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By Julian Drury
The Wasp appeared at work yesterday. I was at my desk, typing, as I do every day. Statistics were my main target; typing, typing, typing. I heard the wasp before I saw it. Buzzing about, I looked up to the ceiling patterned with white fluorescent lights, and the sounds of ancient mechanics took the shape of one of my worst childhood fears. I always feared insects, perhaps irrationally. Perhaps it is safe to say I feared bugs in general, especially those that stung and bit, the poisonous and the painful. This figure took the form it did, and I jumped from my seat.
The wasp had yellow armor, and the the most cosmic eyes that I ever saw from an insect. It propelled forward in a graceful dance, like a passenger jet glides gracefully through the clouds of lower heaven. I could not ignore this beast, this machine of grandeur. It was horridly beautiful. Beauty can mean more than physical form. Some beauty lies in darkness, shadowy figures that creep into the nerves and make one shiver with terror. There is a beauty in terror, sometimes. The wasp terrified me.
My coworkers looked up, clearly able to see the wasp buzzing about. How did a wasp get in the building, everyone probably thought? I thought this. It won’t harm me if I just leave it alone, I thought. Leave it alone. But, I couldn’t take my eyes away from its hovering danger. Wasps are unpredictable. There is no safe side to its presence. Something had to be done, I thought.
My boss, the fat Goblin named Gerald, walked slowly toward me. He always approached in his usual blue jacket and khaki pants, with that ridiculous half-cocked grin of his. This grin highlighted with his pointed teeth, his scaly reptilian skin, and his hellish yellow eyes, like a beast's eyes. He always gave me this grin, and no one else. It’s as if he knew that I could see him for what he really was. No one else could see Gerald the way I could, in his true biological shape. In reflections, I could see the way everyone else sees him; like a fat car-salesman from Dallas. No matter how I saw him, whether real or unreal, he always had a grin for me. It’s as if he enjoyed grinning at me, knowing I could behold him in his monstrous form. Perhaps one day he will finally put that grin to good use, and give me the raise I asked for. Maybe one day, he will stop ignoring me. As his lips moved, the words sprang forth,
“What’s the matter, Bateman?”
“The wasp,” I replied. I pointed my forefinger toward the ceiling lights, where it still hovered in attempts at clinging to the plastic casings that guarded the bulbs. “It startled me. I’m fine now.”
“Okay, sure. I bet a wasp would make me jump from my seat too. Have you gotten the latest reports filed?”
“Almost, I have two more sheets to formulate. By the end of the day.”
“Good. Afterward, you’ve got some presentations due, and I would hope you manage your time well enough for them. Unless, of course, your wasp keeps scaring you out of your seat.”
The wasp appeared again, in the corner of my eye. It hovered at the light near the entrance to Gerald’s office. Its buzzing seemed so loud to me, it seemed hard to think my coworkers were ignoring it the way they were. Machines take no time to glance for danger. Typing, typing, and typing away without a care for anything other than the paycheck. I could not help but notice the wasp still present. Whether this means I am human or machine is still debatable.
The wasp was present throughout the day, a Wednesday of all days. No special point to it, a reason or rhyme. This buzzing, hovering creature never attempted to flee, nor did any of the co-workers below it acknowledge its grim glory. What did it want, buzzing so calmly over a species of mechanical primates that would trample its existence? Why was it here?
One of my coworkers, whose name I believe was Shelly, asked me; "Why are you looking around like that?"
"It's the wasp," I replied. "It bothers me."
"You still see it?"
"Don't you?" She did not reply. She took a sip from her red water-bottle, and looked at me in a strange way, nearly maternal way; like a mother preparing to scold their wayward son.
"When I was a kid, I used to have a friend named Tiger. Tiger was my best friend in the world, until I was nine."
"Why is that?"
"Because Tiger was a talking Lion, and he used to steal my grandmother's sugar."
"Why would a talking lion be named Tiger?"
"Why indeed. My grandmother told me the same thing I'm going to tell you."
"The only one who sees it is you." She sipped her water, and walked away. a cold way to end such a laborious and unsound statement. The wasp was still there.
When walking back to my apartment, I passed the small park that children were playing in. I remember this park as a child. When I was a pre-pubescent, I found myself in the park, with the other kids in the nearby elementary school. There was a special corner that I would stand in, near the broken water-fountain with the granite base. I hovered there, buzzed there. The other kids played on the swings, slides, and blue monkey bars. Not me. I was an insect, something to be left alone and avoided. I was to never be acknowledged. Unlike the wasp, I had no danger to exploit. I was alone, in that corner.
