Short Fiction

The Hive by Rania Hellal

When you read this, I will most likely be dead.

The night is biting and cold against my naked skin. The rope is impossibly tight around my ankles, set on digging its way down to the bone.

I am not sure anymore, what will kill me first;  The cold , the starved predators of the forest or my own people.

Now, before I tell you my story, I want you to know, that I am nothing like the terrible things  you might have heard about me.

People of our hive think me mad and a witch. And for that I was sentenced to be hanged tomorrow, when God won’t be watching-but half of his people will be.

These crooks, they always did all their villainy at day light, didn’t they ?

God is believed not to be watching then.

And what is a sin if God himself didn’t see it?

I hope you aren’t one to believe all that nonsense as the rest of them do.

The rope tugs restlessly at my skin, the bark of the tree is rough and uneven against the damp piece of charcoal I’m using to scribble on it. My fingers burn from the cold and the billion open cuts about them.

For the stubborn tree I am tied to, despised me as much as my own people and wouldn’t give up easily its skin for me to write on it.

I had to scrape it off with my teeth and nails.

It pains me a great deal to know that it will be a long time before someone sees these words. And a longer time before someone will be able to decipher them.

People of our hive don’t read.

Marshal-the Father of our hive- had set aflame every last book, long time ago, and I dare say, that the majority of us don’t even know what a book is.

Even the few who still recognize the mere shape of it, see it as a tool of witchcraft and wizardry.

Something that would make a man go rogue and turn him against his own God and his own people.

But I am sure, one of those days, these words will mean something to someone.

Solemn, our village, our hive, is the only place I’ve ever known.  People here believe it’s the only place there is.

I think that’s just another lie of Marshal’s to keep us all inside this filthy place and rule us into our doom.

I would’ve probably been as oblivious to what lies beyond this forest and the mountains surrounding it, as the rest of the women here, if it weren’t for the books.

And so you see, it is the books that have opened my eyes on so many things.

That made me do the things I’ve done.

The few books that escaped Marshal’s great fires, I hid and nursed with care over the past years.

As one would do with one’s own child.

They say that there are endless hives all around the world, just like ours and a billion times bigger than ours.

With buildings carved into solid rock that towered as high as one hundred of our tents stacked on top of each other.

They say that the one building among those is home to more people than the ones that dwell in our hive combined.

Some of the books even had curious pictures in green and blue with lines and dots and a million things upon them. I thought the shapes were random at first but then I learnt over time that those pictures depicted the world beyond Solemn. The one I will never have the chance to see.

I could never come to locate Solemn on those maps but at least now I know for sure that it is a damn big world. I even have the feeling that this filthy village is too small to even be pinned on the map.

How queer it is to know that the only world I’ve ever known is as meaningless as a particle of dust over the page of that book.

But this is nothing compared to all the other peculiarities I’ve come to learn. For, the books read, that the people that dwelled in those places were different in shape and color.

How curious.

They talk about numerous fathers. “Males”, they called them.

Other times, they are referred to as “boys”,” men”.

 These people, they could grow feathers upon their faces, just like Father Marshal.

They were flat about the chest and they didn’t bleed from month to month.

But most of all, these people, they cannot be with children like the rest of us. Father Marshal should hate it. Should think of them useless to the hive.

Each one of them is groomed to one woman, just like our women.

If Marshal was to hear that, he would say it is out of nature.

He would say it is a sin that God will certainly punish.

Now you see, here we live like God had intended us to.  Following a system that he created and Men followed. A system imprinted in the very fabric of nature, that one can see if one believed.

The hive system.

For, Humans are insects but on a greater scale.

One Father, chosen by God. Made stronger than the rest of us. Bulkier in shape and with a voice thickened for God to speak through it.

And his wives and daughters are to bear his children and serve him as long as they shall live.

That is how Marshall has kept the order around here.  We worked for him by day and prayed to his God by night.

And when a woman gives birth to his child, Marshal shall be the one to inspect the newborn first and give him his blessings.

For, Marshal, could look straight into babies and know those who will be good from those who will be corrupted- those unable to carry his children, the boys; as I come to learn later.

