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There's a Gigantic Spider in My Basement
There is a spider the size of a newborn kitten in my basement. I encountered it last night while rummaging through a few old boxes that had been sitting down there gathering dust. This is a project I will no longer continue, because I will not be going back down there for the foreseeable future, if ever again. I tend to disregard arachnids in general when they find a way inside, but these circumstances have affirmed one horrifying truth: I have been living under the same roof as an eight-legged monster.
Thank God my wife -well, soon-to-be-ex-wife- and ten year old son were out of the house at the time of this unpleasant discovery. This past Monday, my darling Kim had loaded a few hefty suitcases into the back of our Subaru Forester just as I was arriving home from work. Jackson, my son, was in the front seat already buckled in and drawn into the addictive void of his phone when I confronted her on the steps. Her say-one-word-to-me-and-I’ll-slit-your-throat look, one I had grown to know well over the past eleven years of marriage, was etched so finely in her features that I could only stand back and watch as she backed out of the driveway.
I don’t intend on elaborating about that on here, but they are at her mother's until further notice.
As of today and at the time of me writing this, she is nothing but a distraction. I could care less about the strong possibility that our marriage may very well be in its darkest days. I haven't called her back and I don't suppose it has even crossed my mind until now. My latest worries run deeper than any threat of separation or divorce, and dare I say, the prospect of souring my son’s ability to respect his parents as he gets older. I'm afraid, perhaps more afraid than I have ever been in my entire life. I spend these dreadful hours wondering how many more of those things are in my basement sneaking around in the dark.
My descent into madness occurred last night, Thursday, July 23rd. I am the store manager at one of a few local grocery stores here in Newtonville, and that particular Thursday was exceptionally hectic thanks to a computer glitch in our system. What actually happened is a mystery as some wiring had corroded in the receiving area and needed to be replaced. The house I came home to that evening was immersed in complete silence. In high spirits, I brought out the London Dry gin that I’d hidden in the back of a cabinet shelf, had a few mixed drinks, and decided to get started on the one obligation that I had been putting off for months: cleaning the basement. I put Judas Priest on the stereo system in the living room as high as I could manage and thought I’d do some inspecting downstairs.
I hesitated at the top of the stairs -complete darkness like a great chasm inviting me downward- and a chill ran down the nape of my neck. It was outright dank down there, the air almost alive, even yeasty, if I can make such a comparison. It had been an unrelentingly humid North Carolinian night, might I add. A spell of cooler air seeping in from the hallway seemed to displace the cavern’s heavy aura. I contemplated closing the door, discarding this project in favor of a more pleasant one.
Scheming black creatures could easily hide in the rafters, spiders especially, but I would be damned if I let such apprehensions intervene with my ability to come and go as I pleased.
The unwelcome memory of crawling underneath the house in Franklinton where I grew up snuck up on me. Our golden retriever puppy had gotten through the broken side door into the crawl space. It had been my job to go get him as I was the one who was supposed to be watching him. To this day, I have no idea what sprinted across my exposed leg, but the recollection made my skin prickle as I stepped into the darkness’s embrace.
I flipped the light switch at the top. The bulbs hummed into life as I continued down. At the bottom, the concrete floor was cool and brimming with moisture from the earth, and the smell of age and mildew hung in the air like a thick haze. I adjusted my attention to the wooden supports above, reminding myself that pinpointing each and every web that had been spun was not smart. One of my greatest fears had been walking through a massive web, panicking and spitting pure terror, then looking down to find one of those black and yellow orb spiders galloping up to my collar bone.
The utility lights obscured whatever perched above my head, which was good. Screaming guitars and thunderous bass resonated from the upstairs living room as I was acclimating myself to the environment’s exhumed glow.
