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FICTION on the WEB short stories by Charlie Fish

Bees (The Rumour)
by Robert Copple

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Bees were buzzing as an evil rumor swam around town; when it stopped at the crowded Cafe, everyone was in disbelief.

The bees glowed yellow in the bright sunshine through the pollen mist nearby. They loved the hot sweltering morning as they busily embraced the colorful flowers in their path.

No one in the Cafe cared if it were true, it was merely gossip fodder as they quietly returned to their eggs and coffee. There were no smiles in the room as minds became poisoned. Guilty eyes avoided each other, every pair professing innocence in the deafening silence.

Most of the bees got bored and disappeared, a few stragglers seemed lost and drowsy.

The rumor grew larger as it moved through town. At the Barber Shop the Trimmers were already aware of it, hoping it would go away. Customers frantically began to prepare an anti-rumor ploy. Discontent smothered everyone, threatening to disrupt the serenity they all enjoyed. Their deepest fears began squeezing to the surface, reminding them of their frailties so long suppressed and locked away.

Near the Five and Dime a crowd gathered with hopes of combatting the rumor's impact as it changed everyone's perspective of order and personal confidence. Questions were passed around with little resolve; it was like ice in a tea pot.

The bees settled into the business of making honey while their Queen rested in her chambers. A couple of stragglers committed suicide in the crowd milling around the Five and Dime.

The rumor oozed toward the Sheriff's Office where the Sheriff himself was busy reading a magazine; he didn't want to be bothered. Some bees watched through a small dirty window in the door, their buzzing somewhat diminished.

Everyone wondered how the rumor started. On a clear hot summer morning the complexion of the town turned dark and sinister as if an Omen were being presented with no explanation available. Cats and dogs were already in hiding, peeking out from under porches and along quiet alleyways, fearing the wrath of the Omen. A rusty symbolic cannon sat nervously in the square, remembering the glory days.

Citizens began to bicker among themselves, their sunshine and lollipops aura disappeared like a painless toothache. Being strong and destructive as rumors can be, no one saw it coming.

Dark quiet clouds began working their way over the crystal granite mountains; the sky prepared to cry. The cracked desert floor yawned at the oncoming clouds, hoping for redemption. Ahead of the clouds was the dripping humidity of shame.

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