CHAPTER 1 (iii)
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‘No,’ Donald agreed. ‘I gather the Old Fr… the Hendersons … have gone away. I couldn’t get any sense about where and why, though. At any rate, I suppose we’ll just have to turn back and find a Bed and Breakfast somewhere. I don’t feel like driving all the way home again today.’
A sudden thought struck Hugh. ‘I wonder if the Field of Bees – I mean, Rhino Valley Apiary – is still going strong?’
‘No reason why not,’ his father replied vaguely. ‘Well, let’s start back and see where we can find to stay.’
Startlingly, just thinking about the Field of Bees had triggered something truly weird in Hugh’s mind. Sensations he couldn’t describe to himself properly, then or later, came rushing over him. He was aware of a pressuring, urging presence which had the paradox of familiarity on the one hand, of something he knew and welcomed; while on the other hand also giving a feeling of utter repugnance, of being something alien and hateful. At the same time, he was aware of a growing force of unrest and wrongness which seemed completely separate from the first presence but was being fed from it.
All this entered his consciousness in a flash, and though he didn’t understand it in the least he was left with a total conviction that he needed to get to the Field of Bees as quickly as possible. Calm, he told himself. Be completely calm.
‘It’s fairly close to get there from where we are now,’ he added in as reasonable and casual voice as he could manage, ‘and maybe they can tell us what’s going on. Anyway, we haven’t had any of that wonderful honey for simply ages.’
‘Hmm,’ said his father. ‘Yes; you’re right. Bob and Beryl will know what has happened to the Frogs. We may as well call in there – only about five minutes out of our way.’
Hugh breathed a huge sigh of relief, but then tried to hide his increasing agitation as the ‘feelings’ returned to him. The driving pressure was increasing, and the other … person? … force? … was turning from uneasiness to a growing rage and some sort of purpose.
Soon they came to the farm gateway and drove over the cattle grid past the sign which read:
Rhino Valley Apiary
Robert (always known as Bob) and Beryl Kippen loved relating that when they were first married many people had joked that with their names they should be keeping bees. They had tried it, loved it, and it had become their lives.
The farm road ran along a hillside jutting out to one side of the house before curving in towards it, and gave a good view of the old verandah-style building and of the neat boxes of the forty hives, set in rows of eight, which it overlooked. The air above the boxes seemed to be becoming increasingly hazy.
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