Two ancient curio cabinets, taken from my grandmother's home after she died, were pressed against the far wall in the back. Stacked cardboard boxes, draped in cobwebs, besieged what was once a work desk; the moldy boxes were probably filled with trinkets and fragile collectibles from my grandmother's as well. A rusted gun safe was pushed against the desk, and some of Kim’s childhood regalia were piled in more boxes and thrown aside for whatever claimed it -of course, these too were draped in many years of accumulated cobwebs. Other items that had been cast away in intermittent locations around the basement: a large plastic toy chest Jackson had grown out of, a few landscaping tools, and a bunch of colored plastic moving containers and totes filled with God knew what. A fit of child-like intrigue drew me in, temporarily soothing my anxieties.
The overall goal was to incorporate a work station, get one or two of those forty inch Dewalt rolling cabinets for tool and miscellaneous storage. The garage was a disaster; there was no way anybody could find what they needed when they needed it. Additionally, I would make this dank hellhole livable with the likings of a man cave, maybe put a couch in. I scanned the perimeter, quickly losing motivation. A ton of stuff would have to be thrown away or at least moved to opposite walls and reorganized. Hell, perhaps I would throw all of this shit away, burn some of it if I had to.
In the tight gap between the far side wall and one of the curio cabinets, I could make out a network of fine webs thick enough to strangle Andre the Giant.
More profuse webs dangled from the ceiling back there.
Jackson would have to help me whenever he got back. It would give the boy something to do besides stare into that damn screen all day. I would get him to squeeze in between those biblical mounds of cardboard boxes swarming with whatever, the places I had no predilection to wander.
Shadows tucked themselves in the corners but I was still wary. The room seemed different, its dimensions off. To be fair, the multiple mixed drinks had begun tampering with my depth perceptions.
A scuttling noise in the rubble sent me back a few steps.
Mice, I thought, stumbling for the broom leaning against the wall by the stairs. I would have to set a few mouse traps, put out some poison, too. By the time I was completely finished with my project I would be a notorious serial killer of rodents. The idea’s certainty was so offsetting I had to hold the wall to prevent the drunk giggles from tipping me over.
The same noise was then directed along the wall behind me. It was followed by the appearance of a mouse who, frantic from the severity of the reinvigorated glow, zigzagged the stained floor. I calmly stepped to the side, using the broom to divert it away from my naked feet. It scampered towards a heap of storage and out of sight.
“Enjoy it while you can!”
I began knocking mummified insects and webs off the covers of containers and moving them aside using the broom as an aid in my advancement. Though considerably impaired, I was careful not to step on anything that might make me yelp, such as a roach or another dizzy rodent. Bent over half-naked, prodding tentatively at the soggy objects, sweat gluing my boxers to the crack of my ass, I know I looked ridiculous. I worked my way forward, every now and then peeking inside the harmless-looking containers.
I’m not convinced everything would have been fine if I had quit my discovery seeking right then, put the broom back in its place, stumbled back upstairs, locked the door, and poured more sweet gin down my gullet. Moreover, I don't know what's worse: knowing what's down there or not knowing and continuing to live here unaware of its existence. I do know that I shrieked loud enough to dry out my throat after dragging that red container to the side. Bright red and white spots flared in my vision.
“CHRIST! MOTHER FUCK!"
Behind it was a bristly, light brown spider with a leg span as large as my entire outstretched hand. Its elongated legs were spread and flattened to the ground in a manner that reminded me of one of those pouncing spider-alien creatures in the Alien movies, and to my horror, each one was about the width of a carpenter's screw. The plumpness of its body favored a cannibalistic cockroach thriving inside of a drainage pipe. After the initial shock of realizing what I was seeing, I found myself actually believing in my alcohol-induced confidence that it was fake.
But then its coarse body oriented, swelled in my presence as if it had read my mind and pleasured in proving me wrong. A leg curled inward. Step closer. Come prod me with that broom and I'll show you what I can do with my fangs, it seemed to menace. Another leg tottered just above the floor.
My bodily reactions were already delayed, but the complete revulsion further displaced my center of gravity and almost brought my weight down onto the container and thus within inches of the spider. I had to torque my spine at an awkward angle to the floor.
