Another old one about suspicious kids.
Ants in My Pants
By Ronald Cypress
The mom had been listening to the kids play outside for nearly four hours, and she had begun to lose focus on keeping a watchful eye over them. All together there were a total of five kids playing in the background. Her son, Tommy, had invited his friends over that Saturday, a ritual that had been occurring almost ever weekend since he had returned to school. The mom occasionally wondered why the group never met at one of the other kids’ home, but she figured that the meeting place gave her an advantage in making sure that her child was safe.
The group didn’t do too much; it seemed that way to the mom. She found herself feeling quite confused by some of the behavior that went on while the five kids were outside playing together. Often the five kids would stand around in a circle and talk. The meeting usually took place at the far end of the backyard, just a few feet away from the wooden fence that separated their yard from the neighbors’. The mom discussed what she saw with her husband a few times.
“Don’t worry about it,” the husband said as he flipped through the channels on the television. “They’re just back there talking. That’s all.”
“Yeah,” the mom said. “But they seem so serious. It’s really weird. I asked Tommy what they were talking about, and he just shook his head. He didn’t even answer me. It’s really strange.”
The husband didn’t respond. Since he worked every Saturday, rising early in the morning and not returning until late that evening, the husband wasn’t around to see what the kids were doing. The mom knew that if he had been there to witness it with his own eyes he would understand her apprehension.
Aside from throwing a large, red rubber ball around, there was very little play involved with the group of kids. Even when they engaged in playing, the mom found their behavior to be peculiar. She wasn’t certain, but the mom assumed that all of the kids in the group were the same age as Tommy. Since they were all at least ten years old, them playing with the large, red rubber ball came off as a bit immature. The manner in which they tossed and bounced it from person to person was slightly bizarre, and the solemn looks on their faces only added to the strangeness.
When they weren’t playing with the large, red rubber ball or standing around in a circle, the five kids would engage in exercises. They did jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups, and other various drills around the yard. It was while she was watching them workout that the mom realized the power her son had over the other kids. Tommy seemed to be the boss of the group, and the mom felt chills as she watched her son silently and sternly lead the other kids through their workouts.
Something was going on with them. Tommy didn’t say much about what they were doing and the mom tried not to ask too many questions. But she knew that something was happening with the kids.
“You’re being ridiculous,” the dad said. “They’re just kids playing. You’re being paranoid, and I’m starting to worry about you.”
The mom agreed, or she pretended to agree. A part of her said that she was just being paranoid. The other part of her was certain that something was going on with the children. They were up to something.
Most Saturdays the kids stayed in the yard. A few times they did leave as a group without Tommy informing his mom about where they were going. The mom figured they were going to stay in the neighborhood. Tommy was old enough to safely play away from the house, especially when there was a group with him. The mom still had concerns, but not all of them were for her son.
One day the group met, standing in a circle for nearly an hour, and then they left the yard. The mom watched as the kids lined up. Tommy stood with authority in the back as the group of kids walked out of the yard, their steps locked together with perfect synchronicity. The mom didn’t think too much about where the kids were going; she just hoped that everyone would stay safe.
When the group came back nearly an hour later, the mom noticed that they were all holding walkie-talkies in their hands. The group was back to standing in a circle and Tommy was talking. The mom decided to step outside onto the patio. Her son was speaking in a loud and peremptory voice.
“I have given you all the code,” Tommy said to the group. The mom noticed that he was taking turns looking at the other kids’ faces. “Ants in my pants. That is the code we go by. I have made myself clear. Ants in my pants. When you hear the code, you move without hesitation. Ants…in…my…pants.”
The mom could feel herself becoming frightened. It was the way her son spoke and the determined look on his face. Suddenly, one of the two girls in the group looked over at the mom. A few seconds later, three of the other kids did the same. The only person who didn’t turn and look at the mom was Tommy. He stood silently with her back to her.
The mom quickly turned and retreated to the house. Something was going on. She was sure of it.
“They’re just playing a little game,” her husband said when she brought it up that night. “Quit worrying. We’re going to have to find something for you to do. You’re starting to lose it.”
The mom knew that her husband was wrong.
The next weekend, the mom noticed that the group wasn’t in the backyard during their usual meeting time. The only person standing in the yard was Tommy. He was standing in the middle of the yard with a walkie-talkie in his hand. The mom cracked the patio door opened so she could hear anything that was being said. Almost thirty minutes passed with Tommy standing in silence before she finally heard the code.
“All right, my soldiers,” the mom heard her son say. “Ants in my pants. Ants in my pants. Standing in the yard, and I got some ants in my pants.”
The mom looked out and saw that her son was speaking into the walkie-talkie. She waited to her a response come back, but no one returned a message. Ten minutes later, Tommy was inside the house, sitting at the kitchen table.
“Hey, ma,” Tommy said in an innocent voice. “You think you could make me a sandwich. I’m feeling pretty hungry here.”
“Sure,” the mom agreed, hastily preparing to make her son a sandwich.
An hour later, after Tommy had eaten and went off to his room, the phone rang. The mom picked it up; it was one of her best friends.
“You have to turn on the news,” the friend said. “You won’t believe this. I can barely believe it. It’s basically on every channel right now.”
“What?” the mom rushed into the living room and turned the television to a channel that was sure to have news.
On the television were images of building that appeared to have been bombed, and a bus that also appeared to have been blown up. The news headline read:
Two Bombings in City
The mom was horrified as she watched the news coverage.
“I can’t believe someone would do such a thing,” her best friend said. “This is horrible.”
“Yeah.” the mom didn’t know what else to say.
It was horrible, and she knew right away that her son had something to do with the bombings; all five of the kids had something to do with it.
That evening, the mom and her husband talked about the bombings with each other. Though they spoke about it in front of Tommy, he didn’t have a response to what had happened. The mom tried to get him to talk about it, but her son just shrugged and made a quiet grunting noise with his throat.
She thought about mentioning her theory to her husband, but decided to keep it to herself. If she brought it up, her husband would only be upset. The mom understood. Any normal father would be upset to hear their ten-year-old child be accused of causing destruction and death. But the mom remained sure that her son and the other kids had something to do with it.
Weeks went by after the bombing and the FBI and police were unable to figure out who had bombed the city. They had clues, but there were no solid leads. Videos showed boxes appearing at the bombed sites, but they were unable to see who had left them there. Some of the videos were shown on television and the mom noticed that some of the kids who played in her backyard were in the videos. Of course, the police and FBI would never suspect them; not even when one of the kids went up and touched one of the boxes.
It was just innocent child curiosity.
“That little girl is lucky she didn’t stay there long,” one reporter said as a video showed a girl that the mom was familiar with coming into contact with one of the boxes that had contained a bomb. “Just a minute more and she probably would have been killed.”
The media and law officials just weren’t going to get it. The mom was sure of it. They were just harmless kids as far as the adults were concerned.
Nearly a month passed after the bombings took place. Overall, fifteen people lost their lives, and there a couple dozen left with limbs missing and other severe injuries. The kids were still free and no one had been arrested for the attacks. The mom figured that the kids would eventually attack again.
She saw Tommy standing alone in the backyard again one day. That was how she knew the next attack was getting ready to occur. The fact that the other kids weren’t there with their leader meant that they were out and taking action. All they had to do was hear the signal. The mom stood by the patio door as her son spoke into the walkie-talkie.
“A hot day out here,” Tommy said with a grin. “A lot of bugs moving around out here. I may have to go inside pretty soon. I’ve been standing here for so long that now I’ve got ants in my pants. Ants in my pants. I’ve got some ants in my pants.”
The mom stood still, feeling almost completely numb.