The Spider

by Steve Bolin

I’m sitting here thinking over all the events of the last few days of this Halloween season. I’m trying to isolate the exact moment when everything started to go wrong. No matter how I slice it, I always come up with the same conclusion. It all started with that god-forsaken spider.

I remember once being an average guy. I had a good salaried job as a supervisor at Pure Sound Audio Systems, a speaker manufacturing plant. I both lived and worked in the metropolis of Indianapolis, Indiana. My life was no better or worse than anyone else’s. But then came that fateful day the spider crawled into my life.

My life is ruined because of the arachnid, and now the horror is going to pay. That’s why I’m sitting in front of its aquarium cage with a can of gasoline and a pack of matches. It’s payback time.

Before I can torch the spider, I need to put her back in the cage. I’m not ready to do that yet. First, I need to go over everything that’s happened one last time. I want to remember the mad whirlwind of events leading to this moment. During this process, I want to savor my revenge.

Everything started two days ago, the same day I began a newly released medication for my depression. After work that day I found myself in the local pet store. I was standing in front of an aquarium display of tarantulas. Many think this an unusual pet, but I’d had one ever since my 15th birthday. For the last ten years I’ve kept “Doc Ock” as a pet. Unfortunately, he died a few weeks ago. My purpose at the pet store was to replace him.

I didn’t shed a single tear when Doc Ock died. I can’t get very emotional over a spider, but I did miss him when he went to tarantula heaven. He and I had been through a lot of things together. One of those things was my marriage to my wife, Joanie.

Joanie, who has a rather severe case of arachnophobia, had assumed I’d get rid of Doc Ock when we married. The spider was our first big fight as newlyweds. I reasoned that since she brought her cat into the marriage, it was only fair that Doc Ock should be able to stay as well. The short version of that much argued event is that both her cat *and* my tarantula stayed.

As I stood there in the pet store trying to decide on a spider, I can honestly say that it never entered my mind to tell Joanie I was getting a replacement. Why should she even care? She and Doc Ock had always kept a very respectable distance from each other. Besides, I planned to get the same breed as Doc Ock. He was a Chilean Rose tarantula. This breed is one of the most gentle and docile spiders of their kind.

The store owner noticed me studying his spiders and asked if he could help. I told him about Doc Ock and how I was looking for a replacement. Since I always come to his store to purchase cat food for Joanie’s feline and crickets for Doc Ock, he was only too glad to be of assistance.

He mentioned a shipment of supplies delivered that very morning. Among the supplies was a spider that had been special ordered by a customer who’d changed his mind at the last minute. He said the specimen was in the back room and asked if I’d like to see it. My curiosity was piqued, so I agreed.

In the back room, he led me to a shelf holding a cloth-covered box. He removed the black cloth to reveal a plastic, transparent 12 inch cube. Inside was the biggest spider I’ve ever seen in my life. It jumped toward us as the store owner removed the cloth. The two of us flinched back involuntarily, startled at the unexpected reaction of the spider. We laughed at each other’s nervousness.

He asked if I recognized the species. I did. It was Theraphosa leblondi, a Goliath bird-eating spider, the largest species of arachnid in the world. The monster actually looked cramped in its cube. I knew that tarantulas of this size were very rare and likely to be quite old. Although their venom wouldn’t kill a human, they were extremely aggressive. I sexed it by looking at the pedipalps, the two finger-like appendages at either side of its fangs. The absence of palpal bulbs at the tips meant that it was female.

I don’t know what I was thinking at the time. I guess I wasn’t. Because the next thing I know, I’m walking out the door one spider richer and $500 poorer. When I got home, Joanie was out running around like always, so I was able to set up my new spider in its aquarium cage unbothered by her objections. The little, hollow log that Doc Ock had used for a hidey hole was way too small for this monster. I replaced it with a bigger log for Delilah, which was what I’d decided to call this new spider. Delilah didn’t seem interested in doing much of anything except sitting on the aquarium’s vermiculite flooring and staring through the glass. Needless to say, when Joanie got home and saw her, she went ballistic. Our fight, like Delilah herself, was much bigger than the fight over Doc Ock.

