Thursday, 19 February 2015

When the Bees Died by Pauline Brown

Words with JAM BIGGER Short Story Competition 2014
2nd PRIZE WINNER (250 word category)

It isn’t your fault no one else can see what is coming. You could warn them, but know they’ll think you mad. Besides, you neither owe nor expect anything. And so you tell no one.

You dig a cesspit beneath your cellar; stack the floor above with water-filled jerrycans, the shelves with tinned food, candles, matches. You buy gas bottles and camping stoves – alternate days, different stores, to be sure you remain unnoticed. Feigning illness, you hoard and catalogue the medicines prescribed. As you close the bolts above your head, you clasp luxury to your chest: a half-filled jar of honey, eked from your hives.

When the alarm clock sounds your thousandth day, you emerge and take a trip into town, your boots grinding glass and slapping through sewage. Crusted carcasses buzz in a heat haze of silence. Grateful for the protection of your beekeeper’s suit, you crunch through the carnage of a hardware store and find yourself a face mask.

On your doorstep: a belly-swollen man clutching a blackened, days dead dog. Holding your breath, you step over and return to your lair.

You run a nail along your tins and make your selection. A pang, unfamiliar and uninvited, sends you to your door, but man and dog have melted into the gutter. Returning to your platter of asparagus and salmon, you pour wine and sit down to a candlelit dinner.

You are alone, and all there is left for you to do is eat.

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