Luc Reid writes about the psychology of habits at The Willpower Engine. His new eBook is Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories.

Edd Vick’s latest story, “The Corsair and the Lady” may be found in Talebones #37.

Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story “The Devonshire Arms” is available online at Clarkesworld.

Read Rudi’s story “Detail from a Painting by Hieronymus Bosch” at Behind the Wainscot.


by Jen Larsen

Her husband said, “Don’t kill it. They don’t mean any harm.” She was pressed back in the corner, her hand over her heart, which was thumping so hard it should have burned right through her blouse, and he was bent over the thing on her desk, extending his hand.

“There we go,” he said, and he turned and extended his palm toward her. “See?” She saw. She couldn’t breathe. It crept from the end of his fingers down to his wrist. It lifted its legs like a woman folding a sheet, snapping it out in the sun. Her head jerked back and hit the wall.

He said, “Phobias are merely mental blocks. You need to work your way through them.” He lifted his hand up under her nose. Tears started to run down her cheeks. She could feel them running cold down the line of her jaw and dripping off her chin. He didn’t even notice, for a moment. And then he said “Oh, Julie.” He shook his head and left the room with the thing twitching in the palm of his hand.

She dreamed that night about spiders. They ran down the walls in streams, flowed around the bottom of their bed as if it were a rock in a river. A fountain, a waterfall of spiders sounds like nothing, magnified a thousand times; a whispery, bristly-legged nothing at all, made of legs and tiny eyes. They poured out their bedroom door and cascaded down the stairs, where the living room lights were still on.

In the dream, she didn’t move. The curtains fluttered in their wake, and the bed rocked, just a little bit, and the bedroom door shuddered. Her sheets glowed white beneath her hands.

Would it be worse if she woke up and found her husband’s body wrapped in silk, hanging from the corner of the living room? Or if she woke up to find him snoring on the couch with his mouth open? She laid in bed after she woke up, trying to decide which she hoped for most. In the corner, a spider lifted its legs exactly like an angry woman casting a curse at midnight, and spun a web.

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