16 February 2010

Magpie Tales #1...The Pewter Creamer

Martha liked to pretend it had once poured honey, like in those ads for some perfume or other, where the Greek goddess was dripping with it.
Honey keeps almost forever, she knew. Once it was found in an Egyptian tomb...still edible. It must be because of the bees.
Her bees, now, they were something of another world. Martha was a careful bee-keeper, but she did not believe in wearing a veil or bee-keeping suit when she visited them.
When she first saw them, when she was only five, she had come home covered in stings.
Her father had shouted at her, but she could not tell if it was out of worry for her or concern for the bees. Maybe he thought she had let them loose?
That was the final straw, when her mother finally decided that it was enough.
Strange, she thought, her mother would hate it if she knew Martha had picked up bee-keeping just where her father had left off.
He had died three years ago, twenty-two years after her mother had been put in that place. He had been stung three thousand times. She knew, she had counted every sting. No one knew he had died, just her.
She buried him near the bees.
Every day she visited the bees, taking careful count of the dead ones. It seemed that they died so often. She knew that there were now exactly two thousand nine hundred seventy-five bees in the hives.
She supposed when she was ready to die that they would send her on her way just as they had her father.
It was a fair exchange. The bees had kept her father alive far too long. She was already seventy-seven, and he had been over one hundred when he died.
Every day at three o'clock she took three tablespoons of the bees' honey, carefully stored in a glass jar over the fireplace. She put it into the pewter creamer and then warmed it slowly over the fire, just as her father had taught her. Then a splash of milk, carefully calculated, but unmeasured. Lastly, a pinch of cinnamon.
She drank it in exactly two and a half minutes, no longer, no sooner.
Then she took a nap for two hours.
She couldn't say she felt a day over thirty, maybe even younger.
The ritual puzzled her though. Was it the simple preparation or the honey itself that gave her this energy?
She decided to test it.
After all, one day without the miracle mixture could hardly kill her, could it?
She prepared the mixture as usual, but instead used honey purchased from the store. She drank it, and went to take her nap.
Three minutes after she had fallen asleep she was woken by a buzzing.
This was not an unusual sound to her, for she visited the bees every day. Yet she knew something was wrong. She never woke from her nap until exactly two hours after it had begun.
Martha sat up in bed. It was dark.
Her window was open, a cool breeze teased the curtains.
She stood up.
She sank back down again. Her knees felt weak and her head was spinning. She rose more slowly this time, holding on to the headboard.
She inched closer to the window. She couldn't see, but she blamed the darkness. She reached out toward the wall.
Her hand connected with a living being.
Martha screamed.
The wall was coated in bees. She rubbed her hand against her night gown but yanked it back again. It too was covered in the buzzing, writhing mass of bees.
She reached for her face. She tried to pry her eyes open. It was then she realised that her whole body was covered in bees.
She ran into the sitting room, her knees almost giving way. She stepped toward the fireplace, only to have her bare foot connect with a carpet of bees.
Martha screamed again. This time she knew it was hopeless.
She tried to find the fire poker, she had left the fire to die down, it was probably still hot. Her foot felt as though it had been thrown into a furnace.
The floor was covered in hot coals.
Martha stopped moving.
She stood shaking in the middle of the room.
She could hear the bees buzzing.
Was this how her father had died?
She reached out for anything to fight them with.
Her hand touched the cool pewter of the creamer.
She swung it in the air, hearing the swoosh as it flew. Then a small ding. She had hit a bee!
She swung it again with renewed vigour, rejoicing in the soft *pings*.
Martha opened her eyes. All around her the ground was littered with dead bees.
She collected them all. There were only two thousand nine hundred seventy-five, not the huge overwhelming army she had pictured.
She lit a fire and threw them into it.
Martha inhaled the sickly smell of the burning bees.
When they were all gone, she carefully filled the pewter creamer with the bees' ashes.
The next day, Martha's niece found her body near the bee hives. There were exactly two thousand nine hundred seventy-five stings covering her body. Martha's niece buried her there, next to the hives.
Then she went inside and took a drink.
It was three o'clock.
She poured three tablespoons of the bees' honey into the pewter creamer and then warmed it slowly over the fire, just as Martha had taught her. Then she added splash of milk and a pinch of cinnamon.
She drank it in exactly two and a half minutes, no longer, no sooner.
Then she took a nap for two hours.
When she woke up, she thought to herself that her grandmother would have been very angry if she knew that she was following in Martha's footsteps.
Then she went out and visited the bees.

Note: I have absolutely no idea where this story came from! First of all, I was going to write about the origin of the pewter creamer, not a story where it just features. Secondly, I never write horror stories (I must admit, I frightened myself a bit on this one). Thirdly, where did the bee-keeping idea come from????

I changed the picture a bit from the one willow provided for Magpie Tales. (BTW, I am #45).

After one read through, I have realised that unintentionally I have made the pewter creamer the most important aspect of the story! It is the thing that kept Martha's father alive! And it is why the bees returned (resurrected) and were able to kill Martha! I cannot believe my subconscious mind did that.

The variety in posts abut the creamer is endless! Some are funny, some are poetic, some are funny and poetic. Some are sort of tragic and some haven't been posted yet. I look forward to reading the rest of them.


willow said...

Creepy story, of the Stephen King variety! That store bought honey just wasn't the same. The bees weren't too happy about it either. Well done!

Vicki Lane said...

Ooh, nice and creepy with lots of lovely detail! Well done!

Brian Miller said...

dont you love where the mind takes us when we let it...nicely done...i like how you took it somewhere many would not...

Joan Tucker said...

My favorite story so far, Congrats. THe story wrote you. Joan T

Aoife.Troxel said...

Thank you everyone, and Joan I especially agree with you :D That happens a lot to me...

tori said...

here from Magpie.
Bees facinate me and I loved your creepy story. great job!