Michael always had a little more interest
in science than the other students. So,
it wasn't a surprise when he carried
a hornet's nest into the classroom
for everyone to examine.
It lay there a short time before
a hornet crawled out the end.
Fearing hornets would swarm
the classroom, he sped out
the door to the other science teacher
across the hall to ask for help, but
he was on break. Worse, Michael's
teacher had been summoned to the phone
in the office. One by one, hornets
fled their nest. Michael found a can
of wasp spray in the cupboard, a spray
used in autumn when wasps flew through
the school's open windows. He aimed the can,
and the unbelievable happened. The hornets
transformed into human facsimiles
One stepped forward and spoke:
If you kill us, you will destroy something
valuable, something desired by the whole world.
We can offer you peace. You rant, pontificate,
send righteous greeting cards about peace
on earth at Christmas, but when peace comes
to you, you want to fight, exterminate, kill it.

We can give you an opportunity
never before presented to the human race,
the secret to everlasting peace.
What's the catch? The catch is
you have to join us, become a hornet,
one of us. Another student, Brandon,
shouted Never! We don't want to be
trapped in a hornet's body forever.

We like who we are! Give me that can!
We'll get rid of you and that will be that!

In the meantime, more hornets escaped
the nest and transformed. Their shadowy figures
overwhelmed the room. Michael raced
to one of the lab cupboards, grabbed
chloroform, doused the face of the anthropoid
who had just spoken. Its features shriveled.
Its body withered to the floor.
The rest of the students egged Michael on.
One by one the pseudo-humans shrank into their
original form and died. Students swept
the insects into a pile and put the pile into the trash.
Michael kept the nest as a souvenir
of conquest and as a reminder of the day
he and friends rescued themselves
from a spurious proposition.

About the Author

R. Nikolas (Nik) Macioci earned a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University. OCTELA, the Ohio Council of Teachers of English, named Nik the best secondary English teacher in the state of Ohio. Nik is the author of two chapbooks as well as nine books. His first book, Cafes of Childhood, was submitted for the Pulitzer Prize in 1992. In 2021, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and The Best of the Net award. In 2022, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. More than two hundred of his poems have been published here and abroad in magazines and journals, including Chiron, Concho River Review, The Bombay Review, and Blue Unicorn.