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BEE GIRLS by Gregg Williard

One chilly autumn evening a flying saucer hovered over orchards of the estate of Septimus Giles, who had just stumbled into a mound of composting dung, his ramble through a dusk redolent of pear, flower and Queen’s Stew apples, and astir with the hum of bees (and now anti-gravity oscillations) rudely deterred by a slipper suddenly bilged to cold offal. Chilled too by his unsuitable velvet smoking jacket, lingerie lace cravat and linen pantaloons (with no stockings or hat!), donned for an after-dinner brandy by the fire rather than an October stroll about the grounds. It was a serious breach of form. Why had he ventured forth so unsuitably attired? Vexed with his dilemma he did not see the hatch open above him, and three bee girls emerge to caper among the trees.

Floating out of the trees on thrumming green wings they descended to consider a startled Septimus with wide apart, somewhat equine eyes. The bee girls wore identical yellow and black-striped camisoles and had the same blond hair, styled in onion dome bouffant. Their high, porcelain brows sprouted trembling antennae, tuned, his gathering wits surmised, to etheric excitements of the beyond. Neither sprites nor fairies they were human size, and charming in their heft.

Septimus swooned. Bees were all the rage among his set that season. Only a week before he had draped a night gazebo with poor cotton, candle-lit from within and filled with his new bee colony denizens. Queued ladies with honey dipped handkerchiefs entered and in moments gave issue to the most extraordinary cries. A honey dab to their exposed vaginal lips had drawn bee stings to their most tender nether regions. Septimus counted Scientific Investigations among his enthusiasms; his latest intention was to test a daring conjecture that bee venom and female musk would result in exquisite aphrodisia. Thus far his subjects had proven unsuitable, but he was not deterred. Now this bee trio could prove to be the answer. And shorn of antennae and wings, coached in modest comportment and armed with proper introductions the creatures might even be welcomed into society, his sponsorship drawing fair repute his way. He stepped forward, bowed and extended his hand. They shrank from his overture.

Of course it had to be his unsuitable attire. Sartorial recklessness had somehow curtained off all futurity. His assurance of place seemed somehow at risk.

“But…I am a gentleman!” he cried, incredulous, setting the bee girls to bob the air like agitated paper angels hung for the new year. He slipped and fell face first into fertilized earth, and came away seasoned with more offal and dung.

He sobbed, bereft, his spirit’s nectar now humbled sweet. The bee girls dipped their thirsty antennae in his aura, sorrowed deep azure, and drank deep. Once sated they quickly departed.

Septimus staggered through the orchard’s dark aisles back to his manor. He would bathe and don fine dress again but discover society no longer hospitable. The precise nature of his wrongs eluded definition; always indefinable missteps and indiscretions of comportment, dress, speech or scent made his presence strangely intolerable to all others of his rank. Its agency remained mysterious, but the outcome beyond dispute: expulsion—now and forever from the hive.

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