Estimated reading time — 11 minutes
Something fell with a thud on the roof in front Daniels window. It made a sliding noise as it dragged itself across the slope of the roof and with another fall, it finally landed on the grass. Daniel poked his head out of the window. Even with the faint light outside, he could recognize what the object was. It was a diary.
Summer had just begun in Manhattan. It was a bright sunny day until in the afternoon the sky became engulfed by scores of black storm clouds. Daniel ran downstairs with a careful pace. Going out the front door, he stepped inside the lawn and headed towards the diary. As he got closer, he saw that it was deep brown in colour. On it’s right, it had a leather strap holding both of it’s covers tightly together. As Daniel picked up the diary, slightly stained by the dirt from his lawn, he felt that it was heavy. Holding the diary with both hands, Daniel looked up towards the sky. All he could see was clouds. Where did the diary fell from?
The mysterious diary now rests upon Daniels reading desk. As he unhooked the strap and turned the front cover of the diary, he found a folded piece of paper. One by one, Daniel unfolded the paper. As he was finished, he saw writings on it. It seemed like a very long letter to him now. Did some girl just write him a love letter? Daniel was one of the most handsome boys in his class. He got asked out by girls before, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to him. But Daniel wasn’t yet ready to believe that someone would bother writing him a love letter in this age of smartphones. With curious eyes, he started reading.
“April 19, 2019. It was a stormy night in a secluded village in Shatkhira, Bangladesh. 26 year old housewife Nasima got out of her home in the rain. As a result of a long dry season, water had become scarce in that region. So when Nasima saw rain clouds brewing in the horizon that evening, she put two buckets in her yard to collect the rainwater. And now, it was time to bring the buckets back. As she stepped outside, a bright flash of red light startled her and stopped her in her tracks. It seemed very odd to her, as she never saw a red lightning in her life before. Nonetheless, she continued towards the buckets. She lifted the buckets up with her two hands and slowly headed back. Suddenly, a red aura in the corner of her eyes grabbed her attention. As she turned her head to look at one of the buckets she was holding, she was terrified to see a pair of bright red eyes in the water. In a fight or flight response, she dropped both the buckets and ran towards her front door, screaming. She locked the door from inside and panted for minutes. As her nerves calmed a bit, she tried to put together a rational explanation behind the glowing red eyes she saw. Failing to do so, she told herself that she was stressed and was imagining things.
She realized it was not the case, as she saw six pairs of red eyes in the small jungle in front of her yard later that night. The day after, Nasima went missing. After hours of searching by her husband and the villagers, she was found unconscious under a tree in the same jungle. Upon waking up, she was questioned about what happened. She said that she didn’t remember. Her last memory was chopping some onions back inside her home. Three days after this incident, Nasima’s husband was found dead in their house by the villagers. His body was torn to shreds and the entire room was drenched in blood. But the villagers found something else in that room that day. Something horrifying. Something evil beyond what they could imagine.
The creature had four arms and four legs. It’s legs were spread out in four directions and resembled the legs of a spider. On it’s back, along the spine, it had boney protrusions like spikes. The longest of these spikes reached a length of about three feet. On two of it’s arms, it had huge pincers while on the other two, it had elongated fingers with sharp claws. The creature’s head looked like a disfigured human face. As if it was smashed by a boulder. The only discernible feature on this head was two red eyes and a mouth that opens in three segments. Inside it’s mouth it had rows after rows of needle like teeth as far as one can see. Aside from a part of the torso, the creature had almost no resemblance to human body.
Seeing a piece of clothing on the creature, the villagers thought that it had killed Nasima too. But eventually they realized, the creature ‘is’ Nasima. Or at least it was. Crazy thing is, Nasima’s husbands body was not the only mangled body the villagers found that day. Neither the creature was the only one that shredded a dozen of the village dwellers along with the serenity of this once peaceful village. One by one, those creatures had killed the rest of the villagers.
The world took little notice of this incident, until it started happening all over the world. At the beginning of each of these incidents, the locations involved experience heavy downpour. Flashes of red lightning streak across the sky. People then start seeing pairs of red eyes in the darkness around them. After three days, half the population in the area suffer a terrible death by those hellish creatures, who have once consisted the other half of the population as humans. Within three months, the world had witnessed a new pandemic. But this time, it was not a pandemic of viruses. It was a pandemic of the Arachnids.