At the peak of the argument she marched out of the house, slamming the door behind her. She said she was going to drive around for a while until she cooled off. She didn’t say where she was going or when she’d be back.

It was getting past 6:00 PM, and I still hadn’t had dinner yet. I decided to cook myself a burger or two out on the back porch grill. I hoped it would help me get my mind off Joanie.

Later, sitting on a lawn chair eating my cheese burger, I saw my next door neighbor’s dog come prancing in my yard. The little Chihuahua looked unconcerned as it squatted near the edge of my lawn and took a dump.

I was already mad and this made the third time I’d caught the mutt fertilizing my yard. I moved out of my chair, snatched the overgrown rat up and carried it to my neighbor’s front door. Though angry, I resisted the temptation to kick the jack-o-lantern sitting on his porch.

I don’t remember exactly everything said, but I do remember that in only a few minutes we were shouting at each other. The volume of our yelling was loud enough for the entire neighborhood to hear. It was even worse than the fight I had earlier with Joanie. I left before I decided to start swinging.

Back in the house I saw Delilah and remembered to feed her. Since I’d eaten already, Delilah should get her opportunity. I placed a live baby mouse into her cage with a set of tongs. The arachnid was on the pink, blind mouse before it could even squeak.

As I watched Delilah suck the life fluids out of the mouse, I imagined the Chihuahua impaled on her fangs instead. I wondered what the neighbor would say if I used his mutt to feed my spider. It would serve him right. At least I thought so at the time.

Not long after I went to bed that night, I felt Joanie crawl silently in beside me. My wife made every effort to let me know that she was still mad by taking care to not touch me. She shrugged away at my hand and mumbled how late it was when I tried to apologize. We hadn’t had sex in over a month, so I certainly wasn’t expecting that, but I had hoped she’d at least forgive me so we wouldn’t have to go to sleep mad at each other. Her frigid silence let me know she still had some more cooling off to do.

I don’t remember falling asleep that night. I know how stupid that statement sounds, but I can usually feel myself drifting towards sleep. In the morning, waking up is confirmation that I’ve actually been asleep. This particular night, however, was different in that I don’t remember either the drifting or the waking. I do remember tossing and turning. I also remember dreaming.

Ordinarily a dream, like waking up in the morning, is a sure sign that I’ve been asleep. But this was no ordinary dream. In fact, I’ve never had a dream like it before. I’m not even sure if it was a dream at all. Yet, what else could it have been?

As I lay there in bed tossing and turning, I replayed the events of the day in my mind. I thought of the rotten day I’d had at work. I replayed the events at the pet store on the way home later. I considered the unfair treatment Joanie gave me over Delilah. I remembered how the neighbor’s dog was just the icing on the cake. I once again replayed my mental fantasy of feeding that Chihuahua to Delilah. It was a truly satisfying visualization.

Perhaps that’s the point at which I fell asleep, if indeed I ever did. Perhaps one moment I was fantasizing about the dog-eating spider and the next I was asleep, dreaming about the fantasy. It sounds possible, but in light of all that’s happened since, it doesn’t sound plausible – at least not to me, anyway.

The dream changed. I felt my mind separate from my body and float through the house into the tiny, instinct driven mind of Delilah. I felt supercharged in this new arachnid body. I was in charge of a huge and powerful killing machine. The freakish new view of the world was twisted through the eight-eyed sight of my spider body. It was a monstrous and hateful world I saw, filled only with enemy or prey.

My mind alone was not in complete and total control. The spider mind was an irresistible presence here. Neither of our minds had complete control over the other. Instead, our two minds seemed to merge into a single consciousness. My intelligence and emotion combined with Delilah’s savage instinct and raw power. I felt the aching hunger in my new body and willed myself to grow right out of the aquarium cage.

I grew to the size of a St. Bernard, and I crawled to the back door. My flexible, finger-like pedipalps expertly activated the latch. I moved through my backyard and crossed over into the neighbor’s. I stopped at the dog house with the sleeping Chihuahua inside. I ripped off the roof and sank my venom-filled fangs into his quivering body before he could wake. I spent the next hour or two sucking the nourishment from the mutt’s body. I carried the dog’s drained out corpse to the front porch and sat the husk next to a jack-o-lantern. I crawled away, silently chuckling at the nice little surprise awaiting my neighbor in the morning.

