Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Eight Legs of Night

The alarm clock rang out at exactly seven-thirty am. Tim Antoine thought about hitting the snooze button, even went as far as to reach out toward it, and simply shut it off instead. He rolled over to the edge of the bed thinking, "tonight is the big Halloween costume party and I’m going to win it".
Being his favorite holiday, meticulously preparing for it was a personal pleasure that was most enjoyable and gratifying. This year was an all out evil clown getup. He couldn’t wait to put it on. Last year’s contest winning Grim Reaper costume came complete with an authentic scythe, borrowed from his father. In addition, while browsing at a yard sale, he stumbled upon a black five-foot chain and matching large round key ring with accompanying attached oversized keys. With the constant chain and keys clanking deeply together, the sound emphasized and completed the long sleeved hooded gown outfit, fully contributing to the overall fright effect. The one to two plus hours it took to carefully paint his face into a horrendous skull was certainly worth the time, and turned out to be quite convincing. But, he couldn’t use it again this year. Everyone would know who it was. It had to be completely and absurdly different. Halloween costume contests, according to common belief, are supposed to provide some sort of anonymity, at least until the stroke of midnight. And, with views firmly planted, never considered straying. Granted, it was a great costume, however, change was in order, and warranted, and after an extreme and extensive search, the clown was chosen.
Standing beside the bed, and rubbing his eyes for a moment, he then stretched, reaching his arms into the air, high over his head. Feeling something brushing against his forearm, he looked up to inspect what it was. Noticing a large and perfectly formed spider web reflecting the early morning sun that was beaming in through the window, it was now clinging to his arm and would glisten brightly with each movement. He jerked his arm back down and used his hand to quickly brush the web away, shivering in the process. It was at that very moment that he felt something ran over and across the top of his bare foot. Already somewhat startled, instinctively and simultaneously, he lifted his foot while looking down, just in time to see the probable owner of that web quickly scurry away and disappear underneath the bed. He put his foot back down onto the cold, wooden floor, turned around to face the edge of the bed, took a step forward, and considered whether to crouch down to give chase. The chill running down his spine held him back. Although, thinking that the creature was probably now hidden in some crevice and would be difficult at best to now find, he abandoned the idea and pondered whether he would ever sleep comfortably in that bed again, knowing that a large black spider had taken refuge underneath it. He recalled reading somewhere before, that many times, regardless of the location; there is usually a spider somewhere within three feet of a person. 
At the time, reading that useless piece of trivia was of no importance and dismissing it quickly, he buried it deep into his psyche, never really giving it another thought…until now. This was the very first time he was able to apply this useless stored knowledge. Of course, it never dawned on him that the theory also applied to where he actually slept, vulnerable to the nightly creeping critters, and it gave him a fright. He envisioned himself snoring soundly, while all sorts of crawlies treated his body, and especially his face as their personal stomping ground. Brushing his hand, down across his face, hoping that it would take away both the imaginary feeling that now incorporated his face, as well as the vision that suddenly invaded his mind. Of course, it didn’t. At least not fully, and it still lingered, festering steadily in the back of his mind.
Forcing his mind to return its thoughts back to the future evenings party, he entered the attached bathroom, attempting to start his day. Reaching into the shower, he grasped the faucet firmly and turned. Water began to spray out of the nozzle. Reaching out and placing a hand under the cascading shower, he felt the cooler water turn warm and then hot. On the verge of stepping under the falling water, he inadvertently looked down. There it was…the creature again, lying in wait, in the back and darkest corner at the base of the shower. Water began to flow up the tiled floor toward it and it lifted itself from the squatting position and took off, quickly running as fast as all it’s eight legs would carry it, across the floor of the shower, and around the edge of the now rising pool of water that began to form and grow over the drain. When it reached the curb of the shower, it sprang up and over it, completely missing it in the process and landing on the bathroom floor…where, without missing a step, it continued on its flight to safety right past him. Instinctively, he jumped backwards away from it, allowing it ample room to make its escape. When he did, slipped and almost fell. Catching hold of the edge of the sink, he rebalanced himself and frantically began searching the tile floor, hoping to get a glimpse of this most unwelcome visitor. But, it had vanished.
Tim unconsciously searched the whole shower, paying special attention to the corners. Finding it free of any other potentially frightening critters, he stepped into the shower, leaving the glass shower door wide open. While lathering and rinsing, he chronically watched through a constantly open eye, the bathrooms tiled floor, hoping to get a glimpse of that larger than usual eight-legged fiend. But, It never showed itself.
After finishing his shower, he reached for a, hung neatly on a rack, towel, and pulled it off. The creature clinging to the backside of it remained unseen, and as Tim raised it to dry his damp face, it jumped off and landed back down onto the bathroom floor, scampering away unseen and unscathed.
Tim wrapped the towel around his waist, tying it at his hip, and stood over to the sink. Pulling his toothbrush up and out of the holder, thoughts about the persistent bug continued to torment him and he couldn’t help but to scan the floor once again. Satisfied that he hadn’t seen it anywhere, he ladled the brush full of paste and began using it. While brushing he continued searching the portion of the floor that could be seen through the reflection in the mirror.
Afterward, he went back toward the bedroom, carefully eyeing the floor along the way, making special note of where exactly he was placing his feet. Reaching the doorway, he stopped at the threshold and looked through it at the inner wooden floor before entering, paying close attention to the edges of his bed’s perimeter. Nothing appeared, and being satisfied that it had obviously gone into hiding, continued on to the clothes dresser.
Pulling on the handles, the top drawer slid opened. There it was again… sitting on the top of carefully folded and stacked clothing, in all its hairy, black, and creepy glory. This time, Tim was close enough to see its beady little eyes looking directly back up at him. Stunned, he backed up just as the spider raised and scrambled across the clothing, up and over the top ledge of the inside back of the drawer, and disappeared into the darkness beyond. Realizing that he had inadvertently and subconsciously removed the towel, he was now clutching it in a death-like grip for use as a potential crushing weapon. But, it was too late and the creature was gone.
Taking a deep breath, he sighed and opened his hand, letting the towel drop to the floor. Somewhat hesitant, he stepped back forward to the open drawer, and slowly reached in. Slowly and carefully, he took out a pair of shorts, and vigorously shook them. Finding them free of any unwanted attachments, he put them on. Reaching in again, and this time taking out a tee shirt, he shook it with the same voracity. A black piece of something flew off and landed on his shoulder. He cried out, quivered, let go of the shirt, and immediately brushed it away, only to find that it was a small piece of lint. He watched it flutter and glide aimlessly, and harmlessly to the floor. Picking up the shirt, he re-inspected it, inside and out before putting it on.
After getting dressed, Tim sat down on the edge of the bed, content that the spider was no longer under it, and was now crouched, somewhere in the shadows, in or behind the clothes dresser.
With the stress and accompanying endless early morning scares, it had most assuredly taken its toll. He now felt utterly drained of any energy and worn out, as if he hadn’t slept at all. He couldn’t resist glancing at the floor once again. When there was no sign of the invader, a wave of relief came over him. He fell backwards onto the bed and he closed his eyes.
The alarm clock rang out at exactly seven-thirty am. Tim felt his soaking wet pajamas as he opened his eyes. A bewildered and perplexed look crossed over his face, and he looked above him, hoping to not see a spider web in the early morning sunlight.

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