Alas poor Yorick by FoolsErrand

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Yorick's senses awoke, the warmth of the sunlight washed through his nervous system and he took to the air. The ground beneath him was carpeted with the richest of colours and each hue whispered to him, beckoning him closer. The breeze streamed across his wings as Yorick rose higher and higher, and then the moment arrived. Yorick's head swam with a cascade of signals, his mind glowed brightly for an instant and then dimmed as his consciousness faded into the murky darkness, Yorick lost control. His wings continued to beat their hypnotic rhythm and Yorick tumbled into an ever decaying spiral. As he accelerated towards his final resting place Yorick died. The last vibrations of his wings, controlled by nothing but a memory, dissipate and Yorick's body hits the ground with the gentlest of impacts. And so on the 29th June 2085 at 8.32am the last flight of the last Bumblebee is complete.

Behind the thick plexiglass, Beth's eyes are stung by tears as she watches on the large display as the computer traces the death roll of the little Bumblebee. Yorick is the last of countless generations that have resided in this facility and for the last decade, Beth has been the invisible protector and provider for these most precious of insects. Beth stares at her console and with a heavy heart calls the Director she knows what has to be done. 'Sir, it has happened, I couldn't stop it' she says as her voice begins to break. 'Beth we knew this day would arrive, you have done the best job you could the Board are grateful for your efforts, I will prepare a statement, join me in my office' the line went dead. Beth looked around the room at the empty seats, for years their breeding programmes had seen successes and failures, at its peak, there were over 100000 bumblebees under her care but the bees simply didn't seem hungry enough to survive. Their rapid decline and now extinction was a warning, why did no one else see it. Beth turned her attention to the meadow habitat, it was so vast compared to the tiny bumblebee that lay motionless on the grass. A small maintenance droid hovered over Yorick, a tiny grappling hook was lowered to gather up his body and Yorick was gently lowered into a preservation flask, the stopper was sealed. Within moments Beth held the small flask up to the light, sighed and slipped it into her pocket. She slowly rose from her console and made her way up the stairs to the Director's office. She paused to look at the display case that sat at the back of the room. The tiny model was of one of the prototype drone pollinators, designed to mimic Yorick's family behavior's these autonomous microbots were now responsible for pollinating 70% of the world's fruit bearing plants. They were a technological marvel, solar powered, silent, biodegradable and worst of all marketable, it had poisoned everything. Beth looked at its empty eyes with disgust and swiped the display case off its stand, the glass shattered and tinkled chaotically as it tumbled down the banked steps of the control room. Beth would never again set foot in this room.

The Director's door brushed silently open. The small suited man rose from his chair ' Beth' he greeted her warmly and gave her an awkward embrace 'we did all we could' he said earnestly. 'It was not enough' Beth said quietly as she removed the sealed flask from her lab coat 'another one for your collection' she said bitterly as she placed the small transparent flask on the oversized desk. He was about to comment but thought better of it. 'We worked so hard for them Beth, look at this facility we have built, the bees made it all possible'. She shrugged dismissively,'Would you like me to come with you to the press conference, the media are already gathered?'. 'That is not necessary and besides, your next specimen is waiting' said the Director. Beth nodded 'In that case, I have things to do'. Taking one last forlorn glance at the little flask on the Directors desk, Beth turned. What a charade she thought to herself, the Director and the Board had made billions from the artificial drones they had created, they never wanted the bumblebees to survive. Conservation had become exploitation she felt complicit, she felt sick, this all had to stop.