I crept back into my house and made my way to the aquarium cage. I willed my body to shrink in size and climbed inside. Using one of my legs, I slid the screen lid back in place and finished shrinking to my original size. After the spider’s body was hidden under the log, I felt our two minds reluctantly separate and drift apart. My mind felt as though it were carried back to its human body on a gentle gust of wind.

The next thing I remember is my alarm clock going off at 5:00 AM. While I don’t specifically remember waking up, I must’ve done so. As usual, the loud beeping scared me into missing a half dozen heart beats, and I hit the snooze button for another five minutes. At the end of the five minutes, the alarm went off once again, and I lost yet another half dozen heart beats. This is my daily morning ritual. It made me feel normal after a night filled with strange dreams.

Joanie gets up every morning with me and, to my amazement, that morning was no different. Not only did she seem to be over yesterday’s anger, she never mentioned our argument during breakfast. It was her usual “pretend-it-never-happened” attitude she always used after a big fight. She’d probably keep her knees glued together for the next month as her way of punishing me.

Other than keeping the house clean and food prepared, Joanie had no income providing job. She claimed to have a lower back problem that prevented her from being employed. The back problem was just one of her many, so called “chronic conditions.” I often wonder what she does with all her free time.

I try very hard to trust my wife, so I don’t do much more than politely ask about her plans for the day. Usually, her answers are vague and elusive. But this morning she gave me an answer, almost as if it’d slipped out of her mouth before she could stop it. She mentioned the name of a luxurious French restaurant, The Aviator, and that she was meeting a girlfriend for lunch.

After breakfast, Joanie gave me the customary peck on the cheek as I ran out the door. I was running late for work as usual. This is also part of my regular morning routine. I was starting to feel almost normal again after a very surreal night.

As I pulled out of the driveway, I saw my neighbor waving at my Chevy Blazer to stop before I could drive away. He was in his morning bathrobe with a very angry look on his face. I only nudged the window down an inch or two. I wasn’t going to give him a chance to get his hands on me. I hoped he didn’t plan to continue our argument from yesterday evening.

He was yelling nonsense about someone killing his stupid dog. He said the police were already on their way and that he planned to sue me for everything I was worth. As he screamed, I wondered how red his face would get before it exploded.

I tried to tell him that I never touched his dog. I’m pretty sure he couldn’t hear me over his own screaming. I tried to get in a word or two, but the only opportunity to do that was when he stopped yelling long enough to take a breath. Admittedly, that’s not much time.

During his screaming fest, he pointed several times to his front porch. I only saw shriveled, brown rags lumped together next to a carved jack-o-lantern. I had no idea if this was supposed to mean anything to me or not. I looked at my wristwatch and decided that I’d given my neighbor more than his fair share of my time. I needed to go.

As I pulled away, I glanced once again at the wrinkled object on his front porch. I got a better look at it from the slightly different angle. What had at first glance appeared to be shriveled brown rags, was in reality his Chihuahua. It was as though the mutt’s life juices had been sucked out by a giant, hairy…

No! That’s impossible!

I quickly pulled away and raced to work. All the way there I mentally gave myself reasonable explanations as to how my neighbor’s yard-fertilizing dog could’ve died. My mind entering Delilah and killing the dog certainly didn’t qualify as rational, did it?

As usual, I got to Pure Sound Audio Systems a few minutes late. Because I’m on salary and because I almost always stay late, no one said anything to me about it. I’d also decided that just because I couldn’t think of a rational explanation for the dog incident didn’t mean that there wasn’t one.

The neighbor said that he’d called the police. So what? I just can’t imagine the cops doing more than asking me a few routine questions. If I’d wanted the dog dead, I’d simply poison the pooch or put a bullet in its head; the cops would know that. The only thing that could’ve sucked the fluids from that dog is a vampire or a hairy, overgrown, eight-legged…

I decided to get my mind on work. The assembly line I supervised had 30 people who worked for me. The line usually ran fairly well since I had a self-sufficient crew. Among this crew was only one man who I considered to be a problem child. His name was Frank Oz.

