Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Spider-Woman

     The first thing he noticed about her was that she had a lot of claws. She had claws instead of finger nails, but she also had a claw sprouting from each knuckle. That must be terrible inconvenient! He thought.
     “How do you get into your clothes? Don’t they catch?” he asked.
     She smiled, at which he noticed the second thing about her: her teeth were extremely large and wicked sharp. “I sew them on,” she said in a slippery, silky voice.
   “Sew them on?” he asked. “You stitch ‘em to your skin?”
   She laughed, her teeth’s razor edges glinting in the light from the sparkly stalagmites that sprinkled the cavern like lampposts. “No, no,” she said, “I make my clothes around me, like spinning a cocoon.”
   “Then you must be a caterpillar?” he asked.
   “No,” she said, taking off her sunglasses.
   That was when he noticed the third thing about her and ran away screaming. Her eyes were black glossy orbs, like a spider’s.
   He kept running and screaming and didn’t stop, not even when she called after him. “Oh, don’t run, Little Boy! I’m not going to eat you. Just suck out all your blood and juices!” He ran faster, leaping over broken urns and little piles of dirt. 
   He ran towards the gaping mouth of the cavern where he’d entered only minutes before. He could see the outline of the “BEWARE” sign posted in the entrance. It was so far away.
He glanced behind, but didn’t see the lady. He skidded to a stop beside one of the glittering stalagmites and frantically searched the vast shadows.
   “Little Booooooooy!”
   He looked up and shrieked, jumping out of the way in the nick of time.
   The lady face-planted in the dirt, her eight limbs sticking out every which way. A silken thread connected her to the ceiling.
   He wasted no time gawking, but set off across the cavern at once, heading for the large opening by which he’d come in. there was an assortment of unbroken urns to one side of the opening. He heard the lady behind him, scuttling over the debris.
   “Wait, Little Boy! I have treats! I’ll give you a cookie!”
   He’d heard that one before. He didn’t stop. He was puffing now. It was such a large cavern and the air was rather stale.
   “Stop, Little Boy!” the lady huffed behind him. He was almost to the opening. “There’s a tractor in this labyrinth! A really old International harvester! I can show you! It still starts and I have the key!”
He faltered, glancing back. The lady waved a cluster of keys with a fat keychain in the air.
   He tripped on a big rock and fell, skinning his knee. He began to cry. The lady smiled, halting some ways away. She pushed a button on the keychain. With an electronic beep beep! a large door closed over the cavern entrance.
   He rubbed his eyes, sobbing harder. He didn’t want to get dried like an apricot.
   The lady scuttled up and patted his head. She gave him a cookie and he started to feel better. As he munched he peered around at the urns.
   “What’s in those?” he asked.
   “Let me show you” she said, opening one. It was empty. She closed it with a frown and opened the next one. It was filled with big, pearly balls. She closed the lid, smiling with her large pointy teeth. He shuddered, finishing off his cookie.
   “Did you make those pearly things?” he asked.
   “Yes,” she said proudly, flexing her claws.
   “You’re a very talented lady.”
   “I know, aren’t I!” she said excitedly. “The thread I weave is unbreakable!”
   “That’s impossible.”
   “No it’s not, my thread can only be cut by my claws!” She said, gesturing grandly with her wild assortment of claws. He whistled.
   “Of course,” he added, trying to sound thoughtful, “everyone in my village makes their own clothes, too, you know.”
   “What?” the lady said, sounding a bit perturbed. “But I thought they bought ‘em from factories.”
   “They make ‘em,” he said solemnly, crossing his fingers secretly.
   “Hmph!” the lady said. “Well I can walk on walls. And I am very fast.”
   “I out ran you,” he pointed out. “And everyone in my village can run much faster than me.” (he didn’t have to cross his fingers that time)
   The lady scowled.
   “Can you stand on your head?” he asked.
   “Of course.” She said, promptly performing the trick. Her six legs kicked in the air, all of them jointed three times.
   Bummer, he thought, but that’s right, she prolly goes upside down on the ceiling all the time, like earlier. When she was back on her feet she grinned pompously. “Can you?” He did, a little clumsily.
