Artemis Rising returns to Escape Pod for its third year! This month-long event highlights science fiction by women and non-binary authors. We have five original stories this year that range in topics from biotech to far-flung A.I, virtual reality, and nanotech.
AUTHOR: Allison Mulder
NARRATOR: Ibba Armancas
HOST: Divya Breed
ARTIST: Ashley Mackenzie
- The Zombee Project 3.0 is an Escape Pod original for Artemis Rising 3.
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- For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our Wikia
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about the author…
Allison Mulder is most likely a failed science experiment which originated in small-town Iowa. She is unabashedly addicted to puns, often lapses into a nocturnal lifestyle, and tweets too much as @AMulderWrites. Her fiction has appeared in Crossed Genres, and is forthcoming at Intergalactic Medicine Show. These stories can be found at allisonmulder.wordpress.com/ along with other experiments in fantasy, scifi, and horror.
about the narrator…
Raised by swordfighters and eastern European freedom fighters, Ibba Armancas is a writer-director currently based in Los Angeles. Her darkly comedic genre sensibilities are showcased in two webseries and a feature film forthcoming later this year. One day she will find time to make a website, but in the mean time you can follow her projects and adventures on twitter or instagram.
about the artist…
Ashley Mackenzie is an artist and illustrator based in Edmonton, Alberta. She was born in Victoria, BC and grew up between Vancouver, BC and Edmonton, AB. After studying online for a year through AAU in San Francisco, Calif., she moved to Toronto to pursue a degree in Illustration at OCADU. Though she loves the challenge of creating complex conceptual illustrations and finding new ways to navigate ideas, visually she also enjoys making concept art and decorative illustration. When not drawing, she can be found reading, playing video games or thinking about her next project.
The Zombee Project 3.0
By Allison Mulder
Jensen brought the job offer to each of them in person, like no one did anymore. She poached them from the best labs and the best apiaries, all over the world. Put everything she knew on the table, in out-of-the-way cafés and fine-but-nothing-fancy hotel rooms and home kitchens which smelled strongly of coffee and not much else.
She handpicked them. She made that very clear. Like she was assembling heroes, forming a unit–a rescue unit, with a crucial task.
At that point, it wasn’t recruitment. It was a higher calling.
“It’s not legal,” Jensen told each of them. “But no one who could enforce that knows about it.”
None of them cared. They signed Jensen’s contracts and confidentiality agreements.
And from then on they were all members of Jensen’s team.
Nothing less and nothing more.
Jensen’s team wasn’t ready when the first resurrected bees began twitching in their wire-covered frames.
The team had gone through so many cases of small, still bodies sent by the collection branch of the project–fresh bees, long-dead bees, solitary, bumble, and honey. Pollinators, honey-makers. Stinging and stingless and every one of them dead from Colony Collapse Disorder, and a dozen other hypothesized causes, and more unidentified threats besides.
Jensen’s team was made up of professionals, happily married to their work, caring tenderly for the in-laws that were their safety protocols. But they got used to failure, administering the compound to insect corpses that stayed corpses. Observing only decomposition during the dictated test periods. Burning the samples to cinders, then receiving new batches of bees for testing.
Jensen’s team got so used to failure that they got used to other things, like neglecting their bulky, white protective suits when not working directly with the dead bees. They filled out paperwork and cleaned beakers in quiet corners of the lab, bare-faced, chatting with the team members who handled the compound and the corpses at the far table.
When the first stiff, disoriented honey bee wriggled back to life and slipped from a surprised scientist’s forceps, several team members across the room were not wearing their protective suits.
“Got it,” he called. “I’ve got this one–”
He deftly swept the runaway bee from midair and–no alternatives in reach–cupped the beaker against his own gloved hand.
A wince. Wide eyes.
He slid beaker and bee onto one of the lab tables, waving a teammate forward. “Take it.”
The wire bee veil didn’t hide his colleague’s horror. “Did it–”
“Quarantine.” He edged to the door, heart racing. “I need to quarantine myself. But it’ll be fine. Just keep the others contained. Everything will be fine.”