By Nilanjana Dey
Apollo had packed all his belongings and was waiting for Diana outside her house. But Diana was taking too long. A little impatient, Apollo tapped on her door. There was no response from inside. He tapped again. After waiting for a while, he slowly turned the knob. The door opened. Diana was nowhere to be seen. The house was empty. All her belongings were gone. Apollo was shocked. How could Diana disappear just like that? A thought struck him. Maybe Diana had already gone to Tizz without him. Was he wrong in trusting her?
“Apollo!” Diana’s loud voice interrupted the fuss in his mind.
He looked behind. Diana was seated on a huge glider made of an elephant ear leaf. Apollo had never seen a glider made of such a huge leaf. He rushed to the glider.
“Welcome to D’s Torrent,” Diana laughed aloud. Apollo noticed that Diana’s belongings were neatly packed and placed at the rear end of D’s Torrent.
“When did you buy this? It looks very cool,” Apollo murmured a compliment.
“Some time back. Jump in!”
“You have never mentioned this before.”
“I was waiting for the right opportunity. You don’t look too happy.”
“Oh…no…no,” Apollo yelped, “I am just unhappy leaving Sopora.”
“That’s okay,” Diana was very matter-of-fact. “We need to teach that moron a lesson. Hope you know the way,” Diana said to Apollo as she sped.
Hermes was concentrating on the globe inside Hercules’ office. He turned the globe around and examined all the white-ant colonies. There were many under their Queen and many more under other queens. He rotated the globe again and this time he looked at Tizz.
“Hermes…Hermes…” Hercules roared inside the office.
“You seem to be in a bad mood,” Hermes smirked.
“Yes. Is this news true?”
“What news?” Hermes was still playing with the globe.
“Put that down and answer me.”
“Well, I was just checking if our globe displays my next destination. What is the question?”
“That those two have left our colony?”
“Even I have heard so,” Hermes answered casually.
“How dare they?”
“Well, you have sacked them! They need some occupation, don’t they?”
“How can you be so casual?”
Hercules continued, “Diana is behind all this. That Apollo is a fool, he cannot think on his own . She rules him.”
“Yes. And she owns a glider and calls it D’s Torrent!” Hercules gasped.
“Ah, so that is the issue?” Hermes finally seemed to understand.
“How did she manage that? Even I don’t own a glider!” Hercules smelt of envy.
D’s Torrent halted outside Tizz. Diana and Apollo alighted from the glider as the sentry approached them.
“All carriages have to be parked in the allotted zone,” The sentry informed.
“Then I’d like to go to the allotted zone and park my glider myself,” Diana concluded. She accompanied the sentry. There were no gliders parked anywhere.
The sentry observed, “Yours is the only glider parked here.” Diana smiled at D’s Torrent as she sparkled amongst other carriages.
“That one belongs to Loki. Yours is much bigger than his,” The sentry pointed towards a weedy carriage parked in a corner.
The sentry guided them further. “You have to walk in and then they’d show you the way.”
Diana and Apollo looked around the dusky lanes as they tried to figure their way in. The entry had four doors and all looked the same. They were wondering which route to take.
“I think we should have asked the sentry,” Apollo looked flustered.
Diana was silently inspecting the doors. She was watching the furthest one rather intently. She walked towards the door and examined it closely.
“I think this is the one,” Diana informed Apollo.
“How do you know?”
Diana pointed towards the door sign. It read ‘The Den’.
“I understand that Loki likes fancy names for all his things,” Diana sneered as Apollo looked on.
Loki was waiting for them inside. “I expected you to be smart enough to figure out your way.” He smiled at Diana, “Welcome to Tizz.” He then noticed Apollo and added, “And you, too.”
Diana and Apollo looked around ‘The Den’. Loki followed their gaze and gloated, “My den is very messy. I make the rules and I only break them. Chaos leads to creativity.”
Apollo smiled as Diana kept observing.
Loki’s gaze followed Apollo, “I have been very impressed by your inter-colony race last year.”
“Tizz won it,” Apollo cheerfully remembered.
“What was it called?” Loki tried to recall.
“Sprinty Ants,” Apollo reminded.
“Yes. A wonderful idea that introduced all of us to other colonies of white-ants. And it was chaotic too!” Loki observed as Diana looked bored. “Did you not like the idea?” He softly asked.
“Yes, of course,” Diana played along.
“So, how long have both of you been working together?”
“Ever since we started working,” Apollo answered.
“We have a pitch. The Queen has called for it. White-ants of different colonies under Her Majesty will have to be present for a meeting where she will brief us.” Diana looked very eager about the new assignment as Loki spoke.
She smiled to herself, “Perhaps this way we can reach the Queen.”
“When is the briefing scheduled?” Diana questioned.
“In a couple of hours…from now,” Loki answered as he eagerly observed Diana. He seemed to have read her mind. “While I would like both of you to come along…” he began and observed Diana’s radiant face, “I am unwilling to be perceived as a brute, who makes his colleagues slog from the Day One.” He observed Diana covertly as her face turned dim.
“Yeah,” Apollo interrupted, “Diana and I would just like to look around today.”
“I know, my friend,” Loki assured Apollo.
Apollo escorted the sullen Diana out of Loki’s Den.
“I wanted to go meet the Queen,” Diana burst out as they walked towards the parking zone.
“This was our chance to go meet her and impress her,” Diana continued flustered.
Apollo looked sheepish. He did not attempt to pacify Diana.
“Apollo…” A roaring voice stopped them from behind. Both turned and saw a troll-ant approaching them.
For a moment, Diana looked startled. Quickly, she gathered herself.
“He is a troll-ant,” Apollo informed. “They are the big ones, the macho types, known for their strength and hard work.”
“Yeah,” Diana fumbled. “I am seeing them for the first time.”
“One of them had won ‘Sprinty Ants’ last year. You’ll meet quite a few of them in Tizz. Loki takes a special interest in them.”
The troll-ant stopped and handed them a pair of dried bark keys.
“This is for your apartments. I can escort you there.”
“Tell us the way and we’ll go,” Diana said firmly. “My glider can accommodate only regular ants.”
The troll-ant gave the directions.
As Diana sped D’s Torrent, Apollo said gently, “Don’t you think you were rude to the troll-ant?”
“Was I?” Diana seemed to be engrossed in her own thoughts.
Their apartments were next to each other. As they separated for the day, Diana pointed out, “Did you look at Loki’s strand-connection?”
“No, I didn’t quite observe.” Apollo could not recall anything.
“The strands looked very much like our limbs,” Diana sensed a shiver down her spine as she remembered it.
Apollo chuckled in his mind. He was sure it was Diana’s fertile imagination at its best!
A post-graduate in English Literature, Nilanjana Dey is a marketing and communication professional based out of Mumbai, India. Her first novel, a children’s tale, The Adventures of Puti – The Cheese Trail, was published last year. Email: email@example.com.
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