Yes, we started calling them Arachnids because of their spider like legs. Their numbers rose exponentially. Each day, we lost hundreds of thousands of people to these wretched monsters. In these three months, the death toll reached a staggering four billion while the number of arachnids reached almost three and a half billion. The Swiss government opened their bunkers in an effort to save the remaining human population. 20,000 people, regardless of nationality, colour and religion, took shelter in those bunkers. And finally, on October 2019, the last surviving nations (The United States, Russia, Germany, Korea, Switzerland, Japan and China) joined their forces to fend off the arachnid invasion. Since then, we’ve been fighting them for almost two years.
In these two years, we learned what we could about the arachnids. First of all, we learned that they are carbon based organisms like us. As far as we know, humans are the only host of these parasitic creatures. Arachnid larvae look somewhat like octopuses. They also have the ability to cloak themselves by changing the colour of their skin to match their surroundings. These larvae are 30 centimetres long, 12 centimetres wide. They descend from the clouds accompanied by heavy rainfall. Upon direct skin contact with larvae, the host becomes paralyzed. The larvae then enters the hosts body through the hosts mouth and makes it’s way towards the thoracic cavity. During this process, the host loses consciousness and retains no memory of being infected with the larvae. Upon reaching the thoracic cavity, the larvae fuses itself with the hosts body and starts altering the hosts DNA. After a three day incubation period, the hosts body undergoes a rapid transformation. It grows two additional pairs of arms and legs. The spine structure is changed, the head increases in size. All of this happens under roughly three minutes and the host becomes an arachnid.
After transformation, the creature possess little to no resemblance to the human body. Most arachnids are 5 feet tall and weigh around 75 kilograms. Although these numbers vary depending on their host. All arachnids posses superhuman strength. I’ve seen them tear a human body in half with just two arms. Their bodies are not fragile like us. Their skin is hardened like an armor, giving them incredible durability. The 51mm rounds from our standard issue MK-17 rifle barely scratch their armor. They even walk off a direct hit from grenades. In short, they are VERY HARD to kill.
Arachnids are extremely hostile towards humans. If given the chance, they will relentlessly try and kill any and every human in their vicinity. They are not man eaters though. In fact, we don’t know anything about their diet. We’ve once managed to capture a live arachnid. While in captivity, we tried feeding it animals, plant materials, even chemical compounds. But all attempts have been met with failure. It died two weeks later. We then performed a dissection on a dead sample. Although we did find a digestive system, we didn’t find any traces of food inside.
All the while, the war against arachnids continued. At one point, we decided to learn about their origin. We started looking for clouds with red lightning. It took effort but wasn’t that hard. We then started sending our fighter jets inside those clouds. In total, twelve pilots were assigned to investigate them. And I was one of them. What we learned in those clouds baffled us.
At first, we thought the arachnids were from another planet. A bio-weapon made by some distant alien race far more superior than our own. And they were simply claiming our planet for themselves by making use of this weapon. We were wrong. The arachnids were from earth. But not our earth.
The clouds were acting as inter-dimensional gateways. A passage between two parallel realities. I was on the first exploratory mission to the clouds, conducted by a three pilot team. A couple of ground units monitored our movement. According to them, as we flew inside those clouds, we disappeared from radar. But we were still able to maintain radio contact with them. When we exited the clouds on the other side, we saw a completely different landscape. We were dumbfounded to see an entire city in front of us. It was filled with skyscrapers rising several miles into the sky and hundreds of overpasses criss-crossed between the buildings. It looked almost futuristic but somewhat abandoned and damaged. As far as we knew, a city like that shouldn’t even be there. We told the ground units about what we were seeing. They told us that they didn’t even see us coming out from the clouds. They believed us though. We got instructed to investigate the city closely. We flew our planes above the city while maintaining low altitude. Looking down on the ground, we didn’t see any humans. Instead, we saw thousands of arachnids. Clearly, this world too have been plagued by those four legged monsters. We quickly turned our jets back and flew back inside the clouds, hoping it would take us back to our own reality. To our relief, it did.
Since then, we’ve explored dozens of such clouds. Each time, we discovered a different earth from a different reality. Some were infected by arachnids like our own. While the others are still free from their deathly clutches. But we knew that these apparent ‘safe’ worlds will soon suffer the same fate. On our 21st exploratory mission, we encountered the earth where arachnids have possibly originated from. This particular earth was like no other earth we’ve seen. It had no trees, no oceans. The sky was pitch black, with a sun much smaller than our own. Desperately trying to illuminate the surface with it’s dim reddish light. It seemed like there was no atmosphere, but we were still somehow able to fly. We got closer to the surface. There we saw rows of numerous round black objects. At one point, the pilots saw creatures on the surface similar to the arachnids. But these creatures, the arachnid primes, as we called them, were 12 feet tall. We came to realize that these creatures gave birth to arachnids. And those round objects littering the ground were their eggs.
