To outsiders, she may seem like a nice older “woman next door.” But the redoubtable Mabel is nobody’s fool—and anything but helpless. When a horde of stinging insects invades her space, they experience her wrath.

This short story by Laura Lis Scott is one of what might be several featuring Mabel.

The next day, after getting dressed and preparing her morning glass of lemon juice, oat fiber, and spirulina, Mabel went out front to check on her flowerbeds. A few bees hovered here and there around the blooms. No sign of any yellow jackets. She was successful. She had won. This filled her with such euphoric energy, she decided to celebrate by going to the craft store to buy herself a new puzzle.

But that night, Mabel’s dreams were tormented by swarms of yellow jackets — giant buggers the size of miniature poodles, wings buzzing like power lawn mowers, stingers as big as shish kebab skewers — chasing her as she tried to slosh away through hip-deep slimy green liquid. The monstrous bugs buzzed their warning: We will get you! You attacked us! We will have our revenge!

Mabel awoke with a gasp.

Her bedroom was pitch black. She shook her head, trying to free herself from echoes of the dream, the buzzing, buzzing, buzzing.

Far too tense to get back to sleep, she threw off her covers, slipped on her cotton robe, and padded barefoot to the liquor cabinet. She poured herself a peaty single-malt whisky, neat, took a little sip — smoky — and sat in the cushion chair at the kitchen table.

What a horrible dream! She didn’t often have nightmares. Mostly she didn’t remember what she dreamt at all. Was this guilt? Was her heart protesting her cruelty? She didn’t like killing creatures — not unless they might hurt her, or spread their filth. Flies and roaches, no question. Spiders, yes, especially in her bedroom. And yellow jackets? Darn right, they had to go. They were a menace, and not just to her but to her neighbors. What if a child had stumbled into their midst? A child attacked by those vicious things? No, she’d had to do it, she’d had to wipe the buggers out.

Feeling better, Mabel set the empty glass by the sink and made her way back to bed. She slept the sleep of the just.

—from “Mabel and the Yellow Jackets,” by Laura Lis Scott