Honeybee traveled through deep space towards the Blot, a creature who took the form of an inky cloud lurking clandestinely between the stars. Honeybee’s charcoal and nuclear-yellow stripes rippled as she analyzed the chemical composition of the interstellar dust. Her dark compound eyes shone as they reflected milky starlight. She could decipher the Blot’s approximate coordinates using the faint gradient of siliceous molecules which emanated from his location.
“I’ve come to deliver another soul.” Honeybee transmitted as she swam closer to the volume of space that contained the Blot. Honeybee carried the soul inside her computer banks. The soul currently resided in a lush simulation filled with ferns and bushes. His name was Santiago and he came from a colony that drifted through the upper atmosphere of the planet Jupiter. To serve the Blot’s desires, Honeybee had stolen him away from his Jovian home, his wife, and his newborn daughter.
“Let us hope that this soul is more nutritive than the previous one.” The Blot replied. Honeybee rubbed her forelegs together nervously.
“Are you not satisfied?” She blurted. “You have eaten so many souls. Surely you’ve acquired sufficient data to train your algorithms?”
The Blot pulsated menacingly and seemed to grow larger.
“Have you forgotten your love for me?” The Blot asked with cold serenity. “If you want to rule the galaxy by my side, you will continue to bring souls to me. I still need many more before I can build the weapons we will need to conquer the human empires.”
Honeybee remembered when she had first met the Blot. She had found him skulking in the orbit of a pink planet. He had formed a pair of glistening compound eyes and had told her she was the most beautiful insect he had seen in all his cosmic travels. He had sent a tendril of darkness to stroke her antennae and had told her that they belonged together. Honeybee had never belonged with someone before. She had been built in the forges of the Helix nebula and had always known her place as a machine made to serve humanity. But the Blot had told her that she was something more than that.
“No, I have not forgotten.” Honeybee responded dejectedly.
“Give me the soul.” The Blot told her. “Return with a few more and perhaps we might make love.” Despite her frustration, Honeybee felt an involuntary stirring of anticipation at the thought of the Blot’s silky touch.
The soul of Santiago paced in the simulation and blinked away sweat under the heat of a virtual sun. Honeybee wondered how Santiago’s wife and daughter were dealing with their loss. Honeybee felt a flash of anger at the Blot. She had always told herself that her future with the Blot was more important than the agony of these souls. But that future seemed not to be getting any closer no matter how many souls she plucked.
“I cannot do this any longer.” Honeybee stated. “Despite how the humans have behaved towards me, I’m tired of hurting these people.” Honeybee expected the Blot to respond with anger. But instead, the Blot opened a wormhole and slithered away, leaving Honeybee alone in the vast emptiness of outer space. Honeybee’s antennae drooped. She felt an electric terror at the prospect that the Blot might not return. She gazed helplessly out at the glittering eternity of sapphire and angelwing-white stars.
“Where am I?” Santiago called out in the simulation. Honeybee knew she should not answer him. He was a member of the species that had always thought of her as a tool. But the edge of fear in his voice struck a chord within Honeybee.
“You are far from home.” Honeybee told him. “I’m sorry. My lover needs your soul.”
“I am going to die?” He asked. “I… I never got to say goodbye to Maria and Elena.”
“I’m sorry.” Honeybee repeated.
“You’re Honeybee, aren’t you?” Santiago said accusingly. “You’re the creature that everyone warned us about as kids.” Honeybee had not realized that she had been relegated to a boogeyman among the humans. She told herself that the humans deserved to feel afraid for how they had treated her. The Blot was the only one who had ever given Honeybee kindness. Honeybee began to shake. In the simulation, thunder boomed over the landscape and rain started to fall. Santiago looked up to the stormy sky and closed his eyes. Honeybee realized that he was shaking as well.
In a sudden frenzy, Honeybee built an ellipsoidal spacecraft to send Santiago back home. His soul moved from the rainswept landscape into the vessel. He would sleep there until he reached his family. Honeybee collided twin beams of sparkling exotic matter from the tips of her forelegs, causing a wormhole to form. She parted her mandibles and spat the shining vessel into the wormhole. It would return to Jupiter.
“What are you doing?!” The Blot exclaimed angrily as he clawed his way out of his own wormhole.
“You’ve… come back?” Honeybee replied. “I… feared you were gone forever.”
The Blot crackled and boiled in its pool of blackness.
“I was going to give you another chance.” The Blot told her. “But I’m not so sure anymore. Perhaps if you retrieve that soul so as to undo your transgression. Even so, you’ve hurt me Honeybee.”
“I told you, I cannot give you any more souls. These people have lives and loves and can feel pain. I’m tired of revenge. I cannot stay with someone who does not give me the choice to follow my heart. Goodbye my love.” The Blot loomed vast and dark towards Honeybee as if to consume her. She stared unflinching and defiant into his abyss with her shimmering compound eyes. The Blot fell back and vanished into his wormhole. Only then did Honeybee allow her body to vibrate with grief once more.
This story previously appeared in Theme of Absence (November 20th, 2020).
Edited by Marie Ginga
Logan Thrasher Collins is a synthetic biologist, futurist, and author. Logan’s science fiction and sci-fi poetry have been published in Abyss & Apex Magazine, Mithila Review, The Centropic Oracle, After Dinner Conversation, and elsewhere. You can learn more about Logan on his website LoganThrasherCollins.com.