Something happened to Ben and I on the weekend that is the sort of thing that, when you regroup and discuss after the fact you say, “No one will ever really understand how absolutely insane that was.” …And then when you get home you try to tell the story to people who weren’t there and it just doesn’t really come off right and you keep fumbling and trying to impress upon them how CRAZY. It was CRAZY. So I’m going to try and you’re going to read, and let me tell you right now that it was totally crazy.
We went on a little mini vacation over the long weekend to Cortes Island, which is one of the many dozens of islands that surround Vancouver Island. It was hot there, mostly very wild and uninhabited and beautiful, but there were endless tall cans of Corona available, and you could have a shower if you were willing to pay the $2 per 6 minutes.
Hint: This story does not actually involve wolves. Sorry.
There were also a lot of bugs. Sitting outside in the evening wasn’t really all we’d hoped for, and one evening a whole mass of mosquitoes somehow managed to smuggle themselves into our tiny cabin and drive us absolutely mad.
So since sitting outside wasn’t really worth doing, Ben and I decided to go on an evening stroll, which is a little bit scary because it’s all dark and the road is rimmed with forest and we had both read the warning pamphlet about wolves and what to do if you saw wolves and I know it’s very unlikely to be attacked by wolves, but when I was working at BC Parks, there was definitely a “Problem Wolf” on Cortes that was behaving aggressively , so who knows? Maybe problem wolves are common on Cortes!
Hint: This story does not actually involve wolves. Sorry.
We’d only travelled to the end of the road that our cabin was located at when a surprisingly active bee/wasp (surprising because it was fairly late in the evening) began to circle my head.
This is something most people have experienced and my usual reaction (and I’m guessing this is also YOUR usual reaction, unless you’re one of those irritating people who say pompously, “Oh I just ignore it. It’ll only hurt you if you aggravate it.”) is to throw my hands up and run a few yards away and if I do this enough times, the bee will let up and wander off.
This time, however, it was extremely persistant, and alternated between Ben and I in its loops. We (well, I) had done the arms in the air screaming thing quite a few times, and Ben finally got fed up and swatted it in a very manly fashion and that was that, and we continued on our walk.
“You want to know how I know I got it?” Ben brags to me. “I got its gross juice all over my finger.” My mind immediately jumped to bee alarm pheromones, and how squishing a bee releases these pheromones and leads to madness, but I shrugged it off because I’d only READ about the phenomenon, never actually seen it, and besides, the sun had practically set and we were quickly walking away from the scene of the murder.
You know where this is going.
Another bee showed up. Circling. I did a few half-runs but it kept on me like some sort of bee from HELL and I started to get scared that if I stopped it would land on me and sting me. I began to run in earnest down the dark forest-ringed road, leaving Ben WAY behind until I guess I hit the edge of the bee’s territory, because it gave up pursuit. I was panting. (Sidenote: Once I was so far from Ben, I could hear dog-like yipping sounds and I was imagining in horror that the bee had driven me into some sort of wolf attack and Ben wasn’t nearby to help me fight them, but then I realized that there was a dachshund farm to my right and they were all barking at me from their yard. So pretty much the opposite of wolves.)
Ben, practically a speck in a distance, startes to do the bee-dance. “Ah! Jesus Christ! AHH! There are TWO of them!” The next thing I know he takes off in the OPPOSITE direction (towards home) until he is completely out of sight. I cautiously follow him at a walk, praying that my own assailant is gone.
Ben eventually makes his way back, breathing heavily, his hand now firmly in his pocket. “I just killed five bees. This is fucking crazy. We are going back to our cabin NOW.”
We have a good laugh, talking about how totally nuts the whole thing is and how this island is filled with super bugs, and Ben is telling me dramatically how it got to the point when he was running that he realized he was completely exhausted and couldn’t run any further and had to turn and fight these godforsaken bees.
And then Ben. Gesticulating about his story. Takes his hand out of his pocket.
Two bees come out of nowhere and hone in on us. I immediately break out into another run, this time towards home. They somehow focus on me instead of Ben, and he walks behind, shouting “Turn and fight! turn and fight!”
I can’t though, because I’m scared of swatting at bees, so I just run, and every time I stop to check if they’re gone I instantly hear that dark, scary buzz and see them hovering right around head level. My sides begin to heave, and I’m running at top speed uphill towards the cabin in the dark dusky light and I’m suddenly glad that I’ve been going for evening runs pretty much every day for the last 6 months, because otherwise I’d have just collapsed and shit myself while dozens of angry bees had their way with me.
I don’t think I can make it, my lungs are burning, but I can’t stop, so I just keep running. It’s good motivation to push yourself when the alternative is excruciating pain. It feels like a lifetime of running and I’m drenched in sweat, but I make it all the way to the cabin, sprint inside and slam the door shut and pace back and forth, gaping like a frog as I try to regain my composure.
Ben arrives a few minutes later and says that the bees were still buzzing by the gate to the yard when he came through it, just waiting to see if I’d try to come back, I guess.
And that. Was Crazy. We drove everywhere for the remainder of our time on the island.
Ben later enquired to the landlady in passing about crazy bees on the island, and her response was a pompous, “Oh, I’m never bothered by bees or wasps. One time I had one sitting on my toe but I just let it, because, you know, they’ll only sting you if you aggravate them.”