"Are you the ant man?"
Digman Marley heard the question and chose to ignore it. He could feel all of his 53 years, and the extra weight of his bulging waistline, as he climbed out the company van and stretched his back. The week was already turning out to be full of shit, even without stupid questions, and it was only Tuesday. Yesterday the papers had come through from his wife's solicitors filing for divorce, that morning the boss had told him they were laying people off and everyone else had to take a pay-cut and he should be happy he still had a job and, before the week was out, none of that would matter because things would happen to change his life forever.
Not that life-changes, his own or anyone else's, were even close to being on his mind as he enjoyed the rare warmth of a sunny Welsh August morning and gazed, with a nostalgic smile on his face, at the building high on the hill rising behind the houses.
Tigges Chemical Factory stood, as it had for sixty years, a gaunt angular silhouette astride Bwgan Hill, dominating the skyline. The town of Melltith nestled at the foot of Bwgan, the original buildings hugging the narrow River Dirwyn, newer buildings spreading out from there covering most of the floodplain. Away from the hill the Welsh countryside, with its patchwork of fields, stretched as far as anyone would care to look, but always the eye was drawn back to that dark shape leering down from its vantage. To some its padlocked gates, broken windows and stripped interior were an eyesore. To local children it was a forbidden playground and home to the monsters and ghosts of their nightmares. To Digman Marley it was the keeper of his young adult life: straight into the factory from school at 16, losing his virginity in one of the outer sheds a few months later, meeting his future wife on the line twelve years after that, and still working there when, just after his 50th birthday, the management announced they were closing the place down and everyone was being made redundant. From then on his adult life had taken a decided downturn.
"I said, are you the ant man?"
Digman glanced at the large, black ant logo on the side of his van, the one-foot high lettering alongside it spelling out 'Antman Exterminators', and at his own overalls, the back emblazoned with the same letters and logo. He forced a smile as he turned.
"Yes," he said to the elderly lady standing at the bottom of her garden. He was impressed that he'd managed to keep the sigh of irritation out of his voice. "I'm the ant man. Are you Mrs Wright?"
"I'm Mrs Wright." The old lady turned and headed back into her house, slippered feet shuffling over the paving stones, her slim, almost emaciated, frame unsteady, stick-thin ankles barely able to take her slight weight. "You're late. Come on."
Digman checked his watch. He was late, couldn't deny that, by all of three minutes! This was going to be a tough one. He turned to the van and found his workmate still sitting in the cab, almost invisible behind the bright reflections off the windscreen.
"Are you not working today?"
The van's passenger door opened slowly, and Eric Saxon slid from the seat to the road. He was thirty years Digman's junior, slim, untidy and only recently given a full-time contract after six month's work placement. Digman felt the boss had paired him with Eric out of spite.
"Tell me Eric," said Digman as the younger man slouched his way towards him. "Why exactly did you want to work with Antman Exterminators?"
"Them," said Eric quietly.
"What d'you mean 'them'?"
"The film, Them!?" Eric snorted. "Don't you know nothing? Them! 1954. James Whitmore, Joan Weldon." He waited, shook his head at Digman's obvious confusion. "Giant ants for God's sake. It's a classic."
YOU ARE READING
The Ant Man (2013) - the complete bookHorror
Digman Marley works for Antman Exterminators. He used to work at the old chemical factory on the hill, before it went out of business. His life is hard, dull and predictable. But something is happening up at the old factory, and the ants he's called...