Fortunately, I wasn’t assigned to that mission. And for this reason alone, I’m still alive. Terrified of that reality to their bones, the pilots turned back to return home. On their way back, all three jets suffered engine malfunctions. Moments later, we lost radio contact with them. Before losing contact, one of the pilots said in a panicked voice, “Oh God! They can fly!”
Our journey into the arachnid home dimension gave us more questions than it answered. Was this earth someday similar to ours? If it was, what happened to it’s oceans, trees, the atmosphere and the sun? Were there humans on that earth? Arachnid biology required a human host. So unless those arachnid primes were a different species altogether, there must have been humans on that world before. But one of the most prominent questions is, why didn’t the arachnid primes come to earth themselves? According to the pilots we lost in that world, they had the ability to fly. So what’s stopping them? Many came forward with theories. One of the young scientists named Eugene Thompson, who is also a friend of mine, came up with a convincing theory. He thinks the arachnids have a life cycle similar to Cicadas. They gain the ability to fly at the last phase of their life cycle. This phase is very short lived compared to their previous ones, at the end of which they die. According to Eugene’s theory, this is also the phase where they reproduce and to do that, they need a specific location. Or rather, a specific dimension. What the young scientist means to say, is that the home dimension of the arachnids is also their breeding ground, possibly because it’s the only place having all the right conditions for their eggs to develop. The arachnid primes, having obtained flight, fly back to their home dimension and reproduce. Then they carry their larvaes to the clouds to spread them across universes. And since they’ve reached the final stage of their life, they’re probably counting the days until their demise. If we were to believe this theory, then we have to assume that the arachnids we’re fighting are merely in their adolescence.
A few months later, we came across our first instance of eight feet high arachnids. Confirming our fears about them actually being babies, arachnids were growing bigger. If that wasn’t enough, they were also becoming intelligent. They started coordinating their attacks. Which made the war even harder. We were running out of men and ammo. At one point, our leaders decided to use their nuclear arsenal. But it only made the situation worse. While a small portion of the arachnid populace were killed by the nuclear bombs impact, the radiation made the surviving ones stronger. And they soon became the end of us.
On May 3rd of 2021, the bunkers in Switzerland suffered a massive attack. A swarm of 5000 arachnids hit the bunkers like a flood. Killing the last 20,000 civilian humans that took shelter in them. We couldn’t do anything but watch, as we exhausted all our means to fight them. We lost.
I don’t know exactly how many people are still alive on this radiated earth, hiding and running from arachnids. All I know is that I’m one of them. I don’t feel lucky though. Because my time is running out. If the arachnids don’t get me, the radiation probably will. I just want to finish one last mission before either of them happens. With whatever fuel I have left, I’m going to fly into those clouds with red lightning. I’m going to tell our story to at least one of the earths that haven’t been yet invaded by those hellish creatures.
Today is July 10th, 2021. My name is Lieutenant Marcus Reed. I’m an honorable pilot of the Joint World Air Force. If you are reading this, then you must’ve found the diary. Which means that I’ve successfully completed my mission. This diary was given to me by my good scientist friend Doctor Eugene Thompson, the same one I mentioned earlier. It contains all that we learned about the arachnids origin,their biology, habits and their weaknesses in the past two years of war, which will be helpful in fighting them. It is absolutely imperative that you make sure this diary reaches the leaders of your world, as the same fateful war awaits you. Who knows, maybe this diary will make all the difference for your world. For your earth.
Be safe. Keep your loved ones close. And most importantly, don’t give up.”
Putting the letter back on the table, Daniel leaned against his chair. He took a moment to compose himself. It was then he realized that it was raining heavily outside. None of this can be real, right? He thought to himself. Parallel universes? Four legged monsters? Clouds with red lightning? These things can only exist in science fiction stories. Suddenly, Daniel understood what all this was. It was a prank, by none other than his younger sister Denis. It had to be, since Denis wrote sci-fi stories like this all the time. Daniel was sure that the diary was completely empty. Or it contained some pathetic rhyme about Daniel being the stupidest guy in the entire world. But when he went through the pages of the diary, he found that it was full of handwritten information, drawing and even photographs relating to or depicting arachnids.
Daniel closed the diary in disbelief. If this was a prank, then Denis couldn’t have done it alone. Someone else was in on it. And there’s only one way to be sure. He has to talk to Denis.
Daniel got up from his chair to head towards his sisters room. But just before he turned towards the door, a flash of red light outside his window caught his eye. A chill crept up across Daniel’s spine as he realized that the source of this light was a bolt of lightning. A red lightning.
Credit : Shaon Barua
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