Flight of a Bee
by Nathan Tyree
Just before they touched, a bee which had only moments earlier alighted on the bust of Voltaire, buzzed lazily between them and then continued its circuitous journey through the room and toward its eventual demise at the hands of a rather curious toddler who would run crying from the confrontation. They had stopped for a moment in front of the corpse of Wilfred Owen, to admire his scars, and comment on the insubstantial brown shade of his uniform. The moment was overwhelming, and they leaned in to kiss each other without noticing the bee.
Then the one eyed dwarf was leading them into the next room, where the memories of Nixon where kept in poorly labeled bottles, and the ghost of Stalin roamed freely. This room wasn’t listed in the tour itinerary, and they were very excited to be allowed to view the rare and remarkable artifacts stored there. They commented to each other that they were very lucky that their guide had decided to break with protocol and allow them this divergence.
Nixon’s memories were, after all, a disappointment. They had blackened and corroded with age and lack of use, or cleaning. However, Stalin’s ghost was very friendly and talkative, if a bit mad. At first he said interesting things about viewing history as a dialectic, but eventually he just ranted on and on about Trotsky.
They excused themselves, and the dwarf showed them into the next display. The bee was, by this time, quite dead and nearly forgotten by everyone who had ever seen it. The toddler who had brought about its demise was the only person who had any memory of the poor creature. And his memory of it was, well frankly, not a happy one.
The next room they entered was filled with broken bottles and pools of gasoline. Everyone who took the time to seek out the museum would eventually visit this room. Few of them found it of much interest, and most wandered back out as quickly as they entered.
Jan looked down at the dwarf, and asked when they would see Napoleon’s penis. He replied that it was kept in the same case as Hitler’s Brain, and Lewis Carroll's photographs. They would, he assured her, reach it shortly.
The bee, or rather the ghost of the bee, was busy trying to pollinate the viscera of some anonymous Latin-American tyrant who had been beheaded and gutted by members of his own political party.
Jan touched William’s arm lightly, and he began to scream. She couldn’t help but giggle at his over reaction. She knew that his burns had not yet healed, but even so, if he
couldn’t stand to be touched a bit what sort of evening were they going to have. William bent at the waist to pick up a bit of bone that was lying on the floor at his feet. He worked to find its place, and then carefully reinserted it into his skull. The skin of his face hung in strips, dripping and oozing lightly. Where his eyes had been were two blackened holes.
Jan was similarly disfigured. Her stomach lay open, and her intestines kept falling out. She would have to gather them up, and poke them back inside the wound. Her hair had been burned completely off. William thought she looked quite attractive without hair. Her hair had always gotten in his way, tangling up in his fingers, and falling in his face while they were making love. He was happy to see it go.
The toddler was wandering about, moving from room to room. He seemed to be looking for someone or something, but it was not at all clear exactly what he was in search of.
Jan and William followed the dwarf to the next exhibit. This one was filled with large, ceramic ovens and piles of clothes and luggage. They looked at these for quite some time, but were not able to divine their significance. They puzzled over the display for a while, then William suggested that it had something to do with death.
But, doesn’t everything? Jan asked him. He wasn’t sure. He supposed that, yes, in a manner of speaking everything was related to death in some way or another. But, he assured her, not everything related to life. She seemed confused by this.
The dwarf tugged at Jan’s sleeve. She looked down at him, and he motioned for her to look up at a sign on the wall. The sign read Arbeit Macht Frei. Jan could not read
this. She just shrugged, and they continued to the next exhibit.
The toddler ran past them as if in a great hurry. For the first time They noticed that the child had something sticking out if its back. The toddler had been impaled on a wooden picket, broken from some one’s fence. Blood was caked and dried around the wound.
The bee was now following the toddler wherever he went, as if it needed always to be in close proximity to the thing that had killed it.
The penultimate exhibit they entered was built around a set of gallows. They were old and wooden, and the body hanging from the end of the rope was in a state of advanced decay. Flies buzzed around the bloated and discolored remains.
The body had turned a rich shade of black, and the flesh had cracked in several places, allowing something dark and viscous to seep out. It swung gently back and forth as if in rhythm with a breeze that none of them could feel.
Jan found this quite fascinating. William, however, was bored by it. He badly wanted to move on to the next exhibit. He told the dwarf as much. The dwarf suggested that he shouldn’t be in such a hurry. However, he obligingly led them on.
The last stop on the tour was, at first, unremarkable. The room was arranged like a standard, comfortable living room. A couch and several chairs were arranged around a large television set. Various nick-knacks and baubles were littered about the room. Jan noted that this room looked just like their living room.
The dwarf concurred, and said that he hoped they both approved of the
Jan quite naturally took a seat on the couch. William followed. They both began watching the television, despite the fact that it wasn’t turned on. As they set there, the dwarf excused himself, and closed the door on his way out. A few moments later, flame began to lick and caper around the room. They both set as their skin began to burn, trying to remain calm and enjoy the experience. When the ceiling gave way and crashed down on them, they both began to scream.
The bee saw none of this.