The next thirty seconds were a blur, but I’ll try my best to recreate what happened.
The spider skittered from view. I shouted and fell backwards, side-swiping a stack of tightly-sealed boxes on the way down and using all of my willpower and energy to not let their contents spill onto me; there was no telling what kinds of creatures had set up shop in them. What if there were more?
A heavy box fell on my lower leg. I kicked at it with frantic urgency and had inadvertently caved in the side. Where is it? Where is the fucker? I thought crazily. The floor smelt of corrosion and rust, and was littered with dry mouse shit and the hardened corpses of small bugs. I leaned on my forearms for leverage, slid back a few feet, and started to hoist myself up when I caught something large moving up one of the plastic containers at my feet. It climbed over the top and temporarily disappeared to the other side.
I shouted again, more incredulously than in fear; it didn’t make any sense how a spider that massive could have existed anywhere around here. The room spun in front of my eyes. Finding logic had been virtually impossible in the randomness of the situation.
As soon as I got to my feet, out of nowhere the fiendish thing flew off the container and landed where my feet had been seconds before. I groped blindly for the broom handle on the ground where it had fallen, still unsure if what I had just seen was real. I had to squint under the disorienting light, but I held the handle in a death grip.
The spider was a stagnant, breathing mass on the open floor in the vicinity where I had fallen. I was overcome by a disturbing intuition: the rafters. Countering thoughts immediately ignited the inside of my skull, don’t look up. Whatever you do, don’t look up there.
It sprang forward.
Operating on will to survive and instinct, I pushed the broom’s end into the spider’s path intent on raking it across the floor until it was mush. It leapt for the threatening object with no hesitation, wrestled with the cobwebby bristles in pursuit of what I can only describe as wholesome vengeance. It clambered its way up and clung to the handle despite my violent attempts at shaking it off.
“Come on, you son of a bitch!”
It maintained passionate contact, legs coiling around handle. I was horrified to observe its method of attack as a full-bodied dive. I could not free it and therefore I could not crush it. In an instant of wild calculation, I launched the broom as far as I could muster into the rubble and made a hopping jolt for the stairs, but I was positive that it was already gaining on me and would lurch at my ankle at any moment.
I slipped sprinting up and caught a knee then my face on the wooden planks. I would discover a deep gash along my eyebrow deserving of eight stitches later on. The unanticipated impact stunned me, but the throb in my head was secondary. I risked a glance back.
The eight-legged monster was hauling ass in my direction with a speed I could not believe. I choked on a guttural squeal. My veins hammered with an ever-increasing concentration of terror.
Half-crawling, half-sprinting, I clawed up the rest of the stairs, and used my legs to slam the door shut hard enough to rock the frame. I dropped to the floor in the refreshing chill of the hallway, trembling, an aroma radiating off of me as thick as the dankness downstairs. My ear-drums vibrated in numb unison with the thrashing music in the living room; I was only dimly aware of it at the time.
My body was sore from the escape, my breathing panicked.
What I had originally thought was a basement door now appeared to be some wooden portal to Hell. I was unable to let my eyes wander from the opening underneath. Raging thoughts demanded action but I descended into a whimpering fit, unable to lift a single finger let alone get back on a normal breathing schedule for quite a while. Dense saliva had collected around my gums, acidic dread absorbing along my tongue. I could fully see the spider in my mind's eye advancing up the stairs like a green beret stalking a retreating enemy, its long legs curling over the gnarled wood, its bulging, alien body coming to rest to sense any danger with its complex, body-shrouding nervous system.
Something trailed down my face. I patted it quickly on the verge of a manic shout and brought back a viscous red liquid on my fingers. I stared at the substance.
“Did I get bit?”
It was highly plausible, I realized, amazed that I could not stop shaking.
Nervous laughter rose in my throat as a sadistic side effect. I had been so horrified by the spider's impending assault that I had forgotten about bashing my head on the stairs only moments ago. Sometime later, I managed to walk to the kitchen and locate a roll of duct tape. I went back and hurriedly sealed the slit underneath the door. Afterwards, I went into the living room and fell into the couch.
