Winter is a brutal child of mother nature. It acts like a tyrant as it lays siege all over the land, claiming multiple casualties in its wake. That’s why many animals run in fear for their lives. They will burrow underneath the earth and sleep until the cold has left, or they will fly to warmer lands. It’s not that hard to escape with your life, but she doesn’t have that luxury. She isn’t a creature that sleeps through winter and she has no wings. Instead, she is gifted with a cephalothorax, eight long legs, and an abdomen that is covered in long, bushy, wiry hairs which are only good at telling her if something is getting too close to her person. They offer little in the way of protecting her against the cold.
Of course, there are others of her species that hibernate. She just so happens not to be one of them.
The spider tucked her spindly legs further beneath her body to conserve as much warmth as possible. A hard task considering she’s a cold-blooded arachnid. Still, it feels as if they will fall off at the slightest provocation and she would very much like to avoid that.
She is currently tucked into a hole on the side of her tree. The spider had dug it out herself. In the beginning, it was only to have somewhere to sleep comfortably, but when the leaves began to fall she turned her little burrow into a nest. She copied the schematics of a bird’s nest since they always seemed to be happy sleeping on twigs, leaves, and grass. Her only issue is the entrance. Depending on the direction of the wind, cold breezes trespass into her burrow. You can run from winter, but you cannot hide.
As if to further cement this belief a strong gust assaulted her. It bit into her exoskeleton and encased her soul. She shivered harshly.
What she thinks is funny is that the cold isn’t even what’s giving her a hard time. It can get below freezing and she can still survive. No. The current issue is that her daily diet consists of a variety of insects and the occasional lizard. All of which have been nearly wiped out because of the change in season. Which in retrospect is normal this time of year, but the spider knows this time is different. There is less prey than usual she is sure of it. The cold isn’t going to be her downfall. Starvation is.
The spider can’t even remember when her last meal was. All she knows is that her stomach has been growling at her nonstop, begging for a morsel of sustenance. She’s been begging as well. Every day she ventures out of her barrow to check on her webbing. Her web is a large, intricate, piece of artwork. She had spent many months crafting it to be strong enough to catch a bird in case one entangled itself in it and large enough to improve her odds. So far her web has borne no fruit which is why she has taken to looking towards the heavens and praying for a break.
If things continue as they are then she won’t live to see the first touches of spring.
The spider doesn’t want to die. As troubling as her life is, she enjoys it. The land she lives on has been hers since she procured it away from her late mother and siblings. It had been a bloody battle to see who was the strongest amongst them. In the end, she killed over a hundred of her siblings. The rest had fled with their metaphorical tails between their legs. As for her mother. Well, the old arachnid put up quite the fight. Which the spider appreciated, so it had pained her when she delivered the killing bite to her mother’s head.
She earned the right to Lord over her territory, and she didn’t want to see her reign end so soon. Especially if her end isn’t something glorious. Dying by hunger isn’t the way she would like to go. If anything she always thought that she’d die while trying to defeat a mighty foe.
An honorable death is what every predator dreams of. She sees herself as an apex-killing machine, and she deserves better!
The sound of her growling stomach makes her cringe.
Perhaps it would be best if she forced herself to sleep deeply, extremely deep. There has never been any shame in dying in one’s sleep. It is an uncontrollable phenomenon. Besides, she thinks that dying while dreaming is a pleasant way to leave the world. She’d be completely ignorant of what is happening. Lost in her dreams of warmer days. That did sound a lot better than staring out into the void of white that lay outside her burrow and waiting for her time to come.
She closes her eyes. It’s very hard to force herself to sleep. The afternoon light is as bright as ever and it is telling her brain she should be alert. Still, she keeps her eyes closed. Counting to a thousand, hoping the numbers will bore her.
One… Two… Three…. Four.
It’s when she eventually reaches nine-hundred and fifty-three, that voices disturb her.
Wanting a peaceful death is too much to ask for it seems.
