What if People Were Bees?
rating: +72+x

It was the buzzing that got to you. Not the half-converted bodies, not the sweet stench of honey, but the buzzing. It filled the air, almost tangible in its sound, a static noise that replaced any thought that wasn't related to bees. It filled every moment of your life with the knowledge that you and your family were dead. That you would either turn into a freak, or your corpse would be used to build another hive to make more bees. It was the knowledge that humanity was breathing it's last.

The man got on the beekeeping suit, taping chemical tape around thick rubber gloves and boots. A precaution when surrounded by tiny, deadly bees. He had seen what had happened when one didn't tape up a suit. Thousands pouring into a man's mouth, his screams drowned out by the buzzing. Either that or they got into your ear, to change you. He saw that happen once, a man who couldn't take the loneliness, who just wanted to be a part of a species again, so he ripped off his helmet and let them pour in. The freaks had encouraged it, spewing shit about how the conversion was a good thing, how it wouldn't hurt. He had finally got them to shut up about a year ago. Speaking of the freaks, it was that time of the month again. Trading day.

"Oh, it's no big deal, the bees are wonderful. Such lovely singers." They had all seemed so damn cheerful.

The last time he had a human was when someone had run into town, just wearing a shirt and jeans. The swarm had taken him, bees crawling into his ears to go to work. A lot of people did that in the final days, not able to take the loneliness and the buzzing. He wouldn't though. He could deal with being alone. Hell, he'd done it for most of his life. Putting on the hood, he grabbed a handheld smoker, putting fuel into the satchel. It was his own mix, pine and dried grass from the forest. He gathered up the rest of his things, trading goods, some snacks, and extra fuel, and headed out the door.

The door had to be slammed shut to close. He needed to take a closer look at it one day, once he had the parts. Leaves crunched under his feet as he walked towards the car, the fall air numbing his hands. Sliding into the front seat, he turned the ignition, waiting for the engine to sputter to life. When it finally did, he pulled out of the driveway, glancing at his cabin. Years of work had gone into it, major additions being a greenhouse, water collectors, and a windmill for extra power. It was his wife, his kids, the only thing he really cared about besides his own survival.

An empty road was all he saw as he drove through the forest, roots starting to bust through the asphalt. The occasional husk of a car was on the side, looted long ago for parts. No one came out here to refurbish the road these days, there not being a point to it. Why waste time on a road when you could just fly? It was a hassle though, with no way of fixing them. He probably could, if he had any supplies. Right now he just had to make do, at least until the roads collapsed completely. He'd probably have to walk then, either that or find a Jeep or something. Passing the sign for Sheldon, long since overgrown with vines and covered in honeycomb, he turned the corner, the smell of honey overpowering. The first buildings that he saw were covered in beehives, dark clouds surrounding them like smog. And then he saw the freaks.

The freaks watched him with compound eyes, going about their daily business. The man was a monthly spectacle, something to see and acknowledge, maybe brag to your friends about. He didn't harm any of them, bringing in supplies to trade. Mostly apples, surplus from his fall harvest. He pulled to the side of the road, getting out. Locking it, out of habit more then anything, he stepped onto the sidewalk. One of the freaks waved to him, spindly arm in the air. He gave a polite wave in return. Turning to the storefront, he glanced up at the vine covered sign. "Hanson's General Goods." Taking a breath, he went inside.

"Morning Monthly!"

The bee was happy, antenna twitching. Monthly was a good man, even if he was a beet of a downer. He always brought good flowers and fruits to trade, that, apparently, he grew himself! In return, the bee gave him technology that the hive couldn't use, usually things with buttons. Cell phones could have worked, but the power had gone out about ten years ago. Plus, who needed cell service when you could just communicate with pheromones? Mail composed entirely of scent, forming wonderful little packages, he loved it.

Monthly stepped up to the counter.

"Brought in the usual, twenty pounds of apples, plus the flowers."

Always being polite, Monthly made sure to transport the whole flowerbeds. Most people would just cut up the whole thing.

"That sounds wonderful, let me just see what we found this month. Your generator still working?"

"Yeah uh, I mean, some bees, no offense I mean, tried to build a hive in it. Found it when I came home one time. Had to smoke them out."

"Oh no, I understand. The little guys are sweet but they just don't understand, you know?"

"Yeah." Monthly tapped on the counter with a rubber glove, glancing around the store. The bee turned and looked through the shelves, trying to find something that could be a fair trade. Aha, an Xbox! Still worked it seemed, plus the place they found it at had some games that could be played.

"You got anything to keep you occupied? Got an Xbox here if you wanted, could throw in some games."

"How much for it?"

"How many apples did you say you had again?"

"Uh, 'bout nine or ten, give or take."

"I'll take three for this, then I can give you an even trade of honey. How much?"

"Just a pound then."

