I awoke late in the morning. Blue gray light weakly spilled into my bedroom window, heralding the first of the April showers. The light splashed against the walls and ultimately against my face. Generally speaking, it’s better than an alarm. You can ignore noise, shut it up even, but it’s hard to shut up the world. The light bleeds through and in between your eyelids and wont relent. True, you could always turn over to the other side, but light will always find something to bounce off of. When the world get hold of you, it becomes a losing battle.
Once my daily battle was official lost, I started up my daily routine. I turned on my desk lamp and fired up the old Prolinia. She was sluggish with old age and wouldn’t awake and be useful for at least twenty minutes. As it started up, making her familiar crackling whine, I shuffled off into the kitchen to make myself my first coffee of the day. I was also not instantly useful right after waking.
I never had a discriminating tongue and therefore never cared how good or bad my coffee was, instant taster’s choice did just fine. I finished mixing the sugar into the fake coffee and was already planning to work on the Ryder piece. I was investigating a possible claim that a certain junior congressman from Maine was addicted to cocaine and had a nasty habit at that. I still had two weeks before it needed to be completely finished and approved by my editor, but I had everything I needed and it’d be good to get it out of the way. I never was one for deadlines, I either take care of it right away or not at all. I plopped a slice of bread into the toaster and waited for it to burn. I had an odd liking for burnt food, not smoking and almost on fire, but chard food. It’s good because it’s bad. It’s an odd thing, something I never could explain exactly. The toast popped up, black with dark brown lines running down it and I wolfed it down as I turned the corner, going back into my tiny home office. That’s when I saw it, a large bumble bee hovering and buzzing away, its wings fluttering like a wild chainsaws. It was the size of a bear, looked far less welcoming, its multipliable black eyes swirling like hellish black holes.
It was a fear I concealed from my co workers and most of my friends and I had right to be afraid of them. I was deathly allergic to bee stings. I had learned so at a young age. I had nearly died, my airway swelled shut, trying to fuse together. My best friend, Arthur Wright, stood there uselessly. His fingers grasping his hair, nearly pulling it out, apparently not knowing what to do. A stranger had stumbled upon us, Arthur had apparently been scream without either of us knowing it. The stranger raced my dying body to an emergency room. I awoke ten hours later cradled in my mother’s arms. I had ample right to be afraid and there it was the sum of my fears hovering round and around in erratic circles bouncing its body against the brim of the desk lamp and the screen of the old Prolinia, which was awake and active. I slowly backed away as if the bee were a growling pitbull and it might as well could have been. I then went about the house opening windows, hoping to entice the damn thing to leave, which seemed more and more unlikely as the morning rain raged. It wouldn’t leave of its own volition. I would have to kill or capture it, neither sounded enticing for me because both meant directly interacting with it. Killing it seemed the better choice because killing could be done from a distance. I might not even have to be in the room if my aim was good enough. But no, the bee hovered in front of my Prolinia as if it’d read my mind and stated, ‘Try it and she dies.’
The Prolinia was very old and near impossible to fix. The necessary parts were out there, but every time it broke down, I got harassed and brow beat about how I shouldn’t waste my time with it. I get pamphlets thrown in my face about lightening fast refresh rates and processing speeds I have not once in my life needed to do anything lightening fast and I honestly doubt I ever will. I’ve actually encountered people who’d refuse to fix it, some who’d refuse to touch it as if old computers had contagious diseases. I was, plainly put, very attached to that machine and I’d sooner injure myself then injure it and somehow the bee bastard knew it.
If I hit the computer, it might break and I could have it repair, but every time it breaks is a risk of losing something far more important, the information inside. Years and years of stories; the first story for my college paper about the fire in the arts lab, the hundred or so dog show stories I had to do at the beginning of my professional career, my profile of a corrupt Vermont senator that won me the right to do whatever the hell I felt like at the magazine. Me and that computer had done a lot together. She had been my first computer and we had grown accustomed to each other. Only I knew its idiosyncrasies, like how you had to hit the G button just right or you’ll get a GH on the screen or how the restart option had become a second off button.
I weighted the options and it seemed like there were few. If I attacked the bee, I’d run the risk of damaging the computer, if I didn’t take care of it, I ran the risk of the computer over heating. She’d be damned if I did and damned if I didn’t. The third option and least desirable, but ultimately the safest in regard to the computer, was to go in for more close quarters combat. If I did, I wouldn’t go in without protection. My mind raced through an inventory of all my possessions, trying to think what I could use to separate my flesh from the bees stinger and what I could use to crash it before it has a chance to sting. I settled on a leather jacket I owned but never wore because it made me look like a jackass, a spatula from the kitchen and a small bottle of cheap cologne to douse the wings and make it easier to strike it. Once I suited up and wielded my weapons, I took a deep breath and charged in halfway and lost my nerve. As fast as I charged the thing, I rushed back out. I may have imagined it, but I could swear I heard laughter in the flutter of the bee’s wings.
Imagined or not, the sound of it gave me a second breath. I gritted my teeth and rushed the room again. I sprayed the bee with the cologne and expected it to fall back, but it didn’t. It fiercely buzzed forward towards me and I realized how feeble an attack strategy I had. I swung the spatula wildly and managed to hit absolutely nothing. When I calmed myself, I realized I didn’t know where the little bastard was. I couldn’t see it, I couldn’t hear it, it was lurking somewhere, waiting to take out its rage on me and when it did, dread rushed through my veins as did the bee’s toxin.
I knew I was stung long before I felt the sting on the base of my neck. My Eppie Pen, why the hell didn’t I have that handy. I tried my best to keep my head level, which was predictably hard in the face of death. With every step I took I could feel the bee's’ poison rush through my veins, inflaming everything it passed. I could feel my blood thicken to a molasses consistency or maybe my veins were the ones thickening. I couldn’t tell and didn’t care, I could feel the air thicken too. My lungs screaming for more air than I could give them. Soon I was forgetting the layout of my own apartment, I was so panicked. I rushed about the kitchen, thinking I might have put the damn pen there. Apparently I was wrong. I started pulling drawers out and dumping their contents on the floor, hoping the pen would slide into view. I remember asking myself, “Where the hell would someone put something like that.” That would have been a funny statement in a less dire situation. I collapsed to my knees and started sucking in air and feeling my lungs protest that it still wasn’t enough. As my eyes watered and bulged, I finally remembered I kept my Eppie pen in my medicine cabinet. As I fought for consciousness, I crawled on my hands and knees, every inch felt like a mile and I let out what might have been a scream, had my throat been clear and collapsed to the floor.
I awoke hours later, with my Eppie pen hanging limply from my thigh, the plunger dropped and the life saving medicine dispensed. I looked about the apartment, but it appeared empty. “Hello!” I called out. In the next room, I could hear the Prolinia sound off a chime. “Crap, she’s been on all this time.” I said to the empty apartment. I rushed into my tiny home office and found that the Prolinia’s cooling fan purred placidly as the windows logo bounced slowly across a black backdrop. Resting at the base of her keyboard was the cap to my Eppie pen.
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