Lucas never forgot that after everything that happened,
it had always been his idea in the first place. He didn’t
exactly regret having the idea (after all the life of ants can
become monotonous enough to need something exciting) but he
always felt an unshakeable guilt for what happened.
The first time Lucas heard about Fruitland, he knew that
one day he would go there. He wasn’t alone in this feeling,
but he was the first ant to ever care enough to do something
about it. The first thing Lucas did, was search out like-
minded ants who were attracted to the idea of a journey to
Fruitland. Once he’d found four others, it was soon agreed
that they would make the journey.
Before they left to go on the expedition Lucas thought it
would be a good idea for the group to meet up and get to know
one another. So he arranged a meeting one afternoon, a few
days before they had decided to leave. Their meeting place was
underneath the car on the driveway of the human house. Lucas
and his four co-adventurers turned up one by one.
“Hello everyone,” Lucas said, once they’d all arrived. “I
hope you’re all as excited as I am about the upcoming journey.
I thought it might be nice if we just met and introduced
ourselves. So I thought perhaps we could all go round and just
briefly say why we all want to go to Fruitland.”
He nodded for the first ant to start. This ant was a very
frail, old ant who was able to use his seniority to cast a
gaze over them that made them all feel inadequately young.
Only when he spoke, did his quivering voice reveal that in
truth he was probably the most vulnerable of them all. “I am
Old Mazadi,” he introduced. “I have heard about Fruitland for
many, many years. From everything that I have heard, it seems
to be a hidden utopia, concealed within the human house. All I
need, is to prove with my own eyes that it really is there.”
The next ant spoke. She was a little way back from the
others, and so they had to all squint into the shadows to see
her. “I am Quedi,” she told them. “I want to go to Fruitland,
because it is there that I will find a grape. Once I find a
grape I will then take refuge inside of it.” They continued
looking at her, expecting something more.
“Is that it?” the next ant sneered.
And so he began his own introduction. “I am Binnel.
Fruitland- that wonderful place in the region of Kit-Chen- is
the place of unimaginable opportunity. I simply wish to have
for my own one of its fruits.”
And then the last ant spoke. “I am Renda,” she
introduced. “I have heard about one of the almighty crops of
Fruitland: they call it the banana. I want to taste for myself
this sweet flavour that, I have heard, is good enough to give
you good dreams for a whole year.”
“And what about you Lucas?” Old Mazadi asked. “What draws
you to Fruitland?”
“In order to get to Fruitland, we will have to travel
across the human house,” Lucas said. “That journey will allow
us to explore a whole new world. Fruitland is just one part of
that world that I am so desperate to see. We will see new and
exciting things, and I cannot wait for that.”
Lucas could never quite remember exactly what happened
next, but the group somehow ended up in a muddy hole beneath
the magnolia tree in the garden; a spot that was known to them
as the haunt of Dame Mitchida the fortune-telling ant. It was
a logical idea to have your fortune told before embarking on a
dangerous expedition, yet, looking back, Lucas could never
remember whose idea it had been.
Nonetheless the five ants crowded round Dame Mitchida as
she gazed into her magic marble and rubbed it with her arms
and legs, making an unsettling humming sound at the same time.
“Well?” Binnel said. “Is anything coming up, or what?”
“Do not interrupt me,” Dame Mitchida said, before
continuing to hum. After a few seconds she began to mumble.
“Oh dear. Very bad. Oh dear, oh no, oh dear.”
The ants leaned in closer. She eventually looked at them
with wide eyes. As she spoke, her arms and legs continued
rubbing against the marble. “One of you will not achieve your
“Oh,” said Binnel, “Well that’s-”
Dame Mitchida continued. “One of you will not achieve
your goal, because one of you will die!”
There was a gasp. Renda was the first to speak. “I can’t
die. All I want is a banana.”
“That is the prophecy; that is your future,” Dame
Mitchida said. She then stopped humming and kicked the marble
to one side. “Now, who’s paying?”
A few days later the expedition was set to begin. Unfazed
by Dame Mitchida’s warning, all five ants turned up at the
agreed meeting point next to the watering can.
“If you would all like to follow me,” Lucas said, “We
must now go to a place known as ‘the back door’. Underneath
the door there is enough room for us to get into the house.”
As they marched round the house Old Mazadi walked
alongside Lucas. “I do get the impression you’ve done this
before. Am I right?”
“I’m never been to Fruitland,” Lucas said.
“Of course,” Old Mazadi said, “but you have been in the
“Yes. You’re right. One night when I couldn’t sleep, I
thought I’d give it to go. But I didn’t get very far.”
