Buzzkill: Short Fiction

Third day here. Am I feeling the pressure? Well, of course. It’s not an easy task trying to write a complete piece of fiction everyday, but it also feels good to stretch out my creative muscles. And hopefully you are enjoying the spooky fiction as well!

Today’s prompt is: a strong, handsome man navigates post-apocalyptic world to find love… while fighting off zombees.

Rather specific on what the protagonist should be like, but I dig it.

Dedicated to Chris B.

Buzzkill

The head of an axe makes a strange, slick sound when it slices through the skull of a Hivemind.

The genetic modification was supposed to save the bees, make them more resistant to disease and pests, boost their procreation, and increase their honey production. It did that, and more.

Honey oozes over the axe blade, chunky with what brains remain in the skull of the thing that was once conscious.

Hiveminds used to be people.

All it takes is one moment, one second outside without a suit. The bees are busy little things. It only takes a few seconds for their stings to overwhelm an average sized person, only a few minutes for them to make their way into the skull through the ear canals and set up shop, carving out tunnels and rooms in the soft brain tissue.

With a yank, strong, handsome Anthony pulls the axe free, globs of hot amber liquid land with splats on the grass. He’s glad for the suit that protects him from the bees and the smell. Honey from the infesting bees preserves the flesh surrounding the victim’s face, allowing it to remain untouched, while the rest of the body slowly decays.

The Hivemind’s face droops, the one eye not bursting with honeycombs rolls back into its skull. Bees swarm out of the gaping wound, buzzing with rage as they throw themselves against the man’s bulky helmet. Their fuzzy bodies bounce off with dull thuds.

Now free of the insects that were keeping it mobile, the body drops to the ground, twitching.

Pulling a grenade from his belt, Anthony pulls the pin, and drops it at his feet. Yellow smoke envelops him and the bees that surround him fall to the ground, their wings fluttering weakly.

Now the hard part. Pesticides don’t work on the bees anymore so Anthony grinds each one to smears of ichor with the butt of his axe.

His body aches. This is Anthony’s second Hivemind kill of the day. Each infected human can have dozens of bees in their skull and each one has to be stomped out of existence or it will rise again, on armoured wings and with an insatiable need to pollinate the soft, gray folds of the flower that makes up a person’s mind.

Anthony slips his axe back into its loop on his belt. His arms ache, but his heart finally settles once the adrenaline wears off. Kneeling by the quickly cooling corpse, he lays out a scraper, an oiled leather pouch, and a sharp knife. With these tools, he slices away the skin on the dead man’s skull and locates the fat queen. Dropping her on the ground, he then slices her to bits with his knife. After that, he begins to scoop out the rich honey from inside, depositing it into the pouch.

The metal scoop scrapes at the inside of the bony hive until Anthony has harvested all the honey. Bit of brain matter pepper the otherwise perfect amber elixer. Finished, Anthony puts away all his tools and sets off at a jog. The sun is setting, it’s time for him to go home.

Careful not to get snagged on branches of thorns, Anthony weaves through the trunks until he reaches the edge of the small copse of trees. Before him spreads a magnificent field of grass and wildflowers. At a distance, he spots a Hivemind crouching, on her hands and knees, over a vibrant bunch of cornflowers. In slow, trembling movements, the woman lowers her head down, and rubs her face against the flowers, inhaling all the pollen she can.

Keeping low, Anthony keeps to the edge of the field, making his way east. The Hivemind stands, her face powdered and nostrils flaring. Her mouth drops. Even from where he hides, Anthony can see the squirming insects between her jaws, her cheeks vibrate with their dance. He can hear them buzzing, even over the birdsong.

Shivering, Anthony makes his way past the meadow, down to the river, and across. He’s dripping with sweat when he reaches the metal door set into the side of an abandoned house. It leads down to the cellar, the cool, dark place, he shares with the love of his life.

She’s weeping when he descends the short set of wooden stairs. Her cries hurt his heart. Anthony finds the lantern by the last step and lights it, its buttery illumination painting the stone walls, the dusty wooden shelves, and the few cans of food that remain.

Standing on the thin, dirty mattress in the corner, she strains against the chains on her wrists, desperate to reach the light, drawn to it.

The bees in her mouth rage over her tongue, their facetted eyes catching the faint light like gemstones. He pulls the punch from his belt and opens it, tossing it to the dirt floor by her feet. The cellar is filled with the sound of buzzing hunger.

It takes a moment for her to smell the fresh honey, then she drops to her knees so hard Anthony flinches for her. She stuffs the brain-chunked honey into her mouth with her grubby hands.

The bees calm when the honey is gone and she slumps on her mattress, exhausted.

All it had taken was one errant branch, one cursed moment, for a bee to find its way in.

But he had learned that honey from another Hivemind keeps the queen from laying eggs, keeps the number of bees down, the damage to the brain minimal.

Pulling a can of beans from a shelf, Anthony sits on the floor near her and rests a hand on her head, stroking her beautiful blond hair.

He feels her head vibrating with the contented hum of the honey-sated bees. Taking his helmet off and setting it to the floor, Anthony eats dinner. It almost sounds like she’s purring as she slowly falls asleep.

She’d begged him to kill her when she’d felt that first tell-tale itch of a burrowing bee. But he couldn’t. Not her, not his beautiful wife.

So, Anthony had chained her down here and, in the end, chained himself to her.

She stirs and turns her head. Her blue eyes still have a semblance of who she used to be.

Around the bees sleeping in her mouth, she struggles to form words.

“P…lease…”

“Shhh, my love.” Anthony strokes her hair and swallows back tears.

“K…k…kill…me…”

Anthony only shakes his head. Shakes his head so hard, his brain buzzes. As if the bees are in him too. She trembles and honeyed tears run down her cheeks. Both of them, preserved in a sweet, buzzing limbo.

x PLM

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