   “Hmph,” she said. “Not as good as me.”
   “Mebbe,” he said. “But I bet I can do more cartwheels.”
   “I doubt it, I can do forty in one direction, turn on the forty-first and come back to the beginning.”
   “Bluffing!” he said. “Let’s see it!”
   The lady flashed her wicked teeth and did exactly that. On her way back he shouted, “That’s nothing, you’ve got so many limbs it’s not fair! Flip all the way into the air, without a single leg touching the ground!” She frowned but sprang into the air. He hoped his calculations were correct. Yep. She smacked into a stalactite mid flip. Lady, dust, debris, keychain, watch, and sunglasses clattered to the floor.
   “You stupid little boy!” she moaned. He ran forward as she began to pick herself up. She grabbed her sunglasses.
   “That was amazing!” he exclaimed, sidling up to her. “You almost had it! There’s no way I could do that. It must be the spring loaded propulsion of all those feet!” he picked up her watch.
   “Of course you can’t do that,” she said, stepping forward, reaching for the watch. Her skirt fell over her dropped keychain. She snatched the watch. “And neither can anyone in your village.”
   “True,” he said as the lady glanced around the floor, looking to see if she’d dropped anything else. “But!” he said loudly and she looked at him with annoyance in her arachnid eyes. “I bet you can’t squeeze into one of them urns as good as I can. My village are very compactible people.”
   “Ha!” the lady said. “I’m the best at tight spaces.”
   “Fit in that empty urn, then.”
   The lady grinned smugly and skittered back towards the urns. He quickly scooped up the keychain and followed. It was difficult concealing the huge keychain in his hand, it had five different keys, the electronic door opener, a can opener, a corkscrew, and—
   “Ow!” something very jagged and sharp. The lady glanced back at the sound of his cry. “My knee,” he explained.
   The lady took the lid off the urn and set it down. “I’m not stupid,” she said grabbing him before he could react. Shoot, she must have seen him pick up the key.
   But no…she looped a shimmery rope which she seemed to have pulled from thin air around him and cinched it tight. It was very thin, but no matter how he struggled, it didn’t budge. This wasn’t good, unless…
   “You aren’t going to trap me in that urn.” The lady said. “Anyway, I could kick off the lid. This is the last trick. I’m going to drink you afterwards, my darling beverage.”
   “Please,” he begged. “I have a brother who is much juicier than I.”
   “I’ve heard that one before,” she said, “and I’m not falling for it again!” She grinned before sticking her head in the urn. He slipped closer as she struggled in, her legs kicking wildly.
It was a good thing she kept an old claw on her keychain. He started sawing. Once the lady was jammed into the urn tightly, she triumphantly said, “See!”
   “Yes, very good,” he replied as the rope snapped off, “see if you can manage to turn around in that tight space.” She grunted.
   “Phooey,” she snorted, “it’s much too tight, I’m coming out to suck you dry like a juice box!”
   “Naw,” he said, slamming the lid closed.
   “Hey!” she exclaimed. “What are you doing? You little brat!”
   He quickly tied the rope across the lid, securing it to the handles on either side. Unbreakable, she’d said. Even by her spring loaded six foot kick.
   He heard her struggling inside. But the empty urn was a much heavier kind than the others, which was why she hadn’t used it for her eggs, because she couldn’t tote it around. He didn’t know this, of course, but he was quite happy to see that the urn did not wobble around.
   To be safe, he hefted the rock that he’d tripped on, on top of the lid. Then he pulled out the keychain and clicked the button. The cavern door slid open with another beep beep! letting in the weak sunlight. But he didn’t go out.
   He checked the keys on the chain. One had the IH logo. Yes!
   He turned to the big cavern and the little holes on the far side. He’d barely scratched the surface here and there was a tractor down there somewhere and he had the key.

   Off he skipped into the darkness, pulling a glowing rock from one of the stalagmites, with the lady howling behind him from the urn, “I wasn’t going to hurt you! Let me out so I can kill you!”

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