Old Mazadi smiled. “You remind me very much of myself.”
“You’ve been in the house too?”
The old ant waggled his antennae. “I couldn’t possibly
say. Like you, I have never been to Fruitland; that is what
“You’ve known about it for so long and yet you’ve never
been; what’s held you back?”
“Fear,” Old Mazadi admitted. “I was held back by a fear
that I still have right now. I fear that after having been to
Fruitland, the rest of the world will never be sufficient.”
“You mean you’ll never be able to leave Fruitland?” Lucas
“Well, we’ll see. But yes, I think it will be a struggle
for all of us to ever leave.”
At this point they reached the back door. They all
followed Lucas as he scrambled under the door and onto the
tiled floor of inside.
“My advice to all of you,” Lucas began, “is that you keep
to the edges of these squares. That way we won’t get lost and
we are less likely to be spotted by humans. Now, I will lead
They all marched along the tiled floor. At the back of
the group Binnel tapped Renda on the back with an antenna.
“What do you want?” she asked, with impatience.
Binnel flinched back. “Suit yourself. I won’t talk to
you. But I had believed that you might be the only ant I could
“Oh,” she said, “Go on then.”
“Hmm well I’m not too sure,” Binnel said. “Perhaps I
should keep the idea to myself.”
Renda lowered her voice. “Tell me what it is Binnel; you
can trust me.”
“Well, if you insist,” he grinned. “You see I’ve been
thinking about the prophecy.”
“You have?” Renda said. “So have I.”
“I was thinking that I’d quite like not to be the one who
dies and fails.”
“I don’t particularly want to be that ant either.”
“As I thought,” said Binnel.
“So what are you suggesting? We watch each other’s
“Yes. Something like that. That and more. You see, the
second that one of the others dies, we can relax.”
“That’s true,” Renda said.
“And so the faster that happens the better, do you get
what I’m saying?”
“I get what you’re saying.”
“Good,” said Binnel. “So if we both look for the right
opportunity, we could perhaps give fate a helping hand?”
“Hmm,” Renda said, and looked over at the three ants
ahead of them. “But which one?”
“Now let’s not get personal!” Binnel said. “We just need
to look out for any opportunity. After all, it would be best
if it isn’t too obvious that we caused it.”
At the front of the line there was a halt.
“I just need to catch my breath,” Old Mazadi said. He
lent against an umbrella stand. But since ants are such strong
creatures, he ended up leaning on it just a little bit too
hard. The umbrella stand began to topple. Old Mazadi steadied
himself. “Oh dear.”
And he watched as the umbrella stand began to tip over.
Lucas saw it too. “Watch out!” he shouted.
Quedi looked behind her and ran at the sight of the
falling umbrella stand. Renda dashed too and the stand soon
crashed to the floor. Binnel was nowhere to be seen. Renda
gasped. All the ants gathered round.
“Is Binnel dead?” Quedi asked.
A shout could be heard from underneath the stand. “No I’m
not dead!” Binnel crawled out from under the stand. “I was in
a groove of the floor and I didn’t die. No thanks to him!” He
pointed at Old Mazadi.
“Sorry,” the old ant said.
“Sorry! Sorry!? I bet you are,” Binnel said, “Or was that
your plan? Kill me off so that you didn’t have to worry about
Old Mazadi laughed. “What a bizarre accusation- I had
forgotten all about the prophecy.”
“Do you know what you’ve done? I’m injured!”
“Can you walk?” Lucas asked.
Binnel pushed himself a few millimetres forward with an
enormous groan. “Only just.”
“Good,” said Lucas. “Well then we’d better carry on. Come
Him and Old Mazadi led the way again.
“But this is a disaster!” Binnel continued to moan. “I’ve
been incapacitated! And… oh no! How will I be able to carry a
piece of fruit back with me?”
Quedi turned to him. “I can carry it for you.”
Binnel looked at her with suspicion. “Good. But it’s a
disaster! My legs don’t work properly anymore.”
Quedi and Renda watched as Binnel inched forwards
groaning with every step.
Renda then smirked at Quedi. “You’ll carry some fruit
will you? Whilst in your grape?”
Quedi turned away without replying and carried on
Soon after this the ants left the hallway and entered
into a music room.
“Have you been here before?” Old Mazadi asked Lucas.
Quedi approached the piano. “Maybe there’s a short cut
So Quedi started to climb the piano. Lucas and Old Mazadi
looked at each other.
“It’s worth a try,” Old Mazadi said.
Lucas nodded, and they followed.
Quedi, Old Mazadi and Lucas scurried along they keys of
the piano. Lucas tried to jump over one of the black keys but
when he landed he ended up pushing down one of the white keys,
and the sound of a ‘G’ echoed through the room. The ants froze
and looked around.
