“Ouch. What the fuck?” Simon clasped his neck, opened his eyes and stepped back from the ledge.
She retracted her sting and hovered near Simon’s ear.
“What the fuck, yourself. “You could have killed me,” the bumblebee buzzed. She pushed her sting deep into Simon’s ear lobe.
“Goddamnit,” Simon fell to his knees, flicked the air and rubbed his ear.
The bumblebee flew to Simon’s other ear. “What’s so bad that you want to fling yourself off a cliff?” She plunged her sting into Simon’s cheek.
Simon spit expletives and saliva. He rocked back and forth on the ground and moaned, caressing his welts.
“I can’t even die in peace,” he said.
“Why in the world would you expect to die in peace?” the bumblebee asked. “Dying in peace is as equally absurd as living in peace.”
“And now I’m talking to insects. I thought bees only got one sting,” Simon said.
“You’re thinking honey bees. Honey bees sting once. They’re the ones with the barbed stingers; get themselves stuck and rip their bodies asunder trying to get free.” I’m as different from a honey bee as you are from an orangutan.”
“I thought I read somewhere that bumblebees don’t have stingers.”
“No, you didn’t. You read that male bumblebees don’t have stingers,” the bumblebee jabbed Simon’s forehead.
“Damn it. Stop. Please stop.”
“Perhaps if you knew more about the world you’re part of you’d realize how good your life is.”
“You couldn’t possibly know what my life is like. You’re a bug for fuck’s sake.”
“Enlighten me. And again, I’m a bumblebee.” She pointed her sting.
“I’ve lost my life savings,” Simon said. The bumblebee looked unaffected, in so far as Simon could judge. “I lost my net worth in the stock market crash.”
“It’s not like someone’s trying to eat you,” the bumblebee said. “My brother alighted on his favorite blue monkshood plant. He stopped in for a sip of nectar and…” She paused.
“Devoured by a praying mantis. Bastard was hiding in the flower.” Her compound eyes stared into the distance. “He would dance on the combs to tell me where to find the sweet stuff.”
“Sorry. I’ve never been food, but you’ve never been on food stamps. Say a Hail Mary.”
“Sad. Yours is the only species that prays. The rest of us are prey.”
“And what do you pray for, Simon? You pray to die.” The bumblebee stung the back of Simon’s hand.
“If you were a slug,” the bumblebee was saying, “you’d be sliming away from firefly larvae hell bent on paralyzing, liquefying, and sucking out your insides. Copy that?”
Simon turned pale.
“Be happy you’re a sad sack and not an empty skin sack,” she said.
“Okay, okay nobody’s trying to eat me, but my wife is cheating on me.”
“Pray she cheats on you.” Latrodectus hasselti, the Redback spider, somersaults into his lover’s fangs during sex. He lets her eat him in return for her commitment to be faithful. You ready to somersault, Homo sapiens boy?”
Simon sobbed on the mossy ledge. The bumblebee flew to the floret of an orange butterfly bush. She unfurled her proboscis and probed.
About the author:
Murray’s stories have appeared in numerous literary journals, including: 3711 Atlantic, 400 Words, Ascent Aspirations, Duck & Herring Pocket Field Guides, Danse Macabre, decomP, Defestration, Laughter Loaf, GHOTI, Opium Magazine, Peeks & Valleys,Rumble, Shine Journal, The Big Jewel, and Yankee Pot Roast. He has written essays for Brink, Prose Toad, Business 2.0, Shine Journal, and Wired Magazine. Recently, he has been writing fiction inspired by topical scientific subjects, in which the science features prominently. Some of these pieces can be seen in the Science Creative Quarterly from University of British Columbia’s department of Advanced Molecular Biology.