Frank was anything but a team player. Not only was he a long-haired, foul-mouthed, pot smoking brat, but he was almost always the number one source of complaining, gossiping and rumor starting. He came in late even more often than I did. He also bullied his way into working whatever job on the line he wanted.

So why didn’t I just fire him? It’s simple. His step-father owns Pure Sound. Frank knows as well as I that he has a life time job. I’ve often wondered why Frank doesn’t get a higher paying position. I think it’s because he gets so much enjoyment out of tormenting me and everyone else on my line. Even without a higher paying job, I’m sure his step-dad, Henry, doesn’t let him go without.

Sometimes it seems my life is nothing but one long series of arguments. After all the yelling and screaming I’d done at both my wife and my neighbor yesterday, I hoped for a break today. Frank Oz had other ideas.

The subject of our argument is unimportant. Besides, with Frank, argument content is never as important as argument volume. I lost my temper and actually made the threat of firing him in front of a group of others. Unexpectedly, he shut up long enough for me to stomp off to my office. I stewed for the rest of the day and didn’t leave my desk until well after quitting time.

If I was angry at Frank earlier, then I became absolutely livid when I walked out to the parking lot and found my Chevy Blazer sitting on four flat tires. A murderous rage invaded me like a dark, malevolent presence. With great effort, I managed to regain control of myself.

I used my cell phone to call both AAA and my wife. I went to the security department while I waited on her and the tow truck. The guard helped me review several security cameras overlooking the parking lot. The two of us watched as Frank Oz was caught on film knifing the tires of my truck. Later, after my Blazer was heading for a nearby garage on a flat bed truck, Joanie drove me home.

I remember thinking on the way home that all I wanted was a hot bath, a hot meal and an hour of vegetation in front of the tube. As we pulled into the driveway, I realized I’d get none of those things. There waiting on my front porch were both my neighbor and a local police officer. I sighed. It was going to be a long night.

I was right. It was a long night. In the end, the police officer left empty handed. Not only was there no evidence against me, I also had Joanie as an alibi concerning my whereabouts during last night. As the cop drove off, I saw the gleam in my neighbor’s eye; he was feeling pretty good about himself.

Even after taking another anti-depressant, I still tossed and turned in bed. Once again, I don’t remember falling asleep. My mind simply refused to shut down. The day’s events churned in my thoughts, boiling like a brew in a witch’s cauldron.

I made up my mind to talk to Henry about his step-son’s poor attitude at work. With the proof of the security tape, perhaps I could get Frank fired. In the long run, however, my neighbor was going to be more difficult to deal with. If I had my way, he’d travel the same path his dog did.

As my thoughts drifted over my neighbor, my mind felt as though it left my body and floated through the room. My consciousness seemed to drift towards Delilah’s aquarium. I felt myself lower through the hollow log and merge into her mind. It was as though she were an irresistible beacon, like a moth drawn to a deadly flame.

When the spider mind mixed into my own, I once again saw the savage world through the eight-eyed view of Delilah. The distorted sight was a nightmare glimpse of a world trapped in madness. Images twisted around me as I felt my body begin to grow. The raw hunger wrapped around my remaining sanity and drove my huge, dog-sized body out of the house in search of prey.

Underneath the open, starry night sky of the back yard, I deeply breathed the fresh October air and truly felt free for the first time in my life. The spider’s instinct was to sit and wait for prey to come to it, for one of its gifts is that of patience. My human mind knew, however, exactly where food could be found. There was no need to wait, only an overwhelming desire to feed.

The back door of my neighbor’s house broke like toothpicks beneath my incredible spider strength. The power I felt was intoxicating. I was an unstoppable war machine of death and destruction. My hulking body stalked through his house. The spider’s mind sought food; my human mind sought vengeance. Though my swift creeping was as silent as a whisper, my soon-to-be meal had already been alerted by the sound of the back door breaking in.

My new mind cried out in savage glee as my victim froze in horror at my sight. My distorted eyesight perceived his face as a twisted demon losing its sanity. Its mouth opened and prepared to scream. Ignorant of an arachnid’s capabilities, the demonic face was amazed as I jumped from across the room and onto its chest. With the diabolic fiend’s wind knocked out, I sank my fangs into its neck and injected a dose of venom into this impish abomination.

