A substantial amount of sleep had encrusted Brother Hoffman-Mole’s eyes so that when he finally awoke he had serious difficulty opening them. It was important that he opened his eyes as he had woken feeling that he knew absolutely nothing at all. His mind was blank. It had been bombarded by so many dreams that they covered each other up, leaving him unable to remember any of them and wondering if this too was a dream. Once he managed to open his eyes and have a look around he was at least able to establish that it was night time. A digital alarm clock informed him it was 3:48. The fetid air in his flat sat thickly above his bed.
The Brother always felt somewhat disorientated when he awoke from his five month hibernation but he gradually swam back to the here and now. He made a list of priorities – to first open a window, then find some food and then to eat. He pushed his frail body up with the energy he could muster. The window would not open. Whether this was because it was stiff from lack of movement or because of The Brother’s weakness, he could not be sure. Either way the window, the room’s only hope for some fresh air, would not budge.
It was at this point that Brother Hoffman-Mole heard the noise. The only noise in the stillness of a warm four o’clock in the morning was a deep buzzing noise that seemed to come from down the back of his desk. He peered down into the murky dust at the back of the desk and found a bee which was roughly the size of a ten pence piece rummaging around there.
Looking down into the piles of dust the Brother wondered what else had happened in the past five months, what other events were piled up for him to discover. He wished he had managed to wake up during the day so that he could launch himself back into life straight away. But he was stuck awake in the middle of the night now and there was no way to escape that or the bee which had doubled in size in the last few seconds.
What? How was that possible? Alarmed by this sudden growth Brother Hoffman-Mole’s first instinct was to reach for a handy rolled-up newspaper. He drew his arm back, carefully watching the bee and THWACK! As he hit the bee he remembered something five months earlier, just before he had gone to sleep. Was that… was that the same bee? It was certainly the same newspaper that he had used to hit a bee with, and the bee, stunned, had fallen down the back of his desk but…
The bee was still rummaging around in the dust, buzzing to itself. Brother Hoffman-Mole realised with horror that it had grown even more. THWACK! THWACK! THWACK! The bee remained conscious as the Brother’s blows rained down on it. THWACK! THWACK! THWACK! It continued to grow in the diminishing dust, reaching the size of a digestive biscuit. THWACK! THWACK! THWACK! The brother’s arm hurt. It was only the pain in his arm that stopped him from believing that this was a dream. The bee stopped buzzing and growing and seemed to be looking up at the Brother as if to say, “hello, can I help you?”
Brother Hoffman-Mole couldn’t deal with this on an empty stomach. If he was to fight this demon bee and win he would need to eat first. There was probably a shop open somewhere at this time of night and he pulled on the first clothes he could find in order to go out. He was reluctant to take his eye of the bee as he dressed and was distressed that it continued to grow, now similar in size to an apple, a cooking apple. It was now so big that the Brother did not dare give it a quick thwack on the way out.
In a raincoat, shorts and sandals, the Brother drew some odd looks as he hurried through the humid night. He quickly found an all-night garage and spent five pounds on crisps and breakfast snacks, night time food had not changed in the past five months. He hurried back home and as he approached his flat knew that something was wrong. A deep buzzing was audible before he had opened the door and when he did so he was in for a big surprise.
Brother Hoffman-Mole could not get into his flat. He could not get into his flat because the side of a bee was in the way. Its fuzzy, black and yellow mass now filled the whole flat and was vibrating off the walls and the floor and the ceiling. The Brother had no idea what to do now – the situation was a long way past thwacking. He did what anyone would do at quarter to five in the morning – he sat down outside and ate some crisps. There was surely nothing to be done until the morning and he was not quite sure who should be approached for help when dealing with strange, growing bees. Anyway, his phone was inside.
Brother Hoffman-Mole crunched his way through a packet of crisps, listening to the buzzing. He would check at regular intervals and found the bee pressing closer up against the walls of his flat, still defying rational explanation and growing ever bigger. The Brother fished for explanations – Had the bee escaped from a dream and followed him into the land of the awake? Was it perhaps a zombie bee which feasted on anything it could find? Had all bees become like this in the five months he had been asleep? And then more questions came to mind – Would it eat the walls of his flat and escape and would that be his fault? How much honey could it produce? Why couldn’t it just go away?
And as he had that thought the air shook with a loud
and the buzzing stopped. The crisp-full Brother stood and walked anxiously to the door. He opened it slowly and it creaked into the early-morning flat, the first sunlight beginning to creep in. Oddly, the first thing he noticed was that the room smelt much fresher than it had when he first woke up. The second thing he noticed was the dead bee on the floor.
It was difficult to miss it, taking up, as it did, most of the flat. But it was no longer the oversized buzzing monstrosity it had been. It lay deflated and split from one end to the other, a gaping hole into the beast. Dust was spilling out of it like a burst hoover bag. It’s fuzzy body now looked like a strange rug rolled up on his floor.
The Brother made his way over to the bee and began work on clearing away the dust-stuffed carcass.