The Slight Army

The Slight Army

This story was originally published by Print Static Movement.

The spiders have been like an invasion of late. There is one that setup camp by my driveway along a wall and a support post. He has his web and a little web cave that he scurries into when he hears a noise. He is black and furry and most likely of the deadly variety. The other day I saw a larger one of apparently the same type nearly an inch long scooting down the inside frame of my front door. I just saw one climb down the string controlling the blinds in the window.

I live fairly close to wooded areas, and often, I will find small snakes in my yard or on my porch. The spiders I don’t mind as much as the snakes. Snakes carry far more venom in their bite, and they are not so easily squashed. The snakes are good though because as small as they are they eat the spiders.

The spiders were becoming quite numerous, so I started killing them one by one. I would smash them either with my foot or a book or anything handy and then leave the carcass as a warning sign to the other spiders. This worked for a while, but soon there were dead spiders in almost every room of my house.

And the cat is no help. He watches the spiders and acts as if he will pounce upon them, but he never pounces. He just watches. Perhaps I need a new cat. I wonder if there are special breeds for hunting spiders. But, I digress.

Killing the spiders seems to work. Less and less spiders show themselves on an almost daily basis. Still, I kill the ones that do invade my sanctuary. Slowly I began to notice a change in the spiders, not so much in the spiders themselves for there was still a wide variety, but in their behavior. They would seem to stop when they saw me and then duck for cover before I could squash them. Soon I took to carrying a shoe with me, so I would have a projectile weapon to use against them.

The most prominent species grew to about a half inch long and was covered in black fur with a white diamond on their back although the white diamond could have been light glinting off their many eyes. The next most prominent species was of the daddy-long-legs variety with a bulbous body attached to eight thin, long legs. These grew to at least an inch long from toe to toe. I felt safe around this type because I was fairly certain they weren’t poisonous.

The last kind was the most fearsome, growing as much as an inch and a half long with black and red bodies with red legs. This kind would sometimes rush at me when I went to crush them, but luckily I was skilled by now at crushing spiders, so they never sunk their fangs in me. I was thankful for this because surely those fangs were dipped in some fatal neurotoxin.

I have a few friends, and one came by my abode the other day. She shrieked on reaching my computer room. I asked, “Yes?”

“All the dead spiders!”

“Yes. I leave them as warning to the other spiders not to come around.”

“Clean them up!”

I nodded. “They’re doing a good job keeping the other spiders away.”

“If you say so, Ash.”

I smiled. We opened up our lab work on the computers and started plugging away at the numbers. I offered to make tea, and she said, “Please.”

I went in the kitchen, and a brown spider appeared running across the counter. I didn’t have my shoe with me, so I crushed it with the tea cup, sending it straight to hell where it belonged. As the tea finished, I shouted down the hallway, “Sugar? Honey? Lemon? Milk?”

She shouted, “Honey!”

I squeezed a dollop of honey in both cups of tea and went back to the computer room. In the hallway on the way, a daddy-long-legs inched along the floor, and my foot happened to flatten it.

I handed over the tea. She smiled and took it. “I’ve got the lab worked out, I’m getting 1.0 for the first dataset and the expected .5 and .25 for the second and third datasets…”

I smiled. “Show me.”

She showed me the calibrations on the computer. “My work here is done.”

“OK, Samantha, I’ll walk you out.”

“I can find my way, Ash, so long as the spiders don’t get me.”

My head bobbed up and down. “They seem to get more aggressive all the time.”

“You shouldn’t kill them. They prey on other insects.”

I shrieked, “Some of them are poisonous!”

“Poisonous spiders are very rare…”

“If you say so… I’m killing them.”

Samantha downed the last of her tea and grabbed her books. She fled the scene without even another glance at the hordes of dead spiders splattered here and there on the wood floors.

As she stepped onto my porch, a rather handsomely large spider of the red-legged variety inched its way directly in her path. She said, “Don’t kill it, Ash. They eat other insects. You’ll be up to your ears in mites, beetles, and flies if you murder all the spiders.”

I smiled at her as she left and then jumped up and down on the likely poisonous red-legged monster.

