by Steven Cuffari
Jess picked up the little angel statue on the cabinets in the living room. It reminded her of her grandmother and she smiled. “I gotta call granma,” she said out loud.
“What was that?” shouted Mark from the kitchen.
“Nothing, go back to what you were doing.”
The sound of the food processor whirled from the kitchen to her ears. She sighed and turned on the vacuum and continued to suck up dust and whatever else she could find.
She vacuumed around the dining room table and picked up each chair with her free hand and vacuumed underneath them.
She picked up the third one and suddenly felt a stabbing pin prick in her hand.
“Fuck!” she screamed. She didn’t drop the chair right away. The pain grew stronger and the chair slipped from her hand. She let the vacuum run and plopped into the fourth dining room chair.
She looked at the back of her hand and saw what looked like a splinter of wood dug deep into her skin. It was already turning purple.
“What the fuck,” she whispered.
She tried to pull it out.
“Ouch, fuck!” It was stuck.
She leaned forward with her throbbing hand in the air and shut off the vacuum. She kept staring at the little spike. The sound of the food processor filled the air.
“You okay, honey?” Mark called over the machine’s loud voice.
“Yeah,” she said. She got up and took a step toward the kitchen. But something caught her eye. There was a spider on the window sill. She hated spiders. She kept her eyes on the arachnid and went back to the vacuum. She slid her finger across the switch and with a swift motion, she sucked up the spider. She swept her hand across the sill where it had been sitting and smiled. For a moment, she even forgot about the spider. She flipped the switch again and went to the kitchen.
Mark was pushing carrots through a food processor when she came in.
“I fucking hate this thing. It’s so loud,” he said.
Jess continued to stare at her hand.
“Jess, did you hear me? I said, I hate this fucking thing.”
“What? Oh yeah, I know. You always say that.”
“Well, it’s about time that we got a new one don’t you think?” She continued to stare. “That’s up to you, I never use it.”
“Yeah, but you drink the awesome juices I make.”
She raised her eyebrows and nodded her head, looking away from the splinter. “You’re right about that. But anyway, what’s the big deal? Get a new one!”
She waved her hand to accentuate her statement and cried, “Ah, fuck.”
“What’s the matter?”
She placed her fingers in a C shape around the splinter, cradling it. Almost the entire back of her hand was purple now.
Mark looked at it. “Holy shit. We should go to the doctor. Right now. Let’s go.” He shooed her into the dining room and put on his shoes in the living room. He grabbed the keys and opened the door.
“Come on,” he said.
She was getting angry at his tone of voice and gestures. “Mark. Don’t piss me off, seriously. This thing hurts.”
“Exactly, and it looks weird. We need a doctor.”
“WE don’t need anything. What I need is for you to stop pushing me. God!” She turned away from him and sat down next to the vacuum.
“Shit sorry,” Mark said slamming the door shut. “I was just trying to help.”
“What the fuck!” shouted Jess. She got up and crouched in front of the window in the dining room.
“What now?” Mark asked.
“Another spider!” she shouted.
“So, kill it.”
“Wait, no. It’s so weird.”
Mark came over. “It’s pretty big, damn. Kill that thing!”
The spider had a pattern on its abdomen that looked like the letter N.
“Fuck, it’s gross. It’s dead.” She flipped on the vacuum and sucked it into a vortex of death. The vacuum died down and they both stared at her strange injury.
“It’s getting worse,” Mark said.
“No shit. I fucking know that. It’s killing me!”
“I’m just trying to help. God dammit,” he groaned.
“Alright, come on. Let’s go,” she said.
“You gonna put your shoes on?”
“You don’t look so good,” he said.
Purple blotches were beginning to form around her lips and neck.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” she moaned.
Another spider was sitting on the table next to the front door.
“They’re everywhere,” she said. “Kill it.”
“Ok, but I’m getting the vacuum,” Mark said.
“Okay, I’ll do it myself.”
Mark rushed over to the vacuum. “No, no. I’ll do it.”
“You’re taking too long.” Jess raised her hand into the air. She wobbled as she took aim.
“I’m coming, jeez! Just hold on.”
Jess still had her hand in the air when another splinter stabbed her in the throat.
She grimaced at the spider. “It was you,” she mumbled. She was still intent on killing it, but was so weak now that she couldn’t coordinate an attack. Another splinter hit her right between the eyes and she went crashing down.
Mark came in and rushed to her side, dropping the vacuum behind him.
“Holy shit,” he said. His eyes grew wide as he looked at the splinters in her neck and forehead. “Ah, fuck!” he shouted.
He turned toward the pain and grabbed his neck. “What the fuck!”
He couldn’t see it, but it felt like a splinter. Crouched next to Jess’ body, he was eye level with the table in front of the door. As he fidgeted in pain, the spider inched closer to his face, almost as if it were getting a closer look at him. Mark looked at the spider and realized this. “What the–”
Before he could finish, the spider shot a splinter right between his eyes and he fell on top of Jess who had now turned completely purple.
