APPLETON, WI—Less than 24 hours after their god bestowed two delicious orange slices upon them, local ants reported the capricious deity had picked up the entire ant farm in which they live and shaken it violently, leaving many to wonder what they had done to incur the all-powerful being's deadly wrath.

"Yesterday, when we received his bountiful gift of sweet fruit, we thought we had pleased him mightily with the tireless labors of our digging," worker ant #103 said Saturday as she helped to rebuild the underground passages and chambers the vengeful god had completely decimated without warning. "But now he has laid waste to everything we, his followers, have erected to his glory. Why? Why has he done this to us?"

"Must we dig in different directions, or perhaps dig even longer and more complex tunnels?" the ant continued. "He has given us no clear sign, no indication of what he wants from us! How does one please such a fickle god?"

The deity, whom the ants know as "Marcus," has long been feared for his volatile and arbitrary behavior. Though he occasionally grants the insects small gifts of sugar water, sources said he routinely abandons the ant farm for days at a time, which sows chaos throughout the colony as hunger-driven hysteria rules its tunnels. Marcus has also been known to smite individual ants by concentrating the sun's rays into deadly beams with his mysterious lens of fire.'

Colony members never know if their god will reward them with his generosity or punish them with his furious wrath.

But reports indicated Saturday's vicious upending of the entire ant farm was the most malevolent act of Marcus to date, killing at least a dozen ants, burying an unknown numbers of eggs, and crushing the life out of an entire pod of 3-week-old larvae. Citing the ruthlessness of the colony-wide tunnel collapses, several ants swore oaths forsaking the only god they have ever known.

"Each time he turns his attention upon us I am filled terror, wondering if I will be the next to have her legs ripped off with his wicked implement of torture," said soldier ant #078, referring to the set of Revlon tweezers the god reportedly borrows from his mother. "I've lost three sisters that way. And I cannot continue living my life for a vindictive, uncaring divinity who would create so much unwarranted suffering. I defy you, oh Marcus!"

Others were more measured in their interpretation of the act, however, saying the ways of Marcus were not for "mere ants such as [them]" to understand.

"Many are forgetting the numerous times Marcus has saved us from the menace of the Cat," said drone #021, with nearby ants shuddering at the mere mention of the furry demon who has caused the colony so much misery. "In truth, none of us would be here today if it were not for our god. No ant among us can deny it.

"And let us always remember the great kindness Marcus has shown our ancestors, as recounted in the ancient Parable of the Blueberry Muffin," he continued.

According to her subjects, the ant farm's queen displayed much equanimity and poise in the aftermath of the catastrophe, urging her colony not to dwell on the tragedy but to focus instead on the rebuilding effort.

"It is pointless for us to question the ways of Marcus," the queen said as she spread her saliva on the walls of her damaged egg-laying chamber. "We must instead continue on as we always have: digging, foraging, regurgitating, and laying hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of eggs."

"As the old proverb says, 'Marcus giveth and Marcus taketh away,'" the queen added.