Subcutaneous Magazine Fall 2016 - Page 61

and after the breakup. When Joe’s eyes opened again, it was over. The sky was once again blue and cloudless. He gave a dry laugh. The Cloud everyone had feared passed within the span of a minute and did nothing but color the sky. He opened his book again, flipping back to page one to try and read something other than Holly West’s name. He was halfway down the first page when something caught his eye, nearly making him jump out of the chair. There was a wasp crawling onto the pages of his book from the back of it, but it was like none he had ever seen. Its body was longer than normal, and it had four thin wings like a dragonfly’s. It was striped with red and black along its abdomen. He had no idea an insect like this existed. Joe had the sudden urge to smash the bug in the book, but the book was borrowed, and he didn’t want to end up paying for it when the elderly librarian checked it to find a smashed wasp on page one. He sat as still as possible, waiting for it to fly away, but it didn’t. It settled itself halfway down the page and looked up, as it were observing Joe with its compound eyes and sensing with its black, curled antennas. There was a tingling feeling on Joe’s right arm, and he turned his head slowly to see a swarm of red and black wasps crawling all over it. Every instinct in his body screamed at him to get up and run, but he sat still. They weren’t biting or stinging him. They were just crawling. The Wasps took to the air, leaving his arm. There seemed to be a lot more of them now, and they surrounded him with a humming that seemed as comforting to his ears and inside his head as they had been to his skin. The swarm sped up, circling him in a cyclone of red and black. The heat of the late afternoon sun seemed to be lifted, and Joe’s body became cooler. He felt as if he could fully relax for the first time since he had decided to leave Hal. Joe closed his eyes as his body relaxed, and he felt as if it was lifted from the chair. He was no longer using his eyes, but he saw hundreds or maybe thousands of tiny images zooming past his field of vision. He knew this would normally disorient him, but the eyes he was using weren’t physically connected to his brain. He didn’t know how he was doing it, but he was watching himself and the surrounding backyard from the many eyes of the swarm. Something felt oddly comforting about the wasps. He raised his hand, and he wasn’t surprised to find they weren’t perturbed enough to start stinging in an angry frenzy. He waved his arm past his face, and they buzzed as they fell off, moving back onto his skin. Joe smiled. They seemed to be a friendly swarm. He looked in the tree above him for the nest, but he saw none. He looked around to see if they were coming from a hole in the ground, but he didn’t see that either. As he bent forward to look down some sweat fell from his forehead to the pages of the book. The wasp on the cover turned toward it and then looked at Joe again. He remembered how hot it was, and he wished it was cooler. The Wasps took to the air, leaving his arm. There seemed to be a lot more of them now, and they surrounded him with a humming that seemed as comforting to his ears and inside his head as they had been to his skin. The swarm sped up, circling him in a cyclone of red and black. The heat of the late afternoon sun seemed to be lifted, and Joe’s body became cooler. He felt as if he could fully relax for the first time since he had decided to leave Hal. Joe closed his eyes as his body relaxed, and he felt as if it was lifted from the chair. He was no longer using his eyes, but he saw hundreds or maybe thousands of tiny images zooming past his field of vision. He knew this would normally disorient him, but the eyes he was using weren’t physically connected to his brain. He didn’t know how he was doing it, but he was watching himself and the surrounding backyard from the many eyes of the swarm. Then Joe was soaked, and it was over. The wasps flew into the tree with a renewed buzzing as more water drenched him. Joe sat up suddenly, letting his book fall to the ground. He looked around and saw an old Hispanic man standing with his hose aimed at him. It was Mr. Perez, his neighbor from the first floor. “Sorry,” Mr. Perez said, turning the hose off. “I saw those wasps swarming all over you while you were asleep. I didn’t know what else to do.” “It’s OK,” Joe lied, hiding his annoyance. He looked into the tree, but he didn’t catch a glimpse of the wasps. He wondered if they were gone forever now that they had been sprayed away by Mr. Perez and his hose. He bent over and picked the library book from the ground, also soaked. “There must be a hive or something up there,” Mr. Perez said, staring in to the leaves of the tree from a safe distance. He was holding the nozzle of the hose like a weapon in case the swarm decided to return for revenge, but there was still no sign of them. “Probably,” Joe said. He walked back toward the house, water dripping from his clothes and the library book for which he now had to pay. He’d never find out what Holly West was up to now. “I think I need to change.” “You think that weird space cloud had anything to do with the wasps?” Mr. Perez asked. “Maybe it agitated them.” Joe looked into the sky, expecting the hue to change to confirm his own theory ѡ݅ɴq$ٔ)tͅ($)5ȸAɕ聝ٔхѕɕѡ)͔ѽ݅ɐѡ͔q'eѼѡɐtͅq!́ѼѕɵѽȻt($))ٔչЁ́ݕЁͥѡх)ѡЁѼ́ѡɐȁѵи!ͽ܁)չЁͽݽձѡ݅ɴ)eЁ݅ЁЁѼ!ɥѼɸѡ́)ѵаɕɕѡЁ́ݕȁ)͡Ё]ѠɅݸЁͥͅЁݸЁѡх)ձѡѥ́ɽѡɥѽ݅ɐ)ݥѠ́ѡݡ)ѥͽѕ䁥́ЁѼи((0