WHAT IT IS…really!
It was the first time Graham was out of the office in some months and this conference in Missouri promised to be both enjoyable and enlightening. INSECT contracted Frank James and micro robotics innovator Duce Barnaby to develop miniature pollinators and a demonstration of their progress near Plot 82 was to take place in the morning. Graham laid stretched out on one of the motel’s queen sized beds enjoying the fact he had nothing to do all afternoon. The room was stuccoed from top to bottom with dark wood trim strategically placed about the room to give it that quasi-mexican look. In the middle of the ceiling was a faux-gold light fixture surrounded by a gaudy ceiling medallion whose ivory colored paint was cracked and chipped. A soft knock on the door jarred Graham from his trance and when his invitations for entry were ignored he slipped off the bed and opened the door. A blind man was profusely apologizing for having knocked on the wrong door and as he and his small horse backed away, a yellowjacket, bigger than most, flew into the room, unnoticed.
No. 1 landed on the purplish velvet curtain, crawled to the top and surveyed the room as Graham reclined back onto the bed. In the far corner of the room a wooden lamp harbouring a single incandescent bulb surrounded by a translucent lampshade was what No. 1 was looking for. The warmth from the bulb would hasten the production of a paralyzing venom No. 1 would inject into Graham’s cornea. With Graham now catnapping, No. 1 flew across the room and nestled into the lampshade, his body absorbing the warmth from the bulb.
No. 1 was ready! Crawling along the wall , then upside down on the ceiling, across the medallion he came to a stop directly over Graham. A simple straight drop on to Graham’s face would cause him to open his eyes and grasp wildly at what was on him and it was within this moment No. 1 would strike. No. 1’s execution was perfect, but in Graham’s crazed reaction No. 1 was batted across the room with such force that one of his wings was broken, two legs shattered and an antenna rendered useless. No. 1 hobbled to the base of a leg of a chair knowing his venom would not paralyze Graham indefinitely and that his next task was to get back to the lamp in order to conjure up the killing venom he needed to finish Graham off.
No. 1 struggled to get to the lamp, his progress punctuated with sudden stops where he’d hallucinate about simpler times in his life. He would remember the taste of mangoes Mrs. Hunter put out for the birds or the sweet nectar enjoyed by the hummingbirds, nectar he became adept at stealing and of course the wild roses he’d visit, just because of the sights and smells that would envelop him.
He would periodically snap out of it and stumble toward the lamp. When No. 1 reached his destination, he attempted to fly up into the lampshade but his flight was awkward and he fell on to the table, upside down, his remaining legs convulsing as he tried to right himself. Eventually he slithered up to the warm light bulb and basked in the radiant heat as he produced his final venom.
Graham was stretched out on the bed aware but unable to move or speak. He tried hard to get up but his body was rigid, he screamed out for help but made no sound. This feeling terrified him. He could not see No. 1 crawling up his pant leg, across his belt and onto his shirt. There was only one good place to sting Graham and that was inside his mouth and as No. 1 reached his lips and was about to crawl inside, the motel door flew open with such force the doorknob crashed through the plaster. Smith stepped inside using his foot to stop the door’s recoil and grabbed a Gideon off the table and hurled it at Graham’s head striking his chin and knocking No. 1 across the room on to the floor.
No. 1 could smell the sweet mangoes, kiwis and tangerines. They were not meant for him, but Mrs. Hunter didn’t seem to mind if he helped himself. He chased the hummingbirds around the feeder, some even chased him back but in the end they all sipped the sweet nectar. Now clumped into a tight ball, he was glad he came to the motel room and satisfied that his imminent demise was at hand as Smith’s boot rose above him and came crashing down with an exaggerated thump, then a repeated twisting motion from the soul of the boot…as if the first blow was not enough.
Smith stood outside the motel room talking on his phone while Graham was being wheeled out of the room and into an ambulance. Smith was thankful for Justine Flagstaff’s tip regarding the attack on Graham but was having difficulty understanding how she knew the attack was underway. Explaining her recent encounter with No. 1, Flagstaff believed she was embedded with past and future knowledge of No. 1 that appeared in her conscience at random intervals when she was in a dream-like state. Smith was circumspect with Flagstaff’s explanation, but he thanked her just the same and arranged a face to face meeting to gain more understanding of what happened between her and No. 1. With Graham on his way to hospital, Smith walked over to his car pausing to look back at he motel room. A yellowjacket, bigger then most, stood on the window ledge of Graham’s room looking inside, then quickly turned, his antennas pointing at Smith and his ebony eyes locking on to him. Smith was about to take a step toward the insect…it flew off.