Jess woke up on the floor next to the front door. She was woozy and could barely focus her eyes.
“Mark!” She shouted as loud as she could, but it came out as a whimper. She pushed herself up against the door and tried to stand up. Her vision came back and she saw strange bulbous forms scattered around the house. There was one on the table. She remembered the spider.
“Mark!” This time she was louder.
Standing up straight, she looked closer at the bulb on the table. She poked it. It was hard and squishy.
“Oh god,” she moaned.
“Mark!” She was angry. She was scared. She was angry that she was scared. Tears welled in her eyes. She followed the trail of bulbs around into the living room, dining room and kitchen. They were everywhere. She whimpered a bit. She forced herself not to cry and wiped her eyes. She grunted and slammed a foot down. She approached the door, scared to open it. She swung it open quickly and her suspicions were confirmed. She shrieked and covered her mouth. The bulbs were all over the stairwell and they led downstairs.
“God this is so fucked up,” she whispered. She tried not to touch the bulbs on her way down. When she burst from the lobby doors, she was frightened by a spider that jumped in her way. It stopped for a moment as if to check her out and then kept on going. She sighed and ran. She followed the trail of bulbs to the park across the street. In the trees, she saw more spiders, each one ignoring her. When she got into the big open field of the park, there were spiders everywhere. With a strange fearlessness about the spiders, she continued to follow the trail.
She stopped running when up ahead in the middle of the field, she saw a body laying in a heap. She took a deep breath and sprinted toward it realizing that it was probably Mark. She fell to her knees beside the lump and cried. There was a bulb sitting on Mark’s t-shirt. She frowned and smashed a fist down onto it in anger. A grey-green splooge exploded on her hand.
“Ach!” she shouted. She wiped her hand on the grass beside her and noticed that the spiders were no longer ignoring her. In fact they were all walking toward her.
“Holy fuck,” she whispered. Run! she thought.
She ran back the way she came, this time dodging the attacking spiders.
She made it all the way to the edge of the park and was about to go through the trees when a piercing pain shot up her leg from her ankle. She lifted her foot up to her hands, and her momentum sent her crashing through the trees.
“Ah, fuck! It’s broken, it’s broken,” she hissed. She steadied her ankle ripped the spike out. The pain stopped, but now she was bleeding slightly. She stood up and put pressure on the foot. The pain was gone. She ran again, stepping on spiders that got in her way.
“Fuck!” she shouted. Another shot sent searing pain through her shoulder. She growled, ripped the spike out of her arm and continued to run. She made it through the trees and out the park and headed for the underground metro. It’s large station sign and unmistakable lettering made her feel like she was headed home.
Near the station, there were no spiders. She walked quickly, tired of running. She had no money on her. She had nothing on her. She didn’t care. She jumped the turnstile. A few steps later, she felt a searing pain in her stomach. She felt around for a spike, but there was none. The pain wouldn’t stop. She stumbled through the station to the platform and fell into a seat on the bench. It was desolate. She was alone. She took comfort in the fact that there were still no spiders around. But the pain in her abdomen grew worse and worse.
“Ah! Fuck!” she screamed and doubled over. She almost blacked out. A gust of wind was coming from the metro tunnel and she got up expecting the train to come. She looked down the platform and saw a man in a black suit standing there. He began to walk toward her. She moved closer to the platform edge. The train burst into the station and slowed down. A door stopped right in front of her as she got on. The man was only two doors down from her, and he got into the same car. She winced in pain as she sat down. The doors closed, and the train sped up.
The pain began to rise again. She hugged her stomach, but that only made it worse. She felt something wet on her arms. They were covered in blood. She looked up at the man and he looked back at her. She began to get used to the pain in her stomach, but then she started to feel a pain on the inside of her elbow. It started to swell.
“Ah! God, please!” she begged. She clasped her elbow. It felt hard and squishy. It was blowing up like a balloon. She screamed again, and a bulb tore through her skin and plopped onto the seat next to her.
The doors opened, and the man ran out. A woman was about to get on, but she saw Jess covered in blood and ran.
“Fuck, not again,” she said, clasping her neck. The pain electrified her and screamed again. The train doors closed and they were off again. It was a long stop, coming out from underground and onto the bridge that spanned the river. The moonlight shined on her and her offspring. She was now screaming incessantly as bulbs burst from her body, ravaging her. She was sure she was going to die there. She lay across the seats and let the pain wash over her. She stared at the moon as it seemed to rise as the train descended once again.
The train slowed and entered a station. When the doors opened, police and paramedics rushed to her aid. She was still alive enough to watch as the spiders emerged from their eggs and began to attack her rescuers. Soon they were surrounded by spiders, screaming for their lives.
Jess blinked slowly, letting what felt like sleep comfort her in her last moments alive.
TO BE CONTINUED