Whales and Bumblebees

(This is a short story inspired by watching a teenager try to stomp bumblebees while he waited for a school bus. I intervened. A previous version of this story has appeared in various places, and it was also later turned into an incredible hand-made book with illustrations by my greatest collaborator, whom I dearly miss. Print run: two copies. I wish there were more.)

At a historic summit that went unreported in the press, the whales and bumblebees decided by unanimous acclaim—we’ve had enough of humans. They take. They destroy everything. They’ve got to go.

It was quite the party at the summit. Many attendees cut a dashing, revolutionary figure. Whales drank krill from champagne flutes and bumblebees smoked hand-rolled nectar cigarettes. Raspberry berets and purple ascots were worn. Speeches were fiery. The dancing got dirty. They cut loose to Prince, their favorite performer. Right before he passed away, he gifted them with unreleased tracks about whales and bumblebees. He’d recorded a triple album on the subject. Prince knew what was coming.

The whales and bumblebees issued a manifesto at the summit. It was written in a big fat weird cursive script that humans couldn’t read on their tiny phones. It said, in part: “We only want to bumble among pretty flowers and swim unfettered through the seven seas. We shall not go extinct. We shall bumble in the meadows and prowl the silent depths forever.”

The whales knew a little something about humans. Call it inside information. They once lived on land like humans, but they had the good sense to return to the oceans. That was their secret weapon—this ancient secret knowledge that humans were too dumb to grasp because they believed they stood atop of everything. Bumblebees knew something about humans, too. They knew humans raised children who were so depraved that they enjoyed killing bumblebees for sport on warm summer days.

The summit didn’t offer any military strategy to defeat humans. The whales and bumblebees didn’t need one. They didn’t have to do anything but wait. Humans were withering, clocking out; it was in all the papers.

In order to survive, humans needed only to pay better attention to the whales and bumblebees. The answers were staring them in their blank faces. That was not going to happen.

The whales and bumblebees merely had to hang on a little while longer, and they knew how to do that. The music of Prince would inspire them along the way.

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