Thursday, November 23, 2017
By Daniel Skye
Pamela Goldsmith was the last reporter to arrive on the scene. Her fellow journalists had already dispersed with the footage or information they required. The ambulance was long gone. The police were wrapping up the scene, and none of them would agree to an interview.
“Take a hike, Lois Lame,” one of the officers told her.
“Yeah, just make the story up like you people usually do,” another office said.
“Well, at least give me the victim’s name,” Pamela pleaded. “Can’t you do that?”
One officer overheard Pamela’s plight and waited for the other men to turn their attention before he approached. She could tell he was a rookie. He was young, early-twenties, clean shaven, hair buzzed down to the skin.
“Leslie Alderson,” he said, speaking softly. “Stay away from the morgue. You don’t want to see the body.” He kept looking back over his shoulder. He clearly didn’t want his fellow officers or superiors to see him talking to her. And Pamela couldn’t blame him. The media and the cops weren’t exactly on friendly terms those days.
She quietly thanked him for the information, put in a call to her editor, and headed straight for the morgue.
Pamela returned to the office after a quick stop at Murphy’s Pub for a pint. Her editor smelled the alcohol clinging to her breath.
“Rough night?” Gina asked.
“I’ve seen worse,” Pamela confessed. “Still, the booze helps.”
Gina Vasquez was a tall, slim woman with dark hair and caramel skin. She was attractive, but her problem was that she knew she was attractive. And she used that beauty as a weapon. Pamela had seniority and she was due for a promotion, but she wasn’t going to degrade herself and go the lengths that Gina had. Pamela’s day would come.
“What have you got for me?” Gina inquired.
“Leslie Alderson. Thirty-eight years old. Single. No husbands, no kids. No living relatives except for a distant aunt who resides in Cleveland. I have a ‘friend’ at the morgue who lets me see the stiffs for the right price. Her body…it was all swollen and riddled with small tears and red marks. It looks she got attacked by a swarm of bees.”
“Is that the official cause of death?”
“Won’t be sure until they perform the autopsy. But it certainly looks that way. Makes no sense though. I had my ‘friend’ pull her chart. She wasn’t allergic. And while their stingers carry venom, the average person can tolerate about ten stings for every pound of body weight. In other words, a normal person can withstand more than 1,000 stings before it turns fatal.”
“So you’re saying she was attacked by a few thousand bees?”
“Either that, or we’re looking at a foreign species, something that was illegally smuggled in. Africanized bees and European honey bees are known to be quite aggressive, and if a hive is disturbed, the entire colony will attack to defend their queen.”
“Or we could be missing something here. It could be something entirely different.”
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Pamela wondered.
“Yes. Like the police, we have to suspect foul play. It’s the dead of winter. Bumble bees go into hibernation. Most wasps and hornets die off from starvation. Honey bees survive on their honey until the spring. We have to assume that this was no accident. It could be–”
“Murder,” Pamela said, finishing Gina’s thought.
Outside, the ferocious wind practically blew Pamela on her backside. And the wind was something she had never heard. It wasn’t howling or whistling. It was screeching, literally screeching like a banshee at the top of its lungs.
As she walked towards the lot, gripping the side of the office building, she saw something in a distance. A gaunt figure carved out of moonlight. It was like staring at a living silhouette. As she walked further, this glowing figure came into focus.
It was another woman, sporting a beehive hairdo and wearing a striped black-and-yellow dress. Her choice of attire raised a few questions for Pamela. Especially considering the weather and the time of year. But who was she to judge? She was in her mid-thirties and barely had time to make it to the gym. If this woman had a slim figure and she wanted to show it off, good for her, Pamela thought. More power to her.
Of course, there was the possibility that she was a working girl. A street walker. A prostitute. It was one of the first things to cross her mind. But again, who was Pamela to judge? Everyone has to make a living. Ask Gina Vasquez.
But when she got a closer look, she gasped. She couldn’t tell where the dress began or where it ended. And that hair…Pamela could swear it wasn’t hair at all. It looked like an inverted beehive growing out of the top of her skull. And for the briefest of moments, she could swear it was throbbing, pulsating.
She shook it off, got a hold of herself. This is what happens when you’ve got bees on the brain, Pamela thought. She cut across the deserted parking lot.
As she walked towards her car, a loud buzzing permeated the air. It sounded like static, as if someone had set a television to a dead channel and cranked the volume.
Pam’s eyes darted around in search of this mysterious droning. But there was nothing to see.
“You’re losing it,” Pam whispered. “You’re overworked and now you’re hearing things.”
As Pam resumed walking to her car, she brushed shoulders with the same woman she’d seen outside the office.
“Sorry about that…Oh dear God!” Pam shrieked.
Transparent wings protruded from her shoulder blades. The inverted hive shook and pulsated, then opened up.
Bees flew towards her at an alarming speed, pricking her, their stingers tearing holes in her jacket and blouse underneath, ripping and shredding. Riddling her skin with punctures, the sharp stingers snapping off inside of her.
She pulled her jacket up to shield her face and sprinted through the lot, the drone of the bees following her. She just made it back inside the office before she collapsed in the lobby.
The doctor had never seen a reaction so serious. He pulled a small tube of her blood to run for tests and administered a shot of anti-venom. They had the results back almost immediately. The bees that attacked her were carrying up to three times the amount of venom of the average bee. She was lucky to even be alive. She told her story to the doctor, the nurses, the police, her editor. She was babbling, incoherent. Gina spoke to the cops privately and contributed it to her drinking problem. She insisted Pamela must’ve had one too many that night. The cops didn’t really buy it either. A half-human, half-bee hybrid? The idea was absurd. But it was hard to ignore the evidence. Maybe it was easier to lie to themselves, to write it off as the ramblings of an alcoholic or a raving lunatic. Maybe it was easier than swallowing the fact that monsters do exist, even if they go unseen.
She had a visitor when they discharged her the next day. Officer Baby-Face. He had a look of both remorse and relief. He was the one who gave her Leslie Alderson’s name, he was the one who put her on the case, so it was only natural for him to felt somewhat guilty.
“Can I offer you a lift?” he said, holding open the passenger door of his squad car.
“That would be lovely,” she smiled.
Down the road, the rookie turned on the radio and flipped through the stations. He choose a classic rock station, but kept the volume low so he could hear any incoming calls. Deep Purple played through the speakers, but it was a weak signal. She could hear the static cutting in and out.
She shuddered at the sound. Then she shuddered again when she realized the sound wasn’t coming from the radio. And it wasn’t static. It was droning, and it was coming from inside the air vents.