She had a thing for spiders, the color red, the number 8, and college men.
Jeff stopped in front of the campus bulletin board. An ad written with bold red strokes attracted his attention.
Two to three hours a day. Three days a week, Mon, Wed, & Fri. Wash and clean lab equipment. $8.88 an hour. Call between 8 AM and 10 AM. Ask for Kate.
He grinned, this was almost perfect. Raising his hand, he tore off one of the strips inscribed with the phone number, though it would be hard to forget one that ended with four eight's.
A woman in tight fitting jeans and a long sleeved t-shirt, her red framed glasses a match for her red pony tail, watched the flies in the glass case. She was waiting for one to land on the wire netting placed over the suction tube. Soon, one did. Kate licked her lips as the fly rubbed its front legs with spit then ran them over its head. She flipped on the power. The fly disappeared down the tube to be caught in a net made from an old nylon stocking. Pinching the fly through the nylon, she ripped off a wing, then turned off the power. She turned the stocking inside out and extracted the fly with a pair of tweezers. She took a few steps to another glass case containing some bare twigs, bare except for the web and its motionless builder waiting for its next meal.
As the lid rose, the spider tucked in its spindly legs as it got ready to attack or flee. The array of bulging unblinking eyes on top of its head stared into Kate’s eyes trying to divine her intentions. The tweezers opened. The wounded fly dropped onto an edge of the web. For a moment, the fly stayed motionless, then it jiggled the web trying to get free. Kate watched breathless, her eyes glued on the spider racing to its entangled prey. As the spider placed its front legs over the fly and sank its fangs into the fly, she let out a breathy aaah.
Jeff groped for the alarm clock. On the second try, his hand landed on the jingling bells and ended their incessant call to start another day. He swore, it was only a quarter to eight, then remembering the help wanted ad he reluctantly got up. After taking a shower, he found his cell phone, flipped it open, and thumbed the number.
He counted, on the eighth ring there was an answer, “Hello?”
“Hello, may I speak to Kate?”
“This is she. Is this about the job?”
“Yes, is it still available?”
“Yes, it is. Are you afraid of spiders? I’m asking because my research is on spiders, and the place is full of them. Of course, they’re in glass cases, but some people can’t stand the sight of them.”
“No, that’s no problem.”
“All right, do you have transport? I’m in the valley near the mountains. ”
“Sure. My name’s Jeff.”
“Thanks, Jeff. Can you come before nine thirty? The address is...”
Jeff tossed his phone onto his bed and looked at the address; it was out of the way, but probably the perfect place to keep spiders.
An hour and a half later, Jeff turned his beat up car into the driveway, strode up the porch, and pushed the bell. The door opened and a warm draft welcomed him.
Kate smiled. “You must be Jeff.”
“Yes. Nice to meet you, Kate.” He looked down at a small woman about thirty years old, yet it was the redness of her hair that stood out. His first thought was it couldn’t be real.
“Welcome. Please, come in. I’m sorry it’s so hot in here. I’ve got to keep it this way for the spiders. You can put your jacket in this closet.”
Jeff noticed another thing about Kate; she had four small golden spiders on each ear. His second thought was she was really into spiders, and, right after that, the third one; it made her more attractive in an erotic way. So, taking off his jacket, he involuntarily flexed his muscles.
Jeff hung his jacket and followed Kate to the lab. Hanging on the outside of the door was a large photo of a shiny black spider with a red hour glass shape on its underbelly. Jeff stopped to study it. “This is the black widow, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Can it really kill someone?”
“Yes, but a human death is very rare. Although the female’s venom is 15 times as toxic as a rattlesnake’s, it can inject only a tiny amount.” Kate pointed. “See this brown spider, over here, about half the size? It’s the male. It’s harmless.”
“Is it true that the female eats the male after mating?”
“It’s notorious for that, and it’s true, but it’s the exception rather than the rule.”
Jeff asked, “Why would it eat some but not others?”
“Perhaps, they didn’t satisfy her.”
Jeff laughed, and Kate opened the door. “After you.”
