eBees II

“First the bees, now the birds? It’s not possible!” Dr. Romain Zellers walked through the orchard, his eBees prototypes whizzed from flower to flower between the cherry trees. Next week it would be apple blossoms. He smacked a mosquito on his arm in the twilight air.

Carol, nonplussed, replied, “Not one domestic bird sighted in at least eight months, and it’s been half a year since anyone in these parts heard birdsong.”

“You must be mistaken,” Dr. Zellers replied, as he swiped at a swarm of gnats in his path, then another. “The media are sensationalizing a few isolated incidences of flock failure. They’ve finally banned the pesticides that were the cornerstone of colony collapse among bees.” Another mosquito corpse decorated his neck in reds and browns. “The two can’t be connected.”

Carol shot ahead of him and blocked his path along the row of dwarf trees. “Romain, you know me. I was a researcher before I took over my family’s orchard, and I’m telling you: not a bluebird, nor sparrow, nor chickadee has been sighted anywhere near here in almost a year.”

He placed his hand on her shoulder and cocked his head to the side. “Alright. If it will set your mind at ease, I’ll put together a team to investigate.”

“That’d be a good start. Add me to that team,” she said, brushing away a fly and his hand in one move.

Two weeks later, Dr. Zellers sent the research team out into the woods near the semi-rural town. George was first to find a nest, and brought its disturbing contents down for the others to see.

Six hatched chicks in an advanced state of decomposition gave Zellers pause, but one nest did not persuade him Carol Channing was right. Ten days, six hundred mosquito bites, and thirty-seven similar nests, each bagged, its location and date of discovery marked clearly in permanent black ink later confirmed her concerns.

Back at his lab, Zellers grit his teeth as Miss Channing examined the first nest remains under a magnifying glass. With tweezers, she gingerly moved infant feathers and delicate bones to examine the contents of the birds’ stomachs: metal wings and plastic bodies. “It’s not possible,” Dr. Zellers hissed.

“Oh, but it is possible, and entirely predictable.” Carol lifted a partially munched eBee from the nest between her metal pincers. “Now, how many countries did you say you sold these to?”

 

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