Ben Rosenbaum's "Ant King" story under CC license

Ben Rosenbaum wrote a story called "The Ant King: A California Fairy Tale" for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction back in 2001 that just floored me. It's a delicious magic realist story about hackers and ants. It impressed me so much that I tracked down Ben and we became friends and are now even working on a story together.

The story is now out, under a CC license — and I'm so happy to have it here to re-read!

Sheila split open and the air was filled with gumballs. Yellow gumballs. This was awful for Stan, just awful. He had loved Sheila for a long time, fought for her heart, believed in their love until finally she had come around. They were about to kiss for the first time and then this: yellow gumballs.

Stan went to a group to try to accept that Sheila was gone. It was a group for people whose unrequited love had ended in some kind of surrealist moment. There is a group for everything in California.

After several months of hard work on himself with the group, Stan was ready to open a shop and sell the thousands of yellow gumballs. He did this because he believed in capitalism, he loved capitalism. He loved the dynamic surge and crash of Amazon's stock price, he loved the great concrete malls spreading across America like blood staining through a handkerchief, he loved how everything could be tracked and mirrored in numbers. When he closed the store each night he would count the gumballs sold, and he would determine his gross revenue, his operating expenses, his operating margin; he would adjust his balance sheet and learn his debt to equity ratio; and after this exercise each night, Stan felt he understood himself and was at peace, and he could go home to his apartment and drink tea and sleep, without shooting himself or thinking about Sheila.


(Thanks, Ben!)