Beth left the Director's office, the gleaming corridor echoed as she increased her stride. Beth could feel her pulse start to race as she flushed her lab coat and locator badge into a maintenance chute. She crossed the marble concourse with its distastefully opulent sculptures and slipped into a service corridor. She stopped outside a cleaning supplies store to retrieve her rucksack and hastily changed her clothes from the clinical uniform into casual clothing and strode off down the hallway. The stale air of the hallway freshened as she approached an emergency exit. This was the point of no return, she knew the moment she set foot outside a silent alarm would be triggered. She checked her watch then pushed on the release bar. Across a small graveled courtyard a small transport waited to take the maintenance workers back to their living quarters it was her only hope. Beth walked briskly and jumped on board quickly swiping the stolen identity card she had carefully duplicated. The transport jolted to life and quietly whisked the small number of weary passengers towards the small dormitory complex that serviced the facility. Beth turned to watch as the sprawling laboratories disappeared from view as the transport plunged into the darkness of the service tunnels. It wasn't long before the transport glided to a stop and the passengers disembarked. Beth slipped unnoticed away from the others, she could see her destination, it would not be long now. The small wood sat outside the perimeter fence it nestled into a small valley and its vibrant green shamed the industrial landscape that surrounded it. Like all of the remaining wooded areas it was restricted nobody was allowed to enter, Beth consulted her map, the overflow drain that would get her there was close.

Officer Vallone sat up as the alarm buzzed. He cursed, probably one of the maintenance workers using the wrong door again. The mainframe in front of him was already running a diagnostic of the employees inside the facility. The result came quickly back, one of the senior organicists had exited by an unauthorized route and boarded a dormitory transport. Vallone sighed, this was the second organicist this month to try and leave, they just didn't get it their contracts and the Company would not allow it. Action was needed. Officer Vallone, thought for a moment there was a press conference in progress this must be dealt with discretely. He reached for his communicator, 'response Team 2, assemble in transport depot in two minutes'.

It wasn't long before the 4 uniformed men stood outside the dormitory complex. Unbeknownst to them, every employee had a tracer injected into them when they joined the Company, they were easy to track. Vallone looked at his console, 'This way' he barked at his team. Where are you running to he thought to himself? As they stood at the entry to the covered overflow drain. 'It leads under the perimeter fence' said one of his officers. 'But not towards the city, there is nothing out this way'. 'According to my console it leads to a small waterway that leads down the valley through one of the restricted territories' Said another. 'That's where she must be heading, let's go'

Beth lay exhausted on the soft mossy floor of the wood, shafts of sunlight surrounded her. The fog of the last few months finally started to clear, the empty syringe lay heavy in her left hand. She could hear in the distance the noise of the approaching officers she gazed up into the canopy of the trees, the sun glistened on the leaves, tiredness engulfed her body, it was so peaceful here she thought as she slipped into unconsciousness. A short time passes and one of the security officers entered the small clearing. 'She's here' shouted the Officer, they rushed to the woman lying on the moss. Officer Vallone knelt over her, her pulse was weak and slowing, she looked as though she was in a deep sleep. 'Get a medical team out here, now'. Officer Vallone stood up and took in the scene, it's beautiful here he thought to himself as he felt the silence and the cool breeze wash over him. 'Bags empty boss' said one of his officers as he held up the rucksack. It disturbed his thoughts, 'Secure the perimeter' ordered Vallone. 'Why would she do this boss' asked one of the other officers, they were all thinking it. 'been stuck in the labs for too long, I guess' the answer seemed to satisfy the others but Vallone didn't believe his own words, there was something much more personal here, it made him feel uneasy.

A month had passed and Officer Vallone stood in the stillness of the clearing, he had come here every week since, the smell and sounds of the trees allowed him to clear his head, nobody knew he came here and if he was ever caught he would brush it off as follow up to the suicide. High above amongst the lower branches of a large oak tree, dozens of small capsules burst open in the morning Sun. Tentatively dozens of young bumblebees emerged from an artificial hibernation. On instincts honed over thousands of years, they took flight and the nectar of the wildflowers on the forest floor called to them. Officer Vallone noticed slight movement to his left and right and knelt to observe the bumblebees as they danced around the flowers. Instinctively he grabbed for his communicator but as his hand relaxed he smiled. Now he understood.

The End

~~~

Dave aka FoolsErrand is a science fiction writer from Ireland. He specialises in short stories here on Wattpad, a few of them published in anthologies. He claims to know more about the weather than he cares for, and he lives in fear of commas.

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