Wednesday 4 April 2012

The Mighty Mite

Once upon a time, there was a colony of mites which lived under the skin, in a city of tunnels they had dug out with the labour of their jaws. They lived their mundane lives, sucking blood, excreting, having sex, laying eggs, and all the other activities of mundane mite society, as their forefathers and foremothers had done since the beginning of mite history.

One day, amongst the mites there suddenly arose a Leader, whose eyes, had he had any, would have gleamed with the holy light of revelation. He went out among the other mites, crawling vainly on their daily routine of eating and screwing, and, climbing on a heap of detritus, he waved his forelegs to get the general attention.

“Brothers and sisters,” he shouted, “we spend our lives in these dark tunnels, ignorant of all that is possible to us. There is so much to achieve, such wonders that we the mites are capable of, that it is criminal to waste our abilities as we are doing. It is an affront to our very existence if we don’t make of it better use than we are doing now.”

Soon, a curious crowd of mites had gathered, wagging puzzled antennae.

“In what way do you mean?” one asked. “How should we use our lives, as you say, in a more meaningful way?”

“There’s a world to explore,” the Leader said. “A world for the mite race to take and use as it sees fit, for its own benefit, and for its spiritual betterment. The spirit dies if confined to gloomy caves like ours, with nothing to occupy us but feeding and fornication. Follow me out into the world, where we can achieve great things.”

“But, Great Leader,” said one of the other mites, “what of the dangers of the world outside, dangers we are wholly unfamiliar with and which we are completely unable to counter?”

Then the Leader smiled and raised his antennae solemnly, blessing the gathered crowd. “Come with me,” he said. “Follow me out of these dank caverns, and whatever we find outside, we shall grow and fulfil our potential, which the Mighty Mite has imbued us with, and free us from the blind crawling we are condemned to endure from the moment we hatch to the time we die.”

And many of the mites acclaimed the Leader, and said that he was filled with the spirit of the Mighty Mite Himself; but others, older and more reactionary, grumbled.

“You are a visionary,” they said, “and visionaries are fools. If you go outside, the light will burn your skin, the cold will chill you to the core, and you will surely starve.”

“The Mighty Mite will save us,” the Leader countered. “He tells me what to do, and will make sure we come to no harm.”

“You commit heresy,” the old reactionaries said. “If the Mighty Mite had wanted us to leave our warm dark burrows, where we have all we could ever need, He would have put us where He wanted us. Obviously, it is His plan that we remain where we are, and that this city of ours is the best of all possible worlds, and the way we mites have always lived, the best possible of all lives.”

In response, the Leader merely shook his august head. "The Mighty Mite has sent me,” he said, “to help all the mites to fulfil their destiny. Therefore, anything I do cannot be heresy.”

But the conservative old mites muttered and threatened, and warned the others not to listen to the Leader, for they said he would surely bring disaster down on them all. Besides, they said he was equating himself with the Mighty Mite, than which there could be no greater blasphemy.

“The next thing you know, he’s going to say he is the Mighty Mite Himself,” the old mites proclaimed. “And that will provoke the Great One’s wrath, than which there can be no greater fury in all of the Universe.”

And so the Leader saw plainly that it would be of no use to attempt to persuade them further.

“Come with me,” he said to his followers, “and pay no heed to the mutterings of those of weak will and fearful heart, and of those who are sunk in their slothful ways. The future belongs to those who are brave and bold, and to them alone.” So saying, he crawled out of the caverns under the skin and into the great world outside, and his disciples trooped out after him.

And the bright light burned their skin, and the cold chilled them to the core, until they could scarcely move, and there was no blood to drink. There were only hairs to cling on to, and they clung on tight.

“Great Leader,” the mites cried out, holding on tight to the hair, “we are cold and starving, and the light makes our skin shrivel. Great Leader, tell us what to do.”

Then the Leader said, in his wisdom, “Let go of your grip on the hair, and trust in me, for the spirit of the Mighty Mite fills me, and I know what to do.” So they let go of their grip on the hair, and fell to the ground, and were trampled down and crushed until none were left. Except, that is, for the Leader, who crawled into a crevice and cursed them all, those who had followed as well as those who had not, for having failed him.

And, lo, the portals through which the Leader and his band had emerged from their city under the skin lay open, for they had scorned to close them; and they who remained with knew their fate, and congratulated themselves for having escaped, and for remaining in their dark warm burrows where there was nothing to do but what mites had done since the beginning of time; and, gathering all together, they thanked the Mighty Mite for having saved them.

While they were thus joined in prayer together, a flood of permethrin ointment came down the burrows and killed them all.   
And then, of all the denizens of the great mite city, only the Leader was left. At the end of a long search, crawling over dead and living things without number, he found skin, and eventually, he came down a burrow till he reached another city of mites. Climbing on to a pile of tissue debris, he waved his forelimbs about to get everyone’s attention.

“I am come in the name of the Mighty Mite,” he called out, and watched with satisfaction as heads turned and antennae trembled. “I am come," he said, "to lead the mite race towards the fruition of our manifest destiny.”

Already, a crowd had begun gathering.

Copyright B Purkayastha 2012

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