The summer is filled with buzzing—weed-whackers, motorized toys, motorcycles in the distance…and insects. Most of the insects are nothing more than an annoyance; these are the house flys, the beetles bumping endlessly against the screen, the cicadas in the trees. Then you have the more sinister insects, the ones that bite and sting and burrow in your skin and menace the world. These insects produce a different, more ominous buzz. A low pitched, creeping sort of vibration that drones on like industrial machinery.
I woke from a power nap one afternoon to such a sound and jumped to attention. Though usually a slow-riser, I was immediately alert. Natural selection kicked in and flight was immediately engaged. I skittered into the next room and peered around the corner. Circling the living room was a massive hornet. His lean, striped abdomen bobbed gently, like a boxer’s power hand cocked, waiting for the moment to land the hay maker. This was the conquistador of hornets. He had ventured into the new world of my living room in search of food and nest building material—hornet gold. He was not to be trusted and I knew right away he was no Quetzalcoatl but a yellow and black demon. After several attempts to kill the fiend, I finally dealt a death blow when he became trapped against a sunny window.
I should have known there were more barbarian predators lurking nearby. When I discovered the nest my reaction was hardly one of shock. It was Saturday, errand day, and I was in the mode of checking things off the list. This would be one more short term goal achieved, I thought, as I shook the can of hornet spray. The unsuspecting hornets were hard at work constructing their fortress where, no doubt, they were raising an army intent on destroying the human race. I said a prayer. I raised my can and pressed the button.
Their skinny bodies dropped from the nest like ash from the sky during a wildfire. Convinced they were helpless, I knocked the nest to ground and watched the last few evil bugs writhe slowly as their dismal lives faded away. The world was once again safe for democracy.
Just as I was about to go inside, a hornet returned; he must have been out getting a pack of smokes or something. He flew around confused, circling the spot where his home used to be. Where was the nest? Where was his family? He looked to the ground, and with horror, spotted them all scattered and stiff on the concrete, drenched in poison. He thought of all the mistakes he’d made, the selfishness and sin of his younger years. Why did those innocents have to be the ones to die? Why had he been spared? Why had the God of all Hornets forsaken him?
He looked at me. I looked back at him, imagined the hatred in his eyes. I watched him swear to avenge this senseless genocide. I felt my fingers loosen from the can. I let it drop to the ground and ran inside.
What had I done? I’d made a martyr of the colony. But I had to do it! It was them or me! I had to defend my home; it was survival of the fittest and damn it, I’M the fittest! But still. I’d created a hornet holocaust.
Now every day when I go outside, I have to do it with eyes in the back of my head. I know he’s there, in the shadows of the gutter, or inside some hollow log nearby, just waiting, waiting for the right time to attack. Or maybe he’s after every human he can find. Hundreds of good men, women and children are feeling the wrath of my actions while peacefully sunbathing or mowing the lawn. Like the hornet himself, my suffering is not physical, but psychological—the pain of guilt.
I will live the rest of my summer in a deep paranoia, never more than an arm’s length from my precious hornet spray. He haunts my dreams as if a Mel Gibson character.
There is no hope for me. Save yourselves.