun? Not terrifying or scary? Fun.” Charlie smiled. “I guess when you have newly discovered powers, you either enjoy it or let it go to waste.” Shane paused. “So, what about other people? How do they respond to you?”
The ant nodded and eyed Shane. “They’ve seen me. I’ve had a few articles written about me. As I said, they’re others like me so perhaps people have seen them? The amount of genetically engineered animals is rising.” Shane was introduced to concepts he had never heard of. Weird science experiments, talking animals who were way bigger than usual. It all seemed like some odd dream. In all honesty, he was more shaken by being attacked than talking to an ant. However weird he was or where he came from, the fact remained that Charlie saved his life. “I better get going” Shane stood slowly.
Charlie gave Shane his phone number, in hopes a friendship would soon turn up. Not many humans trusted this ant, so having someone to talk to would be nice. Charlie’s apartment is now filled only with the ambience of cars driving by and the occasional dialogue from pedestrians laughing or talking loudly.
The city of Boston offered a lot of fun for him, whether it be catching criminals or trying to interact with the public, but when home alone the feeling of isolation was a bit sad. Removing his usual crime-fighting attire, a long-sleeved black shirt, black jeans and hiking boots, and hanging it up in a secret closet. He lied in his bed nude reading a book. Shane sat on the couch at his place, researching online about these odd genetically modified animals. Charlie was right, people knew about them. He found eyewitness photos of all types of strange creatures, from dogs, to wolves to other insects. He texted Charlie to let him know he made it home safely. The two would meet sooner than he realized.
ONE YEAR AGO
Waking up in a cold cell was something Charlie was used to. His brain felt functional in his newly found body, the transformation had completely taken over a month ago. Looking through the metal bars, he saw what he always saw, a white room, aligned with other metal cages and other humanized animals. All ranging in size, but Charlie is the shortest.
The other test subjects looked worse than he did, tired eyes, lying motionless. Some of them even quite sick. A nearby wooden door opened to reveal a balding, thin 50-year-old male in a lab coat, tie and slacks, his name tag reads Dr. Adler. Being fearless, Charlie didn’t cower like the others did as he put on rubber gloves and opened a nearby briefcase.
His voice calm and almost kind sounding. “You guys are looking amazing.” As he spoke, he approached each anthro animal and injected each with an unknown substance. Going along the rows, Charlie eyed him cautiously. When Adler approached the fire ant, he smiled and forcefully grabbed his hand through the bars. “You’ve always been a hyper one!” The needle pinched Charlie’s skin, he didn’t fight, barely winced at the pain.
As Adler finished his work for the morning and wrote down unknown scribblings in a journal, Charlie realized that if he wanted to escape, he’d have to use his newly found abilities. He was short. Which could be an advantage or disadvantage depending on the situation. Slipping through the bars wasn’t an option, not only were they too small, but there were security cameras placed about. How could one escape without alerting the security guards or Adler? Sitting in a corner, Charlie didn’t lose hope.
There had to be some design flaw he could take advantage of. He didn’t know it yet, but the answer was right under his nose.
Concentrating on paperwork could not be done today, Shane decided to go to the break room and get some coffee. It was still early, so he knew he could get away with it. Swirling through his brain was Charlie, his look so unique. What else could a giant ant do? The world itself was not what it seemed, and Shane wanted to learn more. He knew he shouldn’t do it, but he shot Charlie a text message.
Shane: Charlie! It’s Shane. I’m at work now but I did some reading on you last night. My brain hurts. Lol! Seriously, this stuff is incredible.
Charlie: You stalking me? 😉
Shane: Yes. Lol! Will I see you again soon bud?
Deep down he hoped he wasn’t bothering Charlie, then again, he did give Shane his cell number, so perhaps Charlie wanted the interaction. Shane smiled a bit, feeling a bit more at ease as he grabbed a coffee cup and began making his morning drink.
That afternoon, as the sun shined bright and a gentle breeze blew through the city, Charlie and Shane meet up at a small café. The ant wearing a denim jacket and khakis and Shane still in his work clothes, after a brief hug the two sit across from each other. “I read about your past, with Dr. Adler and his experiments. I found your story quite inspiring. The way you escaped.”
Using his antennae to first sniff the coffee, then take a sip he smiled. “You really did your homework. Gosh, you’re one of the only people who got back to me after saving them.” “What do you mean?” Charlie paused. “Well, usually when I save someone, they thank me and I never see them again.” The human couldn’t help but feel a bit bad. “That kinda sucks. You do so much for others.” Charlie didn’t notice, at a table to the left, an experiment like himself. Dressed in a black hoodie and black cargo pants.
Unlike Charlie, however, his intentions were not as kind. The animal’s ears twitch, listening to every word of the conversation. He sniffed the air trying to get a sense of Charlie’s aroma and smirked as he now knew who Charlie’s new friend was.
He stands up and goes down the sidewalk a few blocks, passing bookstores and pawn shops. Cars zoom by him, he gets to a relatively quiet spot and takes his cell phone out. The wolf spoke with a tinge of excitement. “Adler, I know where Charlie is.” Adler spoke on the other end in disbelief. “The damn insect! So long in hiding! You’re a genius! Follow him home. Bring him to me.” The canine smiled. “One more thing. He has a human friend with him. Not sure what his name is but I’ll try and get a picture of them. Wolfy out.” He hung up in a snap, tail wagging gently.
In his white, sterile office, Adler stood up, beginning to pace the room. His plan was working, sending out a few anthros at a time to deal with Charlie’s heroics might work. His cages now empty, his experiments out and about. They had been out for the past year, Charlie was the only one to escape under his supervision.
