Mother of All Spiders

My eyes are open. My eyes are open so I must be awake. What is that sound? What is that clicking sound? A black stick is falling toward my eyes. I see it. But I'm not blinking. My eyes aren't closing. My eyes can't close. The stick moves past. It's alive. Without moving my head. I can't move my head. I see my wife beside me in bed. Reading. “Please help me,” I say. She ignores me. I see the black sticks again. Legs. They are legs. Weaving. Spider legs. I lift my hand to brush them away. My hand doesn't lift. My arm doesn't move. My arms are made of stone, concrete. They will not move. I feel something on my sternum. Heavy. Round. Like a living bowling ball. Directing the spiders on my face. I can hear them. I know their language. But they are whispering. I ask them, “Why are you doing this?” “What are you doing?” The spider on my sternum shifts. The spiders on my face say “Hush.” Spiders don’t have the concept of a “tone of voice”. But. These two spiders spinning the web to cocoon my head. They seem very patronizing. I haven't earned the right to know what they are doing. My eyes close. I am lost in time. It's almost silly when I find out. The spiders are aware of the popularity of Spider-Man. They think that sounds like a good idea. A spider-human hybrid would be wonders for their reputation. I was chosen as one of the test beds for the brightest spider minds. I would not be their final achievement. No. But I would be experimented on. Techniques would be perfected. I was adrift in time. My eyes open and I am free. I stand and see a well-lit living room. I see an indoor swimming pool, in ground. Not large, but exceptionally clean and inviting. I walk forward and feel my body. The limbs are lanky. Extra tissue has been removed or replaced. My skin seems paper thin on my hands. I step into the water of the pool. It's warm. I expected it to be cool, but it's warm. I lower my head into the water and breathe. I can breathe underwater. I feel the water on my head. My hair is short. I see my golden silk house clothes billow in the water. I exit the pool on the other side, using the concrete steps. A little girl, perhaps 10 years old runs up and smiles at me. “I hate it when you go in the water,” she says. “Sometimes you stay down there for 15 minutes!” She's so young that 15 minutes must seem like eternity. “You'll understand when you're older,” I say. I don’t recognize my own voice. I half-remember a lifetime of experience. Decades. It's breakfast time. One of my daughters is cooking breakfast. I can smell the sizzling meat. I feel a warm surge down my legs. I look down and see hundreds of small brown and gray spiders spread out from my pants. I can hear them. Each of them. I know them. Every one of them. Not by name. They don't have names. But we are connected. They know me and I know them. I know what they know and see what they see. But I don’t see it. I just know it. They are going on patrol. They will keep out the vermin. They will be the barrier at the edge of our domain. They will die to protect us. My body sways and my legs carry me to the table. There are other family members already sitting, all female. Women and girls. I am a grandmother, perhaps a great-grandmother. In this house, I am the Mother of All Spiders. I remember for the spiders. They have short lives. To them my mind is vast. My lifespan nigh immortality. I am their computer. I am their incubator. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The children! My face turns toward the front room. Before I can form a coherent thought. My hands reach down in front of me and grip the floor. My legs bend and crack. My legs reach up behind me and grab the ceiling. My arms bend and crack . My arms reach up above me and grab the ceiling. My throat aches. My mouth opens wide. I rush along the ceiling. Faster than I imagined possible. I burst through the doorway. I see a man. I know him. He has his hand inside his jacket. He's reaching for something. I snarl and a glob of webbing is projected out of my throat at high velocity. It hits the man in the chest. He's knocked backwards and onto the floor. “No need for that,” he says. He pulls out an envelope. He waves it in the air. My legs reach down to the floor. My legs crack and bend. My arms let go of the ceiling. My arms crack and bend. The spinnerets in my throat retract. The two halves of my jaw reconnect themselves. “You didn't knock,” I say. He stands up. He shakes his head. “When the day comes, you will never see me coming.” He hates us. We know. He knows we know. He doesn't care. He waggles the envelope. “Just take it.” I take the envelope. It is addressed to our family. “Mayor thought it'd be funny to have me deliver your invitation.” I open the envelope and start reading. My spiders will keep their eyes on our guest. And my mind is connected to their minds. My mind is connected to their eyes. I read the invitation: cordially invited… demonstration of advances in science and medicine… honored guests… I remember now. We, the spiders and I, decided to collaborate with other scientists. The best spider minds are very young and naïve compared to the best human minds. It made sense. “I hear they're planning to show off something with centipedes,” he says. My children shift uneasily. The man straightens his jacket and makes a sinister finger gun gesture. “Be seeing you,” he says, before leaving of his own accord.

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