Bumble Bee [Book 1 of the Metamantic Chronicles Series]
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by Russell Kaine
Description: Is it possible for music to be infected with a deadly virus? Roxanne Templeton thinks so. By the time she realizes there's something evil hidden inside the complex architecture of her lover's original compositions it's too late and all hell is about to break loose. Excerpt: Linda the waitress had come out back to see what was taking him so long. As he turned to face her, she saw the tears rolling down his cheeks. "Ray, what's wrong? You've been out here for two hours!" "Whu ? what? BZZZZ ---- two hours? Oh, Linda ? it's wonderful ---- BZZZZ! It's magic!" Ray said, alight with his new found excitement and twitching every time he made the BZZZZ sound. Linda, wondering why he was doing that and aware of the bees that were starting to swarm out of the hives, began to back away, but Fleck grabbed her by the shoulders and forced her toward the boxes. Linda tried to resist, but in the past two hours, Ray had somehow become very strong. "Don't be afraid! Here ---- BZZZZ ---- just stand there n' let 'em talk to ya ? it's amazing!" "Ray, you're hurting me! STOP IT!" Linda shouted at him, but he didn't flinch. With his new strength, he pushed her down to a kneeling position before the hives. The bees were buzzing more angrily and frantically now and started landing on Linda Dobbins' face, neck and chest. She kept trying to wrench herself away, but couldn't. As the bees stung at her, she blasted out a scream that no one else but Ray Fleck heard, then she fell silent in an apparent daze. After a few minutes, he didn't need to hold her down. She was swaying lightly and humming something, probably an old childhood song, and totally taken over by the same madness that had overcome Ray Fleck. She got to her feet and smiled at him. "You were right, Ray. It's wonderful," she said while nonchalantly chewing at a few bees that had gotten into her mouth. Over the next three hours, Ray Fleck and Linda Dobbins gathered a few more select Bumble Bee residents and took them to the hives, one by one. They all screamed once.
eBook Publisher: Eternal Press/Damnation Books LLC/Damnation Books, 2011 2011
eBookwise Release Date: May 2011
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [381 KB]
Reading time: 227-318 min.
Bronco Canyon, Arizona Territory, 1868
With every new piece added to it, another chunk of gold ore fell from the mule packs.
"I can't believe it. It's too much to carry back in one haul." Gillette said, jittery with excitement. "What'll we do?"
Worth, serene and stoic, glanced around. "Keep a little in the bags. We'll bury the rest of it under the creek right there," he directed, pointing to a narrow twist of the stream they stood next to a few yards away. "Haven't seen any other diggers around, so I think we'll be all right."
For a couple of low budget prospectors with shoddy equipment, Francis Henry Worth and Jonathan Gillette had struck it big. Gillette, a scrawny but strong former blacksmith who bore a resemblance to the late President Lincoln, scratched his rear then wiped the sweat off his brow with a stained and worn hat. He wondered if Worth was as emotionless when his third daughter was born...or when fever took her. In fact, he expected that if Jesus himself came down from the heavens wearing a clown suit and juggling crucifixes, Worth would still be as stone-faced as he ever was.
The two left their families to come to the Arizona Territory from the Carolinas, desperate to find a way to rebuild their fortunes after the War Between the States. It didn't take them and the many others who went before and after very long to hop on the mining bandwagon and head west. The Mormons started settling the territory some years before the war. A few mining companies, enticed by endless loads of copper and tales of Spanish gold, already began to pop up.
Worth and Gillette staked their claim a few months prior when word spread about gold being found in and around the Bradshaw Mountains north of what would become the city of Phoenix. In almost two weeks, they found themselves a rather thick vein of quartz gold while exploring Bronco Canyon, a relatively small ravine carved out long ago by an intermittent stream four miles east of the Snyder Stage Stop. Water only graced it a few times per year when the rains came, and right now, it was dry. The vein was inside a crevice just above the bank of the dry creek and started a foot-and-a-half in, continuing to grow in size as they dug. After a month, the crevice was now a 6-foot-square, slightly declining tunnel that went for nearly 100 feet.
They stopped at that point partly because the vein finally pooped out, but also because they dug their way into a large cavern at the end. Gillette wanted to keep going, but both realized they would have to expand their operation and hire a few more hands to go any further.
Worth dabbed his forehead with a rag and continued his directive. "We'll take some, buy a new wagon at the Snyder stop, then come back and load up what we're hiding. After that, maybe we can hire some hands and take a better look at that cavern."
He kept surveying the area, knowing full well that Gillette was irritated at his lack of emotion in the presence of such a successful dig. Worth wore that stone face more and more out of plain worry. Indians had been attacking ruthlessly in the area for quite awhile, and he knew it was only a matter of time before a party of raiders or warriors found them. Cavalry did patrol the area but not often enough. Worth was sure they were spied on by the natives at some point. He didn't want to wait around for them to show up until they had a few more bodies hired. Safety in numbers. Plus, there was also the matter of the bees. Ever since they broke through into the cavern a few days ago, they were plagued by growing numbers of bees, that for whatever reason, seemed to be going in and out of the cavern with frequent purpose. They had yet to be stung, but Worth also wanted to get some gear to take care of their new insect problem before they did.
"Yeah, I suppose that's proper," Gillette said. "I tell you what, though...I want to grab a lantern and take another look at that cavern before we pack everything up, all right."
"Nope," Worth uttered. "We pack first. Always pack first."
Gillette issued a frown, but got to work carrying chunks of ore to the hiding spot in the creek. After a few hours in the mid-day sun, the ore was hidden, rocks back in place, and the supplies and gear packed on the backs of their two horses and two mules.
"All right, I'm going in," Gillette announced. Worth was about to protest, but his partner was already on his way. He took a second lantern, lit it, and reluctantly went in to see that Gillette, further ahead, was now only a silhouette with a dull glow next to him. As they approached the end of the tunnel, a small group of six bees buzzed by them and continued into the cavern ahead. Worth and Gillette looked at each other quizzically and stepped through the cavern entrance. It smelled dank.
Their lanterns weren't the brightest, but provided enough light to see that the room they had discovered was large enough to be tempting. Its ceiling reached up twenty feet, and the room itself spanned out to a twenty-yard oval and displayed a few stalactites and stalagmites with a small muddy puddle in the middle. Three small natural tunnels promising endless exploration dotted the circumference of the room's wall.
Gillette fixed his eyes on one of the tunnels and was about to step into the puddle when Worth grabbed him by the arm.
"Shh...listen to that," Worth said.
Gillette cocked his head to one side and heard a soft high-pitched hum throughout the cavern. They held their lanterns high and looked up to see that the ceiling was moving. Not to and fro but rather in waves, as if the top of the cavern was a bed sheet in a gentle breeze. Worth climbed onto a three-foot rock in the east corner of the room to get a better view. Gillette followed suit. Both were shocked and dismayed by what they saw.
The entire ceiling of the cavern was covered in writhing bees. Thousands, perhaps more, had taken roost since they opened the cave, and it began to hit them that they found themselves in a dangerous spot. The humming of the bees grew steadily louder.
"Let's get out of here," Gillette said in a frightened tone.