Hiverson emotionally retreated into himself under the stinging words of the others. Social errors were very hard for bees to deal with; after all, colonies are very closed circuits, and one mishap could result in a negative reputation among the hive. “Silver-Honey Hiverson”, the colony would soon be calling him. That is, if the colony survived; at this point, this seemed doubtful.
“Children, listen.” Everyone stopped laughing immediately and turned back towards the center. The Queen’s sweet voice had finally taken precedence over the chaotic chamber. Embarrassed as he was, Hiverson was glad that he’d helped her.
“The Silver Honey may be a myth, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a grain of truth to it. Even if the honey is a myth, there may be something else up north – something that can stop the Skells. This hardworking drone may not have offered us a cure, but he’s offered us a chance. After all, we managed to stop the Skells somehow ten generations ago, did we not?
Her logic was more or less sound, and the bees continued to listen.
“For this reason, we make a proposal. Three bees will travel north and search for the hive with the Silver Honey -”
“Wait a minute… where would the hive even be?” a bee pointed out. “I mean, it’d probably look different somehow, but we can’t just search the entire North for it, can we?”
“Oh, IknowIknowIknow!” Another bee hopped up and down erratically, as if he was about to explode. From the bee’s energy and tone of voice, Hiverson recognized him as Beeter.
“Oh, do you know something of the hive’s whereabouts, Beeter?” the queen inquired.
“Yeahyeahyeah! So, I was outside this one morning, and I’d already collected the day’s share of honey, so I decided, ‘Hey, I should fly around a little and see the North!’ So I flew around and around and then I saw this weird hive. It looked like a regular hive, but silver! I wanted to go check it out, but I decided not to because it was almost time for lunch. So I flew home and had lunch – the honey was delicious that day!”
“Wait a moment. You flew to the North without permission or accompaniment? Do you have any idea how dangerous that was? You could’ve been attacked by the Blood Cardinal, or possibly by something even worse!”
“Yeah, I could have asked, but that would be boring! I’d have to fly slowly, and then I couldn’t go as far.”
“…*sigh*. We’ll discuss this incident later, Beeter. In any case, do you remember the direction of this Silver Hive?”
“Yeah! It was in the North!”
“We know it was in the North. Be more specific!” The Queen’s patience was being stretched to its limit. Beeter tended to have that effect.
“Okay. It was, uh… itwasthisway!” Beeter launched into a frenetic waggle-dance. He moved so quickly that it was almost impossible to read his movements.
“Slow down, for God’s sake!” the Queen shouted.
Beeter stopped for a moment. “…ugh, fine. You don’t have to be so grumpy about it, you know.” He resumed at a slower pace. It was still much faster than a typical waggle-dance, but now the other bees could interpret the specific direction.
“Good, good.” The Queen calmed down a bit, although she was still frazzled. “Now, as we were saying, three bees will travel north to search for the Silver Hive. The rest of us will try to manage the situation as best we can; we cannot send more, unfortunately, as the colony could lose stability if too many bees are lost to the Skells. Dearest child, as this undertaking is your idea, would you do us the honor of being the group leader?”
Hiverson didn’t have very much to consider. After all, this was his idea, and he couldn’t back out of it now. Besides, he owed it to the colony to see the situation through to its end. “Yes, my Queen. I will do my best.”
“I’ll go too!” Beeter piped up. “Better than staying here, after all. I can’t wait to fly all ov- I mean, explore the Silver Hive!”
“Good, good. Who shall be our third volunteer?” The Queen looked around at the assembly of bees. No one said a word for the longest time; the plan still seemed like a fool’s venture at best and a death wish at worst, especially with the Blood Cardinal prowling the skies.
Finally, a small, timid voice emerged from Hiverson’s right. “M-my Queen?” It was Barnabee’s voice; Hiverson had become so engrossed in the situation that he had almost forgotten about him.
The Queen turned her head towards Barnabee. “Yes, child? Will you venture forth for our hive as well?”
Barnabee took a step back. He was shaking now, just as he had been when he told Hiverson the bad news. Hiverson didn’t blame him; this would not be a safe journey, and in all truth he was scared too.