He took one step into the room and stopped. It was about the size of half a basketball court and had two rows of tables down the center. Jeff saw that each table had glass cases most of which he could see had spiders. A lot of them were large and colorful. He wasn’t afraid of spiders, yet seeing a room full of them made him uneasy.
Sensing his mood, Kate reassured him. “I won’t be asking you to handle any of my spiders or insects, nor clean anything that has one in it, OK?”
“Yeah, thanks. It’s just that I’ve never been around so many spiders.”
She shrugged. “Oh, you’ll get used to them.”
Jeff took a couple more steps and stopped with his head tilted upward. He pointed at a huge web hanging from the ceiling. “Is that real?”
Kate laughed. “No, no. that’s just a prop I use when I teach at an elementary school.”
“It sure looks real. Does it scare any of the kids?”
She smiled. “Sometimes. A lot of people are afraid of bugs, and when children see that fear in their parents they become afraid, too. I make them see the beauty of nature. I’m glad you’re not afraid of them. If you were, we couldn’t get to know each other.”
Jeff sensed there was another message in those words, something enticing, but he told himself not to do anything that would lose a chance to get the job. He felt embarrassed. “Yeah, well... me, too.”
Kate kept her head level and looked over the top of her glasses. “Take a seat, Jeff. I have to go to another room for the application form. I’ll be right back.”
Sitting on a stool, he started thinking. The job seemed far too easy for the pay. It should have been snatched up right away. What was the catch? And, on top of that, he was getting sexual vibes from his potential employer. He considered walking out, for he didn’t want to complicate his life at that moment. Finally, it was the money that made him stay.
Kate stepped in front of the large mirror on the wall, released her hair from its ponytail, and fluffed it up and around her head. She let out a contented sigh and slowly stripped. On her chest was a tattoo of an hour glass placed horizontally, with blood pouring from one oval into the other. She placed her palms over her perfect breasts and massaged them in a circular and slightly upward movement that made the red contents of the hour glass seem to swirl and slosh within.
She put on her lab coat and stepped to the peephole on the wall. She looked through. Jeff was sitting on a stool, deep in thought. It conjured an amusing image of Rodin’s Thinker. Too bad for him his back was to the large web, she thought with a sneer, as she slowly and silently lowered the web until it was a few feet behind him.
She patted the deep pockets of her coat. Feeling the outline of the syringe filled with her own concoction, she stepped to the door and entered the lab.
Perhaps, Jeff didn’t hear the swish of a door opening, but he couldn’t miss the click of high heels on linoleum. He stood and was stunned. Kate’s hair was like a flame. There was a reddish glow of excitement on her face. Swaying her hips and shoulders, she approached in a slow sensual dance. With each sway of her shoulders, her loosely buttoned coat revealed a tantalizing glimpse of her tattoo. She stopped in front of her mesmerized toy and pursed her ruby lips.
Jeff raised his arms to pull her to him.
Kate’s voice was a command, “Stop! Let me lead. I’ll show you what a climax really is.” She slowly placed her hands on his chest and then pushed hard.
Surprised, Jeff lost his balance and backed pedaled into the web. Immediately, he felt clammy lines across his back and arms. He twisted his torso and strained forward, but the web was strong and he fell back, becoming more entangled.
He turned to Kate. “Hey, get this off of me.”
She put her hand into her pocket and took out the syringe. Raising it, she tapped it with a finger, and squirted the air out. She took off her coat. Squeezing her breasts together, she preened her red tattoo and danced forward. She placed the syringe between her teeth and ripped his T-shirt open. The tips of her long red nails meandered through his hairy chest and down to the top of his jeans. She jerked the jeans, popping it open and lowered the zipper. Despite his fear, it was already hardened. He hardly felt the needle pierce his ass as she stroked. The last thing he remembered was a fuzzy red shape getting closer and closer.