If it was the case, these poor babies were snatched from their grieving mothers and sacrificed to God.

A starving God that is. Whose hunger is never to be satisfied with the flesh of our unlucky children.

One time I told Marianne – the woman who bore me 19 summers ago- about those people I read about in the books.

“Bright God have mercy on me!” She gasped and pinched my side.

Marianne had already lost 5 children to God before she gave birth to me.

She had watched as their fine hairs sizzled and twisted under the touch of the hungry fire.

As their soft pink skin shrank and darkened and bled.

Then she watched as that blood boiled and turned into filthy air that she later took into her lungs.

She danced at their painful little screams before the fire muffled their voices all at once.

I shall like to know what God’s mercy she still talks about!

“Watch that filthy mouth of yours!  If the people of the hive shall know about it, they will hang you as a witch.

I wish God had taken you instead of my other children. I wish he takes you now!”

She would say that with bitterness in her mouth. And then spit into my face right after.

The moon.

That’s what the books called their God.

A silver disk that centres the skies at night and cowards away at the touch of light by morning.

They say it is a rock hanging in thin air just as the ones we use to fuel our fires.

Just as the ones we step on every day with the heel of our shoes.

I would prefer that anytime over the cruel God they talk about.

The one that leaves his people to their sins by morning and when it comes at night, eats up half of their children.

When Marianne bore Izah, she thought he was dead.

Everyone did, even Marshal.

For the boy wouldn’t scream or cry at first and his flesh was as dark as death itself.

They threw him away like a torn rug and didn’t even bother to hear if his little heart still beat.

And it did. God damn me! It still did at the time.

I took the boy and hid him from everybody else.

I hid him from God himself.

 I cared for him, even more than I cared for the books.

He was small and tender as anything. 

And, oh dear was he handsome!

With fair hair and eyes as black as coal when he opened them.

I would be cursed if that pure face was the face of a sin.

It was quite the opposite.

It was everything this filthy world was not.

I would feed him milk from the cows that I would premix with a spoon of God’s blood-which books referred to sometimes as liquor.

The drink would put him immediately to slumber and he wouldn’t make a sound all day.

What a good boy he was!

But one day, Marianne saw me do it.

Her face twisted and crimpled in a strange way.

And she watched for a while as his breathing grew slow and even under the pull of the drink.

Then she stretched her arm.

I thought at first she meant to touch his little cheek.

Instead she slapped mine.

The boy fell from my lap to the ground and started squealing.

A muffled sound made heavy by the drink.

That was the last day in the short life of poor Izah.

 For, his fate too, had joined that of the other little boys of the hive.

And I, became a witch.

Rania Hellal

Image from Pixabay 

8 thoughts on “The Hive by Rania Hellal”

  1. Rania

    Brilliant observations on God. Brilliant line about sin. This God and sin are like money,
    valueless without faith and gold behind them. Not enough gold in the solar system to back notes, but always enough fear to keep God busy. Outstanding work.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like a more extreme version of recent cults. I want the history of these hives – how did they evolve.
    I note the similarity to the destruction of male chicks because of their lack of economic value rather than Leader’s exclusive right to sex and progeny.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah we definitely can compare the hive to a cult ..these miserable women are so absorbed , they dont recognize anything anymore but the cult and Marshal…thank for your comment

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Rania,
    There are some very clever lines in this.
    You painted quite the picture with your words.
    The collective term ‘Hive’ made me think on the Aztec buildings.
    A very interesting piece of work.


  4. Hi Rania,
    Reading your story was like looking down at the earth from an airplane before the clouds block your view. Why can’t humans see the beauty, why do they destroy it? In your story, it’s because the incestuous psychopath Marshal-the-Father rules over his wives and daughters with an iron fist disguised as honey. They allow him to do so because they can no longer even recognize him as a false god, and because their pulsion to want to topple him has been killed in the bud. The women no longer even see the value of books and, even much worse, of their own infant sons.
    It’s so very sadly reminiscent of what goes on in so many countries in the world!
    Thank you for your courage!


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