Story: “The Bees” by Dan Chaon
Gene’s son Frankie wakes up screaming. It has become frequent, two or three times a week, at random times: midnight — 3 AM — five in the morning. Here is a high, empty wail that severs Gene from his unconsciousness like sharp teeth. It is the worst sound that Gene can imagine, the sound of a young child dying violently — falling from a building, or caught in some machinery that is tearing an arm off, or being mauled by a predatory animal. No matter how many times he hears it he jolts up with such images playing in his mind, and he always runs, thumping into the child’s bedroom to find Frankie sitting up in bed, his eyes closed, his mouth open in an oval like a Christmas caroler. Frankie appears to be in a kind of peaceful trance, and if someone took a picture of him he would look like he was waiting to receive a spoonful of ice cream, rather than emitting that horrific sound.
“The Bees” is from Dan Chaon’s most recent book, the short story collection Stay Awake (2012), which was a finalist for the Story Prize. Other works include the national bestseller Await Your Reply and Among the Missing, a finalist for the National Book Award. Chaon’s short fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize Anthologies, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. A new novel, Ill Will, is due out in Summer 2016.
Learn more about him at danchaon.tumblr.com.
About the Narrator:
Eric Luke is the screenwriter of the Joe Dante film Explorers, which is currently in development as a remake, the comic books Ghost and Wonder Woman, and wrote and directed the Not Quite Human films for Disney TV. His current project Interference, a meta horror audiobook about an audiobook… that kills, is available free on iTunes and at Quillhammer.com.