Adler didn’t want him to get out, unlike the others. His plan? Once apprehending Charlie, he could perhaps kidnap more humans and do more testing. The less humans, the more he could have under his wing. Charlie was a mistake; the others were very responsive to his actions. He didn’t dare make more until the ant was taken care of, the little bugger was an amazing hider. Now Charlie was closer than ever.
After a year of planning, everything seemed to fall into place. Shane and Charlie spent the day walking the city, a few folks recognized him, but didn’t say much. Perhaps the city was afraid of these humanoid animals, which was a possibility. The notion of creatures walking about the city wasn’t brand new, but new enough that most tried to ignore them. They would even attack unprovoked, granted it was rare enough that police didn’t arrest them on the spot, but no one would be surprised if that was the case.
Adler would try and call the police to tell them to arrest Charlie so he could get him, but the chief told him that of course Charlie was a city hero. He didn’t do anything inherently wrong, perhaps broke a few things on accident during a fight but Charlie was either tolerated or well liked. Adler tried everything before resorting to sending out his precious animals. After creating such a monumental leap, he didn’t want them beat up. But now, he realized that Charlie was no good. Not a follower, not a listener. A rebel. Doing things the legal way was not a possibility anymore. Charlie needed to die.
The red ant hummed as he removed his jacket and shut the door to his apartment. He put his coffee machine on and waited for a cup to brew, while he waited he flicked on the nearby CD player in the kitchen. Moving his head to the upbeat music (“Southern Nights” by Glen Campbell) , he got out coffee cream and sugar. Lots of sugar. The sound of glass shattering and feeling the weight of a large, fluffy wolf collide into him like a scary linebacker interrupted his afternoon routine. Charlie crashed on his back, the white canine on top of him, he wrapped his claws around his victim’s throat. Charlie got a good look at the snarling beast, he knew the smell came from Adler’s office.
After a year, he came out of hiding to strike. Charlie thought he was safe from the creator he once lived with, but realized it was too good to be true. Breathing soon became a bit of a chore, Charlie didn’t have the strength to push him off. However, he had something that not everyone knew of. Releasing one of his hands and making a fist, he sprayed a short burst of clear acid into the wolf’s eyes. His paws automatically hit his face, giving Charlie ample time to make his next move. Howling in pain, the ant stood up, grabbing the toaster he whacked the dog in the head, causing a cringy sound of bone against metal. The dog was quite a bit taller than Charlie, about 6 feet tall to Charlie’s 4 feet.
The beast then swung a punch, hitting him square in the jaw. Then swung again, hitting his cheek. The ant then leapt onto the wolf’s shoulders, his sticky hands becoming of prime use, he used one arm to grab his throat and yank him to the ground. The two sat struggling on the kitchen floor the wolf was too tall to control, he knew snapping his neck would be impossible and Charlie had a bit of an awkward grip on him to begin with.
He then eyed the cabinet sitting beside him full of pots and pans. He smirked and rammed the wolf’s head into the door, causing it to break, he whimpered. The dog fell limp onto one side, the ant sighed deeply as his face began to hurt. He stood up, deciding to still make his coffee, he sipped. As he did so, he eyed the knocked-out body and reached into the pocket of the dog, breaking his cell phone in case a tracker was present.
He then called 9-1-1.Once the wolf was apprehended by the cops, Charlie lied on his couch tiredly with an icepack on his bruised cheek. He let an officer sit outside his home for a bit. A splitting headache caused the ant to grow a bit irritable, so he decided to close his eyes.
The sound of a cellphone ring woke Charlie from his slumber, it was 8AM. His voice groggy, he answered. “Hello?” “Hey Charlie, it’s Shane. I was wondering if you wanted to go out again?” The ant smiled a bit at Shane’s kindness. “I’d love to bud, but I’m not feeling good.” “You sick?” “You could say that.” Charlie didn’t want to lie to him. He realized Shane truly did care and lying was something he rarely did. He sat up rubbing his eyes with his arm. “I had a break in. Doctor Adler knows where I am.” Shane paused. “My God! Are you okay? Want me to come over?”
As soon as he came over, Shane helped Charlie clean up the access glass. After a warm shower, Charlie offered snacks to Shane. “Has this kind of thing ever happened?” Charlie shook his head. “No. For a year I thought I was safe, Doctor Adler didn’t really slip my mind, but I got caught up with other things.” Shane smirked. “Like saving the world?” “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”
Shane admired how Charlie was still able to smile and act happy through the pain. That was him. Smiling through everyday no matter what.
Entering a motorcycle shop at sunset a week after the attack, Charlie looked about. He realized he should have a getaway vehicle. The city offered public transportation and that had worked for a while, but if Dr. Adler could send anyone to him at any time, he felt unprepared and a bit vulnerable. Meeting with the shop keeper, the bearded male smiled. “You Charlie?” He said with a firm handshake. “Sure am!” “You kick ass. You’re a brave little fellow.” With a blush, he smirked. “Thanks! I appreciate it.” He showed the desk guy his motorcycle license, he had it since college. “An ant on a motorcycle, huh?” Going through the types of motorcycles was something the owner could do in his sleep, Charlie intently listened, weighing pros and cons. Charlie picked out a set of wheels, a black Ducati. Straddling it, he looked quite content. “How fast does she go?” “160.0 bhp” the male human said nodding. “You’ll need a helmet too of course. Have any questions for me?” Charlie smiled, still sitting upon his new toy. “Does it come in red?”