Bees! Bees everywhere!

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
M. Augustin is a very scared man.

Submitted: November 25, 2011

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Submitted: November 25, 2011

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It was a wonderful dream he was having when it happened. He was in golden fields with the warm sun on his back and his fiancée’s soft hand in his, laughing and smiling as they walked, but it was cut all too short by what he would thereafter consider to be the most terrifying lesson of his life. He was woken gently by the soft, rhythmic thumping noise in the wall behind him where the ventilation shaft pumped dirty air into his apartment before this sound was replaced by a steadily growing hum. It sounded as though a hurricane was rushing down the alleyway outside the building, and it grew and grew, swelling in volume and undulating in intensity.

Then it arrived.

There was a loud smack on the window pane and from nowhere tens of thousands of loudly buzzing insects appeared. It was a cloud of gold and black moving in one fluid mass, obliterating any sunlight which tried to push its way through any possible gaps. He managed a quiet whimper as he tugged the bed sheets above his head and hid. He tried to convince himself it was a dream, just a strange extension of his subconscious that had slipped momentarily into nightmare. He hugged his knees to his chest and whispered for the cloud to disappear, but he could hear them outside. Thousands of thousands of them pushing against the glass. He heard the window frame rattling like old bones, getting louder and louder, more and more violent. He whimpered again as the it began to slide open, the old joinery creaking in protest as they rubbed against one another.

Then the buzzing stopped.

He gasped for breath. There was complete silence in his room again. Had it all been a dream? He tentatively pulled the sheet away from his face to see. He didn’t scream, he couldn’t, all the breath within his lungs had seemed to disappear completely. The only discernable sound he was able to make was a squeak which could just about be heard above the silence.

“Bees,” he said.

They covered the wall and door opposite his bed. The pale beige paper was completely covered with black and yellow. It was almost completely still, except for a few pockets here and there spinning around in their place as if trying to find a more comfortable position. Neither he nor his masses of new roommates moved a muscle for what felt to him like years. He heard his clock slowly ticking away over the silence, but he couldn’t focus on anything but the millions and millions of eyes he could feel staring at him. Then the buzzing came again, but it was rapid this time, no more than a second, no longer than it took him to blink, and they had moved. He stared and stared at the wall, hardly able to breathe from fear.

Pierre? There it was, dark on pale, as clear as day. They had spelled out his name on the wall in lighting speed, question mark and all.

“Y-Yes?” he managed to say, his voice still higher than it was when he was a child. They buzzed again, just as quickly as last time.

Pierre Augstin? they had now spelled out.

“Yes?” he repeated. All sense of logic and normality had left his brain now, and he had been reduced to a staring blob with his jaw hanging open.

Pierre Augstin, Apartment 27, Rue Jarry 55, 76010?

“N-No,” he answered. There was a moment of silence and the writing on the wall seemed to shift awkwardly. “75010,” he added eventually. “What do you want?” he demanded, instantly regretting having asked as the swarm buzzed angrily for a second, before reshaping once again. This time it split clean down the middle, the left shaping into an arrow, the right forming what looked to Pierre like an n with an umlaut sitting above it. It took him a moment to recognise it as an unhappy face. He moved his gaze to the arrow and sat up in his bed to get a better look. It seemed to be pointing at the blue, glowing bug-zapper he kept on the edge of his chest of drawers.

“It’s,” he began, still unable to form a word without stumbling over it, “it’s for mosquitoes, it’s nearly summer,” he tried to explain.

A handful of bees from the face broke off from the eyes and moved into position in angry downward-slanting lines just above.

“Ok!” Pierre squeaked quickly, “I’ll get rid of it, I swear!” Almost before he could finish his last word, the wall was cleared. They disappeared through the open window at such speed that it shook and slid shut after the last one had left. Panting heavily, Pierre collapsed backwards onto his bed, drenched in cold sweat. As he began to get his breathing back under control, he turned his head to the window and looked out at the morning sun. A series of thin black and gold lines were pressed against the glass, hovering almost motionlessly in the air outside.

Now!

Pierre squinted against the light and blinked a few times before diving from his bed and stumbling across the room. He grabbed the bug-zapper, ripped the plug out of the wall and dashed into the corridor outside his apartment before tossing it down the rubbish chute.

Closing the door behind him he lay down face-first on his sofa and tried to compose himself in any way he could, while through the open bedroom door floated, unseen by Pierre, the message:

Thank you, complete with a little letter u and an umlaut sitting just above it.


© Copyright 2017 Ian Stephenson. All rights reserved.

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