Now paralyzed by my venom instead of just fear, the demon could do nothing short of quiver. With the thing still alive and conscious, I began to feed on it. My prey died a slow and agonizing death. My new mind was exhilarated by the kill. I was the god of spiders.

Later, I crawled home and into the cage. My body shrank in girth, and I slipped beneath the log once again. I felt my mind drift slowly away from Delilah’s mind. It was a harder separation this time. There was stiff resistance to the split. At last I felt my mind settle into my human body once again. In comparison, it felt incredibly weak and vulnerable.

The next thing I remember, the alarm went off. My startled heart again skipped its customary half dozen beats. Still, I don’t remember actually waking up. Oddly enough, I felt quite invigorated and didn’t even bother to use the clock’s snooze alarm.

I had breakfast with Joanie who was once again playing her “pretend-it-never-happened” part concerning the events of yesterday. During the idle chit-chat and small talk, she again mentioned The Aviator and her girlfriend. Although eating out with the same friend twice in as many days might’ve normally struck me as odd, it wouldn’t reveal its true significance until later in the day.

I amazed myself and several others by arriving to work 10 minutes early this morning. I can’t remember the last time I did that. The rest of the day, however, went down hill. Actually, it was more like a boulder tumbling over a cliff.

Today, I planned to talk to the owner of the company, Henry, about Frank Oz. I thought a lunch hour meeting would make our discussion a bit less formal. What I didn’t plan on, however, was getting into another argument with Frank.

I’d originally decided to ignore him until I talked with his step-dad. Because Frank had been unknowingly caught on tape, I had a bit of leverage to force Henry’s actions if he didn’t want me pressing charges against his step-son.

When Frank came up to me early that morning at work and asked me in a cocky voice how I liked driving around on four flats – well, I forgot all about not arguing with him. The guy just doesn’t know when to quit. Once again we began screaming at each other. I forced myself to walk away before I jumped on his chest, sank my fangs in his neck and sucked the life juice right out of… Suddenly, I realized my thoughts were getting weird. I don’t have fangs, Delilah does. Would I really have tried to jump on Frank’s chest if I hadn’t walked away? I’m glad I didn’t stick around to find out. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t like the answer to that particular question.

In my office, I tried cooling down. I wanted to be in control of myself before talking with Henry. My office is one among many on a second floor balcony that overlooks the manufacturing assembly lines. A window in my office allows me to glance down at my line from time to time.

Although I hate the implied mistrust associated with watching my line run through the sound proof glass, I found myself doing it now. I noticed that several of the employees were dressed in festive Halloween costumes. I smiled. They were really just kids at heart.

I saw Frank talking to one of the girls on the line then walk away a few minutes later. He headed toward the nurse’s station. The woman he talked to, dressed as a black cat, looked up at me then walked over to a post-mounted telephone. Behind me, the desk phone rang and I answered. It was the cat-girl on the floor. I looked down at her standing by the post as she began revealing things she thought might interest me. She told me that Frank went to the nurse’s office with faked stomach cramps. He intended to get a pass and leave. He was planning to make a trip to my house and vandalize the place.

She told me several other things he’d bragged her about. She confessed her knowledge of Frank’s tire flattening plan yesterday. She was shocked when I told her he’d punctured all four instead of one like he’d told her. She felt guilty and agreed that Frank had crossed the line. She encouraged me to go home and stop him from trashing my house. She advised me to call the police. I thanked her for telling me everything and told her not to worry about it. I hung up the phone and thought about what she’d said. Suddenly, my vigor and vitality felt drained. Feeling depressed, I took another dose of my new medication.

Frank had to be stopped; there was simply no question about that. But I’d had my fill of the police, so I wasn’t going to call them. With everyone else milling around the office, the best place for me to stay was right here.

Without warning, an alien, spider-like mind possessed my thoughts. My mind began spinning a web of ideas. My co-workers would make a perfect alibi. I decided it was time for a nap.

