Part II – The Syneshtian Opiate Jelly
He couldn’t believe his luck. Here he was, wedged between two sharp, slimy rocks, and the belly of the Queen Syneshtan Bee. She was practically dripping with the most desired drug this side of the Rim: Syneshtan Opiate Jelly. Just being in the presence of it, leaning on rocks covered in it, he was beginning to trip out. He reaches for his knife to cut off pieces of the sticky stuff, but becomes distracted by the Jelly itself. He never before had seen it on the Queen, or even seen a Queen before. She was enormous, like a whale, and bloated with hundreds, maybe thousands of Syneshtia Bee eggs. The contrast of her white spots against dark blue, covered everywhere by a thin pink coating of Jelly, the smell of the cave mixed with the sweet aroma of the Jelly, the ringing in his ears…
“They eat this,” he says to no one. “They eat this, and fry out, and live off the shit, high all the time.”
‘To be a Syneshtia Bee,’ he thinks. ‘The flowers alone will get you off, but this Jelly… the Jelly… my knife!’ He remembers he’s here to get some. He looks around quickly, and the cave seems different, brighter, bigger even.
‘I must be high off this stuff,’ he thinks to himself, as he begins to slice off a chunk of the mystic pink Jelly. He puts it in his pack and begins to cut off another piece. He looks around at the cave again. He can’t tell if it is brighter or darker that last time, but he can see the pink coating over everything. On the walls, floor, stalagmites, his boots, his hands…
“Shit!” he cries, dropping his knife. Distracted by the cave, and high off the Jelly, he cut himself. He watches the blood mix with the Jelly on his hands, the red pushing into pink, then dripping onto the pink-coated floor, next to where his knife fell… shiny red-edged knife… ‘Did I drop that?’ he wonders.
“Well, anyway, it fell, didn’t it?” he says, chuckling to himself.
“Hey, I’m bleeding,” he notices. “Blood leaks out, Jelly leaks in… to… oh, Gods.”
He remembers Garrett’s last words: ‘The best high is when the shit gets in your blood. Then you really get off.’
He starts to panic; he doesn’t have much time. ‘Got to get out. How’d I get in here?’
He falls as he tries to get down from his perch under the Queen. He sees her move. ‘They’re supposed to be hibernating. Shit!’ he thinks, knowing what it means, ‘the buzz… Gods help me; they’re awake!’ He picks up his knife, but can’t focus his eyes and grabs the blade, cutting his hand again.
‘Gotta go.’ He heads toward what looks like the way out, only to find his legs don’t want to go there. He stumbles, falling against a pink-coated wall. ‘It’s not sticky,’ he wonders, ‘but I can see Jelly all over it. But can’t… feel it.’ As he reaches to feel the illusionary Jelly, he hears the buzzing again. ‘I took their Jelly; they’ll kill me!’ He drops the bag with the Jelly in it, hoping that gesture will save him. As he heads towards the swirling, hazy light he believes is the way out, he feels the swarm behind him. He screams as the nearly foot-long stingers begin to impale him. He screams again, in terror, as the now dead, meter long bees hang from him, stingers still piercing him. He begins to scream again, but his life is over before it comes out.
“Hey; what’s that on the ground?” the bald man asks his partner.
“A body,” he replies. “Wonder what happened?” He turns the body onto its back.
“Poor bastard fell on his own knife. Must’ve tripped.” He turns to the bald man.
“Maybe he had too much Jelly, eh?” the bald man jokes, and the two laugh quietly as they head toward the cave to harvest the pink Syneshtian Opiate Jelly directly from the bloated belly of the Queen while she sleeps.