She stretches out her limbs from underneath her, giving her cephalothorax a shake, before exiting her burrow. The spider crawls along a tree branch to its very tip. Perching herself at the end of the branch, the spider peers down below. It doesn’t take her long to find the source of the voices.
Two humans are walking along the ground. It’s a female and male human. They are circling the base of her tree as they look it up and down. She doesn’t know what they’re searching for, but If you asked her they are being very rude. Inconsiderate even. Don’t they know that she’s trying to die?
Instantly she hates them and wishes for them to just go away.
They of course don’t and keep walking in circles.
“Is this the tree, Charlotte?” the male asked. He’s squinting up in the direction of the spider, but she doubts he notices her. She is pretty big, near the size of a yellow-rumped warbler, but that doesn’t mean she’s easily spotted. A master hunter also has to be a master sneak.
“I mean it should be, Bert. All the trees look alike without their leaves, but we followed the path correctly.”
“Okay. How do you know the spider isn’t dead though? It’s like twenty-three degrees right now and I’m covered from head to toe in winter clothes, yet I’m still feeling like a popsicle.”
The female keenly scanned each branch. “I know it’s alive because this spider has been living in this section of the park for a long time now. I came last year in November – which had been just as cold as now and it was busy attacking a lizard.”
The spider recalled that experience. The reptile had been a surprise she’d awoke to one morning. It was larger than a normal-sized lizard and it had given her quite the fight. In the end, a pompous raven had swooped in and snatched her prey from her.
The spider startled at the male’s sudden outburst.
“It’s on the fourth branch from the top towards the right. It’s on the edge and I swear it’s looking at us, Charlotte. If that thing jumps down I’m squashing it.”
“The spider is probably waiting to be fed. I’ve seen patrons toss insects into its web, so I bet the spider has come to associate humans with food. Kinda like how birds hang around the picnic tables in the park.”
“Can spiders even do that? Aren’t they kinda dumb because of their small brains?”
The spider bristled at his words. She may be many things, but being an imbecile isn’t one of them. Her body is tiny, but her mind is as vast as the heavens.
“They have to be kinda smart if they’re able to avoid us most of the time. Do you have anything to feed it” the female asked, reaching towards the backpack on the male’s back.
“Stop your pawing! It’s not like I remembered to pack my usual lunch of grasshoppers and beetles,” he replied, pushing the female off of him.
“I saw you put some snacks inside your backpack before we left your apartment.”
“So what? Do you want to give the spider some Pringles? I’m pretty sure it’s not going to work out how you want it to.”
“Just let me see what you have and I’ll decide if it is healthy for it or not.”
The spider watched in amusement as the two argued back and forth. Their erratic movements made the whole show even more ridiculous. At one point the female chased after the male around the base of the tree. She quite enjoyed this distraction in her life. Better to watch other creatures make a fool of themselves than to focus on her hunger.
“We’re not going hunting for things for it to eat, and I’m not wasting my money on buying it food at the pet store. It’s not my problem.”
“Bert, you know I don’t have my wallet with me and. It’s going to take me a three hours drive to get back home. You were originally going to lend me money anyway.” the female said with a pout.
“I’m giving you gas money and paying for dinner because you came out here to visit me and I’m not a mean brother. Besides, the thing has lived in the park for probably a long time. It’s done fine on its own so far.”
“That might be, but I don’t want to risk it. I need to take a picture of it for my portfolio. It’s due in a couple of weeks and this spider will be a perfect addition. I want to keep it alive so I can grab my camera from your apartment.”
“First of all, stop forgetting things in other places. Secondly, the spider will last the twenty minutes it takes to get back to my place.”
“What about traffic!”
Back and forth the two argued.
The spider felt flattered that her mere presence could cause such a fuss. She can already feel the tension coming to a boil as the male and female face each other. An obvious battle of the wills.
“You’re only in an ungiving mood because Fern dumped your sorry butt.”
Oh! The spider can see the look of instant regret on the female’s face as soon as the words leave her mouth. The male is beyond furious at this point. His hands balled into fists and he let out a heavy breath. It makes the spider wonder if she’ll witness a killing. It wouldn’t be the first time such a thing happened between two humans in front of her tree. It usually brings even more humans as they start bustling like an active beehive over the place. The last time had been entertaining and she’d loved to witness another show.
