The Green Children and other Tales
The two children chuckled as the storyteller sipped at his now hot tea.
'Is that true?' asked the girl.
The old man skirted the question and directed his next comment to the small boy. He pointed a long, yellow and gnarled finger at the boy.
'I bet you like spiders, don't you?'
The boy nodded. 'I used to have a pet one, but mum killed it.'
The storyteller put his hands to his face and groaned. Then he smiled a crooked, toothless smile again.
'I know of a child who did the same, once... '
It's Got 8 Legs
Simon looked up into the corner of his bedroom. The webs were still there. He had sprayed in the corner with insect killer a dozen times or
more. Simon didn't like spiders. Especially the little black ones that seemed to infest the corners of his bedroom. He'd asked his Dad to get in the exterminators - to do something about them. His father had looked at him and said, jokingly,
'Don't you know, Simon. "If you want to live and thrive, let the spider run alive."'
Simon had ignored the comment and simply killed off the little hairy monsters with a rolled up newspaper and the hard end of a sneaker. Now, they had returned. There was an especially large one in the left hand corner, above his wardrobe. Simon took to it with spray and it ran from the corner, down the wall, towards him. Simon wasn't having a bar of that. He grabbed his school ruler and flicked. The spider ended up not much more than several broken limbs and a gooey mess on the end of the wooden weapon.
The next day the webs were thicker. He brushed them down with an old broom. He was a little worried as the spider that made the dusty strings was nowhere to be found. He searched the room for the creature. He noticed a slight bulge underneath one of his posters. It moved. That was the culprit. He wasn't particularly fond of that poster so he snuck up carefully with his basketball, then quickly ran it all over the poster. A black form, about the size of a small sparrow fell out from under the paper. Simon looked at it. The spider looked up at him. The many eyes seemed to stare up at him, pleading. Simon made sure his shoe was on, then let fly. A resounding squish made him happy. He went to the kitchen to fetch a dustpan and brush to dispose of the remains. When he returned, however, the spider had vanished. Simon frowned, confused. He swept away the last of the cobwebs, then slept.
When Simon woke the next day, he noticed that the cobwebs had returned to the left hand corner of his room. He thought nothing of it and went to school. School, as usual was nothing exciting. He played football at lunchtime with his friends. Teased the fat kid in class. Flung spit-balls at the roof. Then waited for the final bell to walk home with Melissa Tomkins.
Another day in my boring life. Nothing ever happens to me, Simon thought as he let himself in the back door. He found a drink and a chocolate bar in the fridge and wandered upstairs to his room. He nearly dropped his snack when he saw the cobwebs in the corner of his room. He'd swept only the other morning, scooting out a couple a Daddy Long Legs in the process. Now his wardrobe was almost hidden, and the smell of spider hung in the air. It had got to the point in his hatred for the creatures, he could smell their presence. A kind of odour, a little like death, but more. Like the smell of the pantry if you'd forgotten about an old cake in a biscuit tin.
Simon could smell the animal. He moved about quietly, stalking his prey as any hunter does. He pulled his baseball bat from behind the bedroom door and swung it experimentally. It felt good in his hands. Can't wait to squish you, he thought, Let's see if you like the feel of a good ol' bat around the noggin.
He knelt down slowly and peered under his bed. Nothing. Wait - something glinted in the darkness under there. Then disappeared. He stood up quickly. He heard scurrying and whirled. Again nothing. Simon took his time looking around the room. He pulled open his wardrobe door, but there was no sign of the creature in there. No smell, only lavender. He hated that smell, but his mother insisted on having small bags of the perfume in with his clothes.
'It keeps them fresh, dear.' she'd said.
Then he felt the nearness. Something behind him. He eased the bat to a swinging position. He could see the shadow of the creature in the light. Easing slowly down from the roof on a long line of web. Simon spun, and struck. A comforting crack echoed around the room. A form hurtled across the space and hit the far wall. Simon stared. The spider was the size of a cat! Human and arachnid stared each other down.
Why are you so BIG?!
The animal paused, then scurried to its left.
Trying to fake me out, eh. No cigar for you mister!
Simon swatted full force and clipped the spider as it passed to his right.
Now on only five legs, the spider clicked its fangs. Red eyes screamed unheard hatred at Simon. Simon saw his chance and brought the bat down right between those eyes. The spider reeled, but wasn't dead. It shrunk down, then pounced at Simon. He leant backwards, taking the bat back once again. He let fly and connected with the spider mid-flight. It hurtled across the room and left a bloody stain on the wall. Now it teetered, coming towards Simon across the floor, intent on only one thing.
Simon braced himself, waiting for it to leap at his throat again. Then it stopped and sank to the carpet. A liquid oozed from it and Simon saw that he had mortally wounded it. He edged toward the animal and poked at it with his foot. It clicked its fangs at him once then tried to crawl under his bed. Simon brought the bat down on it time after time, leaving a pulpy mess on the carpet. He sighed and leant the bat against his wall. He left the room to find the broom, and on his return, the remains had gone. A small stain on the carpet was all that told of the battle that had taken place only minutes before.
Simon went about sweeping the cobwebs from his room while he had the
broom. He checked under his covers and in his wardrobe, and even shone his torch under the bed, just in case the spider wasn't dead and had crawled away to lick its wounds. He was safe though. At dinner he ate,
but wasn't keen on going to bed. But he went anyway, hoping against nightmares.
Simon awoke to a strange sound the next morning. Then he tried to get up. He was stuck in his own bed. Simon wondered why he couldn't move...
He looked about him, seeing only the cobwebs he had thought he swept away the day before. He struggled, then heard the shrill clicking in the left hand corner of his room. He couldn't see the thing, but he guessed what it was. He stopped struggling, but somehow he knew that the creature already guessed he was there. His mouth was covered in spinifex, cobwebs and dust. He tried to yell, call for help, but couldn't. A shadow passed across him and against the wall Simon could see the dark reflections of several legs, slowly approaching his tiny bed. The clicking became louder.
That's its fangs, its mouth opening and closing, he thought.
The door to his room suddenly opened and, from somewhere in the distance, Simon heard his mother screaming,
'Oh my God, Harry! It's got eight legs!!'
Next Week: Crossroads