| Deborah dreaded spring every year it came around. Her body shuddered at the thought of all the allergens in the air, floating freely as she had to inhale air at some point and knew fits of sneezing, watery eyes, dry throat and plugged up sinuses would follow. "I don't understand why they can't just make personal bubbles for everyone to wander in when allergy season comes into play," she thought bitterly.
It was April, and the drippy, precipitation filled weather would soon pass away to a drier, sunnier climate, in which those evil spores of plant biology would be doing their reproductive dance throughout the outdoors. Deborah shook out her sopping umbrella with wretched bitterness as she slammed her apartment door shut to keep the elements out any further. As she kicked off her shoes on the plastic mat next to the hearth, she grabbed the remote and flicked on the TV, her usual ritual come precisely five minutes after five p.m.
"In other news today, a swarm of killer bees is making its way to the northeast all the way from Africa," the plasticized looking newscaster announced. Deborah filed through her mail while plodding to the couch, her ear barely tuning in to what the news was announcing. "On more for this story, here's Jennifer Michaels...Jennifer, what can we do about these bees?”
"How about stay the hell away from them for one?" Deborah mused with a sardonic laugh. "Geez, you'd think it was rocket science the way these news people talk," and with that, Deborah got up to toss out any of her junk mail into her trash.
"Well Eric, from what we've been told about these bees, there's more to them than meets the eye", came a honey-coated, throaty female voice. Deborah usually went to change into more comfortable clothes by this time, but the concern ringing through this woman's voice was enough to stop her in her tracks. She stared, wide-eyed at the television. What could possibly have her so scared?
"We've been informed these particular bees carry a sort of virus that can kill in a matter of seconds after being stung...also, any plant pollinated by these bees will carry this deadly virus, therefore all plants infected in this area should be widely avoided until they can be contained and destroyed..." the dark warning continued on, Deborah now making her way to her bedroom. ”Alrighty, fair warning, don't touch a freshly pollinated plant, like I'd want to with these killer allergies I have anyway," Deborah called out, slipping into her sweatshirt. She moved onto the kitchen, thinking that a bowl of turkey chili just might be the cure for the cold and soppy evening, when another word she heard stopped her yet again. "Zombie..."
"What the..?!?" Deborah yelped. "Zombie? Isn't that like some sort of fictional being in a bad sci-fi movie?" She listened more intently.
"Zombies Jennifer? Well that sounds just silly," Eric the plastic newscaster said jovially. He threw a frightened glance and nervous titter to his co-anchor, who looked wide-eyed and shocked.
"Well Eric, once the bees have killed, the virus has the ability to resuscitate the heart for a good two hours...doctors are unable to explain it. A person is able to move any limbs with blood still left in them, though it's not known if walking is possible. It's unsure if any particular communication would be possible from these resuscitated dead, but doctors highly discourage any contact with any person who has been either stung by the bee or has inhaled any pollen from a freshly pollinated plant the bees have been in," Jennifer said with slight trepidation. An uneasy pause filled the airwaves; a thick strand of tension seemed to suffocate any responses from the newscasters. "Cut to a commercial!" Deborah heard someone cry out, replacing concerned faces on the screen with an ad for cat food. This was all too surreal! Zombified people, from bees? From the sounds of it, it could wipe out the entire metropolitan area, with one visit to a flowering shrub.
"This is ridiculous," Deborah said aloud to herself. "There's no way to stop this from happening if it’s true! I doubt this is real, it's probably just some elaborate media hoax..." she trailed off, flicking off the TV and settling down to a nice, hot bowl of turkey chili.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Deborah awoke that morning to a fresh, dewy sun smiling down on her. She remembered back to the newscast from last night, recalling the weather was going to hit a sunny, paltry 82 degrees, and to be sure to wear breathable clothing. Deborah searched her mind and recalled the piece about the killer zombie bees, laughed to herself and got dressed for the day. The bank would surely have the air conditioning running all day, so she wasn't too worried about the humidity.
Deborah made her way to the kitchen to pack her lunch and noticed a bee in her windowsill. Her eyes widened, horrified. It was inside the house...inside the track of the window, and it wasn't moving. Wrestling with her fear, she decided to peek closer to see if it was alive. She slunk over to her cutlery drawer carefully, retrieved a plastic spoon, ready to swat at the bee in case the stirring caused it to come to life abruptly. By the time she gathered up all her courage to look in the windowsill, the bee was gone. Her eyes closed, this was just a trick her mind was playing; she was only seeing a bee because of the newscast, this was just silly. "Get a grip," she advised herself shakily, "There was no bee, and there's no such thing as killer bees, zombies or any of that”. She grabbed her lunch pack and headed out the door, ready to lock up. Right as she placed her key into the deadbolt, the bee buzzed its way out of her lunch pack and shot high into the air. Deborah watched with a mix of fear and curiosity as her eyes followed the trail of dust the bee left behind itself in its flight pattern. "Trail of dust?" Deborah thought to herself. That was highly unusual...
Her plans for work took a halt as she followed the bee to the side of the apartment complex. There, in a flowering Rhododendron bush, were a swarm of bees, the likes of them which Deborah had never seen before. They were large; larger than a normal bee, almost larger than a wasp, and a dusky green tinge covered their entire body. Immediately, Deborah knew these were the killer African bees the newscast was warning about. The bee Deborah had seen in her house led her, transfixed, toward the bush, the harried buzzing growing angrier and louder by the second. Suddenly, a puff of pollen arose from the bush, as a loud, infectious cloud and knocked Deborah to the ground. She screeched shrilly, flailing her hands throughout the air as the bees began to swim through the air around her, not stinging, but swaying almost melodically...
"Please be aware, the bees have the power to hypnotize, and will lead you to their nest. If you hear a buzzing that sounds in almost sing-song in nature, be aware and leave the premises. The mass infection is through the pollen itself, and works almost immediately. Cases have been reported that the bees will house within the corpse's orifices once deceased, so even though the virus will re-start the heart and the corpse will be able to move, blink, and grunt, the majority of the infection comes from the bees that will come out of the deceased's mouth to sting or lead to a nest of killer pollen," from somewhere, a newscast droned on someone's television throughout the complex.
"Alrighty, fair warning, don't touch a freshly pollinated plant, like I'd want to with these killer allergies I have anyway," Deborah's last fleeting thought overcame her, her screams muffling and dying in her mouth. Killer allergies indeed.
Word count: 1,348