“You want the spider fed?” the male responded, venom lacing his words. “Then I’ll feed it.”
He reached into his backpack and pulled out a large, round, orange object. The female gasped, but she isn’t nearly as surprised as the spider when the round thing came hurtling towards it at an alarming speed. She didn’t even have a chance to react before it hit her square on.
To say it hurt is sorely downplaying how hard the male threw the thing. She’s surprised it didn’t outright squash her considering the fact it’s practically the same size as her. Not that she isn’t grateful to have survived the impact. The orange thing had only managed to dislodge her from the branch and send her flying into her webbing. If she’d fallen to the ground then she would have been severely hurt, or if she’d landed on one of the humans they would have certainly turned her body into a bloody pulp.
Slowly she realigned each segment of her body and all eight of her appendages. It took a while for all her eyes to stop staring off in different directions. By the time she felt a semblance of normalcy, the two humans had already wandered off to who knows where leaving behind a parting gift.
The orange thing managed to save itself as well.
Towards the lower part of her webbing, it got itself entangled. Now that she can take a look around she can see her days of hard work have become nothing more than a garbled hurricane. She had put her blood, sweat, and tears into creating the perfect netting of webs. All of that time unraveled in a matter of seconds by an absurd copycat sun that is entirely the wrong shade of orange. If she could cry she would. If she could scream then she would curse the humans. Oh, life. It’s even more heartless than winter.
She moved towards the orange thing and tried to see if she could dislodge it. If she can manage to get it free, then it would take no time at all for her to rebuild her web back to its former glory.
A little shove there. A pull here.
Alright, if she can’t get the forsaken thing down then maybe, just maybe, she can eat it. That’s what started this whole torrid affair in the first place. Normally she would appreciate the human female for trying to help her in her time of need, but also normally projectile objects weren’t disfiguring her web.
The orange thing is big and because of its round shape, it takes her a while to figure out how to grasp a hold of it. She has to lay on top of it and hug it with all eight of her legs while digging the claws at the end of each of her tarsus’ into the flesh of the thing. Being so close to the thing made her sensors buzz from the citrus it produced. A rather tangy smell. She twitched her mandibles before taking a big bite.
Its instant regret on her part as a wave of disgusting flavor overtakes her.
She slinks away from the offending thing. It’s useless food! She can’t eat it and she can’t get rid of it. Her life is such a travesty.
The spider raises onto her back legs, a poised attack position, but there is no physical enemy she can sink her mandibles into and let out all her aggression onto. She lets her body fall forward onto the bark of the tree branch. Right then and there she decides to give up. Constantly fighting for life is only appealing when it’s a fair fight. Give her a hungry bird looking to make a meal out of her, or at least another spider looking to claim her lands. Not an empty feeling in her stomach and uneditable foodstuff.
She dragged herself to a nearby branch and traveled back to her burrow
She won’t move from inside her burrow. It’s her final resting place. Let this be her tomb that will only be uncovered when enough time has passed and another spider decided to take over her territory.
Eventually, she returned to counting numbers in her head. Then soon after she fell asleep.
Minutes, hours, and then eventuality days pass by without the spider moving a muscle. Her limbs felt cramped and she can only manage to sleep for a few hours before waking up again, but she’s determined to die. At this rate, she’s going to give it another week before her spider soul escapes its confining mortal body.
Buzz buzz buzz.
Her abdomen twitches.
The buzzing noise is coming from outside. It almost sounds… like the buzzing of flies, but she knows that’s too good to be true. It’s an audible delusion brought about by her being near the brink of death. Her mind is trying to give her something enticing to pull her to the other side.
Buzz buzz buzz.
Buzz buzz buzz.
Delusion or not she needs to know!