I looked at my watch. My first break was in 15 minutes. Since I didn’t live far from the plant, it wouldn’t take Frank long to get to my house. The timing would be just about right. When he walked into my house, he’d get one nasty little surprise.

While I waited for break time, the phone on my desk rang once again. It was Joanie. I’d completely forgotten about her being home. She informed me that the police left our neighbor’s house a few minutes ago. It seemed our neighbor had been killed around two or three o’clock in the morning. She was quite upset about the whole ordeal and said she didn’t feel safe. She was going out shopping until her lunch date. Considering Frank was en route to our house in a few minutes, I not only agreed with her, but also encouraged her to leave as soon as possible.

After hanging up the phone, I checked my watch. It was break time. While some of my office co-workers stepped out for a smoke, others went to get coffee and a few sat at their desk reading the morning paper. As for myself, I sat at my desk. I leaned forward, rested my head on my arm and closed my eyes. Almost immediately I felt my mind drift.

Like a ghost, the spirit of my mind floated out of my body, then out of the building. I raced across the metropolitan city of Indianapolis at the speed of thought. With a bird’s eye view, I spotted my house and saw my wife’s car pulling out of the driveway. I dropped through the roof and into the spider’s glass cage. Delilah was asleep under the log. I felt her awaken as I merged with her mind. Her calm acceptance of me was like being with an old friend.

Immediately my spider body began to grow. I knocked the lid off the cage and crawled onto the carpeted floor where my proportions continued to expand. My monstrous growth took me to the size of a Great Dane. I heard a sound at the back door and made my way to an unlit hallway to wait.

The patience of the spider was calm and primitive. My human intelligence was submerged in an ocean of savage vengeance straining to be released. From the dark hallway, I heard the sounds of breaking glass and the opening of the back door. Frank entered, carrying on a conversation with no one in particular. Perhaps the sound of his own voice soothed and relaxed him.

Through the maddening senses of the spider, Frank’s voice was like fingernails down a chalk board to my hearing. The eight eyes of the spider saw his image as a horrible parody of life. His twisted form was an abomination that must not be allowed to live. I waited as he walked nearer to me, blindly unaware of my deadly presence.

Like all tarantulas, the Goliath bird-eater has small, sharp hairs covering its body. When irritated or upset, they often flick abdominal hairs at the source of annoyance. Once lodged under the skin, the needle-like hairs itch like liquid fire.

I flicked a hair or two at Frank who was still looking around and trying to figure out where best to start. He yipped like a frightened pup and grabbed at his arm where the hairs had stuck. He cursed and pulled one out, scratching his bicep as though the devil himself had crawled under his skin.

I amused myself by flicking more hairs at him. One struck him in the forehead and a huge red welt swelled up almost instantly. The human side of me was toying with him; the spider mind of Delilah now longed to release her fury and attack the enemy that had invaded her domain.

With Frank’s attention momentarily diverted by the itching dart-like hairs, I silently approached him. As he removed his shirt to dislodge embedded hairs from his torso, I jumped onto his back and knocked him to the floor. During his fall, his head hit the wall and knocked him unconscious.

I sank my fangs into his shoulder and began to drag him out of the house with my pedipalps. Because it was mid-morning, I didn’t think many people would be out. Still, I didn’t waste time out in the open of broad daylight. I carried Frank’s body across my backyard and in through the demolished back door of my neighbor’s house. I completely ignored the yellow “DO NOT CROSS – CRIME SCENE” tape strung up to keep people out. I dragged his body to the basement and deposited him in a dark, far corner on the dirty cement floor. I began to web his hands and feet securely.

Without warning, I felt my mind separate from the spider and snap back into my own body like a rubber band. I rubbed at my temples as the mother of all headaches exploded through my brain like a thunderstorm. I felt a hand lift from my shoulder. I looked up to see a co-worker look at me with concern in his eyes. He’d awaken me because break-time was over.

As he walked away, I became overwhelmed with panic. My mind left the spider before I could return it to the cage or even reduce its size. What would it do on its own? It had the capacity to go on a killing spree the likes of which this city had never seen before. I shuddered at the thought, but there was nothing I could do about it right now. It’d be best if I remained calm.

