A man is obsessed with a spider bite
In a motel nestled beneath the reflections of cold uncaring stars, Simon Nabo dreamt of a shiny black spider with large red eyes.
As the dream continued, he heard the click of a cigarette lighter being flipped open in the dark, and the dry rasp of the striker wheel scraping against the flint. There was a spark, and then the spider's sticky web flowered into flames. It screamed, as the darkness dissolved under licking tongues of yellow light, and Simon awoke drenched in a cold sweat.
For a moment, his mind drifted in a sea of confusion, and then washed upon the shore of memory. He was in a motel, and the bright light of the afternoon sun shone like a fine orange dust on the window pane. His first conscious thought was hunger.
He sighed deeply, rubbed at his stubbled-face, and then through the cracks of his fingers, glimpsed the glossy-black spider that explored the upper right-hand side of his headboard.
It crept upside down across the top of his bed from the right to the left, stopped above him, where it quivered and flexed its long legs. From his position, it looked as though it had a red hourglass marking on its abdomen.
Simon watched in horrid fascination, his breath trapped in his chest, unable to move. God no, he thought, not again.
Simon hated spiders, but was loath to kill them. He had run into them before, and the experience nearly cost him his life.
Using whatever arachnid senses it possessed, the spider began to lower itself on a single strand of webbing toward Simon’s head.
As if caught in a dream where you only need to move a little to awaken, Simon could not will himself to get out of the bed. He mewled like a child caught in a horrifying nightmare.
The spider dropped out of sight, on his pillow, on his head, Simon didn’t know, he was still too afraid to move.
Then he felt the probing leg upon his forehead. The spider crawled through his hair and tested Simon’s skin to see if it could continue its trek in that direction. Warily, it crept out of his scalp and onto his face. When it reached his cheek he couldn’t take it any more and bolted upright in the bed, screaming.
The spider clamped its fangs into the soft tissue of his cheek just in the moment before Simon crushed it with his hand and smeared its shiny black body down the right side of his face.
He leaped out of bed, the bite beginning to sting, as he continued to rub and wipe at his cheek. Then he ran to the bathroom mirror, and gazed at his horrified reflection.
Mixed with spider entrails, and one lone leg still quivering, Simon saw a small red blotch on his face. He rubbed at it, and then thinking he could squeeze out any possible venom, tried to pop it like a zit. Obsessed, he poked and prodded at it for twenty minutes, until what was once a small bite had turned into a huge welt on his cheek.
He washed his face several times in scalding hot water until the small cake of motel soap dissolved into a sliver.
When he looked again into the mirror, the entire right side of his face was swollen twice its normal size.
Maybe it’s not what I think it is, he hoped. Maybe, it wasn’t a black widow at all, and I’m just having an allergic reaction.
Again he prodded at the wound, squeezing it with all his might until a chunk of cheek was literally pinched off. It began to bleed.
Dabbing at it with a wad of toilet paper to staunch the blood flow, Simon decided he had to get something stronger. Besides, he was feeling hungry and hadn’t had breakfast yet.
He quickly dressed and drove to the nearest pharmacy where he loaded a small plastic basket with everything he could find, from rubbing alcohol to drawing salves and bandages, and then went to the front counter.
The clerk took one look at Simon's face and said, “Whoa, that looks pretty bad. Are you sure those things are going to work? I’d suggest seeing a doctor.”
“You really think so?” Simon asked, his hand going to his cheek trying to cover the wound. “I think it was a black widow spider, but I could’ve been mistaken. I killed it before I got a good look.”
“Black widow, huh?” the clerk said. “Yeah, we get a lot of them around here, especially in the summer. Did you know their venom is fifteen times stronger than a rattlesnake’s, and that its bite can paralyze your diaphragm so that you can’t even breathe?”
“Jesus, fifteen times stronger?” Simon began to feel sick to his stomach and found it hard to swallow.
“Yep, and it can cause muscle aches and nausea. How do you feel?”
“Not so good, now,” Simon answered, “a little hungry, I guess, and a bit achy.”
“Again, I’d suggest seeing a doctor, you know, just to be sure.”
“I don’t have time, I’m here on business. I’ve got a luncheon appointment to keep.”
“Well, I don’t think the bite will kill ya, but with the amount of swelling you got, I wouldn’t wait too long. You ever been bit before?”
