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Sept 14, 2022

one among billions

Liam Fretwell

      I watched it happen today. The bee, disturbed from the pale custard flower by my careless limbs. It dragged its heavy body through the air. An enormous beast, almost the size of my thumb. It bobbed, rose, and then bobbed again. I saw specks of bright butter pollen stuck to its black legs. 

      The jeep came fast. The bee bobbed. No one noticed, except me. I don’t think the bee even had time to understand. It lay across the asphalt. Its body, black and yellow, crushed and scraped across the rough surface. 

      I wondered if anyone would miss the bee. That most important of beings, so small, so vital to us all. They risked life and limb every time they ventured from the hive.

      Will anyone be waiting for them back there? Will they do a head count and realise one of their number is missing? Will the Queen Bee hear of his sacrifice? A bulbous animal, not suited to flying, nor walking, sent out on a mission to bring back food for her demesne. Would she know of how he perished? 

      I stood at the side of the road for some time, looking at the crooked remnants of a life lived in servitude. An unnecessary end to a necessary life. How many plants had been pollinated by those twisted legs? How much life had been borne by those broken wings?

      Loyal to a cause.

      Loyal to an individual. 

      A cause so noble cannot demand such agonies. An individual worth loving cannot require such indignity. Yet they do. The Queen Bee requires workers live in slavery and die alone so that she may give herself fully to The Future of Life. The Future of Life requires that all serve it absolutely, ground down to dust by its unrelenting march. The caring must serve the uncaring. 

      Not the white of purity, nor the red of destruction. Not the green of growth, nor the black of the void. Not the blue of tranquillity, nor the grey of uncertainty. 

      The bee died in the yellow of noble obscurity. 

      Glorious as the sun. 

      A sacrifice both infinitely universal and utterly individual.

Liam Fretwell specialises in short-form horror and thriller prose but has also dipped his toes into memoir, romance, fantasy, erotica, and scriptwriting. He holds a degree in Drama and Creative Writing from Cardiff Metropolitan University. He also directs, acts, and edits for both film and stage.  Liam lives in South Wales with his wife and dog, supports Tottenham Hotspur, and loves cheese on toast for breakfast. Mature cheddar only. You can find him on Twitter: @LiamFretwell or Facebook:

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