Cradling the gift from his aunt, Adam went down the stairs to street level. October was telling a firefighter that the smoke “was just some faulty wiring, possibly caused by ghosts.” The firefighter, having clearly heard this kind of talk from her before, was trying to excuse herself.
Gladys, having also made it down before Adam, was talking to an older man in a security uniform. “I hope I didn’t cause any trouble,” he said. “Thought there was a fire, so I had to call.” Gladys assured the man that they were thankful he was looking out for their safety.
“I do not understand why you lied about the cause of the smoke.”
The firefighters and security guard had gone. The team reconvened inside the shop.
“Well,” October shrugged, “if I’m being honest I don’t fully understand what that fight was all about. Just easier to lie and keep the officials off our backs.”
“Good instincts,” said Dante. “If we’re gonna change the world for the better, as Adam wants, the people in power will want to stop us.”
Adam said, “It would be nice if we could improve the world while acting openly.”
Dante said, “Yeah. Would be nice.”
“Don’t pout,” Dante said. “You wanna do good deeds in the open so the world can see. Maybe we’ll get there someday, but we aren’t there now. Things take time. We wanna be subtle for now, and take the chance to get more secure before everyone tries to stop us. Or at least to build a front wall to our place.”
Adam looked at the plastic covering the hole in the storefront. “We are going to need more money to have this fixed.”
“Don’t worry about it,” said Dante. “I know plenty of scum in town that we can rob.”
Adam addressed the group. “I hope none of you have been frightened off by the fight. I hope not all of our teamwork will be so violent, but I feel we can expect more like this as we go forward. You could be risking your lives. Any concerns?”
“If I’m going to be cooking,” said Myrtle, “we’re going to need a better kitchen.”
Nineteen Snakes handed Adam a note that read “We should set up my terrarium in that room upstairs with the big window.”
“Good news, kid,” October said as she patted Adam on the shoulder. “Nobody is frightened.”
Dante took Gladys aside. “We’re gonna need some money to fix your melted hand too. Wanna come with me and rob some gangsters?”
Together, they went out into the night just as fog came rolling in. Dante apparently knew where they were headed, so Gladys followed.
“Well, we have a team,” Gladys said. “Adam is ostensibly in charge, but you basically have your hand on the wheel. Pretty much what you wanted.”
“I’ve have worse deals, that’s for sure.”
“Think it’ll last?”
“It’ll do for now.”
“Doesn’t seem like you’ll need to kill Adam then?”
“Doesn’t seem like it.”
Adam’s Extra-Fancy Honey Shop opened two months later.
The neighbourhood got little foot traffic, so customers were few. When Adam first heard the bell announcing someone coming in, he went downstairs to find security guard Devon DeWitt, trying to force cash into the register.
“Been giving me free muffins for weeks,” Devon said. “Now that you’re officially open, you oughtta let me pay for this.”
Before Gladys, who was working behind the counter, could argue, Adam said “No charge, friend. You protect our neighbourhood, you deserve muffins.”
“How do you expect to stay in business like this?”
“We shall manage.”
Myrtle developed an extensive menu of baked goods and candies, though she’d had to use store-bought honey. Adam’s bees had not yet had the time to make a crop of their own.
October ran the shop’s website. She also ordered a number of bee-themed knickknacks, applied price tags, and arranged them on a shelf facing the window. “Might draw in tourists,” she said.
Dante refused to play along with the business that he considered a “front” for their real mission until Adam put him in charge of security. He made Clint his second-in-command and began training him to fight better.
Adam had continued adding to the rooftop garden, including a relatively large potted tree. He sat in its shade as he watched his hive. One of the Nineteen Snakes relaxed in the branches above him.
The bees had taken to regularly visiting the park in Sarahill. Adam was relieved for them to have a safe place to search for pollen, but he encouraged them to examine the rest of the city as well. He hoped to be there for some time, so it would be good for them to know the territory well. They had to know their home turf.
If a honeybee can be said to be excited for the future, this bee is.
The hive is noticeably healthier, the bees more productive, the general buzz warm and pleasant.
The city and the forest each offer vast territory in which to gather pollen.
The human, Adam Obianu, strives to keep the colony safe, and has allies to help do so.
New, strong drones, from some other place, have been mated with the queen and strong workers are being grown.
The bee looks forward to whatever the future has to bring, confident the colony will be able to handle it.
Adam’s recurring dreams of Aaron and Isaac stopped, though he wished they might come back just once more. He wanted they to come and tell him that he was on the right path. They could tell him that he was finally finished being a destructive force and had created something beneficial. No such dream ever came, but neither did more stress dreams.
He was thinking about them when Gladys and Dante came to him.
“Hey,” said Gladys. “Got reports of something happening downtown that sounds maybe paranormal.”
“Well,” Adam said, “Let us go and look into it.”
So they did.