By Jeff Baker
The ground was getting very warm, the sun was very bright and the young man in the red shorts was laying on his back, spread-eagled. He wasn’t restrained, but there was an acre of bees quietly sitting around him, leaving just an inch between himself and the bees.
He had been warned not to move.
Punishment. Slow. Devastatingly slow.
Don’t breathe hard.
He was getting scared again.
Don’t. Breathe. Hard. He forced himself to relax.
He closed his eyes and breathed slowly. He became aware of a noise, low, quiet, steady.
Humming. The bees. How many of them were there? How many bees in an acre?
He was told that if he could remain still and alive, he would be released. At least, released from the death sentence. The bees were humming. He felt it low, higher, lower, the sound coming in waves.
He saw a shadow flit across his closed eyes in the bright sunlight. A bee. Flying overhead. His eyes popped open. Just one flying. He was relieved. He glanced down at himself, trying not to move his head. He was only wearing the pair of red shorts. He wondered if he was going to get a sunburn.
He almost laughed. Sunburn. Big worry now, right?
Bees flew over. He hoped maybe they were just moving to another section.
A bee landed on his chest. Its legs tickled as it walked on his skin.
He tried not to laugh. Was it drinking his sweat?
The bee flew away. He breathed a sigh of relief.
What was it he heard in school? Bees go back to the hive and tell what they’ve seen through a kind of dance?
A moment later two bees soared overhead and landed on his chest. Followed by another.