I went to the computer and did my write-up for the lab when I noticed a slight bite on my ankle. I looked down, and there was one of the rodents injecting me with something. It died under my cruel fist. I looked, and as I watched, tendrils of poison spread out along my leg. It started to swell up. My first thought was emergency room, but then I realized my second thought, no health insurance.

The wound in total was no bigger than a quarter, so I soaked it in hot water and lanced it. With a squeeze, pus came out of it for a while, more pus than I would have believed possible. The pain subsided afterwards. I made myself a ham salad sandwich and grabbed an apple.

I fell asleep after lunch, and when I woke up, I examined my ankle. The swelling had subsided, and the flesh was back to its original color. I rubbed it a little, and it didn’t hurt, so I decided not to be bothered by it. I ordered Chinese delivery and ate it in front of the television.

A spider, an especially furry one, inched into my view on the floor of the living room. I moved to squash the creature, and it darted under the television. Cursing at the little demon-spawn, my fist shook in anger. The leftover Chinese went in the fridge, and my hand grabbed up a spatula from a drawer. I went to the television and tried to get the spider with the spatula. The spider was nowhere to be found. I did find some loose change under the television, which I pocketed.

I was tired for some reason and looked down again at the spider bite on my ankle. There was barely a mark. I went into my bedroom and lay down, thinking I would take a short nap. Sleep hit me with an iron mallet in an instant.

A few hours passed, how could I tell how many, I was asleep. Then I noticed difficulty breathing, and I opened my eyes in fright. I could barely see. White silky webs had been stretched across my eyes. I tried to wipe them off, but I couldn’t move my arm. I looked down at myself, and through the web, I could see more webbing all across my body.

I flipped into a berserker rage. My vision narrowed, and my stomach tied itself into a knot. Strength pulsed through my body like a gift from an ancient ancestor. I wrenched my right arm free and scraped at the webbing on my face allowing my eyes to work and letting fresh air in my lungs. Spiders were all over my bed: the pesky little black furred kind. I kicked at them and lashed out with my arms scattering them to the floor.

I looked at the ground, and the spiders had formed up into ranks and rows: ten spiders across a row and five deep in perfect formation. In between each brigade of the red-legged bastards was a good sized spider of a variety I hadn’t seen before. Huge eyes dotted its face. Black and yellow hair ran in lines across its carapace body. It had pincers the size of needles, and they dripped with venom.

I howled a mighty war cry, “Aarrroooo!” and leapt out of bed at the phalanxes of spiders.

The yellow haired variety jumped at me as I stomped on spider formations one at a time, laughing maniacally. I batted the yellow haired monsters out of the air as they got near me.

A tiny drum beat echoed, and en masse the whole of the spider horde turned their butts at me and shot silk. Hundreds, nay thousands of strands of silk hit me at once, and I was engulfed. Then one of the yellow haired spiders jumped below my reach and got a good bite of my leg. I cried out in pain and squashed the spider under my palm. But, it was too late. The venom worked its natural wonder, and I fell to my knees. Then I collapsed on the floor, and the faintest of cheering filled the room…

I went into convulsions and lay there twitching for a solid fifteen minutes. When my body calmed down, I found I couldn’t move, but the spiders were still there watching me. A thousand tiny voices spoke in unison, “Now, after those two bites, you can hear us. You have slaughtered many of our kind, and that needs to stop.”

Paralyzed with fear and poison, I tried to nod. The tiny voices spoke again, “We are intelligent, and we believe we possess souls. We do not want mankind to know because we do not want to be subject to their scientific process. You will stop killing our kind.”

I whimpered, “You’re invading my home…”

“Only to hunt. Not to lay eggs. If we laid eggs in here, there would be thousands of our young everywhere. If you don’t change your ways, then you will see a green spider with black stripes down its body and black legs. When you see this spider know that you are doomed!”

I whimpered some more and lay there in my paralysis. The army of spiders dispersed to parts unknown. A few hours later I was able to move.

Check out Evelyn’s Book, a precursor to Winter’s Line. In truth a comedy about magic and witches and old boyfriends.

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