He dreamed he was a little boy, His mother was tucking him into bed and pulling the covers over him and under him, again and again, over and over, it didn’t seem it would ever end. Finally, it stopped, and she was bending over to kiss him good night. Unable to see her face because of the ceiling light, all he could see was a darkness coming closer and closer. Soon, he knew, he would be kissed. More and more the darkness neared until a soft blanket covered his face.
He woke in darkness. His thoughts were confused. Where was he? Why wasn’t he home in bed? Confusion soon turned to fear as he realized he couldn’t move. At first, he thought he was paralysed, then he remembered Kate, and fear turned to terror. She was a crazy bitch. What was she planning to do? He recalled the stories of sadistic killers. Imagining gleaming knives, ice flowed to his groin. He strained to move, this time as hard as he could. His muscles screamed in pain from the effort as blood flowed into contorted muscles, and rolling to get relief, he bumped into something. There was a low moan. He croaked, “Is anyone here?”, but it came out muffled; whatever was restricting his movements was also covering his face.
He heard a moan again; this time almost in his ear, then the door opened and light flooded into the room. He held his breath and feared for whatever would happen.
Thin strands of silk, torn from old stockings, hung from the walls and ceiling of the closet. Hundreds were tied in criss-cross patterns, forming a soft tunnel of beige with strips of black and red that quivered in the breeze from the open door. Kate brushed them aside. Muffled groans from the shadows within brought a smile to her lips.
Jeff felt a high heeled foot digging into his chest. Fingers pried around his eyes, pushing away whatever was covering them. He closed his eyes tight.
“Open your eyes, Jeff. I know you’re conscious.”
Jeff opened his eyes. And wished he hadn’t.
Kate, dressed in a shiny black form fitting outfit, open in front to highlight her red hour glass tattoo, was looming over him. Her red wavy hair was flowing over her shoulders, the only thing missing was a whip in her hand. She didn’t need anything to control him, for he saw that he was wrapped in nylon; her “spider silk”, he thought. There was a moan. He turned his head, and saw another nylon wrapped body. Kate stepped aside and he saw what she had been blocking from view; two victims dangling from a beam.
“Would you like to meet your companions?” She gave a gentle push and sent one of the two swinging. “This is James.” She pushed the other one. “And, this is Ken.” Now, there were two swinging bodies. She had timed them, so that as one reached its apex the other reached its apex in the opposite direction, thus they swung past each other at the bottom of their swings.
“The one next to you is Oscar. He’s still too heavy to join the others. Say hello to Jeff, my darlings... What’s the matter? Cats got your tongues?” Kate couldn’t control her giggles and soon she was cackling.
Breathless, she stepped over to Oscar. “All this fun has made me a little thirsty.” Digging into her hair, she pulled out a thin stainless steel tube. She held it high, then drove it into Oscar’s arm. There was a muffled scream.
Jeff turned his head away, for the sight was too much to bear. Yet, he couldn’t do anything to block the sound of Kate loudly sucking through the straw.
Jeff heard the chimes of a door bell. The sucking stopped. Crouching over her meal, Kate cursed and waited for the ringing to stop. There was a loud crash as the front door slammed against the wall. She snarled, leapt to her feet, and rushed out. There was shouting then two gunshots.
A week later.
A bell chimed. Jeff laid his beer on the small table beside his armchair, and rose to answer the door. He hoped it wasn’t another reporter; he was tired of the media and their morbid fascination. “Who is it?”
Jeff opened the door and extended a hand. “Come on in.”
Arnie pumped Jeff’s hand. “How are ya, Jeff?”
“A little tired.”
“That’s to be expected. I’m glad you’re in one piece.” Arnie saw the beer on the table. “Hey, got a beer for me?”
“Sure, grab one from the fridge.”
Arnie went into the kitchen, opened the fridge, and took out an ice cold Bud. He opened a cabinet, looked for some snacks, and found some pretzels. “Hey, ya want some pretzels.”
Jeff yelled back, “Yeah, and bring me a beer.”
Carrying the pretzels and beers, Arnie walked back into the living room. He stopped and stared at his friend, for he had seen him spit into his hands, rub them together, and wipe his face... just like a fly.