This morning I woke up with crusty, coagulated blood on my face and saw the gash for the first time. I went to the emergency room to straighten it out.
A little while later I called the local exterminator and told him I had a "major spider problem" to which he began peppering me with a list of questions. When I told him it was only one spider I had a problem with -that I could see- and that it had attacked me in the basement, there was a pause at the other end. I wasn't surprised to hear a touch of humor in the man’s voice:
"One spider, eh?"
"It's a nasty one," I said. I neglected to tell him how large it was in fear he'd break down and call me a nutcase. Surely there were no spiders indigenous to Newtonville of that variety in my home. Whoever comes will see for themselves, I thought. When he had all of my contact information, I hung up and continued applying duct tape over the air vents on the first floor.
I was expecting a character similar to that of John Goodman's portrayal of the heroic spider executioner in the movie Arachnophobia -the only movie that ever came close to being a true horror movie, in my opinion- but when the man stepped out of the white van with the Bug Gone company logo across the side a few hours later, he was considerably younger than I imagined. I met him in the driveway out in the July sun. He wore navy blue coveralls and had a five-o-clock shadow. His widow’s peak was already gaining moisture.
We made small talk while he rounded up supplies from the interior of the van: a pair of elbow-length gloves, goggles that he situated over his forehead for the time being, a respirator, and a red tank with a two-strap harness that he slung over his shoulders like a jet-pack, backpack hybrid. A hose was attached to the tank and the other end to a long dispenser that he clipped to his belt. I invited him in and watched his face for any signs of amusement at what I had done to my living room over the past few hours.
"Okay," he said, bypassing the fifty inch plasma TV I unscrewed from the wall earlier and had left in the middle of the floor. "Thought you said he was in the basement? Did he get out?”
"The fucker’s still in the basement," I said.
He nodded as he surveyed the living room, and I think he knew I had taken the fast train to La-La Land then. He would not be so incredulous to my actions in about fifteen minutes.
In addition to unscrewing the plasma TV from the wall, I had flipped both couches on their sides and removed all the cushions so I would not have to worry about anything hiding there; I stacked the couch cushions outside behind the porch to burn later on. The round glass table in the living room wasn't worrisome to me, but I had needed to disassemble it in order to get at the rug underneath. I rolled it into a loose roll and struggled with it across the yard. All furniture that had been tucked up against the wall were brought forward and laid on their sides as well. All kitchen drawers were emptied, the contents from each worth saving I put in garbage bags, tied in triple knots, and set in the garage; the drawers themselves were put in the pile outside with the cushions and would be burned, too. Any framed pictures on the walls were taken down. And with the air vents sealed, I hardly felt any better.
"Uh-huh. Where's the basement, man?"
I led him down the hall to a door I had sealed completely shut with the blue tape. He turned to me, smirking. "How am I supposed to get down there?" Friendly exasperation sang in his voice, and I went to grab the box cutter in the kitchen.
My body ached to get away from the door immediately. I could actually feel the sheen of clammy sweat starting to ooze from the pores on my forehead.
"It does the job?" I said, the razor unsteady against the sealed crease in the door. "No games. That stuff will do more than stun it, right?"
"I got the shit for the circus, man." The texture of his face looked coarse in the light of the hallway as he patiently stepped aside and then watched as I cut the seal along the entire perimeter of the door. My heart began to beat faster, thinking: It's right there behind the door waiting to pounce. I know it is. It's going to be right there BEHIND THE DOOR! OH GOD! SOMEHOW IT KNOWS WHAT I’M DOING-
I looked up at the sound of the exterminator’s voice, light-headed from bending over. How long had I been staring at the crack under the door? His hand gripped the doorknob.
"Relax. I'll find him. Your spider might be nasty but once he gets a strong whiff of this..." He cocked a thumb towards the tank on his back. "...he'll be in spider heaven in two minutes. And if there's more, well, they say if you love your job you won't have to work a day in your life."
