Chapter One — A Routine Beach Party
One beautiful sunny day there was a bit of a commotion on what seemed to be an ordinary Friday. The Queen’s daughter was at the beach and all the eligible bachelors were making their way down to the beach as well. They all wanted to see the beautiful Princess Blaize and hopefully get noticed by her. It was tradition every Friday night, for as long as anyone could remember, that there be games on the beach and that afterward, everyone would watch the sun go down before returning to the colony. Hundreds of Fire-Ant boys came in droves from the surrounding colony and formed one long single-file line. Three boys decided they would step out of line and find a different way to make an impression on the Princess.
“Hey, Wingnut, there’s your girlfriend.” Bloke chuckled as he pointed over the sand dune toward the Princess.
Tinder laughed, too, but quickly covered his mouth to hide it.
“Whatever, man,” replied Wingnut as his cheeks turned red. Then he sighed, “I wish.”
“Yeah, I think everyone wishes,” said Bloke as he glanced back over at the line, “but it’s hard to stand out in this crowd.”
They all agreed and started brainstorming a way to win the heart of Blaize without making complete fools of themselves.
First, they thought they would let Wingnut walk up to her out of line, but that was no good.
“Everyone would think you were one of those ants that run around with no sense of direction,” said Bloke as he made a figure eight in the air with his finger.
“Their actual name is ‘Crazy-Ant,’” said Tinder.
“I know,” added Wingnut. “My uncle is a Crazy-Ant, but he’s super cool.”
“Ohhhh, so that’s why you have ‘nut’ in your name,” said Bloke smiling. His smile erupted into laughter, and he fell to the sand thinking his joke was so funny. Wingnut and Tinder laughed, too, but mainly because Bloke was laughing so hard that he started crying. When Bloke finally stopped, he spoke up again. This time he was being serious. “Maybe we should dig a tunnel and come out of the ground right next to `er.”
“ `Er, meaning the Princess?” asked Wingnut.
“Right!” said Bloke, excited about his new idea.
“That would take days,” said Tinder, being the most skeptical of the three. “Besides, that’s been done before.”
“Oh... I was just joking.” Bloke turned his head and looked at the ground.
“Riiiight,” replied Tinder sarcastically.
“I know!” exclaimed Wingnut.
Tinder was afraid to hear what bad idea they would come up with next. “Let’s hear it.”
Wingnut quietly continued, “We could build a raft!” His eyes opened wide as he was anxious to see how the other two would react.
“O-kaaay—what for?” asked Tinder. The idea had obviously peaked his interest.
“We’ll sail in by the sea and sweep Blaize right off her feet,” said Wingnut without skipping a beat. “No one’s done that before!”
“Awesome!” yelled Bloke.
A number of the ants in the line looked over to see what Bloke was so excited about. The three boys looked back at them briefly but quickly huddled together as if nothing had happened.
“Do you even know how to make a raft?” asked Tinder.
“Sure I do,” confirmed Wingnut. “My uncle taught me when I stayed with him a couple summers ago.”
Tinder thought for a moment. “It’ll be perfect!” he said. “We can hide behind Haystack Rock in the bay, just on this side of the reef, and then make our landing when everyone is watching the sunset this evening.”
The three boys got very excited because they knew this was a great idea. In fact, they thought it was the best idea anyone had ever thought of. It had never been done before because Fire-Ants don’t know how to make boats, but Wingnut was not full-blooded Fire-Ant.
They only had a few hours before sunset, so they had to work together, and they had to work fast. Tinder and Bloke gathered large pieces of driftwood and laid them next to each other on the sand. Wingnut gathered long grass reeds and began weaving them together into strong strips of rope. Everything was going just as planned.
Back at the main part of the beach, Princess Blaize was getting a little bored of ant after ant bowing in front of her and saying a pick-up-line that was either silly or altogether ridiculous. To make matters worse, she had heard the same comments at last week’s beach party. It was tradition, though, so every male Fire-Ant had to go through the line to address the Princess before he could join the fun. Blaize hated this tradition. By the time every boy ant had gone through the line, the festivities were pretty much over.
Most of the ants who had already made it through the line were having a great time. There was a huge barbecue and all sorts of games going on. Blaize was on the edge of her seat, half-ignoring the poor boys who were attempting to impress her. She wanted to play aphid-ball and was trying to look around the heads of the ants who remained in line.
Finally, she couldn’t sit still any longer, so she jumped up and addressed the crowd in a loud voice. “Let’s continue this silly line next week. It’s time to have some fun!” Blaize rushed out and took a spot on the losing team.
The ants in the line all stopped and stared at Blaize in disbelief. “Can she even do that?” asked the ant who was next in line.
“I don’t think so,” answered another.
They all started asking questions and looking rather confused.
“What’s her deal anyway? There’s only like six hundred of us left.”
“I know. What should we do?”
“That should do it,” said Wingnut as he dusted off his hands. The three boys stepped back from their new creation, oblivious to the commotion further down the beach.
Bloke was grinning ear to ear. “It’s totally awesome.”
“I sure hope it floats,” remarked Tinder.
“Oh, it will,” replied Wingnut confidently. “We could sail all the way to the land of the Pharaoh-Ants with this raft.”
“Why would we want to do that?” asked Bloke.
“We wouldn’t,” said Tinder. “He’s just saying that it’s a good raft.”
“I know it’s good—I just said it was awesome!”
“Never mind,” said Wingnut. “Let’s shove off to sea.”