Short Story
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                    Spiders
                                    By Jeani Rector


Jason sighed. “Yes, I know that the silk from spiders is an extremely strong
material.  But it’s simply too hard to extract.  And besides, we couldn’t extract
enough from each spider to be cost effective.”

Lee smiled.

“What?” Jason asked.

“Let me show you my lab.”

“I don’t have time.”

“Make the time.”

Intrigued, Jason said, “This had better be worth it.”  He stood up to follow Lee
out of the restaurant.

“We’ll take my car,” Lee offered.

                                            *****

Lee unlocked the metal door, and Jason thought that it sounded like a
haunted house movie as it creaked open.  He peered inside, but it was too
dark to see.

Lee relocked the front door from the inside and then flipped the light switch.

“Wow,” Jason said. “Don’t you ever clean this place?”

“Too busy,” Lee said.

The basement room had cement-block walls, and a lot of glass aquariums
stacked against those walls.  There were no windows.  The linoleum on the
floor was worn and stained.  There was a desk in the middle of the room, and
although the desk was old, it held a state-of-the-art computer on top.  There
seemed to be dust everywhere.

There were also spider webs in every corner of the room at the ceiling.

“So,” Jason observed, “the only visitors to your lab are spiders?  Certainly
you can’t entertain humans in this mess.”

“I don’t clean those webs because they don’t bother me,” Lee said.  “Those
belong to wild spiders that find their way in here.  They’re not the spiders I’m
interested in.”

“I don’t have a lot of time,” Jason said.  “Show me why we came here.”

Lee again smiled that weird grin.  He took out his key ring again and said,
“There’s a back room.”

Jason hesitated.  “Listen, I don’t want to see any mad scientist experiment.”

“I may be a scientist, but I’m not mad.  If you like what you see, and I know
you will, then I want to offer a partnership deal to you.  If you invest, then I will
produce a product that will be a sensation around the world.”

Jason pretended boredom, but in reality he was intrigued.  He certainly had
the money to invest, but it seemed that everyone was always hitting him up
for money.  A wealthy man, Jason knew that restraint was why he made
money on good investments and didn’t lose it on bad investments.  But the
only way to make money was to fully investigate potential offers.

If Lee really discovered an efficient way to extract spider silk, then this lab
visit could prove very lucrative.  Especially for the military.  Imagine what they
could do with a lightweight, flexible material that was stronger than steel.  
Why, a government contract…

Jason was jerked out of his musings when Lee put the key into the back room
door.  Again it creaked open as though it belonged in a haunted house.

“Jesus, why don’t you get some WD-40?”

Lee seemed annoyed. “Listen Jason, I am not a patient man who listens to
meaningless comments.  Here I am about to show you the eighth wonder of
the world, and you are talking about WD-40, which incidentally has already
been invented.  I am going to show you something new.”

With that, Lee reached inside the back room and flipped on the light switch.

It looked like a pet store.  There were cages and very large aquariums, all
stacked upon each other.  Jason could smell sawdust and could see glimpses
of steam, which told him that this room held some sort of humidifier.

Jason heard a rustling sound.  “What’s that noise?”

“We disturbed the spiders by turning on the light.  Don’t worry, they’ll settle
down in a minute.”

Jason felt the hairs on his arms stand up in their follicles.  Slowly he asked,
“Your spiders are big enough to sound like that when they move?”


Lee turned to flash that weird grin again.  “How do you think it can be cost-
effective to extract silk from spiders?  Make them bigger, of course.”  He
stepped over to a glass aquarium.  “Take a look at this guy.”

Jason fought a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach, but he was unable to
suppress his curiosity.  He followed Lee and peered into the large glass
container.

Red eyes glowed back at him.  Jason looked closer and was shocked to see
the size of this arachnid; probably twelve inches across.  Even weirder was its
coloration.  The rotund abdomen was almost flesh-like, its head a silver-gray,
and its long spindly legs a shade of amber.  He jerked back when the
creature moved quickly to the glass, seemingly just as interested in Jason as
he was in it.