Returning home was always an event that drew a sigh. I was alone, in my own special corner. I had always been alone. I could never settle down, never able to socialize, never able to see realness in life. Everything is fake, a shadow, an illusion of self indulgence. I drink Jameson in a small glass, with three cubes of ice every moment I return home.
I flip through my fifty-inch screen TV. Nothing to watch, ever. I surf my internet, on my twelve-hundred dollar desktop computer. The blinds of my living room window, flanked to the right of my computer and black mahogany desk, are always closed. Closed day and night. I rest in shadow. I jack off in shadow as well, the porn of sex and misery stimulate every pull and every spit. It is never enough. I think about death, often.
I held my gun, my .45 magnum with thirty-round clip. How easy it would be, I thought. I had to do something about Gerald. He is sucking the lifeforce out of the office, I know he is. He is a monster, and only I can behold this. A goblin from hell sent to torment the unsuspecting. A killer lurking in shadow, who kills slowly. I must kill him quickly, I thought.
There was no shame. Smoking weed was never a relief, it caused me to think too much. I smoked it anyway, yet I always seemed to regret certain parts of its effects. Thinking was something I hated to do. Yet, something had to be done. Something is wrong, and I have to fix it. Doctors will prescribe more meds, and tell me to take them regularly. They make me sick, the meds I mean. I can see clearly, and I know I had to do something.
I could not sleep, and instead I could only see dreams of my dad. There was a moment in my childhood, where I was stung by a wasp. I was eight, perhaps. I was playing, alone, on the porch of my grandmother’s backyard. Suddenly, as if a ball of helpless fire descended from the blazing sun above, an object gracefully fell onto my exposed arm and unleashed a sting. I jumped in a scream of pain, tears drew quickly. I looked down and saw a wasp, though it did not fly away. It could not. It struggled on the ground, helpless and injured perhaps. Was it so helpless?
My dad came forward from the house, a beer in one hand and a shoe in the other. Without any form of hesitation, he crushed the struggling wasp with the shoe he held. The wasp was dead, yet I could feel no sense of triumph. Perhaps the first crack in the idea of me being a machine happened there. I did not feel vindication for the creature’s demise, I felt sympathy.
“Dead now, boy,” my dad said. Dead, though not forgotten.
My dad’s funeral was somber. Dead now, I thought. Is that what the wasps would have thought? Would they have felt sympathy for my dad, the way I felt for their loss? I did not cry at the funeral, though I was in great pain. A great stinging pain in my arm. Dead, but not forgotten.
Something had to be done. I couldn’t reduce myself to just a memory. I couldn’t remain ignored, and grinned upon. I cannot remain mechanical. Something had to be done. Acknowledgement can come at a price. Maybe the reality of the creature is a question without an answer. Maybe things are not what they seem. Though, why worry? Extension or not, the wasp is real to me.
Like the wasp; it loses its stinger, it dies. Sometimes it must lose its stinger in order to be seen as a worthy life. Sometimes a life must be given, or even taken. There is a balance that always must be paid. You have to die before anyone recognizes you even exist.
Outside of my bedroom window, I could hear it. The wasp was out there, buzzing, hovering. It was making a call, a rallying cry. Its shadow cast through moonlight and white curtain. I knew what had to be done.
I woke up in Gerald’s office. I won’t say how I arrived, just that I did somehow. Gerald was dead, and I killed him. My pistol did some of the work, but I had help. Even dead, he still looks like a monster. He still grins at me. My gun was in hand. I didn't know what to do next. I wasn't afraid, though.
They were everywhere, all over the room. Swarms of them covered every inch of every available space. I am their nest. There were hordes, buzzing and hovering. The legions of ancient mechanics drove about, claiming the fruits of my sympathy. It was perfect in a way. They were me, I was them, the wasps. All of them!
Crazy...sure, I understand. Yet, it doesn't matter now, does it? I have my truth, my grasp of the facts at hand. If it must be a needle I get, then so be it. I meant to do every bit of what I admit to.
We have been ignored for so long. Now we will be seen, and felt, and understood. The wasp is me, and I am it. Can they ignore us now? Will they still try? Will you still ignore me? There is a danger to me now.
I am an insect, not a machine.
#Unreal #Fiction #Human #Drone #Wasp #Existentialism #Purpose #Imagery #Metaphor #Solitude
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