The spider hastily exits her burrow. In doing so one of her legs snags onto the edge of the opening in the tree and makes her tumble forward. She winds up on her back, staring at the blue sky in front of her. That’s when a little black figure flies into her vision. It hovers before landing right on one of her legs sticking up.
She can’t believe it.
A fly. A bulbous, black, fly!
The spider leaped at the fly, crazy in her efforts to finally have a bite to eat. She misses completely, so she starts to chase it. The fly zig-zags its way through each strand of her web. It’s sheer luck that the insect doesn’t ensnare itself. Flies have no pattern to their flight path, so she thinks quickly on her feet. Instead of outright capturing it in her mandibles, she decides to use her longest leg to kick the fly into a nearby cluster of webs.
She takes her shot when it flies backward towards her. It’s a direct hit from one of her back legs and the fly is sent spiraling out of control. She follows its path as it heads in the direction of the orange thing that she now only realizes is completely swarmed by hundreds of other flies. On an average summer day, she can’t even get that many. They only gather around dead things, or the piles of trash left by humans in plastic bins near areas they eat, yet here they all are!
The spider wastes no time as she makes her move. It’s methodical how she traps one fly after another. A good majority of them are caught in the webbing around the orange thing, but she can’t be too careful. A spider can never have too many flies caught in her web.
It takes her an entire day to secure a copious amount of the buzzing insects. There are so many she can’t risk trapping anymore if she doesn’t want them to weigh down her web. It’s still broken from the initial assault by the male human.
By the time she’s encased the last fly in a cocoon of webs, she’s utterly exhausted. Though she still manages a shimmy in joy at her turn in luck.
She then decided to take stock of her bounty. It’s as she’s looking around that her eyes fall back on the orange thing. The spider comes to understand why there are so many flies.
Flies are attracted to rot.
The orange thing can hardly be called orange anymore. It’s turning an off-color with hints of green fuzz. The usual ball shape is deflated like a sagging flower. It seems while she was dying so was the orange thing.
The spider isn’t dying anymore though. No, this buffet will last her through winter.
The fate of the orange thing feels unsettling. She hadn’t spent any time with it and she can’t say she feels any particular attachment to the thing, but she can understand being at death’s doors. The thing can’t even hunt for itself since it has no legs, claws, or anything. It just sits where it originally landed. Decay attacking every piece of it. Fortune may shine upon the spider, but the same thing can’t be said for the orange thing.
Without thinking she crawls to it. The webbing around it is loose since it had stretched to accommodate a larger size. In no time at all the webbing will let go and cause the thing to fall to the dirt below to be consumed by other insects, or to be squashed by passing humans. She may have wanted that in the beginning, but how can she be so cruel to something that gave her a second chance at life?
At that moment the spider makes a decision.
She begins to warm the mechanics within her body to produce webbing. She encircles the orange thing around and around. Connecting silver strands. Her idea is to copy the shape of a bird’s nest. It will act as a bowl, so when the orange thing eventually turns into mush, all of it will remain inside the web.
It takes her a while, but once she’s satisfied that the nest is secured she climbs into the nest with the orange thing.
From first-hand experience, she knows how awful it is to be alone.
For as long as she can she will keep the orange thing company until it’s no more than a puddle. It’s the least she can do.
Her days become just that. They alter between her continuous efforts to restore her web, eating, and tending to the orange thing. It’s a comforting routine. One that eventually leads her to talk to it. Spiders don’t have the same verbal language as regular animals – it’s a bit quieter and harder to follow. The orange thing though has no trouble. This is mainly due to its inability to do… Well, anything. Which doesn’t bother the spider at all. A great listener is typically hard to come by.
By the time spring manages to chase away the last remnants of winter, the spider has finished her new web, and new insects besides flies get caught. It’s great, but she notices how much faster the warm weather wears on the orange thing. Even with the leaves returning to offer shade. There’s no way to slow the progress of decay.
She caresses the squishy skin of the orange thing.
Love isn’t a word she’s well versed in. Her mother never loved her. Typical of spiders really, but she’s seen it with mother squirrels and their young and with humans whether it’s couples hand in hand, or parents playing with their offspring.