“Can he see me?” Jason asked.

Lee snorted.  “Of course he can.  Spiders have very good vision with their
eight eyes.”

Suddenly there came a deep rustling sound, louder than anything preceding
it.  Jason looked at Lee and felt fear when he saw that the other man’s face
had blanched white.

“We’ve got to get out of here,” Lee said.

Jason was too panicked to argue.  He didn’t know what was going on, but he
knew that if Lee acted scared, then something was wrong, very wrong.  He
jumped towards the door leading out of the back room.

He was running when he heard a scream behind him.  He turned his head
and saw that something was loose…something really huge had somehow
gotten out of its cage.  It knocked Lee to the floor.

Jason started crying when he realized that he was too frightened to turn
around and try to help.  He always made his fortune off of other people’s
ideas.  His biggest secret was that he was hollow inside…he never cared
about any science that helped people; only the science that helped himself.  
He was a selfish man, and now he knew he was also a coward.

He found the front door and jiggled the handle.  He realized, Oh my god, it’s
locked. Lee locked it from the inside to keep the world away from his secret
spiders.

He was openly sobbing now.  Because it was in a basement, there were no
windows in the lab.  There was no escape.

Would that giant spider be satisfied with Lee or would it want a second
victim?  He couldn’t take that chance.  Maybe there was another set of keys
in the old desk.

Jason ran to the desk and flung open the drawer.  His fingers frantically
searched the contents, grabbing papers and throwing them onto the floor.  
His hands probed further into the depths of the drawer.

No keys.

He started moaning as tears gushed down his cheeks.  He was trembling so
badly that he didn’t notice the warm stream of urine trickling down the front of
his pants.

And then he heard it coming into the front room.

“Oh God, please let me live!  I swear I will be a better man, I swear it!  Oh
please, oh please!”

He didn’t want to look but was unable to shut his eyes.  He couldn’t stop
himself from seeing what the thing was that now shared the front part of the
lab with him.

It crawled, almost slithering across the old, stained linoleum.  It loomed
upwards of five feet in height.  Its bloated, round abdomen was flesh-colored,
but covered with black hairs.  Worst of all was the head.  It had pincers
around the mouth and its red eyes almost glowed, and were so numerous
that they covered most of the face.

Its many long legs were jointed, with claws at the tips of the front two.  The
claws were aimed at Jason.

He ran back to the front door, desperately jiggling the handle once again in
the delusional hope that somehow, the lock would malfunction and the door
would open.

The spider kept advancing, finally reaching him.  It ignored Jason’s screams
and pulled him down onto the floor.

It bit him, and Jason realized he was losing feeling in his arms and legs.  His
mind continued to remain intact; he retained the ability to think clearly.  He
waited for the poison to kill him.  After a minute, he understood that he was
not going to die after all; he was only paralyzed.

The spider had already fed on Lee.  It dawned on Jason that it wanted to hold
him for when it got hungry later.  It wanted to keep him alive as fresh meat.

And as the creature spun its web around him, Jason realized that Lee had
been right: a spider’s silk was really strong.
About Jeani Rector

Jeani Rector is the
founder and editor of The
Horror Zine and has had
her stories featured in
magazines such as
Aphelion, Midnight Street,
Strange Weird and
Wonderful, Dark River
Press, Macabre Cadaver,
Blood Moon Rising,
Hellfire Crossroads, Ax
Wound, Horrormasters,
Morbid Outlook, Horror in
Words, Black Petals,
63Channels, Death Head
Grin, Hackwriters,
Bewildering Stories,
Ultraverse, and others.
Her historical fiction
full-length novel about the
1348 pandemic of bubonic
plague titled Pestilence: a
Medieval Tale of Plague is
published by The Horror
Zine Books.