Disclaimer: The Secret World and all associated characters, settings, and situations are the property of Funcom and Electronic Arts. All use of them here is purely for entertainment purposes, without permission or intention to profit.

Author's Note: The POV in this story is pretty experimental for me, but I figured first-person present tense would enhance the immersive element of the game's world. Hopefully, it works.

The Bee

Friday, October 20, 12:30AM

I sit back in my chair, and remove my glasses. I can't type another word. I rub my eyes and look at the clock. It's half past midnight. It's now officially Friday, not that I'll be able to convince my body of this until after I've laid down and gotten some sleep. I save my work and close my laptop. I can finish this essay when I wake up, hopefully.

My roommate, Becky Harmon, still isn't back yet. I hear the TV in the background and realize she must have left it on when she went to meet with her boyfriend. I guess she wasn't kidding about spending the night with him.

I pick at my auburn ponytail and try to parse out how I feel about that. Though I don't think it's right or smart for a girl to be sleeping with a guy before she marries him, I honestly have to say a little jealous—mostly in that she has a boyfriend she can make questionable decisions with. When we arrived in London last week, Becky already had a boyfriend to hang out with: John, a guy from her school in the States, who was studying abroad with her. Aside from that, she also knew half the people in the program already, and became friends with the other half practically by the time we'd all moved in. Me, I had nobody. I was the only one from my tiny little Colorado university to get the scholarship and I, well, I have trouble making friends to start with. I don't want to say I'm shy or anything, but…well, sometimes it's hard to know what to say, and sometimes I wonder if it's worth saying anything—with certain people anyway.

Becky's not one of those people. She's nice, she's outgoing, she's spontaneous, she's pretty…and she's nauseatingly good at everything, except perhaps at doing her homework, the way things are going. Her boyfriend's the same way. Charming, witty, handsome—I wish I could meet a boy like that, only I'm afraid he would drop out of the exchange program from lack of studying and try to take me with him. That's not something I plan on doing. This semester is my one chance to study English literature in England, my one chance, maybe in my entire life, to travel to another country and see the sights without actually spending any of my own money. I'm not about to let that be cut short because my classwork starts slipping.

I pull the white scrunchy out of my hair and toss it on the wardrobe. This isn't getting me anywhere and I need sleep. I force myself to stand up and start changing for bed. While I do I can hear the TV still going in the living room. There was a talk show on while Becky was here, but the program has changed to a news bulletin.

"In world news, the military is maintaining a heavily guarded perimeter around the site of last month's terrorist attack," the voice of a late-night anchorman drones. "The Japanese government has stated that an unidentified radical political group released a biological agent in the Tokyo Subway, less than one kilometer from Orochi Tower. Although the area has been evacuated, there have been eyewitness reports of activity inside the perimeter, including ongoing fighting between Orochi security personnel and armed civilians. Authorities are denying these reports and the military has barred anyone from going inside."

I step into the living room at this point, pick up the remote, and turn off the TV. Another story on the Tokyo Incident, as they're calling it, is not what I need right now. I wish they'd stop reporting on it. More to the point, I wish there'd stop being things for them to report on about it. The bombing was almost three weeks ago, and by rights there shouldn't be anything happening there except cleanup crews removing the wreckage, funerals and memorials for victims, and survivors being released from the hospital and reunited with their families. That's how I remember every other bombing or attack I've seen on the news ending. But this Tokyo Incident somehow isn't ending. No one is going in to remove wreckage or recover bodies. The military is still on the scene, keeping everything locked down, and there are these reports of fighting no one can confirm. I get this cold, sick feeling in the pit of my stomach whenever I try to imagine what's happening in Tokyo. Are there survivors in there, starving slowly in quarantine? Did the biological agent not kill its victims, but instead drive them mad? I shudder and try to put it all out of my mind. My brother, Micah, he would be into this sort of thing: government conspiracies, unsolved mysteries, and monsters lurking in the dark. He would probably say something ridiculous like the bomb turned everybody into zombies. He would probably say it with an excited look in his eyes too, as if he were actually looking forward to having a zombie apocalypse…probably because he actually is.

I miss my brother. He's crazy, and a rascal, but I miss him. I'm glad him and Dad live in a small town in the foothills of Colorado, where terrorists don't plot bombings at all. I'm glad they're safe. I wish I felt as safe myself, here in the big city of London. At least the apartments where they're putting up the American exchange students are in a good part of the city.

I open the window in the living room and am reminded that, no matter what part of the city I'm in, I'm still in a city. The scent that rises to my nostrils isn't that of pine trees and grasses, but of car exhaust. I sigh and tell myself the homesickness will pass.

I start back to my bedroom when I hear a droning buzz behind me. I turn to see a fly landing on the windowsill. I glare at it. "I didn't open that for you," I say, storming toward it. "Now shoo!"

I'm about to swing my hand at the fly when I stop myself. It isn't a fly. It's a bee. I don't know if I'm allergic. I don't even know how one goes about finding that sort of thing out, apart from getting stung. All I know is that I've never been stung in my life, and I don't want to start now. Even if I'm not allergic, I hear beestings are very painful—and who knows how quickly a bee can turn on the hand that swats it?

I could go find one of Becky's magazines and use it to swat the bee instead, or chase it back outside, but there's still a chance I could just end up making it mad. While I hesitate, the bee launches into the air and starts flying into the apartment. I recoil, but the bee flies right past me, buzzing around in a characteristically non-linear fashion. Now getting rid of it is going to take forever, and with it being this late, I just don't feel up to it.

"Okay, here's the deal, bee," I say, tracking its wavering flight path with my eyes. "You can stay in here tonight, see if you can find whatever it is you're looking for. We'll call a truce: I won't try to hurt you, you won't try to hurt me. By tomorrow morning, though, you'd better be gone."

The bee makes no reply except to land on one wall, walk a few inches, and then take off again, flying in weird loops and circles around the room. I leave it to this, turn off the lights, and head to bed. I consider closing the door to my bedroom, but that would cut off the airflow, and the nights are much warmer here than I'm used to. Besides, I can't hear the buzzing anymore. Maybe the bee has already left.

I settle down on my bed and, owing mainly to exhaustion, fall immediately asleep.

Next Time:

The Dream