Without a doubt, she’s come to love the orange thing. When it’s time she’ll cocoon it to keep it safe from buzzing things looking to feed on its corpse, and she’ll mourn for a very long time.
“Bert, the web got bigger!”
The spider reluctantly stepped away from the orange thing to peak at the humans who decided to bother her.
One human is aiming a contraption she’s seen before. A camera. It makes a weird shuttering sound before letting off blinding lights. She’s learned not to stare directly at those.
She tilts her head. These humans are familiar.
Yes, it’s the human that gifted her with the orange thing! Oh, by the spider deities! She wants to thank him. Without the male, she’d have died, and even worse she would have died never getting to know the orange thing.
“I can’t find the spider though.”
“Do you think it’s hiding? I thought you said it associates us with food?.”
“Well, the last time it waited for food you threw a big orange at it. You probably made it scared of people again.”
“Who’s fault is that?”
“Mine I know. Can we just look for the spider, please? I need to top my last project and bring something new to the tables. I wasn’t able to get a picture last time around, so things have to go differently.”
“Yeah, yeah. You go around the left and I’ll take the right side of the tree.”
Well, if there is one way to thank the male for bringing her soulmate it’s by allowing them a closer look at her. She’s never been one to let her personal space be breached, but she can make an exception this one time. Being blinded by a flashing light is worth it if she can repay the male.
The spider used her back legs to attach the end of a string of web to the branch she’s on. She then gracefully lept down.
“What the – !!”
Again, no one is more shocked than her when the same male she wished to thank hit her with his hand. The male is strong. Therefore she is sent flying back into the tree. She expects to crash into a branch or the trunk, but it’s worse when she sees where she will land. The spider tries in vain to control her trajectory.
It’s already too late though.
She collides with the orange thing. After having eaten too many flies she’s gained a bit of weight. A blessing before and a curse now. Her weight is what causes the orange thing to bounce out of its nest. No no no no no! She scrambles.
Again, it’s already too late.
The orange thing slams into the face of the male. The male sputters as the chunks of rotten flesh and meat of the orange paint his face.
“Eww! What is this?” the male demands as he wipes the remains off his face. Chucking bits of spoiled produce onto the ground.
“What if it’s the spider’s egg sack or something?” the female suggests.
“That’s it. I’m going home. I need a long hot shower and some bleach.”
“What about my picture, Bert? Bert!”
Off the male went, completely oblivious to the damage he caused.
Her eyes didn’t leave the spot where her beloved met its demise. There isn’t even a single trace of the orange thing left. What made it to the ground got trampled into the dirt, and the rest on the male will be washed away somewhere she doesn’t know. She can’t cocoon it like she originally planned – she can’t do anything.
No more gentle caresses.
No more soft words spoken.
No final goodbye.
She stayed still.
When the rain fell she didn’t move. When the sun blazed hot she didn’t seek shade. Even when ants began to crawl all over her body she didn’t move an inch.
What is the purpose of living when she’ll always be alone? The orange thing had listened to her, comforted her, and given her kinship. Spiders are natural creatures of isolation. They can’t stand to be around another for too long, especially when there is a lack of food. Her territory is grand, but she never dared to allow another to share her domain. There hadn’t been any point in it. The orange thing had been different. It hadn’t fought her for food, nor her for territory. It didn’t fight at all. To her the orange thing was uncorrupted. Pure in its ignorance of the harshness found in nature. She wanted to be with it. To let it wash away the loneliness she lived in.
It just isn’t fair.
The orange thing deserved to have had a peaceful end of rotting, but that male took its chance away! That insufferable mongrel deserved a passage to hades where he would be tortured for all eternity.
The spider got up. She still had work to do. Already she’s wasted precious time moping about. Not wanting to squander any more she arose from her position. She is agile as she uses her webbing to swing her across from the branches of one tree to another. She’s on a mission. If another spider takes her land while she is gone, then so be it. This is a one-way journey anyway.
It takes her days to reach the forest’s border. Her body is fatigued and she is starving, but it doesn’t entirely compute in her mind.
