Sunday, August 22, 2004

The Bee's Knees

"Oh man, you should've been there to understand" I said while I reached for the third ice-cold beer of the night. "It was pure hell and I swear to God I never thought I'd see daylight again."

"Tell us again, pal" pleaded Goggles as usual at this time of evening. I didn't mind repeating the story, not at all. It's only once in a lifetime a flyer gets thrown into a supernatural world and comes back to tell about it.

"Well, guys, it was like this" I started. "Some years ago I had this shipping job up in the North. You know, transporting plant oils and fragrances. The hours were long and hard and often I flew far into the night dead tired. But the pay was good, so I stuck to it for a while."

"Anyway, one night I had been harvesting and shipping for sixteen hours nonstop and suddenly darkness fell. I was still in the air and the engines didn't sound to good. The freight load was heavy and I was flying low. Maybe I had had a few too many the previous night, too, I don't know, but what happened suddenly was that I was lost. I couldn't find any land marks to use to find my way home, and when I looked up from my indicators I saw that I was flying straight into the side of a tall mountain."

The silence in the bar was absolute. You could've heard a flea fart. I took another mouthful of beer and went on with my story.

"I tried my damnest but I couldn't rise or turn. So I closed my eyes and prepared to kiss my ass goodbye. I braced myself for the crash, and went through all the evil deeds of my life asking for forgiveness from the powers that may be. And then I waited for death."

"But the crash didn't come. After a while I opened my eyes and you'll not believe this but I had flown inside the mountain! I was not dead but I was inside this hell of a mountain, and it was daylight! I looked up and I saw several suns and moons, all shining at the same time. I thought that maybe this was heaven after all, but my backside ached something awful and I was covered with fruit essences."

"Well, I was pretty disoriented, so I kept almost flying into things that looked like something out of a science fiction tale: large valleys covered with the hair of dead animals, frozen lakes in impossible shapes, gigantic spiderwebs covering the horizon. And all the time I could hear this noise, this eerie keening, like a million tortured souls pleading together. All my indicators were off. I felt air move suddenly, then stop, and the temperature went way up from what it had been just a little earlier. I felt weak and dizzy and I just had to try a landing."

Goggles was staring at me all bug-eyed with excitement. I fiddled with my beer to make it last longer for him.

"I managed to make an emergency landing on this large plateau under one of the suns. It was so hot and empty and I was parched. I started walking across the emptiness, fearing my own shadow, listening to that horrible howling sound."

"It seems like years of wandering now, but it was probably not that long when I finally reached the other side of the plateau. And what do you think I found there? A precipice straight down. It went on for miles. I was trying to decide whether to turn back or to try a liftoff from the edge when everything went dark. Dark and sort of heavy, and the ululating sound was now all around me. My ears hurt and my eyes stung and my body was shaking uncontrollably. Something really heavy was pressing on me, surrounding me, suffocating me. The stench was unbearable."

The bar had all its focus on me. Nobody even took a sip. They knew that the end was near and they appreciated every second of its horror.

"I struggled valiantly, pulled out my gun and prepared to shoot. I was that desperate. I felt being crunched to little pieces of some overwhelming power, the keening sound was breaking through my brain and sending all of me into outer space, and the stench was after my very heart, looking to stain it and burn it with its acid. I screamed and screamed and desperately tried to pull on the trigger. Then everything went black and I remember nothing more."

"Well, I woke up the following day, all splayed out on the grass near my working fields. I was alive! How and why I still don't know, but I was alive, and boy was I glad to be so! I spent a few hours doing maintenance to the engines and finally managed to make my way slowly back home."

"And to a cold beer!" I added while emptying my glass. Goggles got up to get me another one, and everybody in the bar gathered around me to shake my hand or to pat my back. They sure were impressed by the story.
Editors note: This fragment of a manuscript was found in the recent archeological digs of some 21 century beehives in North America. It is an example of the early macho-style of the honey-gathering period of the bees' evolution. It has also been published in the annals of the Bees' Adventures, vol. XXI. We recommend its use in the early education of all young bees.