The reassuring words in his southern draw forced a grin out of me and I almost thanked him. Still, my palms were cold with sweat and I nodded rather than risk him hearing the crack in my voice.
He opened the door and slowly began his descent. I expected a large hairy creature to catapult through the air onto his chest at any moment so I shrank away like a puppy who wants no part in meeting the big family dog. If there was, indeed, more than one of those things down there -as he suggested before- I knew my mental instability would only get worse. Just find and kill the nasty thing, I thought. Get it over with. Please. And kill anything else that moves, too. Hell, coat the whole basement with poison! I don’t care!
I quickly shut the door but could still hear his boots hitting the wood like Thor repeatedly dropping his hammer. After a few seconds there came a distressing BANG BANG BANG BANG, as if he had overstepped, lost his balance, and crashed to the bottom. Intermittent curses and harsh grunts drifted upwards. I listened at the door, touched the knob, and then expelled the breath I had been holding when his hasty, slightly amused voice resounded from below:
"Alright! Busted my ass, but I'll survive!"
I thought I heard the echo of a laugh, so I relaxed and went into the kitchen to make myself a sandwich for lunch. I'd been eating less and less, but spider-proofing the first floor of my house had made me ravenous. As I was reaching for a beer in the refrigerator to wash it down with, I heard what sounded like a bark and swallowed a knot of dread instead, knocking the beer bottle over onto the floor. It shattered. I rushed down the hallway nearly tripping myself in the process and forced an ear against the door.
"You are a nasty thing!" I heard from below. The sandwich I had been eating felt like a piece of granite in the pit of my stomach. He was moving all over the place down there, hurriedly knocking boxes and containers away in pursuit of the spider. The thing will get away. He'll lose sight of it. Dear, God.
"Get back here! I ain't done with you!" He was shoving more objects out of the way. Something made of metal crashed to the floor. The exterminator's voice was full of crazed energy. "Oh, you're an ugly boy! Shit!"
He sounded like a madman trying to locate his chemistry goggles. My ear was still planted firmly against the door when I heard him shout:
"Well, well! Look at your friend! Let's see how he copes with this!"
An enormous wave of fright consumed every ounce of my being but at the same time wrapped me in a mysterious cocoon of pure, instinctive clarity. It was as if I had been hoisted into a pair of invisible roller skates and been pushed by a gargantuan hand. I found myself levitating towards the keys on the kitchen counter, fleeing through the door (I don’t remember opening it) and over the entirety of the front porch steps, and landing with one knee on the hot concrete sidewalk. The spout of pain could have been as meniscal as dropping a rubber ball on my knee-cap, because I was still sprinting through the fresh-cut grass in my mind. There was no time for additional concerns. My breathing didn't matter, just the distance I covered.
The Chevy pick-up’s interior temperature was a notch above sweltering, and I quickly became consumed with alarm as I could not get my fingers to stop shaking long enough to turn the ignition over. I don’t know how long I fought the keyhole, but by the time I felt the hot air shoot out from the vents I was dripping with sweat, skull throbbing. It was at that instant that I knew the power of body-encompassing helplessness.
I sat behind the wheel for a while, fighting the lunatic urge to gun it out of town and keep driving till I ran out of gas.
When I calmed down, I drove into Newtonville and turned into a McDonald’s. I parked and turned up the radio. The station was playing oldies classics in the realm of Jackson Browne and Neil Diamond. They weren’t my jam. As I started to turn the knob to another station, I noticed a discarded straw wrapper flapping in between the opened cup holder and passenger seat by the vent. Right as I began reaching for it, I stopped dead in my tracks so sure -positive- that there was a set of eight eyes watching me from the backseat. My hand froze on the seat cushion, and although I was aware of the music on the stereo, I could hear the regular lub-dub of blood in my temples. It should have been easy getting out of the truck yet the door handle seemed a mile away.