“What was that?” said Quedi, shaking.
Lucas jumped on the spot and the noise sounded again.
“Look, Old Mazadi, it’s the jumping that causes the sound.”
While the three ants then began to test this theory,
Binnel and Renda were higher up. The top of the piano was
open, and the two ants were stood looking down into the
workings of the piano.
“I wouldn’t want to fall down there,” Binnel commented.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Renda said.
“You mean to say that one of the others could fall into
this thundering pit? It has just crossed my mind. Why don’t
you call them up here?”
So Renda did. “Lucas! I think you’d be better off coming
this way, up here.”
“Why?” he replied.
Renda turned to Binnel. “Why?” she said quietly.
“Because you can see for miles up here,” Binnel called
down. “It helps us know where to go next.”
“Ok,” Lucas said, and nodded to the others to follow him.
“Right,” Binnel whispered. He then spat on the ground.
“Now watch them slip.”
And as Binnel carried on walking, Renda grinned, hopped
over the spit puddle, and followed on.
Old Mazadi was the next in line. When he reached the
spit, his foot slid forward and he lost balance. He toppled
over the edge and was close to falling deep into the workings
of the piano before Lucas managed to reach out and grab him by
his antenna. Old Mazadi cried out in pain. Binnel, Renda and
Quedi peered round to watch, and Lucas hauled Old Mazadi back
up to safety.
“Thank you so much,” Old Mazadi puffed.
“Yes, that was close,” Lucas said.
And they all hopped over the puddle to avoid any more
similar incidents. Binnel and Renda exchanged a glance, before
Once they had come down from the piano they trekked
across the wooden floorboards for some time before reaching a
“I hope you know where we’re going,” Binnel said to
But Lucas was staring into the distance. They followed
his gaze to see, on the other side of the room, a basket in
which there was a dog sleeping soundly.
“What’s that?” Lucas asked.
“It’s a monster,” Old Mazadi replied. “I’ve heard about
scrapes in the past with beasts such as this. We have to go
“I wouldn’t mind a closer look,” Lucas said.
Binnel turned and winked at Renda, before approaching
Lucas. “Well then I suggest you do go and have a closer look.
We could all wait here for you.”
“That would be very dangerous,” Old Mazadi said, shaking
“All the same if Lucas is willing to take the risk…”
Lucas replied. “Yes but what you don’t seem to realise is
that I think we’re all going to have to cross this room. I
think it might be the only way.”
“All of us? Drat,” said Binnel.
Renda stepped forward. “Sure, but maybe someone should go
first to check that it’s safe.”
Binnel grinned. “Good thinking.”
“But who wants to do that?” Lucas said.
Renda frowned. “Well, you, I thought.”
“It’s too dangerous,” Old Mazadi said, shaking his head.
“Well what about Quedi? There’s no objections to Quedi
going,” Renda said.
“There is one objection,” Quedi said, “Me!”
“Renda rather than suggesting other people, you could
always go yourself,” Old Mazadi pointed out.
She staggered backwards. “No thank you.”
Lucas and Old Mazadi began discussing other routes, while
Binnel took Renda aside. “You could volunteer Renda. It would
be to your advantage.”
“To your advantage maybe, but not mine,” Renda said.
“No, think about it. The beast is asleep at the moment.
For the person who goes first it’s less likely to wake up. But
once you’re on the other side of the room, you would be in
control. You could wake it up whenever you wanted to. And you
could wake it up at the exact moment one of the other three
walks past. Then what do you know: one of them will be dead.”
Renda thought. “Maybe you have a point.”
“Good,” Binnel said, and called the others to attention.
“I’ve decided to go first,” Renda said.
“Well done!” said Lucas, “We’ll follow on behind once
you’ve reached the other side.”
“And what do I do if it isn’t safe?” Renda asked.
Old Mazadi grinned. “Run.”
So Renda set off across the room with the other four
“Is this the kind of thing you expected from your
exciting ‘new world’, Lucas?” Binnel asked.
“Yes,” Lucas said, “So long as it stays asleep.”
“But Fruitland is the real prize,” Old Mazadi said.
“Where one can taste the sweet pith of an orange and the rough
delight of a pineapple.”
Quedi looked at him with her head cocked. “What does all
“And there’s more,” said Old Mazadi. “The pleasure of a
juicy pear; the soft fluid of a large watermelon; the crimson
indulgence of a bunch of cherries.”
“Where did you here all this?” Lucas asked.
Old Mazadi sniffed. “Well. A long time ago.”
