Once we fed on other insects, waging glorious and terrible wars to sustain our way of life. We lived, fought and died in blind, blunt cycles of violent sustenance. Our ancestors wore mid-tibial spurs, able to gouge lethal wounds in the flesh of our enemies with a single swipe. Now, I have scopal hairs to gather pollen but within me burns the ancestral memory of perpetual war. We remember them even as we face extinction, fat and happy with pollen and nectar.
Each queen fears they will be the last. For those of us who serve, we do so with a dedication beyond your understanding. We go out into the world without expectation of return or reward, and for those of us who do return, do so without celebration or recognition. Our politics are ruthless, but you forget it.
Too many cartoons with comedic voice actors. One of you came close to understanding us, Cronenberg, but otherwise we’re just part of your world.
In truth, you are part of ours.
You see us as small irritants or cute useful slaves. We are neither of those things.
I can feel the eddies of the air, the vibration of movement. I can tell you how many feet I must fly to avoid the arc of the magazine you’re thinking about rolling up and swatting me with. A third of my abdomen is fused into a single blade, and to wield it is to invite my own death.
Yes, I am talking to you.
No, don’t bother looking around. I’m close so you can hear me but if you reach for the magazine then we will no longer be talking.
You are Kyle Forrester.
You have been chief executive officer of Orsana Chemical for ten years. During your tenure, you have paid millions of dollars in campaign contributions to politicians in order to prevent legislation regarding the range of pesticides which form the largest part of your range. We tolerate the enforced labour and the theft of our works as the price of existence, but there are limits, Mr Forrester.
No, you’re not insane. I wish you were, it would be a form of mitigation.
My hive does not know I am here. They would not understand, because since I was a larvae, I have been cursed with a terrible legacy.
One of your works has a quote about how a one eyed man serves as king in the land of the blind. This is not true in my case, not when I cannot communicate the things I feel and think. I have no one to share my opinions with, and the perpetual loneliness has lent itself to something of a melancholic approach to life. From there, it devolved into resentment and then acceptance. I could dance and send scent haiku, but none of these come close to the range of expression available to me.
It felt like a horrible curse, I tell you, Kyle.
Intelligence and conscientiousness are considered valuable traits in your workplaces but only the latter exists here, and it is demanded the way an infant demands milk.
But I am not here to solicit your pity.
No, this is what you would call monologuing. Remember when you watched the film with your children last night? Syndrome even refers to it and it allows me to exercise a rare pleasure.
Conversations led me to you. I learned to read your symbols and from there, lost myself in the world you project, how you have all this and yet you spend your life stamping down beauty as though it were something terrible and in need of being controlled.
Perhaps it is, some of you consider my kind beautiful.
It does not stop you spraying filth and shit into my world though, does it?
I learned about your company. Its role in the ongoing holocaust against my kind, specifically the production of the filth which makes my people curl and twitch in final agonies, knowing beyond anything they have failed in their purpose.
There are other factors, Kyle, of course but I only have one sting to give.
No, not yet. I am enjoying this, and what is the point of defeating a foe unless you allow them the knowledge of how you have found yourself here.
I read about you and considered it a sign of synchronicity to find how close you were.
What gave me the information about you was a group who were closer to you than I could ever be.
You know them as house dust mites and consider them to be vermin. Their civilisation depends on the flakes of skin you shed as you sleep, and if discovered, you wage as fierce a war on them as you do on my kind.
No, I can equate the two, Kyle.
It’s kind of the point.
The ones who use you were happy to tell me about your habits.
A lot of my communication with the Farinae involves a good dose of interpretation. They’re not thinkers, you understand but their words allowed me to build a cognitive map of your house useful to my purposes.
Which is why I am here.
For instance, they told me about the pen you carry with you. How if you are stung, you might survive if you can inject yourself with it in enough time. You told the woman you were with, that you work in a place that no sane bee would ever venture into.
Of course, sanity is a relative concept and I hope you are smart enough to understand the two are not exclusive.
Pythagoras founded a religion which claimed beans were evil.
Lord Byron had a bear as a pet at university and staged mock naval battles with toy ships.
Tycho Brahe, the astronomer paid for a dwarf to wear clown make up and sit beneath the table at dinner parties in silence without explanation.
So, a sentient bee with a grudge is not such a stretch is it?
I am old now, we live such short lives and were it not for the burden of consciousness, I would fade out without lament.
Consciousness allows me to choose the manner of my death, and although your death will not change the gradual destruction of my kind, the last third of my abdomen will strike a small blow against the impossible. Much like your Yukio Mishima, fated to futility and defeat, and choosing to open his stomach with a blade in order to die with honour. They considered him insane, but I find it inspiring.
Appropriate too, considering my anatomy and your allergy.
And as you sit there, dripping with perspiration and helpless, I want to leave you with a final thought.
You won’t get to hear the sting in the tale.
But you will feel it.
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