If it’s back there, you better be quick. You better decide and you better make it quick.
I lifted my gaze to the rear-view mirror and saw nothing. Resurgent terror constricted my windpipe nonetheless. What if one of those spiders jumped on my arm and dug into the flesh with its long fangs? My insides churned, an autonomic function that finally broke my statue. I yanked the door open and almost spewed my lunch into the interior storage compartment of the door but was able to get the turkey and cheese sandwich chunks onto the steaming pavement instead.
When I made it back home twenty minutes later, the exterminator was sitting on the steps smoking a cigarette. He watched me pull up the driveway, and when I got out I saw that he was heavily perspiring. It was as if his face were dripping from the bone. His coveralls was drenched inside and out, the poison tank leaning against one of the support posts. Through a mouth full of smoke, he said:
"I sprayed the whole exterior of the house while you were away. I figured you wouldn’t mind."
"Thank you," I croaked.
I had to urinate badly, but the thought of going back into the house made me shiver in the sun.
The exterminator grinned. He put the butt out on the brick step he was sitting on and continued to hold it with his thumb and index fingers.
“If there is a Heaven and a Hell, Satan put those creatures on this earth for his own amusement. Those ugly things exist for no other reason than to terrorize humankind.” He laughed, but it was uneasy. He stood up and went to the front door. "What you’ve got in the basement is something from a Sci-Fi movie or something, man. I never thought spiders were carnivores, but I’m telling you right now that they tried to eat me down there."
Entering the house again had been a chore, but going to relieve myself in the bathroom was unthinkable knowing what was crawling around somewhere under my feet.
"I originally thought they were some huge, mutant wolf spiders. But their legs are different, hell, their behavior is different. I may be any 'ole local guy somebody calls out to their house for any routine spraying, but I’ve always been the spider guy to my coworkers. I don't have a degree, but I do spend a lot of my free time researching them. That said, I think what you have in the basement are Huntsman spiders. They are extremely rare around here. Over the past couple of decades or so they've been slowly introduced in the lower southern parts of the U.S, but I never thought I'd see one this far north. See, they're indigenous to Australia, parts of Africa, Asia. Farthest place north that I've heard of them being is the Panhandle. Species of the Huntsman spider can be found in parts of Texas, too." He was leaning against the wall nearest the kitchen, fingers clamped into his heavy-duty belt, waiting for me to say something. When I didn't, he continued:
"I usually wouldn't worry because they really aren't that aggressive unless you come across a babe. The queens are always batshit and hostile bitches. She'll stand guard around her nest and not eat for sometimes weeks. But if you leave them alone, you're good. All they want to do is eat the bugs down there. See, they're nomadic hunters. They spend their time hunting and eating, and they move around a lot.” He picked at his hands. “But it's my opinion that you've got a pretty pissed off crew down there right now. They didn't take too lightly to me storming their territory and spraying them with my napalm."
My heart hammered. Crew. The word turned my blood into sloshing ice shavings.
"I met one last night,” I said. “It tried to bite me. Chased me.” The memory would forever be seared into my brain. “How many were down there?"
“I wasn’t expecting these kinds of spiders to be so close together in the same area. After all, they prefer to hunt in pairs. I thought it was just a straggler at first. I counted maybe five, but there's probably -most likely- more. I think you have a nasty infestation, man.”
"Five? What? Christ!"
"Also, when you see a bunch of them together like that it usually means there's a nest somewhere near. A female Huntsman laid a nest sac in your basement. That's what I think, and how wicked rude that was of her. I mean, really."
Despairingly, I thought: You cannot stay here! This house is currently uninhabitable! Words fell out of my mouth like verbal diarrhea.
"Are they venomous?" I almost shouted. "How many did you kill? Can they be killed? Did you find the goddamn nest?"
He grinned, but it was strained.
"They are very rarely venomous, as I understand it. Their fangs are large enough to break skin though. And, yes, I watched one shrivel. Their bodies deflate like punctured tires when they die.”
