This weekend I took Bernie, known around the Twitterlands as Giant Dog, on an adventure. Flatmate was working, downstairs neighbour (and Bernie’s surrogate mother) was away skiing, and I was heading to Rach and Scott’s new house in Petone to watch the fireworks for the annual carnival.
I was getting ready to leave the house when a bee flew in my bedroom window. The bee, which was the size of my thumb — just the biggest motherfucking bee I’ve ever seen, since I don’t exactly have delicate lady thumbs (more like what Rach once referred to as “crazy spider fingers”) — headed straight for my cat. Lucas, in his usual perch by the window, took a swipe at it and missed.
Crap, I thought, if I leave them alone, they’re going to fight to the death. This bee is half his size! He’s never successfully killed anything bigger than a leaf! Is Lucas allergic to bee stings? Can cats be allergic to bee stings? If he went into anaphylactic shock, would Bernie’s Mountain Puppy instincts kick in? Would he fight his way through the snow with Lucas on his back, searching for help?
I was considering where to find Bernie a barrel of tiny cat-equivalent whiskey, the newspaper article half composed in my head (“Giant Dog Saves Smaller Cat From FUCKING ENORMOUS Bee”) when I remembered Bernie was coming with me.
The bee, now displaying some serious attitude, veered away and made a beeline (HAD TO) for the skylight in my room. The skylight was put in at some point by some well-meaning individual, but my house is very, very old. So old that it has no oven and a pantry with a pull-cord light and a cold-storage bench. So old that the ceilings are insanely high.
I looked at the bee. I looked at my cat, looking at the bee. I looked at the open window.
“Well, shit,” I said.
I didn’t want to kill the bee. As a kid, I used to do a round of my grandparents’ pool at least twice a day, rescuing bumblebees from drowning. I once stood on one and got so upset I almost cried, only without the ‘almost’.
The bee buzzed at the skylight. To me, it looked like it was trying to bite the window frame. That or rape it. It was an angry, angry bee. I pulled my desk chair over and got up on it.
“BZZZ!” the bee said, hurling itself further up the roof.
I grabbed a plastic tennis racquet that was lying around (don’t ask) and tested. On my tiptoes, at full stretch, I could touch the bee with the end of the plastic handle. I wasn’t sure how this was going to help me. The bee, further en-angered, threw itself at the glass.
My cat, at this point:
I imagined the bee still working out its bee fury while I was trying to sleep. I imagined my cat, crippled by anaphylaxis, as Bernie and I casually ate pizza in Petone.
I got down again and found the tallest glass in the kitchen. Armed with this and the only piece of mail in the house, I returned to my chair. Experimentation showed that I could get the glass against the window enough to trap the bee at the lowest point of the skylight, if I stood on my tiptoes on a cushion. I then attempted to use the tennis racquet to encourage the bee to go to that point. The bee did not appreciate this.
After twenty minutes and two emergency dashes from the room, the bee crawled into range. I leaned up… and trapped it inside the glass.
“Ha,” I hollered. “Ha, bee, I win!”
It was around this point that I realised that I was holding an enraged, enormous bee by pushing the bottom of the glass against the window. I was at the absolute furthest point of my reach, and in my spare hand was a standard envelope that I was somehow to get over the mouth of the glass.
The mouth of the glass I couldn’t reach.
I thought about this for a while. The bee battered itself against the glass in a frenzy of fuzzy stripes and rage. I was on a lean, on my tiptoes on top of a chair and a cushion, using my fingers against the bottom of the glass to brace myself. I was scared to let go, and I couldn’t move any other way.
Eventually my arms really started to hurt, so I took a flying leap at the other side of the room and then ran for it.
The bee went crazy. Just batshit. BEESHIT.
The only solution was the final solution. A search of the kitchen determined we had no flyspray. We had nothing that would reach far enough to squash the bee (and I couldn’t stomach the thought of squishing something that big. Squishing that bee would be juicy).
Finally, I got the vacuum cleaner. Don’t judge me.
I sucked the bee up. And then I exhaled. My heart was pounding, my palms sweating. I felt like I’d done battle, gone to war.
And then the bee started buzzing from INSIDE THE VACUUM CLEANER.
I took it outside and tried to shake it out. I tried to disconnect the bag, but I couldn’t work out how. (I know.) At this point, I was convinced the bee was evil. So I put the vacuum back on, and ran it until the buzzing stopped. Then I put the foot back on the pipe and jammed it back under Flatmate’s bed.
Done. Gone. Defeated.
I went to find Bernie’s lead, trying to swallow my guilt. I had TORTURED A BEE TO DEATH. I was a MONSTER. And, worse, I was OKAY WITH IT. That bee hadn’t been normal. It hadn’t been a kindly pollen-collector, fat of body and fuzzy of feet. It had been an enraged mutant bee, and it had wanted me dead.
Bzzt. What was…? Bzzzt!
I crept towards Flatmate’s door.
I forgot rule one: zombie bastard monster vampire bees DON’T DIE. Rookie mistake, Johnston.
Eventually I got the bee out the door from Flatmate’s room to the deck. HOW is an even longer and more embarrassing story, because by this point I was so scared of the BEE OF DOOM that I was SWEATING when it was over. The point is: THAT BEE IS STILL ALIVE.
And it could be coming for YOU next.
Sleep tight, friends. Sleep tight.
I arrived at Rach’s half an hour late, with a giant dog in tow.
“Your life, Katie,” Shelley said to me. “Either your flat floods or you’re attacked by a killer bee.”
This kind of sums it up. A few months ago, a pipe burst in my bathroom. True story, I didn’t know how to turn the water off. Rach called me to ask a baking question and ended up talking me through finding the toby. Afterwards, while sweeping the water out of my flat with a broom, I realized the burst pipe was attached to a tap. Don’t tell my former downstairs neighbours, since most of the damage DRIPPED.
On Christmas morning, I went to pick my brother up from the airport and a wasp flew into my car. After 20 minutes spent trying to get it out, it crawled between the dash and the windscreen. I spent the whole drive waiting for it to fly out and kill me as I drove. Instead, a sparrow flew into my grille.