Just when I thought that the end had come, I managed to escape to the tide of spiders and get myself to safety. I apologize for leaving you all hanging, but I had to stay ahead of those foul, eight-legged creatures. I made it out the door, which I managed to slam shut, and waited for what would have been the single most terrifying sight I’d ever had the misfortune to witness (aside from the birth of my son): A constant flow of spiders streaming out through the cracks between the door and frame. But, as I waited, breathing ragged and hypersensitive, nothing came my way. As the heavy seconds slowly fell to the monotony of minutes, a new dread settled down upon me. The arachnid army had not come for me, so what in the hell were they doing? I could only imagine how they were now fortifying their defenses and turning my bedroom into a webbed winterland of creeping horror. I briefly considered the ramifications of simply setting my apartment ablaze, but thought better of it, as I had a bunch of stuff that I’d rather not live without. Not to mention that I don’t really have the cash to pick up and move anywhere else right now. No, if I was to keep the spiders from winning, I would have to take them down without collateral damage.
I was then reminded of a dream which I once had when I was just a little boy. There had been a fire in the house where I was living, and when I came back into my room, I looked around and saw everything covered in a layer of soot, with scorch marks rising up the wall like blackened wings poised for flight. My eyes were drawn then to my closet, which appeared more burnt than the rest of the room. Upon the shelf, above the torched and melted clothing, sat a porcelain clown with silken raiment of black and white. As I reached up to take hold of it, it fell on its own, plummeting down past my fingers, and landing with a sharp crack as it hit the floor. Instead of shattering upon the ground only the top of the head broke away. I looked down at the broken clown head, smeared with soot, and reached to pick the doll up. And then I saw the spiders streaming out from within the porcelain. I couldn’t see where they were all coming from, or how they could all have fit. They were tiny, but black as midnight, and going everywhere. Just as they reached me, their little legs scrambling all over me, I bolted upright and escaped the dream. My tiny eight-year-old frame was shaking, and even the daylight filling up my obviously undamaged room did little to allay my fears. And sitting upon the shelf within my closet sat the unbroken porcelain jester, whose dead eyes held secrets I was not prepared to know.
I shuddered back into the present, haunted once again by memories of nightmares long forgotten. The door before me remained unchanged, and I knew that I must act, or lose my will altogether. I crept closer, listening for any sign of the menace which was hidden out of sight within. Nothing. Not a single scrape or scurry. I took hold of the doorknob and gingerly turned it counterclockwise, pressing against the door ever so gently with my shoulder. I was at my most vulnerable in this position, and I was sure the spiders knew it. But I pressed on, pushing through adrenaline and heightened arachnophobia, and cautiously into the room. I saw no evidence of an infestation as the door swung open, not near the frame, nor anywhere between my position and the desk in the corner upon which rests my laptop. I shot a quick glance upward, as no one in the movies ever seems to think in three dimensions, but saw only the empty ceiling which had always been that way. I began to walk over to my desk, when a thought occurred to me.
These creatures had shown signs of intelligence, and were nowhere to be seen. If they wanted to lure me into a false sense of security, they must be hiding somewhere that I would never think to suspect. I slowly turned my head to look at the bed beside me. It appeared to be in the same condition as I’d seen it not ten minutes before, but who pays all that much attention to the mundane objects which no one thinks may one day be completely infested by hyperintelligent arachnids. There was nothing out of the ordinary to clue me in to their position, but I knew, deep down, that the moment when my head finally touched down upon the pillow, I would swarmed by tiny spiders, and wrapped up in a sleeping bag forged from spider silk. I know that one doesn’t normally forge silk, or sleeping bags, but we’re dealing with creatures of indomitable will, superior intellect, and devious resourcefulness. Under those circumstances, I wouldn’t put anything past the little buggers, strained metaphor or not.
It was then that I happened to see the empty can of Red Bull sitting on the windowsill. I looked down at my shaking hands, and started putting it together. The lack of sleep. Too much caffeine. A memory of childhood terror set off by a single spider in the corner of my room. Mosquitoes flying all about me, and a trip into madness inspired by a blank screen before me. I began to breathe again, surprised that I had not been doing so. The spiders were only in my head. Well, except for the one I’d thrown a shoe at just moments before. I forced myself to chuckle, and walked over to my computer to shut it off, so that I could get some sleep. The laptop itself hardly makes a sound, but the fan beneath it makes a godawful racket, and makes it nearly impossible to fall asleep.
And sleep. Oh, precious slumber which I’d been so long without. How I missed the feel of its warm embrace. Even now I could hear it calling softly. I could feel the tension begin to slide away, and I knew that I was ready. I powered off the laptop, and gently closed up the machine. Just as I was falling into bed, I couldn’t help but notice a small movement at the edges of my periphery. A massing of miniature monsters, swelling now that trap’d been sprung. A nightmare come into sobering clarity, and I could not a thing but continue to fall, both onto the mattress and into dreams.