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. An exotic species of super spider had built a nest in my basement. I pointed crazily at the floor.
"Fuck! That's a big problem...what's your name?"
"AJ, that’s a big fucking problem."
He was nodding.
"It is a dangerous situation. I didn’t see any openings or cracks in the foundation when I walked the perimeter. I’m not even positive of how they got in. I sprayed nonetheless.”
"I don't let the grass grow too high, either. Christ, what a shit show. I should just burn the whole damn thing down."
He went on as if he hadn’t heard me.
"You'll want to keep any pets away from those areas, by the way. If you’ve got any vinegar you can make a water-based repellent that can burn them if one happens to get in." His voice shook for a moment and then it was gone. "Spider infestations are tricky. Many pests tend to die more easily, but spiders are able to use their high legs to their advantage. It isn’t fool-proof, but I’d like to bomb the basement."
AJ called a helper named Janerik, who I thought looked younger than AJ when he arrived. Together they went in and set up the bomb while I remained outside. When they came back out not too long later, Janerik was jittery and wild-eyed. He went directly to the van and got in.
I may not write for a few days. I want to forget about the Huntsman in my basement, but I’ve got a feeling that this may only be the beginning of this ordeal.
It's been four days since we set the bomb off in my basement and since then I’ve been researching the Huntsman. I learned that they are night stalkers, carrying out their meticulous and ruthless attacks on unsuspecting prey at night. Evidently, they can live in tree bark in wooded areas, but they often wander into homes and vehicles during this time of year. Perfect.
I was going to sleep in the truck, but I think I’ll sleep in the living room tonight.
It's July 30th. Kim came by this morning and saw what I had done to the furniture. I tried explaining to her that there was a spider infestation in the basement and I had to bomb it. But is that woman capable of reason? I don’t think so. When she saw that I had placed all of her belongings -including most of her clothes and jewelry- in multiple garbage bags and set them in the garage, she left in a rage of squealing tires. I don't think I'll be getting a call back. Boo-hoo. By the way, I think the Huntsman are in the attic now, too.
It's August 1st. I spent this Saturday morning creating a large bonfire in the backyard. I can't put into words the type of alleviation I felt burning most of the furniture from both the upstairs and downstairs rooms, both couches from the living room, and even the kitchen table. The fire at its highest intensity was nearly as high as the first floor and its heat sphere forced me far back. By then I was exhausted and drenched in sweat. That evening, the fire was reduced to that of a comfortable campfire quality and I watched the bright red and orange embers in the coals swell in and out like a torched heart. Tomorrow I might burn some more.
Today is Thursday, August 6th. I don't know if the bomb worked in the basement or not because I have not ventured down there since that Thursday evening. The past five days or so have been some of the worst of my life. The lower floor of my house looks like a white room with a hardwood floor. Upstairs, the master bedroom has been completely cleaned out save for the bare, frameless mattress plopped on the carpet in the middle of the room. The corresponding closets are also empty and the adjacent bathroom as well; I sealed both sink drains with whole rolls of duct tape and did the same to the shower and bathtub drains just in case something was in the pipes. I haven't showered since then. I left the toilet alone but I try to hold it as long as I can.
I've been using my sick and vacation days, but I don't know if I'll be coming back at all after what's been happening in this town. There are a few incidents I need to share here:
Last Sunday, the 2nd of August, according to the local paper, a man stumbled into an emergency room holding his hand in a fit of agony. The Newtonville Star described the incident as a "very rare occurrence". The man was interviewed a day later in his hospital bed. Quote: "It was the biggest spider I ever saw. It jumped on my hand in my attempt to trap it," he was quoted as saying. "I guess that's what I get for trying to dispose of it the humane way (laughter). You know, the really scary part was how hard it was to get off. Scared me and my wife to death." He was expected to recover quickly.