“Don’t worry, Barnabee,” Hiverson whispered. You don’t have to do this. Someone else will join the group, and then we’ll find that honey. You’ll be fine, and Charlie will be fine too.”
These words seemed to resonate with Barnabee. His shaking slowed, and he took a step forward. He looked up at the Queen.
“O-of course I’ll go,” he declared. “My friend has the Sk-skells, and… and I’m not going to let him die! I-I’ll do whatever it takes!”
“Wonderful! Now venture forth, my children, and make our colony proud!”
The other bees began cheering. The cheers made Hiverson feel good, although he knew that the same skepticism was still prevalent among the colony. Beeter danced the waggle-dance again, and the three bees flew to the North with the steady wind at their backs.
The first five hours were relatively calm. The wind remained steady, and the weather remained clear. There was no sign of the Blood Cardinal, despite the fact that this was his active season. Nor, for that matter, were there signs of any other birds in the area – no nests were in the branches, and no birdsong was ambient. This was normal, or at least it had been for the past five generations… Hiverson didn’t want to think about what happened to the birds that didn’t flee when the Blood Cardinal came. Despite this, though, the group’s spirits were up, and Hiverson believed that they would be able to get the Silver Honey without encountering the Cardinal.
Hiverson used the time to discuss the situation with the group. Everyone knew well enough what had happened, of course; he simply had an emotional need to “sort out” the situation in his own head. As it turned out, the others had the same need, and conversation was maintained relatively steady – at least when Beeter wasn’t flying ahead of the group. Barnabee constantly voiced his worries about Charlie – that is, he constantly worried about the whole situation, but Charlie was first and foremost in his list of worries.
In the middle of the sixth hour, clouds began to form. Soon they covered the sky, and the wind began to increase in speed. Rain was coming, and Hiverson knew that it would be best to seek shelter before the storm. Beeter protested – he wanted to “outfly” the rain – but after protests from Hiverson and Barnabee he decided to cooperate. The group decided to rest on a tree branch for the time being. When the weather cleared up, they would continue.
The rain began to fall, increasing in magnitude from a light drizzle to an all-out torrent. The area outside of the tree branch was obscured by the thick droplets.
“So, Beeter, how close are we to the Silver Hive?” Hiverson asked.
“We’re pretty close, I think. I remember that the last time I saw the Silver Hive, it was in the middle of a forest area with trees that looked like these.”
“…Are you sure? That doesn’t seem like a very sound judgment.”
“Yes, I’m sure! Come on, Hiverson, when have I ever steered you wrong?”
“Well, there was the time where you asked me to –“
“I meant in terms of navigation.”
“Oh. Well… I can’t really deny you in that case; you are the best waggle-dancer in the hive. Besides, you’re the only bee in the colony who’s even seen the Silver Hive… I’m sorry, Beeter. I’ll trust your judgment.”
“Good! Don’t worry, guys. I’ll get us to that Silver Hive in no time! Then we’ll make everything better, and the Queen will give us bee medals!”
“…Since when does she do that for anybee?”
“I don’t know, but she’ll definitely do it for us!”
“…Riiiight. So how are you holding up, Barnabee?”
“Wh-what if there’s no Honey? W-what if this was all a lie?”
“Calm down, Barnabee -”
Barnabee began shaking violently. “I-If there’s no Honey, then they’ll all die! The Qu-queen and all my b-brothers will die!”
“If there’s no Honey then Charlie will die! They’ll all die and-and it will be my fault!” Barnabee screamed. “It’ll all be my fault! All my -”
Beeter walked up to Barnabee and buzzed in his face. “Get a grip, Barnabee! None of this was your fault!”
Barnabee temporarily stopped shaking out of surprise. Hiverson pushed Beeter aside; Beeter meant well, but he clearly wasn’t cut out for this situation.
“Barnabee, don’t blame this on yourself. We couldn’t have known that this would happen. No one blames you for the Skells.”
“…I know, but… I feel like I could have prevented it somehow. I feel like-like if I’d done something differently -”
“It’s alright. The cause doesn’t matter now. All that matters is dealing with the problem in any way we can.
