I am nest. Around me all are nest. I can feel them, hear them, smell them. The darkness does not bother me; their presence reassures me. I am safe, contented. I move around, randomly, my legs shifting through compacted rubble, following the smells, the call of nest. We are all the one, all the same. The one purpose, one identity, all nest.
Nest needs me, hungers, for food, defence. I follow the trail, follow the rest of nest. Up, and out into the light blinding light. There is a smell in the air, a smell with promise, promise for nest. I follow it out, further from nest, out into the open.
I am far from nest, I am afraid. Yet there is the smell, its aroma fills me with purpose. I continue on. Ever further until I reach something, something big, something not nest. I reach out, touch, sniff, taste. It is food, sweet food.
I open my mouth and eat, eat ravenously, until I am filled to bursting and cannot eat anymore. I then turn and follow the path I had taken, following the smell of nest.
I am filled with food, food for nest, yet I am also wary. Not nest is also out here, not nest can be dangerous. Can be deadly. I am not without my defences. For nest I will readily die.
I see something coming towards me, something not nest. The smell is unfamiliar, uncomfortable, dangerous. I prepare to defend myself, weapons at the ready. Before I can move I am grabbed, I feel myself being lifted, up into the sky, away from the ground, away from nest.
I try to move, swaying my limbs, trying to get into a position to fight back but it is useless. My thoughts are of the nest, of all the others like me, the one mother, the future and the past. How they will go on, the nest will survive. That I am nest and so I will live on.
Before I can think and do anything else there is a flash and I open my eyes. I am sitting, there are lights, noises around me. I am confused, thinking that my limbs shouldn’t move the way they do. It is a few seconds that memory returns, I realised what had just happened.
“How did it go? Did it work?” It is the lab assistant Jeremy, over at a large terrarium. I am still held down by a series of traps yet I can turn my head to look at him. He is holding something in his hand. It is a pair of tweezers, I am able to undo the strap and get up. My limbs are a little numb from several hours of non-movement and I have some residual memory of what I had experienced, walking on two legs seems strange.
Jeremy is still holding his tweezers. I lean in to look. It is an ant, marked with silver paint. “So that is who I was” I say quietly. The memory of share this creatures existence still fresh in my mind “It was unreal” “The latest thing in zoology.” says Jeremy, repeating what he had told me before “Experience life as an animal. A simple chip to record experiences and transmit them here through the a transcranial interface direct into your brain. See what the animal sees, feel what they feel. Their entire sensorium played straight into your mind. Talk about developing an understanding!”
“I think the test went well” I say and delicately I take the pair of tweezers from Jeremy. “We should consider getting approval for testing on more advanced animals. Perhaps start thinking about trails on wildlife, that is where it will get real interesting.” I look at the ant, still struggling against the hard metal of the tweezers. The paint and tiny chip so small it can be barely seen against its black carapace. I think for a second and open the glass slide of the terrarium. Placing the little creature back on the soft sand near the low ant-hill that it came from. It scurries off, following one of the many scent trails back to the openings in the ground.
I am strangely happy to see that. Happy in myself, happy somewhere in the back in my mind, a part now forever opened by the memories of my time as that will insect. I know that the little ant is back where it belongs, back where it is safe, back in the nest.