As lunch time approached, I decided to go ahead with my plan to talk to the company owner, Henry, about Frank. There were several reasons I decided this. First, it was a perfectly natural thing to do in light of the tire shredding incident yesterday. Second, sooner or later it’d be discovered that I knew of Frank’s break-in attempt. If I asked Henry to stop Frank, it would appear as though I were using legitimate methods to prevent the trashing of my house.

When lunch time arrived, I made my way to Henry’s office. His secretary informed me that he’d gone out for lunch at The Aviator. Where had I heard the name of that restaurant before? I mentally shrugged. Since I hadn’t eaten yet, I decided to join him for lunch.

I could tell when I arrived that it was a rather pricey, upscale place. An expensive lunch would be money well spent if I could be seen talking to Henry as I was expected to.

When I inquired of Henry’s whereabouts, the waiter pointed to a remote table in the far corner. The dim lighting of the place was supplemented by flickering candles at each table. It was more than enough illumination to see my wife sitting across from him.

I quickly stepped behind a white marble column and peeked around the side of it. Neither of them had noticed me. I tried to remain calm. There had to be a reasonable, innocent explanation for this.

When I looked around the column again, I saw Joanie wore a rather tight, red silk dress that revealed plenty of thigh. The sleeveless dress was cut low enough to show a very generous amount of cleavage. With what Joanie usually wears around the house, I’d forgotten she even had breasts.

I ducked back behind the marble column again and tried to slow my racing heart. A drop of sweat ran down my temple, and I felt my blood pressure rising. Maybe she was just trying to get a job from him. With the back problems she claimed to have, maybe she thought dressing up would impress him.

I looked around the post once more and saw Joanie take something from her lap and hand it to Henry. At first I thought she was giving him a white cloth napkin. Henry smiled as the object unfolded out of his fingers to reveal small, lacy panties. He discreetly put the panties in his jacket pocket and kissed her hand. She, in return, kissed his hand – and sucked on his finger. I don’t think she was selling him lingerie.

I’d seen enough. I left. I went back to work with all thoughts of food forgotten. Instead of going to my desk, I went to the bathroom and silently wept behind a stall door. I’d never felt so betrayed in my life. When in control of myself again, I went back to my desk and spent some time just thinking things over. As I did, the spider’s primal savagery silently invaded my mind.

I envisioned a huge, endless graveyard, with tombstones in every direction as far as the eye could see. A giant spider web stretched across the morbid landscape. In the center of the web was Joanie and Henry together, trapped like struggling flies. My giant spider’s body was crawling towards them and…

What was I thinking? I shook my head to clear my thoughts. My sanity was surely slipping away. My world was becoming an asylum of madness. What was happening to me?

I spent the rest of the day at my desk. I was too afraid to leave it. My fear was not for myself but for what I may do to an innocent co-worker if I were to interact with anyone. As the work day ended, I felt my very grip on reality beginning to slip. I can scarcely believe what I’d done to Frank Oz.

I drove the Blazer straight home and found my wife still gone. The back door’s glass was busted, and there were a few drops of blood on the wooden floor of the kitchen. I cleaned it up and also removed some black, needle-sharp hairs I’d found embedded in the door and hallway.

While in the kitchen, I opened a drawer and pulled out a pack of matches. Afterwards, I walked out to the garage and grabbed the can of gasoline. I brought both items into the front room and sat them by Delilah’s aquarium cage. The spider had to be destroyed.

* * *

So here I am on Halloween night where I began my remembrance. I guess this is where I finish.

I have only to re-enter Delilah’s mind one last time, get her over here and shrink her into the cage. I just hope I have the strength of mind to separate from her one last time. If I can, I’ll torch the arachnid and end the horrible link developing between us. I just need to do it once more. Beyond that, I might be lost forever, two minds melded as one.

Sitting here in front of the cage, my mind drifts once again out of my body. My thoughts float through the walls of my house. I travel through my neighbor’s roof and down through the floor into the basement. Delilah is still standing over Frank’s body. In my earlier panic, I’d forgotten that most spiders spend many hours completely motionless. Her size has not changed.

