A chalk circle around a dead animal’s corpse won’t stop the ants from coming to feed on it. I first encountered this fallacy during the Prodigious Ant Battle or PAB as it is now known in our household. It was the year which I raked off a good part of the flesh from my thighs in the brambles near Miss Hickey’s rhubarb patch. A sinister defence system had been set up by the old maid to keep raccoons and sheep with a sour tooth out of her rhubarb patch and I can speak first hand to its effectiveness in keeping eight-year-old girls out as well.
During the midsummer, a regiment of Pharaoh ants decided to bunker down in our kitchen. I remember mom tracking the ant’s paths. She ordered me to run a chalk line across their battle areas; over a counter where they dined, up a wall where they marched defying gravity, and under the oak door where they breached our defences. The chalk lines were in place to split the army. “Divide and conquer Janie! Divide and conquer!” mom would say, “they won’t cross that line and we’ll have won this war!” And after weeks of daily battles, win the PAB war she did. She was a cagey leader and I took it to heart that those ants succumbed to the use of ingenious chalk lines. I did not at the time know that my twin brother Landon ignited the queen while burning ant nests in the yard as per General Mom’s orders. Of course, I was not privy to this tactical information for the General knew that I would not have allowed the deplorable inferno massacre of innocent ants. They were just ants after all not trolls, wizards, wraiths or the like. Those poor little ants.
I’ve come to find out this business of chalk lines and ants was not at all true. The General had distracted me with this ordinance so Landon could fight the real battle. Ants will march right across that darn line without a care. However, a chalk circle and some blood will bring a creature back to life if you are the right kind of freak.
I stumbled on this ability quite innocently enough two years after the PAB. Our cat had decimated a poor mouse. I tried to sew it back up with mom’s sewing needle and some thread which in hindsight was a cruel act of torture.
I can just imagine what was going through that mouse’s mind. “Aaah a cat got me, tore me to bits, scratched and clawed me, bit me and ripped me open! That’s got to be the end of it. Time to shuffle off this mortal coil…oh, wait some crazy kid is trying to sew me back together! Ouch! That bloody well hurts. Please stop! AAAAHH!”
Poor damn mouse. Needless to say, my nine-year-old veterinary skills could not save the little critter. I’d used a large flat stone in back of our garden as the mending table and didn’t want the ants to consume my patient so I drew a chalk line around the cadaver having heard from my mom that ants wouldn’t cross a chalk line. That, as we discussed earlier is pure and utter horse hooey.
The interesting part comes as a result of having pricked myself with the sewing needle. A single drop of blood fell into that chalk circle where the ants were feeding on the mouse. When the blood hit there was a fizzle and a pop and the smell of burning mouse fur. I felt a tingle race through my entire body as if some jokester had shaken my hand with one of those toy buzzers you get at carnivals. A feeling of dread came over me as the air around me rippled. The branches on the trees dipped and rose as they do before an immense storm and the rattling leaves sounded like the hiss of a hot rumour going through a crowd. A force of air shoved me and dragged me until I could stand no more at which time it slammed me to the garden floor. Then in an instant it all stopped and all was restful. From the ground, I could see the mouse body only inches from my face. He looked a complete nightmare after having been ripped apart by a scruffy barn cat and sewn back together by nine-year-old me, but he bounced up and rushed off regardless. So shocking was this event that I hadn’t even noticed the cracked arm I incurred during my tumble.
That was the first time I found I could raise the dead.