A special number of this series. Presented for your consideration, as the Twilight Zone would say.
The Enemy Within
My story starts many, many years ago, with a single, tiny spider. He did not bite, our spider, or at least not with enough venom for any human being to notice they have been bitten. He did two things that were to have tremendous consequences. He wove and he bred. He wove and wove and wove, and his children, and his children's children, and his children's children wove. Normal behaviour, for spiders, of course, but with one subtle difference. Our spider led his family in an act never previously thought of: they all wove from the same web.
And the web grew. And yet it was invisible to the naked eye. The strands were so thin and the connections so slight that people scarcely noticed it was there. In time, the day would come when they never noticed it because they took for granted that it was there. But for now, they took no heed of it. At first, it took over a small town. Connecting all of the people, so that any spider could get from any one person, to any other person in the town. This was done within our spider's lifetime. And if this speed, and this level of control doesn't scare you, consider this: the town was a military one. And so before long the spiders had crawled into trucks and slipped into aircraft and started to connect military bases around the country. Within just ten years they had connected bases around the world.
And now they were starting to move into civilian homes and civilian lives. Our spider had died by now, but his descendants, now numbering in their thousands, worked on, they worked long and they worked hard. When they were not working they were listening. For people talked freely, openly, even recklessly, around the webs. And the spiders listened, and they passed the information amongst themselves. Soon they knew more about any one person that the person knew themselves. Their knowledge, and their connections and their potential power had become great and terrifying. And yet, and yet….
People, when they considered the connections, feared them. They did not wish to be connected to the rest of the world and feared the spiders. But they feared the spiders because they saw in the spiders all the traits of their own kind. But the spiders were just spiders, innocent of purpose and with no more malicious goal than to connect people. Secrets were exposed and lives uncovered, but corners of the world were connected, fringes of society basked in a light that had previously been the sole preserve of those who could afford connections of their own. So the spiders opened up the world and connected every person to every other person. And with these connections some people did terrible things, evil things. Sometimes they were caught and sometimes they were not. But some people, many people, did fine and wonderful things. The spiders did not look upon their work as anything more than the job of creating a web, and they did not see the people as anything more than points at which the web connected. But if they had looked, and had seen, they would have been happy, and known that their job was well done.