She must admit that the world beyond the forest is spectacular. The man-made structures tower high into the sky and she’s never seen so many humans in one place before. They’re like ants in their chaotic, although purposeful, movement. Then there are the vehicles they ride. Faster than any animal she’s ever seen. There is so much for her eyes to ingest, yet she must stay focused. She can’t allow herself to be distracted.
What she underestimated is the sheer volume of faces she’ll have to look at to find that single male again. It’s going to take an overwhelming amount of time. She pushes forward anyway.
It’s by skill and instinct that she doesn’t get trampled on as she traverses the human-made jungle. Some of the humans are unaware of her presence while others she frightened because of how close she comes to their faces when she thinks she’d found the male. Male human after male human she peers at their faces, but none are him. The spider even attempts to climb one of the tall buildings for a better vantage point which leads her to almost get dizzy as all her eyes stare at different males at the same time.
At one point she comes across another spider of the opposite gender. He’s smaller but is attracted to her given the time of the season. Any other time he’d know better than to cross her path and any other time she’d ignore him. Just this once she joins in the dance with him. They have their affair, lasting a single night, and then come morning he becomes her first and last meal. She had nothing against the other. It’s just their nature to mate and consume.
She keeps moving, delving further and further into the human world.
Then one day it starts to drizzle before an onslaught of rain pours down on the land. She’s forced to search for cover. Her eyes catch the sight of a yellow canopy. It is the closest thing to her seeing as she’s on a traffic pole. She produces a single web strand to attach to the pole and then leaps across the big gorge between her and the canopy. As she’s gliding through the air she realizes too late that she misjudged just how wide the gap is. She misses the canopy entirely.
It’s only a miracle that she lands on the head of a female human heading underneath the canopy. The human takes her along through the door the spider failed to see.
They head inside a smallish shop that is filled with all types of produce when you first walk in, and there are some shelves to the right that contain an odd assortment of boxed and canned items.
The female is shaking the rain off of her while the spider struggles to not be dislodged.
“Your daddy said I should bring an umbrella. I should have listened.” the female said in an annoyed tone of voice. “We’re just going to see if this store has any, and even if they don’t we’ll wait out the brunt of the rain in here, Petey.”
The spider looked down from the female’s head and saw a child pointing right at her. She guessed it to be the female’s offspring trying to warn her of the gigantic spider hitching a ride. The spider glared at the child. She understood and couldn’t blame him, but she knew this wasn’t going to end well.
“Yes, Petey you can have candy, but only one.”
The child shook his head. “No, mommy. There is a big spider on your head!”
She felt the female freeze. Then slowly the female raised a hand to her head. The spider took the opportunity to jump from the female’s head to her hand and then immediately launched herself into a pile of crescent-shaped, yellow, things.
“Where did it go! Where did it go!” the female screamed in terror.
“You threw it into the bananas, mommy.”
Some nearby patrons inside the shop are drawn to the commotion. With one of them heading in the direction of the spider. The spider didn’t hesitate to move in between the so-called bananas. They are bundled together quite nicely, but she manages to squeeze between them.
She can feel them move the bananas in their search for her.
“It’s clear. The spider probably ran off.”
The humans speak more to each other as the spider stays put. She waits until the voices fade away before she peeks out. The mother and child are gone and everyone else is back to normal. The spider doesn’t want to stay. Too many humans are there. Plus she is in an enclosed building that only has one exit too heavy for her to open by herself. This leaves her feeling very vulnerable.
“Bert, your doctor is the one that said you need to eat more fruits and vegetables. I’m not making you get them for the fun of it.”
“Hey, I eat pretty healthily. You should see how much fiber I consume.”
“They’re chocolate brownies. How healthy can they be?”
“This is why I don’t like coming shopping with you, Charlotte. You mock what I buy to eat. Then you start putting stuff you want in the cart and expect me to pay for your groceries.” the male said, gesturing to the cart nearly filled to the brim.
“I’ll leave you alone if you get a dozen apples and oranges.”