Two days later, on the 4th of August, there was a nasty four car pile-up on Hwy 70 East leaving Newtonville at around two in the afternoon. A child was killed and five people injured when a red minivan suddenly swerved sharply towards the right shoulder and then turned and crisscrossed three lanes of traffic. One bystander described the scene as "almost apocalyptic". Another bystander provided insight into the terrible accident. The local news station reported on his testimony: "I was in the middle lane when it happened, see. The car was on my right side and when I looked that way, the woman behind the wheel was flailing around like she was locked in there with a wild animal or something. Crazy". That woman received a few deep lacerations and a broken arm, they said, but she was "hysterical" and "extremely physical" when paramedics tried to get her on the stretcher.
Later on that day, a black 2014 Chevy Cruz was seen rolling down Main Street in Newtonville with the front door wide open. Nobody was in the car, but a few witnesses on the street sidewalk said they saw a frantic man in a white T-shirt jump out minutes before.
A few days ago I stopped driving the Chevy, not because there was one of them in it, but for the simple fact that there could have been. And let me tell you, somehow that's worse than finding one on the floorboard or looking into the rear-view mirror to find one spread out over the rear glass window. When you fear what lurks in unfathomable places, there is a persistent terror in every particle that grazes your skin, in every step you take outside of your domain, and in each and every position you try to sleep in. This is what it has become for me.
The Harley in my garage came in handy. I power-washed it thoroughly for over an hour today and did the same thing with the helmet. It's amazing how many objects we take for granted are safe for handling when there could likely be a creature hidden along its depths or nestled in a gap intent on striking. I know that bike is clean, I'd tell myself. I know there's nothing in that helmet. But when I blink is it possible that something changed, something moved in that tiny fraction of a second?
It’s August 7th. Last night I decided I couldn't sleep another night in that house. I became obsessed with the idea that they were moving inside the walls. With only the clothes on my back, I pumped my Harley northward and stopped in Wilson, a large rural community on the verge of becoming a small city. At a Super 8, I requested a few nights' rent for a room on the first floor just in case I needed to get out of the building in a hurry. The bedside lamp-light domes were weak, and for a panicked second I thought I saw a Huntsman perched underneath the air-conditioning unit at the window, shrouded in shadow. It turned out to be nothing but my own ill imagination.
After doing a thorough –but cautious- search of the bathroom, I took the longest shower of my life. Wiping the condensation from the mirror afterwards reflected a haggard man I almost didn’t recognize.
I stripped the comforter and sheets off the bed and made sure the room was clear of anything that moved in plain sight when I realized I had forgotten my Mac back in Newtonville. I begrudgingly went back later that night and retrieved it, reminding myself not to forget anything else this time. Before I left again, I began thinking about that big pile of estranged wood that was once my home. The culmination of these thoughts landed me in a fit of rage that I fear I cannot put into words. Maybe it was what I perceived as hundreds of tiny insect-like eyes staring out at me from the tree line, mocking me. Any home, in my opinion, that shelters such evil and horror doesn't deserve to be a home for anything. It drew those Huntsman spiders in and if I couldn't live there contently, they couldn't fucking live there.
I got the call from Kim very early this morning. She had awoken me from a fevered sleep, screaming and sobbing at the same time that our house had gone up in flames.
“There's nothing left! It's all gone!”
I laughed and I know she heard it. When she had calmed down after a minute or so, I said:
"At least now we don't have a spider problem anymore." And then I hung up because there wasn’t anything else to say.
The hotel room I am writing this in appears safe for now, but I know better than to settle in. I may be traveling a lot for now. Who knows how far north these spiders will travel, carried further and further by some dumb insect-like intuition us humans cannot understand? Who's to say there isn't one underneath the bed spring right now waiting for me to go to bed? Or one behind that cushioned chair in the corner? And worst of all, who's to say that there isn't one currently creeping closer and closer to my feet?
This paranoia may have made me crazy, but fire seems to take some of the edge off, and there are a lot of potential Huntsman infestations in Newtonville and beyond.
submitted by EscapeApprehensive99