“But – but if there’s no Silver Honey – if-if there’s no cure… then…”
“Barnabee, there’s a cure out there somewhere. We’ve stopped the Skells before, and we can do it again. We will do it again. Even if there’s no Honey, there’s a cure out there. There has to be.”
“Listen. It’s been a stressful day for everyone in the colony. We’ll look for the Silver Hive tomorrow. For now, let’s get some rest. We need to refocus ourselves.”
With that, the bees closed their eyes. The steady patter of the rain filled their heads as they drifted off to sleep.
When Hiverson and co. woke up the next morning, the rain had stopped. The leaves on the trees were damp and covered with shimmering droplets, as was the grass on the ground. The sky was now as clear as it was when the group had set out, and it was painted a light cyan by the morning sun.
Beeter danced the waggle-dance again, and the group set out. There was very little talk this time – there wasn’t much left to say. Beeter periodically gave directions based on his memory, but aside from that no one said much.
An hour into the path, the group came into a clearing and Beeter suddenly stopped. He stared straight ahead at an old white tree, hovering in place.
“B-Beeter?” asked Barnabee. “What’s wrong?”
“I… I don’t understand.”
“What is it?” asked Hiverson. “Do you see something strange?”
“No. It’s… it’s what I can’t see that worries me.”
“I can’t see… the Silver Hive. It was supposed to be right there, on the far-left branch of that tree, but it’s not there.”
“B-Beeter, are you sure this is the right place?”
“Yes, of course I’m sure! I saw it right here! It was on this exact tree, on that exact branch!”
“Then where could it have…” Hiverson had a sick feeling growing in the pit of his honey-stomach. He slowly turned his head downwards. What he saw made him queasy.
“The hive… is… down there.” The others looked down.
Below the branch that Beeter had noted, the broken remnants of a silver hive lay on the ground. Scattered around it were globules of a strange silver liquid – and the fractured exoskeletons of the bees that used to live in the hive. Some of the bees were still struggling to move their broken bodies – whatever had happened here, it hadn’t happened long ago.
Hiverson was shocked. What had happened here? What could have done such a thing? He had a suspicion, but he didn’t like it. Anyway, the honey was down there; they couldn’t turn back now.
“C…Come on, guys,” he stuttered. “We need to go down there and… collect the honey.”
The others reluctantly agreed, and the group glided down towards the wreckage. They landed and began to drink the honey, storing it in their honey-stomachs. All around them were the remains of the bees that used to live in the Silver Hive. They looked like regular honeybees, but they had light grey stripes instead of black ones.
Hiverson had just collected enough honey to fill his honey-stomach when he heard a voice.
>O PII AUY
Hiverson didn’t recognize the voice, nor did he understand what was being said. He didn’t need to know either of these things, though. Based on what he had seen, he already knew what the voice belonged to.
He turned towards the others. “W-we have to leave. Now.”
The others understood the danger as well. The group flew away from the wreckage as fast as they could.
Hiverson saw a dark, round shape leap out of the white tree. The figure opened its wings and began to glide towards them. There could be no doubt about what it was now; the shape was of a bird, and in these times there was only one bird that lived anywhere near the hive.
The Blood Cardinal had seen them, and if they were caught it would kill them just like everything else that it came across.
>O TOII HOII AUY
Hiverson felt the Silver Honey sloshing in his honey-stomach. The group couldn’t fly at full speed while carrying the honey, and even if they could, the Cardinal could still outfly them.
They would have to hide instead.
“Guys, we have to break off the path and hide somewhere.”
“Wh-where can we hide?” Barnabee inquired hastily. “Th-that thing could see us a mile off!”
Hiverson looked around. The Cardinal was closing in quickly; if it got too close, then it would be too late to hide. He decided upon the first potential hiding place that he saw.
“In there! Quick!”
The group flew into a hole near the top of the same tree where they had taken refuge the previous day. The Cardinal followed them to the very outside of the hole but could not squeeze itself in.
It screeched after them, thrusting its body ineffectually against the tree.
>O HKUT AUYOI OK QEIOI
>O TOII HOII AUY
The bees flew deeper into the hollow and regrouped. The Cardinal’s slams reverberated through the hollow as they spoke.