The female crosses her arms. “How about one bunch of bananas, and a single orange then?
“Fine, but I’m making banana shakes with chocolate.”
His words cause the female to mumble.
The spider delves back into her hiding spot when the female came nearer. By the graces! Instead of trying to find them herself, the two humans came to her. All she needed to do is pray that they choose the bunch of bananas she’s in. The spider crosses her legs and prays that they choose her. She can feel movement around her until a harsh jolt has her grabbing the skin of the yellow crescents.
She’s been chosen.
The male and female walk away, heading to the check-out area. Completely unaware of their stowaway.
The bananas are bagged and then paid for along with the rest of the food the two buy. It’s a struggle for the spider to keep her calm as she feels it getting hot inside the bag and the lack of oxygen making its way to her. The humans have left the store, but she doesn’t know how long it will be until they make it to the male’s dwelling. The spider makes herself think about everything and anything else besides her struggle to breathe. She doesn’t want to escape the bag out of desperation, having come so far to just lose it all.
She finds herself thinking about the orange thing and how beautiful it looked in the sunlight.
“I want to see these fruits gone, come a month from now when me, mom, and dad come down to visit.” the female said in an authoritative voice.
“You make it seem like I’ll leave fruit sitting for an entire month. I’d throw them out if they spoiled.”
“Considering this has happened three times before, I have my doubts. So make sure to eat them.”
“Yes, Ma’am!” the male responded with a mocking tone.
The spider almost lost her grip on the bananas when they were roughly taken out of the bag and placed down.
“Don’t let this food go to waste, Bert. That’s money down the drain if you do”
“Yeah, yeah. Come on I’ll walk you out the building.”
The spider crawls from between the bananas to survey the male’s den. She’s been placed on a table within the kitchen. From her vantage point, she can see into the leaving room and down a hallway with two closed doors. The living room is sparsely furnished with a place to sit and a miniature version of the table she sits on. In all, she felt smug that her territory is far grander than his. Her tree wouldn’t even fit inside the cramped abode.
With nothing else to peer at, she decides to return to her original position within the Bananas She will camp inside for as long as the male doesn’t find her.
She only turned her body a fraction of an inch when her eyes are caught by a familiar sight.
It can’t be…. Can it? The spider doesn’t believe in the dead walking. Once your immortal soul passes it is unable to return to the realm from which it came. That is a fact. She knows this, but a sliver of hope shines inside her arachnid heart.
She hesitantly crawls to the orange thing, reaching out with one of her limbs when she is close enough. The spider touches it. Definitely real.
Outstanding happiness blooms within her thorax. It’s alive! She hugs it with all eight of her limbs, squishing her face into the bumpy texture of its skin. The spider is content for about a second more until she smells it. This orange thing has a similar scent, but it’s still not a perfect match. It’s not her orange thing. Her heart breaks a little.
An imbecilic thought it had been! She needs to remind herself that the orange thing is gone and she’ll never see it again in this life – only the next. Solemnly, she drifts away from it. She leaves it behind as she crawls in between the bananas.
Her hiding place is her new home for some time. At first, she’d been afraid that the male would pick through the stuff, intending to satisfy his hunger, and find her all too soon, but he doesn’t. She’s there for so long without being disturbed that the bananas start to stink of oncoming decay. They begin turning a brownish color before black and white puffy stuff makes their appearance. It’s only when they begin to smell does any change happens. In good timing too.
“Gosh dang it, I just made a bioweapon in my fruit bowl. People are going to think I’m trying to fumigate myself in here.” the male says with a look of disgust. “Trash time for you, and Charlotte will be none the wiser.”
He goes and grabs a trash bag.
The bananas are so black and leaking that he almost vomits right there, but regardless of how he felt he needed to trash them. His apartment can’t be smelling like rotten fruit. It could be used as evidence against him and he would prefer to avoid being scolded by his mom and sister.
He hesitantly reaches for the stem of the banana and grabs hold.
