After the crates had been loaded into the plain windowless company van, draped heavily in several layers of breathable linen fabric, I left for the day.
I knew the perfect place to relocate this hive and it was just a few hours south.
I did not find Alice at home when I’d arrived which was convenient because I had hoped not to. The house was in much the same condition that I’d seen it last. Though the top-layer of garbage was new, I knew that somewhere beneath were the fossilized stratum of composting apple-cores and boyhood trauma that had called me back here to orchestrate her undoing—and ultimately, my own.
Smoking the bees into dormancy, I went quickly to work, removing section after section of the over-sized honeycomb clusters and placing them throughout the piles of knickknacks and garbage of the shitty house. In her backyard, deep within the overgrown forest of uncut grass, I spent the rest of the afternoon digging. She returned in the evening just as I felt my hole was deep enough. I don’t know what she thought of the strange unmarked van parked in her driveway…if she’d thought anything at all.
As the anaphylaxis twisted her bloated tongue through her quickly tightening airway, Aunt Alice—puffy and red—remarkably somehow was able to die screaming.
Once the screaming stopped, I reentered the house, donned in my protective suit doused with the masking pheromones and dragged her by her lifeless ankles outside. Her skin was riddled with holes. A fascinating and curious symmetry to them; raw and bloodless, like the entrance wounds of a thousand tiny bullets overfull and weeping through her clothing with a satisfying blend of puss and venom and my long awaited victory. She twitched and writhed turning from red to purple in the dwindling twilight as I pulled her foot-first through the chest high stalks of weeds overcrowding the backyard.
I’m not quite sure she was done dying by the time I’d gotten her into the hole, spasming and squirming the way she did. It didn’t matter, really at the time.
When I’d finished refilling the hole, it was well past midnight and thoroughly exhausted, I decided to sleep it off in the van before heading home.
I awoke to the drone of bees.
A rhythmic steady rumbling buzz building in crescendo and pitch swarmed the darkness of the van surrounding me in my muddled haze. Unable to move, my sticky eyes, gulped the sight of honeyed horror that was the corpse of Aunt Alice. She vibrated through the open passenger window as though beneath her skin a trapped electricity had impulsed her to motion; sending her out from beneath the ground and beckoning her toward the van where I lay sleeping. Her skin rippled and thrummed with them. The ends of her fingers, like sharpened barbs, reached out to me and as I began to scream, a thousand of my bees swarmed in unison from her body, and into my mouth and made a home.
We lived like this for at least a month: We began each new day following the rising sun down the gravel drive away from our collapsing french colonial hive and into the neighboring yards. We ate Mrs. Harris’s prized roses first. After that we would head south to feast on Mr. Graham’s begonias swallowing them petal, pistil and stamen, whole. The orange blossoms and clovers of homes we did not know. We ate them greedily, hungrily and brought them back inside of me. Back inside to make the honey for the hive. We used our hands to pound and rip patterns in the drywall, wide cavities that we filled with our excrement. A nectar, foul and sickly sweet that only we would want to eat. A honey so vile that no one dare harvest and steal away. We stored it for the day that the flowers were gone. It wouldn’t take long. We ripped them by the handful from the ground and the trees, from decorative pots, from shrubbery. We brought the flowers home inside of me. Where we oozed them out of ourselves and shoveled them away and away and away filling the holes for another day. At night we rested but still awake in the shit-smeared holes in the wall we’d make.
When they brought me back here today, we—No. I did it. It was a mistake, but I did it.—I bumped the lamp that stood in the entry. The lamp ended in a naked bulb. It landed on the stack of Aunt Alice’s garbage. As they—the hive—they were moving me. I didn’t want to, but they were making me. This whole time, you see…the hivemind. They crawled around inside of me plucking at my brain—pulling at synapses—making me do what they do. They made me shovel my shit into the walls. My God. They didn’t see it, they didn’t know, but the house slowly began to fill with smoke.
This is fitting. I’ve been dreaming of burning this place to the ground with her inside of it for decades. I’m staring into the mirror now Alice is dead on the couch behind me. I can see so much rage and mania creeping darkly behind my eyes—quietly buzzing away—and I can see them too. A dozen or so of them. They’re in there—docile now. Asleep in my brain. The rest are someplace deeper. They went to sleep and let me back and I can see them. Slowly fanning lethargic wings as the house around me falls in flames.
If you’re reading this, don’t send help. Stay away. I’ve taken my last few minutes to explain what happened. When they find us, they’ll want to know. The friend I’m emailing it to can figure out what to do with this.
Scott, my friend, and anyone else who might be reading this: stay away. Let the fire have us. Let it lick the walls and peel the skin and eat me and them and her and us until all that’s left is ash…