“S-so… What do we do now?” asked Barnabee.
“Well, I don’t know,” Beeter replied. “What do you guys think we should do?”
“Sh-should we… wait for it to leave?” Barnabee suggested.
Hiverson looked back at the dark red figure bludgeoning itself against the side of the tree. He shook his head sadly. “That thing isn’t-”
“-going to leave. It’ll keep trying to pursue us until it kills either us or itself.”
“So let’s just wait for it to run out of energy!” Beeter piped up. “It’s going to wipe itself out eventually if it keeps slamming itself into the side of the tree!”
Hiverson looked back out. The bird was bruised from its repeated attacks, and its head was beginning to bleed. Despite this, however, it kept attacking.
Hiverson turned back to face Beeter. “Sure, but… how long will that take? That thing is extremely resilient for a bird, and-”
“-we don’t have much time to wait. The Skells infected 350 bees back at the colony in a single day, remember?”
“We need to hurry, or everyone will-”
“Don’t say it, Hiverson. I know what’s going on here. I know how important this is. You don’t have to tell me anything.”
“H-hey guys, over here!” Barnabee had wandered deeper into the hollow while Beeter and Hiverson were talking. “I th-think that I’ve found a way out!”
Hiverson and Beeter glanced at each other, nodded, and flew deeper into the hollow.
After a while the path opened into a sort of “clearing”: a tall, roughly cylindrical chamber. The height of the chamber made Hiverson dizzy, but Beeter was not impressed. Barnabee stood in the center of the chamber, looking up at a hole near the top of the wall.
“Th-the path here was straight through the tree, I think. Is-is that right, Beeter?”
Beeter immediately nodded.
“S-so that means… that means that that hole… is on the opposite side of the hole we came in through, right?”
Beeter nodded again.
Hiverson saw what Barnabee was suggesting. “So that means… we could sneak away from the Cardinal through here!”
“Y-yeah. At-at least, that’s – that’s the best idea I could think of.”
Hiverson considered this idea. It was not without its risks; if the Cardinal saw them, there would be no guarantee that they would be able to escape a second time. He turned back and listened through the tunnel they had entered the chamber from. The slams were still audible, but just barely. Hiverson turned back to face Beeter and Barnabee.”
“That’s… a great idea, Barnabee. Let’s do it.”
Beeter indicated the colony’s direction, and the group flew up towards the hole. Beeter and Barnabee began flying towards the ground. They stopped just above the grass, then turned around.
Slowly and carefully, he flew out of the hole and descended towards the ground. He was about halfway down when he suddenly stopped, hovering in midair.
“What is it, Hiverson?” Beeter asked.
Hiverson didn’t respond. He seemed to be intently focused on something.
Beeter was dismissive. “Come on, Hiverson, let’s get out of here. This tree is boring.
Barnabee, however, was concerned about his friend’s focus. “W-what is it? Did-did you s-s-see something? Is-is something wrong?”
Hiverson suddenly darted to the ground. He flew under the grass below the tree.
“We have to hide,” he declared as he passed the group. “Now.”
The group followed him into the grass. As soon as they entered, the Cardinal swooped around the side of the tree.
>O ZOOO JIW OQ
>AUY FEQW KOGI
>O TOII HOII AUY
The thing was stained with its own blood, and it was bruised in several places. Its flight pattern was off-kilter; it was as if the bird had been rolled down a hill several times and was then forced to fly. Despite its morbid condition, however, its eyes were still shining with determination.
Hiverson turned back to the group. “We have to get out of here,” he whispered. “Better, which way is the hive?”
“Well, it was on a tree branch in that direction, but then the Cardinal knocked–”
“This is no time for snide remarks!” Hiverson rebuked. “We have to get out of here now, or it will see us!”
“Okay, okay. The colony is… this way.”
The bees began slowly making their way through the grass, leaving the Cardinal and the tree in the distance.
Cole is 15 years old. Cole has Asperger’s and is this site’s first young adult monthly contributor. Cole will write about a variety of topics. He started High School this year at an IT specialty center. He dearly loves pet sitting, and is a total pet whisperer!