If there is one thing I hate in the summer, it is insects. I don’t know why, but when it is hot our small town is flooded by all sorts of creepy crawlies.
It could be because of the various lakes nearby or that our town is nestled between thick forests.
Every summer things are bad, but this year’s heatwave made it even worse. Flies and mosquitoes were swarming my house almost since the beginning of July. Every time I’d open a window, you could bet that half a dozen of them made their way inside. Don’t even get me started on the spiders.
Worst of all were the bees. I don’t know where they all came from, but for a month now they are plaguing our town.
During the first week no one was worried about it. Most people guessed that the heat had sped up the breeding process but soon enough their numbers would thin out. Instead, more of them started appearing. It wasn’t long before bee stings became a common occurrence when going outside.
Stranger even was that a second, different type of bee appeared. They had bigger bodies that were a bit too long, and were much more aggressive than regular bees.
At first, people thought they were hornets or wasps, but that wasn’t the case. They were some type of local mutation.
Things got especially dangerous at the local nursing home or kindergarten. The elderly and the little kids were too slow to notice the bees and many of them got stung.
Insect spray became as common as bread and water in our town due to those aggressive bees. Even I got a can.
Two weeks ago, this epidemic claimed its first victim. It was a middle-aged woman, who went out running. When her husband protested she disregarded the warning and said she’d be fine.
Her body was found on the same day. A local farmer found it in a ditch near a hiking trail early in the evening. No one knew what had happened. When the man approached the body, it was teeming with bees. Her face and arms were covered in bee stings and almost swollen beyond recognition.
When my friend Robert went missing I was worried instantly. He was precisely the type who’d ignore the warnings and the danger.
His girlfriend Sue called me Saturday morning. She’d not heard from him since Friday afternoon. This wasn’t like him at all, she said. With all those bees around only God knew what had happened. I calmed her down and told her was most likely busy playing some new game.
Once I hang up, I tried to call Robert. No one answered. I dropped him a message on WhatsApp and saw that he’d not been online since yesterday. That really wasn’t like him, he was the type who was online constantly.
I drove to his place right away. I rang the doorbell a few times but got no answer. His neighbor soon called out to me and told me he’d not seen my friend all day. The last he’d seen him was yesterday.
I felt a lump in my throat. I asked the old man if he could have a look out and call me if he saw my friend come home. He was friendly enough and said he’d give me a call.
Back at home I had no idea what to do. I was about to call the cops, but what should I tell them? Robert had been out drinking with friends all night for all I knew. He’d probably drop me a WhatsApp message soon enough asking what I was so worried about.
Two hours later I got a call from his neighbor. The old man told Robert had come home. His clothes were dirty though and he looked scruffy and exhausted. Robert didn’t even react when the old man called out to him. He went inside without saying a word.
I was so glad to hear he was alright. I tried calling him, but again I couldn’t reach him. My messages stayed unread too.
Shit, what if something had happened and he’d passed out?
When I arrived, it took Robert a little while, but he opened the door. He didn’t say a word and stood there, staring at me.
“Hey man, you alright? I was worried about you.”
He just kept staring at me. For a moment he opened his mouth as if to say something, only to quickly close it again. Finally, he stepped aside to let me in. As I walked past him I noticed how bad he smelled.
“Dude, what the hell did you do last night? You should take a shower or something!”
No reaction. Robert quietly closed the front door and walked straight towards the living room.
Something was off about the way he moved. He seemed to take a short pause before each step as if to think about it. His feet shuffled over the floor and looked as if he dragged his body forward. Why was he so exhausted?
“Dude, are you sure you’re alright?” I asked as I followed him.
Instead of answering he sat down on his couch and kept staring at me.
I was about to call him out on his behavior when I heard the buzzing of bees. I couldn’t say where it was coming from and started scanning the room. I was sick and tired of the damned bees by now. I’d gotten so many bee stings that I killed them on sight. I couldn’t see any though.
I suddenly felt a stinging pain on my arm and noticed that one of the weirder, bigger bees had stung me. There was already another one coming towards me. Where the hell were they coming from?
It sat down on my arm and for a moment it seemed as if it was looking straight into my eyes.
That was it. I got out the can from my backpack and started to spray it. Wouldn’t let it sting me too!
At this moment Robert started to squeak. It was this weird high-pitched sound, and in surprise I turned towards him. He’d gotten up from his seat.
I broke up because he came tumbling towards me and crashed his body into mine with full force.
“What the fuck is going on with you? Calm down, man!”
His answer was more of the angry squeaking. He started to push me to the ground and in that instant I heard the buzzing of the bees again. It was even louder this time, but I still couldn’t see them. Where the hell was it coming from?
“Dude, stop, enough with this,” I said as I pushed him off me. Before I could get up he came at me again. By now I had enough of this and pushed him back hard with both hands.
There was the sickening, wet sound of something breaking. Then Robert fell backward to the ground.
“Oh shit, man, you alright? I didn’t mean to-“
There was the buzzing sound again, this time loud enough to drown out my voice. This time I knew where it was coming from. It was from inside my friend. I watched in horror as a swarm of bees burst from his open mouth and flew straight at me.
I screamed and started to spray them, but there were too many. It was must have been dozens of them. They were all around me. I felt countless bee stings all over my arms and on the back of my neck. In my fury I used the spray almost at random, spraying everywhere.
The air in Robert’s small living room became heavy with insecticides in a matter of minutes. As I fought the bees I saw Robert’s body shake and tremble as if he was suffering a stroke. He was squeaking again, tried to run from the room, but crashed straight against the wall.
I saw more and more of the bees crawl from his collapsed body only to die right on the spot.
I tore myself from the sight and ran outside. I collapsed on the grass, coughing and swaying at the last bees that still stuck to my body.
Soon the police arrived. Robert’s neighbor must have heard our fight and got worried.
I told them what had happened, but they didn’t believe me.
While they interrogated me an ambulance was called. As they treated my many bee stings, one of the police officers approached me. He was clearly disturbed by what he’d seen.
He told me my friend was dead. When I started freaking out, he assured me it wasn’t due to our fight or the insect spray. No, he said, my friend must have been dead for a while.
This made no sense. I told the man again that my friend had come home only an hour or two ago.
The man nodded, but the paramedics had said that Robert’s body was in a state of advanced decay. There was no doubt that he’d been dead for almost a day.
When I gave my testimony at the station the next day, I learned more about the whole thing.
The police officer opposite me frowned once I’d finished my story. He said he’d typically stay quiet about these things, but what they’d found during the autopsy was just too weird.
My friend’s head, as well as his body, was covered in holes and tunnels. It looked almost like the honeycombs in a beehive.
It was clear that Robert had died on Friday afternoon near the forest the man said. The strange bees must have then started to convert his body into a hive.
No one could explain how he made his way home though.
It is now a week later, but there is one thing I can’t stop thinking about. What if it was those bees?
What if they dug into his body to control him and move their new hive here, right into the middle of our small town?