Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Return To Glastonbury

This is my entry to Bruce Bethke's Friday Challenge for 1/15/09

Return to Glastonbury
by snowdog

This is it, I'm dying. Three of my six legs are broken, my wings are useless and worst of all, the stinger from one of those Killers protrudes from my abdomen, filling my system with toxin. I can only lie here on my back and listen to the buzzing in my head.

The coming of the Africanized Killers was foretold in the Wax Prophesies which date back to our beginnings on the European continent. Their arrival was to be a sign that we should follow the ancient ley lines back to Gastonbury Tor, to alight on the edge of the Holy Grail and to taste of the Healing Wine. Glastonbury is the place where the First Queen took flight. It's our destiny to be renewed there before we return to our toil which men find so useful.

I laugh bitterly as I recall the first time I heard the term Colony Collapse Disorder, as if we were being killed off by pesticides or that great hoax called Global Warming--heck, I wish it were warmer! The flowering season would be extended, our pollen collection would-- well, that's not important now. Time is short. The toxins must be affecting my brain.

No, it's not Colony Collapse Disorder. It's war! The humans don't seem to notice that aerial combat surrounds them, although to be fair, much of it happens at higher altitudes, just above the trees. That is most dangerous place to be a bee.

I remember the day the killers arrived. I was making a meal of some particularly nice Begonias, sipping the sweet nectar and getting that sticky yellow stuff all over my legs. It was so warm that afternoon, I began lingering inside each flower and fanning my wings to cool down before leaping into the air again to move on to the next bloom. It's strange how you don't know how great life is until it changes.

As I flew between the carefully spaced plants, a worker named Tzue fell past me to the ground. I buzzed down next to her to see what was amiss, but she had already gone silent and still. Then I heard the ungodly noise overhead. There were only three Killers, but I could only watch in horror as they latched on to another of my fellows in mid-air and drop him into the damp mulch. Jeek brought one of the buggers down with him, though, as the stinger failed to disengage.

I jumped into the air above the garden and moved as inconspicuosly as I could, ducking behind leaves and fence posts until I was out of their sight. Then I made a beeline for the hive, ignoring the countless pink blossoms below me. The Queen would know what do to. I had only get past the guards.

It took some time and lot of phermone, but I convinced them of the danger and the four of them escorted me into the Royal Chamber. It took me several minutes to describe what was going on and to relay the deaths of Tzue and Jeek. She listened and wiggled her antennae in that way the does when she's agitated. She called her guards and had two of them escort me to the South Garden, where I had seen them.

The two remaining Killers engaged the guards. It was a good fight, but when the guards had fallen one Killer still remained. It was an act of war our colony as was foreseen a thousand years ago.

Again, staying low to expose myself as little as possible, I made it back to the hive to relay the news to my highness. I was right. She knew just what to do. Within the hour, she had named a list of fifty-two workers, myself included, to seek the ley lines that would return us to Glastonbury Tor. I worried for her, but I could see in her multi-faceted eyes that she had already sacrificed her life for the colony. It was all done but the deed itself.

It was up to Irne's sense of the lines--a hatchling skill only few of us possess--to get us going in the right direction. I knew that other colonies would soon be sending their own swarmquests, if they hadn't already. It was possible that our brothers and sisters in Europe had already been wise to the Killers and were sipping from the Grail even as we departed. Presumably, only a single pair of workers need drink to fulfill the prophesy, one male and one female, but we couldn't take the chance.

We were ambushed somewhere near the west coast, just as we were going to make that Northward turn toward what the humans like to call Alaska. I tell you there were three thousand Killers if there was one. We fought valiantly for our colony and for our all honeybeedom, but in the end, we were lost. Finally, one of the Killers wrapped his forward legs around me and buried his stinger straight through my belly.

I can feel the toxins clouding my mind now. My vision has gone blurry and purple, like looking at the sun from the inside of a Wysteria bloom on a windy day. I think of my Queen and her many children. May one of us reach Glastonbury Tor and bring Renewal...