Still no further word…I’ll update if I find out, but otherwise skip it.
Oct 4: SPIDER
So I need to write a short horror story on the subject of spiders this morning. The first temptation is always to go for the cheap scare. Boo! To play on people’s typical childhood fears. And then you start coughing up ideas that everyone has seen before. Arachnophobia. The giant spider in the forest in Harry Potter. I asked my daughter; she had a great idea about people being turned into puppets whose strings were being pulled by spiders, and another great one about spiders that don’t carry venom, but a vaccine. But neither of them gelled.
I wrote a couple of desultory (a word which here means “half-assed”) paragraphs about an outer space story in which the travelers journey to another world through a portal. But then what? Either the aliens look like spiders, or they don’t, or some guy has a spider in his suit when he goes through and something about the portal makes him mutate, or…something. I couldn’t come up with something I haven’t seen before.
Then I relized, it wasn’t that it needed to be something that I hadn’t seen before, just something that other people hadn’t seen before.
So. When I was a little kid, I used to read a lot (big surprise), and I also used to have a lot of nightmares. The kind that would leave me shaking. I used to wet the bed, I don’t know, until I was six or so. Anyway I was in the habit of getting up in the middle of the night, going into the bathroom and turning the lights on, then sleeping on the floor. I couldn’t turn on the lights in the bedroom, because I shared it with my brother.
I would lie on the floor and stare at the floor tiles or the undersides of the cabinet doors until I could sleep.
I don’t remember what the nightmares were all about anymore. I just remember the sensation of being chased by things and having to run in slow motion while they followed me. Chuckling. They could eat me at any time, I knew. And the second I stopped trying my hardest to uselessly outrun them, they would.
You’d think that I would have read a lot on those nights, but I only brought a book into the bathroom to read once.
Once was enough. As I tried to read, the letters seemed to vibrate in front of my eyes, peel off, and start crawling over the page toward me.
I couldn’t move. I couldn’t scream.
They crawled all over my hands, climbed up my arms, and burrowed into the skin.
I woke up the next morning with bloody scratch marks along my arms. Dry skin, my mom said. It turned out I was having a nightmare. A vivid one. Just thinking about it now makes my whole body itch.
And yet I still wonder, “What if the words laid eggs? And someday they hatch?”
And then I have to touch my skin. Just to check.
If you liked this story, check out Something Borrowed, Something Blue, which fortunately has zero spiders in it, metaphorical or otherwise.