« To Each His Own Hell | Main | Aunt Mary's Place »

Bad Charlotte

by Edd Vick

Sherman Palmetto was used to ants and bees and wasps having it in for him. He was three weeks old when the first attack came, a kamikaze phalanx of ants from four nests converging on his crib. After three more pitched battles they moved from their beloved farm into the city. When he left home it was to move into the top floor of an apartment building, easier to defend with the panoply of sprays he kept to hand. He grew careless.

Thus it was the spiders caught him.

It was a Wednesday morning, his twenty-third birthday, and Sherman woke from dreams of drowning to find himself encased in webs. Pale early light filtered into the room, revealing more webs everywhere, and hundreds of spiders. One of them directly over his head descended on a silken strand, landing on his nose.

He screamed for a while. He thrashed; the nose-spider climbed a few inches away. For every thread that snapped a dozen spiders made daring leaps to reinforce his cocoon. Nobody came to check on him. Eventually he stopped, and lay panting.

Then he saw the woven message in one corner near the ceiling. "Hello, Sherman," it said. "We mean you little harm."

He read it out loud, putting little question marks after both sentences. Nose-spider inclined its head.

"You're nodding? You understand?"

Another nod.

Sherman looked back at the message. "Don't you mean 'no harm'? That's what they say in movies, 'We mean you no harm.'."

The spider spread its forelegs in midair. Sherman decided that was a shrug. "Okay, then, what do you want?" Finally! He was going to find out what they were after, besides his death.

Nose-spider pointed toward the ceiling, and Sherman looked up again. Spiders snipped a few of the strands at the corners of the previous message, and it floated down to reveal another one.

"We have a question."

"A question?" said Sherman, trying to inhale enough to scream it. "You've got questions? What about my questions?"

Another shrug.

"Okay," he said. "Okay, fine. What's your question?"

If a spider could be said to smile, Nose-spider did. It gestured upward again. Sherman read the question.

"Why are the ants and flying insects intent on your death?"

They didn't know? "You don't know?" They didn't know! "What the hell are you asking me for? Don't you insects ever talk to each other?!"

If a spider could be said to look mortally offended, Nose-spider did. It took the better part of an hour for it to weave its next message, but considerably less for Sherman to figure out what it would say.

"We're not insects, you moron. We're arachnids."


Is the wackly formatting intentional? I see "?€™" for all of the contraction marks.

Posted by: Kristin | September 25, 2007 1:57 AM

Whoops! It should be all better now.

Posted by: Edd | September 25, 2007 3:51 AM

Post a comment