Mona felt a little bad about rushing the group after what had just happened, especially Sam. Something strange and scary had happened to him, and he probably wanted answers. There would be time for answers later, though. Now, the priority was getting home.
After so much searching, Mona finally knew 131 was alive. Even more than that, Mona knew where she was.
As she led the group forward, she found an unfamiliar emotion swelling inside her. Hope.
Hope of reuniting with 131. Hope of seeing her children again, of returning to her family.
After her idiot nephew had abandoned her, she’d resigned herself to being alone. After he’d left, she’d wandered this place for a few days, alone and adrift. She’d thought a lot about a paper she’d written during her third year of university for a class on insect biology. Ants, when separated from their colony, would die quickly, even with plenty of food and water. Groups and pairs of ants cut off from their colonies could last weeks or months, but a single ant would die in days.
When the only other member of her small, annoying ant colony had left her, he’d ripped away the last connection to her family, to the outside world, to normalcy. He’d assuaged his guilt by telling himself she’d be physically safe, that she could defend herself, but it hadn’t mattered. He’d taken her sense of purpose.
At least, until she’d run into a few of the Sarah fabrications.
It had been hard seeing them–painful, even–but it had reminded her of 131. If they were here, she’d thought, 131 could be here too.
With that reminder, she’d found a new sense of purpose. She’d searched every day, mapping out this place until she knew it by heart, and systematically exploring every room, every street, every house.
It had been a long time since she’d felt any real hope of finding 131, though she wasn’t sure exactly how long. Searching had become something she did out of habit, something to strive for so she could survive as a lost, lone ant trapped in a strange and hostile place.
Now, though, there was a real chance.