My mind settles in next to hers as I feel her primitive thoughts wrap around me like a lover’s embrace. Seconds after the merging of our minds, I sense something different about my spider body. I feel more in tune with it than I ever have before. This body has significantly changed since the last time I was in it. Immediately, I know what’s happened.

I look at Frank, now a demon to be despised through the senses of Delilah. While my mind was absent, she busied herself by weaving a web cocoon around Frank’s abdomen. A new set of fang marks in his chest indicated that she’d injected him with her paralyzing venom to ensure he wouldn’t be going anywhere ever again.

Frank’s body is face up and lying flat on the dirty floor of the basement. On his stomach, a webbed, half spherical shape moves up and down in rhythm with his shallow breathing. I know what this is. Though my human mind should’ve been horrified, our combined minds were pleased.

Delilah had been pregnant. The half sphere was a cocoon filled with dozens of freshly laid tarantula eggs inside. Delilah had found a perfect food source for her spiderlings when they emerged in six to eight weeks. I could feel inside us the instinctive drive for the continuation of the species. The cocoon satisfied that drive. Witnessing the spiderlings birth would satisfy it yet further.

A very tiny part of my mind focuses on getting back to the aquarium in my front room. I refuse to think of anything else beyond that, less Delilah should try a battle of wills. I begin by concentrating on only one thing at a time.

I move up the basement stairs then back out the rear door, still littered about like so much broken kindling. The early evening is beginning to darken. Nevertheless, I hurry onward and into my house. I crawl to the front room and begin shrinking in girth as I make my way to the cage. I return to my original dinner-plate size and move under the hollow log.

The struggle to separate my mind from her seems hopeless. Nearly at the end of my endurance, I’m ready to give up until I hear the sound of the telephone ringing. The ring is a familiar sound from the human world. It’s something I can grab onto like a rope and pull myself out. I just barely make it.

My mind merges once again with my human body. I feel like a half drowned kitten. I despise the weakness of this frail human cage my mind is trapped in. The continued ringing focuses my thoughts. Spider-crawling, on my hands and knees, I cross the floor. I pick up the phone and place it on my ear. It’s Joanie.

She’s calling to let me know her girlfriend invited her over for an all night slumber party. I don’t listen to anything much past that. I call her a lying whore because I know she’s really spending the night with Henry. I tell her what I’ve seen at the restaurant. She doesn’t even bother trying to make up an excuse.

In fact, instead of denying it, she says she’s relieved that it’s now out in the open. She says that she’s been planning to divorce me for some time now. She feels like I treat my spider better than I do her. She says she’s never coming back to me and that the stupid spider will be the death of me.

I don’t argue. I simply tell her that she’s wrong and hang up as she continues her mindless babbling. I crawl away from the phone with my head spinning. Tears of confusion stream down my face. Time passes until a spider instinct, buried deep within my mind, burrows up to the surface. I dry my eyes as an idea begins to form and take shape.

I pull myself up to the cast iron stand upon which sits the glass aquarium of Delilah. I reach for the gas can and hold it to my chest. I fumble with the pack of matches, light one and stare thoughtfully at the ember flame until it burns my finger and thumb. Joanie has burned me even worse.

I empty out the can of gasoline onto the carpeted floor and grab a decorative candle off the coffee table. I light the wick and sit it on the gas-soaked carpet. I lie down on the floor beside it and watch the flame burn down. With the house and my body burned away, it will look like suicide.

In my experience there are never any simple answers to the problems of life. Perhaps what I have planned will be the exception to that rule. I see now that the spider I once thought was the source of all my problems is now really all my answers.

I feel my mind drifting from my body. My mental thoughts merge with Delilah one last time. She rejoices at my return. Our two minds are now cemented together for all eternity. I grow out of the cage, jump across the front room and out the back door. Behind me, flames spread throughout the house. With the spider’s speed, it won’t take long to get to Henry’s estate where both he and my wife will be spending the night – their last night ever.

Joanie was wrong about the spider being the death of me. It’s going to be the death of her. I have a special trick for Joanie this Halloween night – and a treat as well.

She’ll find that I believe revenge is a dish best eaten while it’s still kicking and screaming.

Return to the Table of Contents

Reviews Updated for 2009! | Issues 2001-2004 | Links | About DMR | Home