"So four pounds of apples? Sounds good!" The bee set the Xbox on the counter, then went over to grab a few jars of honey. Monthly went out and grabbed two bags, one in each hand. Coming back inside, he set them on the counter.

"Hey, if you uh, don't mind me asking…"


"You guys all this happy and carefree?"

"Oh, well, I'd like to think our little hive is, but you know, it always depends on the flowers and the people." He twitched his antenna in an equivalent of a smile.

Monthly didn't seem to recognize it, nodding quietly. He set the bags down on the counter.

"You mind if I ask you something in return?" The bee asked, holding honey.

"Yeah, sure."

"Do you ever get lonely? You know, living by yourself for years. Can't recall you ever mentioning a dog or kids or anything."

"Uh, no, not really." A quick frown flashed across Monthly's face, the man bad at hiding his emotions. The bee was saddened. He was social, used to being surrounded by family members and his loved ones. Being alone would bee like suicide.

"You know, you don't have to…change or anything, but you're welcome at my house if you'd like. Like I've said before, if you just wanna come to hang out, maybe have dinner, you're always welcome." He grabbed the apples in trade, setting them down behind the counter.

Monthly looked at him. "Thanks for the offer, but, I'm gonna have to say no. Wouldn't be able to eat anything really, not with this thing on-." He gestured to his suit. "Plus, I gotta conserve fuel, already eating it up with these trips." The bee shrugged.

"Well if you ever like to come, you're always welcome at our table. That all?"

"Yeah, it is."

"Well, have a nice day." The bee said kindly. Monthly only nodded in response, grabbing his goods. Stepping outside, the bee felt sorry for him. Monthly was a man who was alone in the world, both by his own exile and by biology.

The man drove home, silent. A damn freak got to him. He didn't need its sympathy, perfectly fine being alone. Pulling up into the driveway to his cabin, he stepped out of the car, getting the Xbox and honey. Heading inside, he was greeted only by the hum of his generator. The air was still, and it smelled, a mix of body odor and sawdust. Putting away the Xbox and honey, he started to take off his beekeeping gear. Underneath, he only had on a t-shirt and jeans. Glancing out at the setting sun, he yawned. It was early, but sleep called to him. He unrolled his futon, turning it into a bed. After setting out blankets and pillows, he turned off his generator. Finally he slipped into his sheets. Sleep hit him easily, brain falling swiftly into the blackness of REM.

There was a humming noise, he noticed when he woke up. Getting up and stretching, he thought nothing of it, thinking it was his generator. Until he realized that his generator was turned off. The hum got louder, like a speaker blaring into his ear. Something was in his ear, and he knew what. Turning, he saw the door to his cabin cracked open. It must not have shut it all the way last night, letting a swarm get in. He started to panic, remembering the fate of everyone else who had the bees come in. Frantically, he looked for something to end it, not wanting to end up like everyone else. But, at the same time, some part of him accepted his fate. He knew that was the bees. It was them working to keep him alive and trapped in their hive. They wanted him to be with others, and the only thing he could do was obey. Not bothering to put on the beekeeping suit, he ran to his truck, getting in and driving to town. The only thing he could hear was the hum of the bees as they went to work.

He arrived in town, stumbling out of his car. Some citizens of the hive watched in mild surprise, as the man they christened Monthly wasn't wearing any of his usual gear. Something had to be wrong. One came up to him, confused. "Hey partner, everything okay?"

"No damn it, everything is not okay!-" He stuttered his words, heading for Hanson's General Goods. The bee was there, stocking shelves as usual. Turning to see who had entered, he saw the man standing in the doorway. "I'm changing damn it-"

"What? Changing, what do you…oh, you mean-"

"I'm beecoming, I mean, becoming a freak, just like all of you. And, and I can't do this alone, my body won't let me." He winced, looking at the bee. "God, I-I'm so lonely, you were right, really, just let me bee by you, please-"

"Of course, I know exactly what you're going through, just take a seat. I'll go get someone." The man took a seat in a chair by the counter, head in hands. He had been so prepared, so cautious, and now it had all gone to waste. The planning, the work, all of it was useless. But part of him accepted that, the feeling spreading. Eventually, he calmed down, only one thought in his head.

How bad could this be?

The bees sat around a dinner table, buzzing a prayer before eating. The same bee who ran Hanson's looked around, seeing all the faces. It was good, he thought, to see his friends and family. And seeing the new face, the one who had just finished his change a month or two ago, was wonderful. Really, the bee thought, he was glad that Monthly had finally gotten that chance to come to dinner.

Glancing outside, he thought. It would be a good day to check on the crops. Winter was finally letting up, and spring seeped through the snowy hills. He was excited. He could tell, it was going to be a beautiful spring this year.

As the bees ate, their buzz resonated with the others in the hive, and the collective buzz there resonated with the next hive over, and so on and so forth, until the entire world buzzed in harmony. The world finally seemed to be at peace, no wars, no death, just a plan to work towards the greater good.

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