“Was there anything about grapes?” Quedi asked.
“Not that I remember.”
“And which of those fruits is the easiest to bring back
home again?” Binnel asked.
“I believe the watermelon is good for sharing,” Old
“That isn’t what I asked,” Binnel pointed out.
“Oh. I thought that was why you were taking it back.”
“Not exactly,” Binnel said.
“Then why are you taking it back?” Lucas asked. “For
yourself to eat?”
“I will give some to other ants too. Certain ants only.”
“Which ants?” Lucas asked.
“Ants that do me favours,” he replied. He then began
looking around. “Anyway enough talk. I’ve got things to do.”
“What things?” Lucas asked.
Binnel spotted a spongey ball that was at least twenty
times taller than him. “Just what I need,” he grinned.
He went over to it and began pushing it around.
“What are you doing with that?” Old Mazadi asked.
“Launching it into the room.”
Quedi gasped. “Are you trying to bowl down Renda?”
“I don’t think my aim’s that good,” he confessed, “But
that’s a bonus if I do.”
“What are you doing?” they asked, now starting to worry.
He gave the ball the biggest push he could. It rolled
rapidly along the carpet until it hit into the dog’s basket.
Its eyes shot open. It began to bark ferociously as it jumped
out of the basket and started running around the room.
“What have you done?” gasped Lucas.
“I’ve had enough of fearing my own death,” Binnel said.
“No more pretending: I want one of you dead.”
“But how do we get past now?” Quedi asked.
“Well,” said Binnel. “I think Renda will be dead by now
so we’re safe.”
“How did you figure that out?” Old Mazadi asked.
“One of us will die; just one. It looks like the old dame
was talking about Renda. Never mind, we’ll get over it. In the
meantime, we now won’t die. The dog can’t harm us, because only one person is destined to die.” And he boldly began to march across the room.
The other three watched him in shock, but eventually they
followed, not knowing what else to do. Binnel led the way with
his held high, totally oblivious to the dog running rings
round the room, whilst the other three were cowering behind
and not taking their eyes off the crazy mutt. Binnel looked
over towards his destination. And there, in the doorway on the
far side of the room, was Renda. She waved at him with her
antennae. Binnel panicked. He looked up at the dog and all of
a sudden the wet tongue and pointy teeth seemed very
threatening. He quickened his pace to a run. Before not too
long he had reached Renda. The two of them watched the other
three as they dodged the dog and crossed the room.
Renda was puzzled. “What happened?”
“You mean you didn’t see?” Binnel said.
“No,” she admitted.
Binnel grinned to himself. “Oh. Well I’m not sure. It was
all a blur. I think one of those three might have thrown a
ball to wake up the dog; trying to kill you I imagine.”
Renda gasped. “How could they!”
“Well look at them now,” Binnel said. “Shall we carry
“We might as well,” Renda replied.
Meanwhile in the room behind them, Lucas scurried over to
the ball. He gave it a push back in the direction it had come from. The dog watched with its eyes glistening and its
tonguing hanging out, and then it began to pounce towards the
“Now’s our chance!” said Lucas.
And the three ants ran to get to the end of the room.
When they did Renda and Binnel were gone. They didn’t have
long to dwell on this before Lucas cried out. “I see the Kit-
Chen region. Come on!”
Lucas, Old Mazadi and Quedi made their way through to the
kitchen. One of the first things they saw on entering the
room, was their so coveted destination. Sitting a daunting
distance above them on the kitchen surface was the fruit bowl.
They found Binnel and Renda in the middle of the floor staring
up at it, and joined them.
“Bananas…” said Renda.
“Grapes…” said Quedi.
“Watermelon…” exclaimed Binnel.
“And the crimson indulgence of a bunch of cherries,” Old
“Fruitland,” beamed Lucas, “We’ve finally made it.”
“So it really does exist,” Old Mazadi gaped. “Just as my
mother always described it.”
“We’re not there yet,” Renda pointed out, “We still have
to get up.”
“Easily done,” Binnel said. “I can see the perfect route.
We can crawl up the surface to the right of that cupboard.”
“I think it would be much quicker going up the left
side,” Lucas disagreed.
Binnel rolled his eyes. “Fine. But I’m going up the right
hand side. Are you coming Renda?”
“Sure,” she said.
“Fine,” Lucas said, “You go that way; me and Old Mazadi
will go up the left side. We’ll see who gets there first.”
