The Ice Hive
The wind roared outside the tent as Dr. Terry Silva pulled on her boots.
She ran outside to the waiting jeep.
“It’s like a freezer out here,” she said, climbing into the passenger seat. “Is it true what they said about finding the queen?”
Peter Matthews, her graduate assistant, smiled and said, “It’s all true, doc. She’s big, she’s frozen, she’s dormant. Oh, and she’s got about a million workers frozen in there with her.”
“Dormant? Have they verified that? She’s revivable?” If what Peter said was true, she would be completely vindicated. And Russell would have to grovel at her feet.
Peter pulled up in front of a large ice cave. The wind continued to howl and blow snow horizontally. Terry’s eyes were stung with ice crystals. She got out of the jeep and ran into the darkness of the cave.
When her eyes adjusted, she could see people running around in obvious panic.
“What is it?” she asked as a man with a headlamp and wild eyes tried to shove past her.
“She’s thawed! They’re all thawed!” he pushed Terry out of the way and stumbled out of the cave.
Terry felt a panic rising in her gut. If the bees were no longer dormant, they’d be looking for immediate food. There was no telling how long they’d been dormant in the Arctic ice. The scent of human flesh would send them into a feeding frenzy. But who would have thawed them?
She staggered further down into the hole. Why had she let him come? Did she want to ensure he would be there in her moment of triumph? To see the look on his face when it was finally her, and not him, bathing in the adulation of the crew?
Terry could now hear the awful buzzing of the giant bees echoing up from deeper in the cave.
She could feel them coming. The air vibrated with the beating of their leathery wings.
From behind her came a small rumble. The ice shelf was unstable. Shifting.
Terry turned to flee the cave but was stopped by the blinding light of someone’s head lamp.
“Leaving so soon, Terry?”
She recognized the voice. “Let me by, Russell.”
“Oh, but I thought you wanted to go down and feed your big, frozen bees.”
“Turn off your head lamp, Russell, so I can see you.”
“Not a chance. I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate all your hard work and research on the possible genesis of the colony. Quite fascinating, really.”
“Russell, everyone knows this is my project. Peter will – “
“Oh, Peter. Yes, well, he had a small accident. National Geo here I come…”
The ice shelf quaked and rumbled. From below them in the cave, Terry could hear the approaching swarm.
“I’ve got the fail safe detonator with me, Russell.”
Russell switched off his head lamp. “My dear, I don’t believe you’d bury us both in this ice just so I could be stopped from stealing your big find.”
Inside the pocket of her parka, Terry pushed the button on the detonator.
There was a bright flash as the magnesium of the thermite charge ignited. Russell was blown forward into Terry and knocked her back toward the darkened hole.
They both turned their head lamps on.
“Light won’t last long,” Russell said.
“Neither will we, you asshole.”
Below them in the darkness, the bees sped upward.
Well, this is one that didn’t quite work out. In keeping with the spirit of the blog, I make every effort to get a story out each day. Sometime, life gets in the way of that happening. The story of the frozen bees will make another appearance in another story. I’m going to keep after it.
Photo by Patrick Wallace