Spiders

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After I dropped out of college, I found myself at the age of 21 with a complete lack of direction in life. Eventually, I started working in a small cafe called Daisy’s. It was a little, rustic styled place and the manager was a kind, older woman named Barbara. That cafe, I suppose, is where my story begins.

It was mid-winter, and it was raining really heavily outside. All the customers were gone and I was sitting behind the counter, when I suddenly got a really bad headache. I came on really quickly, just like that. I went to the men’s room and splashed my face off with cold water, but it didn’t help. The bright lights in the cafe were killing me. I was getting nauseous too; it was like a really bad hangover. I borrowed some pain pills from a coworker, but it still didn’t help even slightly. All I wanted was to go home and lay down. Eventually, I asked Barbara if I could go home early, she said that was fine, and seemed genuinely concerned about me. I was really pale, she said.

I had ridden to work on my motorcycle (my only mode of transportation), and I really didn’t want to drive it home in the rain. I thought about calling a cab, but my apartment was only a few blocks away, and I didn’t feel like waiting. I was feeling worse and worse by the minute. As I rode out of the parking lot, I noticed another weird symptom. I had a strange sensation under my skin. It was like something crawling around in me, all over my body. It was like thousands of tiny legs. I don’t know why, but for some reason, the mental image of spiders came to me. That was what it felt was under my skin, thousands and thousands of little spiders.

While I was riding home, the sound of the engine, and the rain splattering against my helmet making my head hurt even worse. I was almost home when it happened. A figure darted out into the road, right in front of me. They were moving frantically, waving their arms all about. The figure seemed to be a man, but it was tough to tell in the rain. They were wearing a long, dark coat that covered most of their body. They had dark hair which hung down and covered most of their face, but their mouth was visible, and that was the disturbing part. They were smiling. It was a huge smile; it seemed longer than a human being could possibly stretch their mouth. It had to have been painful.

I swerved quickly to avoid them, and I went skidding onto the side walk. My bike flipped over, and I landed on the cement. My vision started to go black, and suddenly, the feeling of the spiders was much, much worse, like they were trying to burrow deeper into me. As I lost consciousness, I realized what the figure had been doing, flailing about like that. They had been dancing.

I woke up in the hospital. I had never been hospitalized before, and waking up in that cold, white room was really jarring. I thought for just a few seconds that I had died, and this was some kind of afterlife. My doctor, a bespectacled man in his 50’s, explained the situation to me. I had a pretty severe concussion, and some minor internal bleeding. I was going to have to stay for a while. As he was leaving, I remembered the figure from the night before. I asked if anybody else had been injured in the accident, he said no. I also asked about the strange symptoms I had experienced the night before, but he seemed uninterested, and told me it was probably just a migraine. Then he went on a short spiel about how I should be more careful and how motorcycles are very dangerous, then he excused himself.

I was moved into a two person room, with a TV and a big window next to the bed. Barbara came to visit me once, but other than that my only company was my roommate, Malcolm. He was about 40, with a stocky build, and graying black hair. He had injured himself falling off a ladder apparently. I really just wanted to watch T.V., but Malcolm talked a lot. I mostly just listened.

Right off the bat, Malcolm gave me the creeps. He had a raspy voice, clearly he was heavy smoker, and when he talked it seemed almost like he was talking to himself and not me. He talked at first a lot about local sports teams, he was a big football fan apparently, and I mostly just nodded and pretended to be interested. I never cared for sports.

He also talked a lot about things he had seen on the news. One story that really interested him was actually a murder that had occurred in the next town over. The was a female high school student named Melissa Hayes, her throat had been slit. and her body had been left in a dumpster behind a church. . She had left her house the night before, telling her parents she was going to a friend’s house for a party. She never made it to the party though. They found her car a day later, abandoned in the woods at outskirts of the town. The strange thing was that somebody, presumably her killer, had carved designs all over the car. Random swirls and meandering lines had been etched into the paint, as well as the phrase “that’s that” on the hood. Her killer was never found.

That story brought up the subject of true crime, which was apparently another one of Malcolm’s interests. He said he had been reading a lot about a certain lesser-known serial killer lately. In Thailand, during the early 2000s, there had been a rash of killings by someone who was eventually given the title of “The Rainy Day Man”. As you can imagine he only stuck on rainy days, and though they were never caught, they were assumed to be a man, based on the fact the victims were all fit adult men. They claimed only 5 victims, but the nature of the killings made them stand out. From what the police were able to piece together, they were somehow able to break silently into the victim’s homes, and then kill them via strangulation with some kind of cord. Then they would pose the body somewhere in the house, in a normal position, like they were just going about their day. The first victim was found sitting in front of his T.V., the second sitting at his table, with a full bowl of soup sat in front of him, and a half empty bowl across the table, in front of an empty seat. The police think the killer at with his victims for a time after killing them, maybe talking to them, as if they were alive. The most peculiar thing about the case though, was the presence of small red marks all over the bodies. The police could not identify they cause, but guessed that they may have been made when the killer injected them with a needle.

Other than some more medical testing and meeting Malcolm, the first day in the hospital was pretty uneventful, but when I went to sleep that night, I had a very disturbing dream. I was in a parking lot. It was raining heavily, and I could barely see, but I could make out the neon sign for a laundromat in the distance. I knew where I was, the parking lot of a strip mall near my old college. I used to go there a lot to use the laundromat. I was actually mugged there once.

I was on my knees and soaking wet, and the feeling of spiders had returned under my skin. Something was moving around me in circles. It was a dark figure, the same one that had caused my accident. They were dancing around me in circles, still smiling that gigantic smile, even wider this time, impossibly wide. They had the whitest teeth, and they looked sharp. I knew I was dreaming, but I couldn’t wake up.

