Thomas gripped the handle too tight as he focused the white dot an inch in front of the red ant. Kill or spare?

The ant stopped, then turned. He wasn’t walking into death. Thomas would need to pursue him.

Thomas’ right arm sill stung. A red ant had bit him. Twice. He wasn’t sure it was this ant, but did it matter? The whole tribe was dangerous. He’d seen them tangle with a parade of black ants earlier that day. Carnage.

That and the bites helped him remember that he owned a magnifying glass—and what it could do. A white hot dot on a round red ant segment and—pop! A smudge.

Thomas would save the black ants and himself. He closed one eye, squinted the other, and focused the tiny beam. His mouth hung open. Nothing but the magnifier, the ant and Thomas himself existed. Until.

“Thomas! Dinner!”

Just another minute or so. He could hear the sizzle and smell the start of the burning.

“Now! It’s getting cold!”

Mom must have been calling for awhile. Thomas just hadn’t heard. But that was undeniably last call. He’d better go now.

Thomas turned and momentarily thought about stepping on the ant. Wouldn’t be sporting. Nah. No fun either. Thomas would finish later.

Pushing his macaroni and cheese with a too big fork, Thomas defied lunch. He wasn’t hungry. But he’d need to eat or forget about his war with the red ants. Thomas ate. Quickly.

Those ants were pests. Unwelcome intruders. Mom didn’t like intruders either. Once a bird flew into the house. Mom yelled and swung a newspaper at it until it went out. The bird was pretty—it had some yellow on it. But a bird doesn’t belong in a house.

And a red ant shouldn’t bite a boy. Thomas focused the beam, waiting for the satisfying pop.


It was his aide. He’d been daydreaming again. Thomas straightened his tie, frowned thinking about the stain he got on his shirt earlier that evening at the state dinner. Back to business.

Thomas grabbed the phone and issued his orders. Minutes later, the first cruise missile moved.