Highly Commended Story - Junior Category
“For the love of Honey” by Justine Keira Tillett, Home Schooled Cambridge, South Africa, is the Highly Commended story in the junior category of the second biannual Short Story Contest 2018.
For the love of Honey
Kibali was an African Honey Badger. He was born in a den right below the base of a large Marula tree which grew on the edge of a cliff along the Boekenhoutskloof Mountains. This Marula tree was “The Grandfather” of all African Marula trees. It was known as the Great Old Hollow-wood. This magnificent gigantic tree was so impressive that all the African mammals visited this tree yearly. The local tribe would visit the old tree to collect the fruit that had dropped to the ground after ripening and used them to brew their local beer. The gigantic grey elephants would gently grab a branch and pull down some of the ripening fruit too. The branches were full of birds and the flowers which were buzzing with bees and life.
The flowers were the most sensational in the country. They were very well known amongst all the insects of the area. The tree produced the sweetest fragrance and the most delicious fruit in the area as well. The large cream flowers could be smelt from kilometers away.
While buzzing across the grasslands and enjoying the sunshine of the fresh morning, a sweet fragrance caught the nose of a very small honey bee. Nyuki was one of the three newly born Queen Honey Bees, which had recently taken flight in search of a new home. She decided to instinctively follow the hypnotic perfume.
As she was hovering peacefully over the grasslands, she came to know that she was being followed...
All of a sudden, she was overshadowed by two large wings. The shriek that followed made her aware of a story her mother once told her about the dragon of the sky. As fast as her wings could take her she zoomed towards the Marula tree. She knew she was on the radar of the Greater Honeyguide. This bird was one of the greatest enemies and hunter to all bees. As she was flying at full speed and watching the sky, she was unaware that she was flying straight into a dark hole at the base of the tree. With a sudden thud, she hit something large and moist and had fallen hard to the ground.
As soon as her head stopped spinning, she was aware that two very large sparkly black eyes were peering down at her. She noticed two very large black paws with rather long sharp claws. She gulped hard. She had never seen such a creature before. Kibali was smiling at her with surprise. Kibali had never seen such a bright glowing creature in his life. She's so beautiful and smelled deliciously sweet. Her stripes made him smile warmly.
“What are you?” he asked gently. Nyuki replied buzzing softly, “I am a Queen honey bee”.
“I was buzzing along trying to find myself a new home in order to make honey” adding into her response.
“Are you ok ?” he asked kindly.
With the very faint, voice she replied, “Yes, thank you”.
“Why are you in such a rush?’ he asked.
She replied that she had been chased by the dragon of the sky! The dragon of the sky! He has never heard of such a creature before. Kibali was not scared of anything. He has chased lions and bitten hyenas but never heard of a dragon!
Kibali was a bit confused and decided to slowly get up and stroll towards the entrance of the den. Nothing really frightened him. As he stuck his nose out, he realised he was being watched by a slender black beaked creature. This creature had the shimmering colour of the sunset and the fresh green tinge of the grasslands in spring.
Why are you chasing this little honey queen? The honeyguide replied with an evil smile. All honey bees are as sweet as honey. Kibali had remembered the frightful look on that little honey bee’s face.
This little queen bee is looking for a home and you are trying to eat her!
“Have you tasted one?” asked the Honeyguide. “Of course not! ” said Kibali. “I eat honeycomb I do not eat the bee’s that make the honey.”
“Did your mother never teach you about the ways of the wild and where all the food on the earth comes from?” asked Kibali.
The honeyguide replied, “That he had never thought about it.” Kibali explained the life journey of bees and flowers. And that without bees there will be no flowers, without flowers there will be no fruit, without fruit there would be no trees and without trees there would be no life or homes for all the creatures on Earth.
The Honeyguide thought for a while and agreed that it all made sense. The Honeyguide decided to meet the Little Queen and become friends. He thought from now on he would protect the little queen. He would no longer hunt honey bees but instead, he would protect them.
Nyuki flew out of the hollow in the base of the old tree and flew up high in the sky. She buzzed straight up towards the flowers hanging from the branches. Buzzing and zooming she had decided to make this tree her home. Every year she allowed the Badger a taste of honeycomb. The Badger and the Honey-guide became best friends. As the years flew by the relationship became stronger and stronger and they became the very best of friends. Every time the Honey-guide followed the bees he would point the Honey Badger towards the honey. From this day on the honeybees always gave the Honey Badgers a taste of their Honeycomb in return for saving Nyuki’s life.