“Yeah, when I was a kid,” he said, the memory of it making him shudder. “It changed me forever.”
“No, shit,” the clerk said, a worried look creeping across his face. “How young were you?”
“I dunno, about six or seven, I guess.” Simon rubbed at the scar at the base of his throat.
“A spider did that?”
“No, it was an emergency tracheotomy,” he said. “We had a pool when I was a kid, and my mom had stashed my swim gear in the attic. I ran up to find my mask and snorkel. I remember it was hotter than hell up there, and I was sweating so much, I couldn’t wait to get out to the pool. I found my swim gear stashed in an old cardboard box, it had a sticky web on it. Like I said, I was young, and it was so fricking hot, I grabbed my stuff and ran. Out at the pool, I just rinsed it off in the water, stuck the snorkel in my mouth, and jumped in.”
“It was in the tube of the snorkel, wasn’t it?” he said. “They love to build their homes at the openings of pipes and such.”
“Yeah, I guess, but the widow sure didn’t like getting wet. It crawled straight down the pipe and into my mouth.”
“I was under water when it happened, down at the deep end. It was like I had sucked a leaf or something down my throat, but I couldn’t spit it out, and then it started moving, crawling around. Even as I swam to the surface, coughing and choking, the spider was biting the hell out of the inside of my throat.”
“Jesus, what’d you do?”
“There wasn’t much I could do. I swallowed it,” Simon said, rubbing at his throat again. “And then everything just seized up, and I couldn’t breathe.”
“You swallowed it? And it was still alive?”
“I think so, but I could have been mistaken. Besides, at the time, I didn’t know what it was.”
“Well, my parents found me floating face down in the pool, and pulled me out. I wasn’t breathing. My Dad panicked and tried to resuscitate me, but people don’t really know how to do that kind of thing in a real emergency, it’s just stuff they see on TV.
So my mom called the paramedics, but by the time they got there I had already turned a dark blue. The firemen thought I was dead—a victim of drowning—and that’s how they treated the situation, but they were mistaken.
After failing to revive me, they discovered my throat had swollen shut, and that there were several red marks in my mouth. Then they figured I had swallowed a wasp or something, so they cut a hole in my neck and shoved a tube down in there. The doctor later said it had saved my life.”
“How long were you unconscious?”
“Several hours, I figure.”
“Several hours? That’s impossible, you’d be dead.”
“Well, that’s what everybody said, but again, they were mistaken. The spider inside of me kept me alive, transformed me somehow.”
Simon began to undress.
“What the hell are you doing?” the startled clerk asked.
“I’m going to show you what happened.” Simon now stood before him as naked as a jay-bird.
Even as the clerk watched, Simon’s body began to shrivel, his legs pulled up and melted into his belly. Then his head slid down into its neck, which puffed up like the throat of a toad, while tumors swelled along his sides, and then burst and extruded legs—spider’s legs.
The red mark on its face had become a huge blob like the crimson brand on a black widow spider’s belly.
The clerk stumbled backward, bumping and knocking over a shelf full of pills and bottles. He screamed, standing there with his fists pressed to his temples, as if struggling to contain a skull-cracking pressure he could no longer withstand.
The spider strutted toward him on its eight legs, a bloated, lively thing with a freakish blob of Simon’s head peering over the shiny curve of its back.
No longer screaming, the clerk sobbed, groaned, shuddered out whispery words that might have been, Oh God, oh God.
The spider scurried on top of the counter, and then reared up on its four back legs. The other four pawed at the clerk, making a low and ghastly scratching sound against his clothing. Its yellow-and-black orbs bulged at him with a hungry inquisitiveness. Its mouth drooled.
A stinging salt of emotions shook from the clerk, pure animal sounds, filled with more fear and terror than words could express.
As the spider pulled him in and sank its fangs into his neck, the clerk’s mouth twisted into a scream never voiced.
But the Simon-Spider wasn’t done. Its back legs, clawed like hooks, ripped at the soft underbelly of the clerk. The store filled with the stink of evisceration while Simon gorged himself.
Back at the motel, Simon slept. He dreamed small fragments of a deeper dream in the ongoing nightmare of his life. The nightmare in which he'd awake hungry again and the transformation would come. Of course, there was always the chance that he wouldn't wake-up, but he could be mistaken. Even as he slept in the soft spongy cocoon of bed and blankets, a glossy-black spider explored the upper right-hand side of his headboard.