Here is my latest Tuesday Tales. The prompt is the word "spider". To read the rest of the short stories from some fine authors, go to the Tuesday Tales web site.
By Elizabeth Black
I slouched on the sofa, finishing off a Sam Adams IPA. My other hand was buried deep in a bowl of popcorn, me not knowing the fright I was about to get. Ah, this was the life! My girlfriend was on the phone in the kitchen while I watched "Zombieland". Nothing could beat a lazy Saturday watching a horror movie. The kid Columbus just gunned down Bill Murray when I felt something crawl up my leg.
I looked down and saw the spider. Eight beady little eyes stared at me. They were flat, glazed over, black, like a doll's eyes. The legs were scarier - hairy and as long as pretzel sticks. I leaped off that couch when the reptilian part of my brain kicked in. There was no time for reason. I was pure adrenalin and instinct. Popcorn burst around the room as if a tasty fragmentation grenade exploded in my lap.
"Aaaaaaiiiiii!! Aaaah!!" I couldn't muster English at this point. I was too freaked out. That sucker was huge! I smacked at my "Slayer" t-shirt, trying to bat the thing away. It leaped from my shoulder and disappeared behind me.
"Steve! What? What's wrong?" Lisa raced into the room, eyes wide with concern.
"Spider... spider..." I gasped, out of breath with fright and disgust.
She frowned at the site of popcorn all over the rug, on the couch, in the lamp, in my hair, on her afghan... "Jesus Christ, look at this mess! Kill it with a magazine. I'm on the phone. Keep it down." She turned away from me, heading back to the kitchen. "And clean up that popcorn! I'm not doing it. Sheesh..." Before I could wheeze a reply she retreated into the kitchen.
I composed myself, and inspected the couch. Nothing under the cushions. Nothing around the back or the arms. Maybe I imagined it was as big as a dinner plate. It was pretty close to my face. Forced perspective must have kicked in.
I scooped up the popcorn and put it back into the bowl. The rug was clean. I wasn't about to toss out perfectly good popcorn. I sat back down on the sofa, popcorn bowl in my lap, and got into watching Woody Harrelson make a fool of himself, not realizing I was about to outdo him. Again.
About five more minutes into the movie I felt something tickling my arm. I reached over to scratch when I saw that fucking monster again, crawling down my bicep.
Popcorn flew again. I shrieked like a little girl. I leaped up so fast from the couch the beast catapulted from my arm to land somewhere behind some boxes. I wasn't about to go looking for it.
Lisa raced into the living room, looking at me with a thundercloud obscuring her face. "I told you to keep it down! I'm on the phone!" She tapped her foot with impatience. "It's just a spider. Kill it, for Christ's sake."
"You don't understand. This isn't an itsy bitsy spider. It's a Godzilla spider. Might be one of those wolf spiders. You should see it. It's huge! It growled at me."
"Now you're just making shit up."
"I swear I'm not!" Before I could answer she retreated to the kitchen again. In a few seconds, she returned with a rolled up National Enquirer, which somehow seemed fitting. "Give it a smack with this. Just clean up the mess when you're done. And stop being such a baby. It's only a spider. It's not going to kill you."
"You didn't see it..."
She stalked back to the kitchen. If I had a tail it would have retreated between my legs. I was embarrassed, but I knew what I saw. This monster was revenge for all the legs I tore off of Daddy Long Legs when I was a kid. Once again, I scooped up the popcorn, but having lost my appetite, I sat the bowl on the couch next to me. All the excitement made me thirsty, so I walked to the kitchen. Lisa had rung off, and she was fixing herself a bowl of ice cream. I grabbed another beer and returned to the living room. One glance at the coffee table told me everything I needed to know.
The spider crouched there, staring at me. Daring me to challenge it. I wasn't about to let it win. This was "High Noon", and I was Gary Cooper.
"Lisa..." I whispered. "It's back."
"Grow up. Smack it with the magazine."
"You don't understand. Come look at it."
She stomped to the open doorway and glanced where I pointed. When she saw it, she blanched as white as her Vanilla Bean ice cream.
"I'm sorry I doubted you. Yup, that's a wolf spider alright."
"What do we do?"
"I have an idea." She tip-toed through the kitchen into our bedroom and came back with a can of hair spray and her Bic lighter. Without saying another word, she crept into the living room with me cowering behind her like a little sissy boy. The spider didn't move. It stared at us with those eight eyes, legs twitching the closer we got. I leaned to one side to get a better look at it. It leaned to the left, following my movements. I leaned to the right. It twitched a few steps to the right.
The little bastard was mocking me.
Lisa held out her arm holding the hair spray and held her lighter in front of the nozzle. I held my breath, knowing what was coming. When she lit the lighter and sprayed, the hairspray flared like a blowtorch, setting the spider on fire. I swear I heard it scream. It didn't die right then, though. Of course not.
No, it ran across the coffee table, in flames, setting the "National Enquirer" and a few napkins on fire! I grabbed a throw pillow and smacked out the flames as it raced across the carpet, scorching the carpet in its wake. All I could hear were my screams and Lisa's laughter.
As if things weren't bad enough, it climbed up the drapes, still on fire, and the drapes burst into flames! Lisa smacked at the drapes with the other throw pillow as I beat the living hell out of what was left of that spider. It fell to the floor but twitched and writhed. It wouldn't die! So I grabbed a King James Bible from the bookcase and slammed it atop the beast. Things finally came to a standstill.
I lifted the book. Gooey spider guts stretched like taffy from the hardback cover. I felt my popcorn and beer burble to my throat, but I swallowed hard to keep it down. Lisa couldn't stop laughing, and it miffed me that she got so much mirth from my desperate situation.
"It's not funny," I whined, and then started laughing out of sheer tension release.
"You ruined the Bible my mom gave me." She giggled.
"Like you read it." I said as I dropped the book back onto the floor. "I'm not touching it. It's gross. You torched it. You deal with it."
She wrapped her arms around me, and kissed me on the lips. She tasted of chocolate fudge sauce and Coca Cola. "You big baby," She grinned at my discomfort. "I'll clean it up if you finish scooping me some ice cream."
"Deal. And don't you dare tell your friends about this."
"Cross my heart!" She crossed her fingers in front of her stomach in full view of me, knowing I was both embarrassed and spooked. I also knew she'd be on the phone in minutes telling her best friend Joyce about me and The Hairy, Eight-Eyed Beast From Hell. I loved her, but I was very embarrassed over being so chicken-shit in front of her. Even if the spider was the size of a Buick.
I checked the couch cushions and beneath the couch before I sat back down on it. For the rest of the night, my arms and neck itched as I imagined that spider crawling all over me. I had to give it to her. The tactical response blowtorch was a touch of genius. I don't blame her for telling all her friends about my ordeal. If I had MacGyvered a weapon like that, I'd brag too.