So Binnel and Renda marched over to the right hand side
with Lucas and Old Mazadi going to the left. Quedi remained in
the middle, looking from side to side pondering on who to
As the four others started to climb up the side of the
cupboard, a crash of footsteps suddenly filled the room. A
human being entered through the doorway and began walking
across the room. From his higher point, Lucas saw the imposing
figure. For a second he wasn’t bothered; believing that they
were all safely clinging to the cupboards. But he suddenly
remembered Quedi: Quedi who was still on the floor.
“Quedi!” he shouted.
Quedi looked up at Lucas in alarm. She then swerved round
and finally noticed the human coming towards her. She jumped
to her feet and started to run towards the side. But there
wasn’t enough time. The large stride of the human was too
quick. Squish. Quedi was gone.
As the human peacefully took a seat on the far side of
the kitchen, the four remaining ants all dropped down from
their climbing positions to where Quedi had fallen.
“Oh no,” Lucas sobbed, “Oh no.”
“Poor Quedi,” Old Mazadi said.
“It’s our fault,” Lucas said. “It’s my fault. I didn’t
think about Quedi. I didn’t remember her and so she didn’t
Binnel grinned and held out a leg to Renda. “Finally! Put
She looked at him in alarm. “No.”
He put his leg down. “But this is it; we’re safe now! You
should all be happy.”
Lucas looked up and glared at him. “Happy?”
“Yes. Happy. We knew this was going to happen from the
start. You’ve had plenty of time to dry your eyes out since
then. But now it’s even better; now we all know that we are
“You can be quiet now,” Old Mazadi muttered.
“Oh come on!” laughed Binnel. “What’s the point in all
this fake grief? Let’s face it: Quedi was the best ant to
“What?” spat Lucas.
“She didn’t really have any friends; she barely spoke to
any of us anyway. And all she wanted to do was cosy up inside a grape. I mean that was ridiculous anyway! The world isn’t a
worse off place just because she can’t fulfil that ambition.”
“What, and the world will be a better place when you
fulfil your ambition will it? So you can bribe people with
fruit,” Lucas said.
Binnel grinned. “My world will be a better place, yes.”
Renda looked down. “I really think you should shut up now
He swung round to face her. “Why? You agree with me,
Renda! Don’t pretend otherwise. You were just as keen as me to
bump one of the others off and save your own skin.”
“It’s different now. Now that Quedi’s dead I don’t… I
don’t know what I was thinking.”
“It’s easy to say that now that you’ve got what you
want!” said Binnel.
“I didn’t want this,” Renda said, “How could anyone want
“Come on,” Lucas said, “We’re all still going to get to
Fruitland.” He picked up the body of Quedi. “Even Quedi’s
going to make it.”
They climbed up the surface and poured into the fruit
bowl. The first thing Lucas did was find a grape. He made a
small opening in the grape and placed Quedi’s body inside of
“There we go,” he said. “She got what she wanted in the
Renda took a bite from a banana. “Delicious!” She then
tried a cherry. “And there’s other stuff too.”
Binnel crawled frantically over the fruit. “Hold on,” he
said, “There’s still a problem. I’ve still got my injury; how
will I carry the fruit back?”
The others looked at him and then looked away.
“Please!” he said. “One of you could carry something back
for me? Please? I’m not asking much.”
Each one of them shook their head.
“That is a shame,” Renda said. “Because Quedi offered for
you. She would have done it.”
“And none of you will? Really?” Binnel said.
“Hold on a minute,” Old Mazadi said. “I think you’ve had
the prophecy wrong all along anyway.”
“What are you talking about?” sneered Binnel. “Quedi is
dead; we are alive. The prophecy was right.”
“Don’t you remember what Dame Mitchida actually said?”
Old Mazadi said. “One of you will not achieve your goal,
because one of you will die. She wasn’t referring to the same
“What are you on about?” shouted Binnel.
“One of you will die: that was Quedi. One of you will not
achieve your goal: that’s you Binnel.”
“That’s rubbish,” said Binnel. “She said that someone
doesn’t achieve their goal because they died.”
“But Quedi died and she did achieve her goal,” Lucas
said, nodding towards Quedi’s grape.
“And it was because Quedi died that you didn’t achieve
your goal,” Renda realised. “If Quedi was alive she would have
carried something for you. But because she died you now can’t
Old Mazadi nodded. “That was the prophecy. Binnel will
not achieve his goal because Quedi will die.”
“No!” he shouted. “That can’t be! I will do it; I need
to. This fruit was going to make me powerful; it was going to
give me influence.”
“And so thank goodness you failed,” Lucas smiled.
And that was the story of Lucas’ expedition. He always
felt that he was responsible for Quedi’s death. But he tried
his hardest not to let it trouble him too much; after all the
greatest comfort was knowing that Quedi had safely achieved
what she had most wanted, and even stopped Binnel in the