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Chapter 1: Rhino Valley and the First Encounter (iv)
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Now Hugh was becoming able to put some sort of words in his mind to make sense of the messages. The persuasive one was saying, ‘Come; come back; gather, come back! Danger! Defend! Gather together back at home to fight danger! Come; come; gather! Prepare! Defend!’
The other was repeating much the same thing, but in a way that was building the rage to a mad fury. In a sudden flash of realisation, Hugh knew that this second, responding, one was some sort of group mind of the bees, and that all of the hives together were preparing to form an attacking swarm.
Two figures were visible on the verandah. They had been seated, but now both man and woman were standing and the man had moved forward and was pointing down at the hives. Seconds later, an enormous dark cloud formed above the rows at about their midpoint, and started to move towards the house. The first voice was now rising to a frenzy of, ‘Attack, attack, attack! Danger! Attack!’ and the second was obediently echoing the same message. Then he could sense that the movement of their car had been noticed, and that part of the cloud had been sent towards them. The rest began to move at speed towards the house.
‘Dad! They’re coming at us!’ Hugh yelled.
Donald had seen them. He used a word he normally wouldn’t have uttered in his son’s presence, and slammed on the brakes. ‘Check every window!’ he said urgently. ‘Close that vent, your side! Try to think of anywhere they might find a way in, and plug it!’
Hugh was too busy looking in horror at the couple on the verandah. They had realised the danger rather too late, and although they were dashing towards the door he doubted if they would make it in time. ‘No!’ he found himself shouting. ‘Don’t do it! There is no danger! All is calm! Return to your hives! There is no danger! Stop the attack!’
Instantly, he could sense that his message was being transmitted in the same manner as he had been receiving the others. There was an impression of astonishment from the first ‘voice’, followed by fury. ‘Who are you? Keep out of this! This is nothing to do with you! Keep out of it!’
From the other side came a slight wavering and uncertainty, and he worked upon it. ‘Calm; relax; calm; no danger; no danger; no danger; calm; go back,’ he repeated again and again. Even the small part of what must have been more than a million bees in the total attacking force was now creating a deafening buzzing, and soon bees were crawling over every part of the car. They were doing it with less and less urgency, though, and it seemed to Hugh that closeness to his message was having an effect.
Then the other voice tried again with a rather feeble, ‘Attack, attack!’ and Hugh sent a mental shout as hard as he could, ‘Go away!’ It did, to his mild surprise. At least, he wasn’t conscious of it again.
He went on repeating the soothing message, over and over – and suddenly the ‘mind’ of the bees was no longer in a rage but was transmitting messages which meant nothing to Hugh so he decided they were just ‘bees’-iness communications and tuned them out.
Then the bees all simply flew away. One second the car was covered in them; the next they all seemed to disperse and return to their normal gathering activities. It could be seen that the same thing was happening with the main swarm at the house – but was it too late?
Donald was staring at Hugh in utter astonishment. ‘Good lord!’ he exclaimed. ‘It’s almost as if they listened to you!’ He shook his head slightly as if to clear it, and added with urgency, ‘Anyway, we’d better get to the house and see if the Kippens are alright.’
They weren’t. That is to say, they found them lying on the floor near the front door, covered in beestings. Some bees must have stung them before they closed it, while others had somehow found their way into the house. Beryl was unconscious, but fortunately Bob stayed conscious for long enough to instruct Donald how to give them emergency treatments which were kept on the farm as a matter of course. Bob gasped that these should keep them alive for long enough to get to the hospital. The clinic in Kranzton, only some seventy kilometres away, had the facilities for treatment.
There was no sign of any of the usual farm workers, and Donald and Hugh had to carry the unconscious bodies of the couple to the car. Then Donald raced to the hospital and they managed to get them admitted after frustrating red tape and argument.
By the time they succeeded in finding a Bed and Breakfast it was late. They were not even interested in an evening meal but went straight to bed.
© Colonialist June 2013 (WordPress)