Brett didn't know how the swarm sensed her. Did the bugs see? Did they smell? Did they hear? One then two found their way under the truck.
Her muscles quaked like the west coast, making her teeth chatter. "Crap and the text it came in on."
Stand still for bees, she remembered and held her breath. She had no confidence in that advice. These were not ordinary bees. Holding still would probably get her killed. What did one do about killer bees? Wasps? A movie she once saw put the killer bees into hibernation in air conditioning. Paul's truck didn't have any and she didn't want a hoard of those things inside the cab with her anyway. She wouldn't survive the ordeal. "That leaves running and screaming."
She flinched when the two scouting bees buzzed near her ear. The pitch of their hum changed. Calling their friends? Without waiting for the rest, they attacked latching onto her face and biting with a sting like molten lava.
Brett screamed as loud as she could trying to mimic the ring on her phone. She rolled toward the passenger side of the pickup, reached for the door handle and pulled herself up. She stabbed at the lock. Missed then missed again.
The swarm closed in. "I'm doomed."
Knees knocking, she fell to the dirt. The key screeched taking off paint. Her arm stretched up, jabbing. Jabbing. Then hit its target. The key slid into the slot.
Brett let out a squeak in relief. For a split second. Then her back erupted in fire. The swarm's hum drowned out all in a tempestuous lullaby. She covered her mouth and curled into a ball, wondering if Bill would find enough of her to identify.
The bees ate her alive. In vain she swatted at them then gave up, using that hand to cover her eyes. Brett prayed for the pain to end, accepting these were her final moments. What a horrible way to die.
Then fate intervened. Behind her an air horn went off. It startled her so, she almost jumped out of her skin. The awful noise clawed at her eardrums. It also stopped the bees. They backed away.
"Thank God!" Brett pushed up onto her knees, twisted the key and yanked the door open. She jumped in and slammed herself in, pounding on the lock until it engaged. Over her shoulder she glanced at where the blast had come from. A familiar tall man in a brown uniform waved in her direction. Only one policeman stood so tall. "Deputy Doohan."
Brett swiped tears off her cheeks and blood. Then she crawled over to the drivers side and started up the Chevy. She floored it and headed in the deputy's direction, the horn blaring louder and louder as she went. It kept those murderous bugs away, so she didn't curse it. The most obnoxious clamor on the planet just became a blessing.
When she reached the upper parking lot and Bill's colleague, she stopped and got out, throwing her arms around him. "Gary. Gary." She could do nothing besides sob and repeat his name.
He took his finger off the air horn. "Bill says you're in trouble, Brett. What the hell are those things over there?"
She shrugged. "Some sort of bees. Killer bees."
With the horn off, the swarm was on the move again. Straight toward them.
Brett pulled Gary back. "You better turn the horn back on."
Gary pushed her behind him. "We need a sample."
Brett did not like the sound of that. To get a sample, the bees would have to get close. Way too close. Then she remembered. She plucked the smooshed bee from her shirt pocket. "Here."
He picked it up by the wings and squinted at it. "I've never seen a red bee. Is that blood on its face?"
Brett pointed to her gnawed face and showed him the chunks of skin missing from her arms. "We don't want to stick around for samples, Gary. There was little left of Paul and Jen. We have to go." She picked up the horn and blasted it toward the swarm.
"You go and get some help. Somebody's got to keep an eye on these things."
She handed him the horn. "Hope you've got a lot of air in this thing."
"You got a pump?"
Gary shook his head. "Not with me."
Brett gave him her phone. "Recharge it. They hate my ringtone. I won't be long."
Does Gary make it? Will he still be alive when help arrives? Will Brett make it to the sheriff's office without mishap? You get a say.