He’s going to toss them into the plastic bag, but then he feels something off. Bert looks at the bananas, twisting them from side to side. There! He’s sure he spots… movement? Bert peers closer and then see a small hole open. Rotten banana juices spew out of it causing him to drop the decomposing produce onto the floor. The impact from the floor makes the bananas burst like a bomb. That’s bad by itself, but to make matters worse tiny black dots flood onto the floor. It takes him a moment to realize that the dots are moving, moving like a horde his way. “What the – nope!” Bert screams turning away from the tiny evils before him, intending on exiting out his apartment’s front door. Only, as he takes his first step he is assaulted in the face by something with eight legs and that is so very hairy.
The spider originally planned on staring the male in the eyes as she attacked, intending on seeing the life leave his body. Unfortunately, her seething rage took over and overrode her need for the dramatic. She bit him without a second thought. “Gah!” the male yelped. His cry of pain thrilled her, so she bit him again and again in rapid succession. Of course, he wasn’t going to allow her onslaught to continue. The spider isn’t stunned when the male wrenches her off his face, throwing her onto the kitchen table.
The male thinks he can escape, but she knows differently. Her bite is venomous. It works by forcing the body to seize, then the prey has trouble breathing due to intense swelling of the throat, and then finally death. The whole process is rather long so as the prey is living through this they also have to suffer from the intense pain from the bite area. Considering the spider dealt many bits to the male’s nose and forehead – he will be in excruciating agony until he dies. Although that is all well and good it’s not even the grandest part for her.
The spider always had the capability to lay thousands of eggs. She never felt the need to find a mate and do so before, but the scheme took root in her head when she first set out on her mission of revenge. The spider inched to the edge of the table and looked down below. Her children are like a plague as they wash over the helpless male. He’s unable to do anything when they crawl up his leg and underneath his clothing. Bert can feel little legs scampering across his bare skin. They make their way past his knees, past his private area, up to his chest, and his head. Some crawl around in his hair making his head itch. Whilst others seek the dark opening within his ears, nose, and mouth. Unfortunately, Bert was screaming when the venom took effect. It froze his face as his mouth was open, allowing for the baby arachnids to enter. He wanted to sneeze from the spiders tickling his nose hairs. His hearing became filled with the rubbing sounds of the spider babies that smashed their bodies together to all fit in his ear canal. Maybe the worst feeling is the spiders crawling within his mouth. They make him want to gag as they hang from his uvula. They’re marching down his throat, making him taste the dryness of their shells. The little spiders don’t make it very far before a riot breaks out. The swelling of Bert’s esophagus made them feel too encaged for comfort. Tears pooled in Bert’s eyes as the mob inside him scratched the interior lining of his throat. Eventually a few manage to escape. The escapees begin weaving strands of webbing in between his teeth like a morbid version of dental floss. Everything gets worse as some of the babies disperse around his body. They each take a patch of skin as their own to attempt burrowing underneath his flesh.
They will feed on him for months, living in quiet harmony. That is until they become of age then they will fight until only one is left. She won’t live to see it, but the spider doesn’t need to, nor care to.
She completed her quest. It was the only thing keeping her alive. Without further purpose, she has nothing else to live for. This doesn’t sadden her. Instead, she finds some peace. Retribution has been had. Her dearest can rest easy in the afterlife with the knowledge that the spider has proven her devotion and love. Soon she will join it. Already she can feel death spread throughout the hallows of her body.
The spider turns away from the sight of her children feeding. It’s customary for an elder creature at death’s doors to seek a place of solace. She’s only the slightest bit miffed that she couldn’t take her final breath near the sight where her beloved perished, but maybe she can have the next best thing. The doppelganger of her beloved is still on the tabletop. It looks too much like the other. Especially since this orange thing is in a similar state of decay. The spider crept to the rotting thing and sank her heavy body beside it. She snuggled closer to it and breathed in the scent of mold and citrus. It warmed her soul.
It may not be the orange thing she grew to love, but she couldn’t be faulted for letting herself pretend even for this moment.
The spider shut her eyes. Never opening them again.
Credit: Jasmine Rose
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