I could hear music playing. It was a song being played on piano, a frantic, upsetting song. It seemed like the player was alternating between playing a song and just randomly striking keys. It was giving me a headache, and the spiders started crawling faster. I wanted to run away, but I was afraid of the figure would attack me. Somehow I knew that the circle it was dancing in was a border, one that I was not to cross. The feeling of the spiders eventually got so bad I couldn’t stand it anymore, and I started scratching myself, but it didn’t help, so I scratched harder. I kept scratching and scratching, and eventually I started to bleed, but I kept going. The figure was laughing now, a deep, raspy laugh. I kept scratching and spiders began to pour out of my, skin thousands of them, along with the blood. My blood pooled around me, and the spiders tried to crawl back into, though my nose, my mouth, my eyes, it was hellish. The figure laughed louder and danced faster, skipping and twirling. My vision went black. Then I was awake.

I’m pretty sure I shouted upon awakening, but luckily it didn’t wake Malcolm up. I didn’t get anymore sleep that night, though. I turned on the T.V. with the volume off, but subtitles on. I watched sitcoms and a stand-up special until morning. I thought back to the time I had been mugged in that parking lot. The mugger had been a scrappy guy in his late 20’s brandishing a handgun. After I handed him my wallet, he punched me in the side of the head, hard enough to knock me down while he ran away. I gave a description to the police, but they never caught him as far as I know. I couldn’t see his eyes because he was wearing sunglasses, but I saw his most distinct feature, which was a tattoo of a spider web on his left hand.

The next day after some more tests, I was watching T.V. with Malcolm. I was flipping through channels, and Malcolm had me stop on a nature channel. A documentary about the world’s most poisonous animals  was on. Eventually they started talking about something called the Brazilian Wandering Spider, the most poisonous spider on Earth. They mentioned that, much like cats, the Brazilian Wandering Spider enjoys toying with it’s prey. I changed channels quickly, and Malcolm said “Hey, I was watching that.”

I said that I had a problem with spiders, and he said he understood. He said he loved them though. He actually kept pet spiders in his basement. Some were ones that he bought at specialty pet stores, like his tarantula and his camel spider, but some were ones he had caught. He had a lot of wolf spiders as they are easy to find as well, as a few of something he called “bold jumpers” which are apparently very common, an variety of different types of “orb weavers”, a few black widows, and a brown recluse. I found that knowledge somewhat disturbing, as it brought back some memories from my childhood. Before I had been born, my grandfather was bitten on the thumb by a brown recluse, and refused to be treated until the wound became very serious. When I was a kid, he often showed me a picture of the bite that they had taken at the hospital when he finally went. Because he had waited so long, there was a significant amount tissue loss. It really bothered me as a kid.

I told Malcolm that I could never imagine having spiders as pets. He told me that they were great pets though. Very clean, very little upkeep, but the best part he said, was watching them eat their prey. I didn’t want to hear about that, so to change the subject I asked who was watching his spiders for him. He just told me “Oh, they can take care of themselves.”

That night I couldn’t get any sleep. Just when I thought I was about to get to sleep, something happened. I started to get a headache, and immediately I knew what that meant. Soon enough the feeling of the spiders came back, was about to press the button to summon a nurse, but then I heard something, a noise from the window. I looked over and saw a dark figure outside.

The thing was out there, the thing that caused the accident, and then appeared in my dreams. It’s hand pressed against the window, wearing a plastic glove. It seemed like it was standing, but that was impossible, we were on the third floor.It was still in its dark jacket, and its hair still covered most of its face, but now I could see its teeth clearly. It had fangs, actual fangs, far too big for its mouth, and even though I could not see it’s eyes, I could tell it was looking straight at me.

My head was pounding like a drum, and I felt like the spiders were going to tear me apart inside.I decided to wake up Malcolm for help, but I didn’t want to move and risk and risk setting the figure off. I slowly looked over to Malcolm’s bed, he was lying there asleep. I quietly said his name to try to wake him, but he seemed to be out cold.

I decided to press the button and summon a nurse, but I realized I could no longer move my arms, the feeling of the spiders was starting to make my entire body feel too heavy to move. I struggled to lift my hand, but all I could do was twitch it. I decided I would just scream, and hope somebody arrived to time to save me, but my lungs seized up, and I couldn’t get any air into my lungs. I couldn’t even breathe. My vision started to go dark, but as I lost consciousness, I heard something, soft laughter.

I woke up screaming. It was bright out now, and the figure was gone, all I could see out the window was a bright sunny day.My screams had apparently woke Malcolm, and he asked what was happening. I tried to answer him, but all I could manage was an incoherent mumble.

I decided that I was done, there was no way I was staying there any longer, I was going home. I hastily got up, unattached myself from the machines, and put on some clothes Barbara had brought me. Malcolm just watched me with a confused look on his face. I muttered to him “Sorry, I have to go.” I as I walked out the door, I heard him say to me:

” You know, the little guy is probably more scared of you then you are of him.”

I barreled down the hallway, past the group of nurses who had come to investigate my screaming, I rushed out of the hospital, got in  my car, and drove home. I could call them later to sort out the bill and everything, I figured, but there was no way I was staying there in the same place as Malcolm.

When I got home, I sat on my couch, just going over what had happened to me in my mind. Eventually I decided to take a shower to clear my head. As I undressed, I noticed something in the mirror. I had red marks all over my back and chest, little spots than marked my body seemingly randomly. I spent a while trying to figure out what they could be. They looked like little red pin pricks, or maybe spider bites.

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