by Steve Wilkins
-Strange – 3 Pages –
Penfold Stekins (or Smiley as he was known, or rather had been known, to his close friends) had no idea whether it was night or day. No idea of the date. No idea of anything much really.
He only knew one thing.
Spiders. He had been saying for what seemed an age. “Beware The Spiders”
Ok , he knew he sounded like a B Movie extra but he was totally convinced. No one listened. No one cared. All he got was jokes.
Well, when Incy Wincy came to visit and sucked the life out of every man, woman and child, they weren’t laughing.
They came out of the walls, out of every cellar, every crevasse, every hole and nook.
Smiley had been prepared. He’d made a stronghold. The bastards weren’t going to get him.
He called it Splat Central. If one of the hairy fuckers even attempted to show its ugly, many-eyed face around the place, he was prepared. He had guns, grenades, trip wires ( lots of them, these things have eight legs!), chemicals and rolled up magazines. Arachnophobe? Nope. Visionary was how Smiley preferred to think of himself. They’d laughed, oh how they’d laughed. But when the invasion came, only he had been prepared.
He had been holed up in his homemade cell for months. He’d survived on the supplies he’d carefully put away for when he knew the inevitable invasion would come.
But now he feared for the rest of the world….
For weeks the forces of Spiderdom had attempted everything in their power to get in. They scratched and scurried, scurried and scratched. The noises had driven him close to insanity, imagining the armies of hairyness desperately trying to break into his fortress.
But then the scuttling and scurrying around his underground shelter had stopped. Very suddenly, a few weeks ago. In an instant, all together, they had ceased their attempts to invade his fortress.
Ha! The reinforced metal walls, floor and ceiling had held off the advances of the arachnid horde, just as he’d planned. It had worked. He was a genius!
He’d opened a Mars bar that day. He decided he needed to celebrate! Incy Wincy had climbed up the spout again. Loser!
But since then, the deathly silence had become even more intolerable. Smiley had always known that thinking too much was bad for him. He had ideas. Ideas that turned into monsters…
Now he imagined the whole world as a giant spider web. Each little human, either already trapped, or waiting to fall into its sticky grip.
What if he was the only person alive? What if there really was nothing left but a huge mass of silk spun traps? That would mean millions of spiders, all encamped around his hiding place, waiting for one last meal…
With that, he realised the fatal flaw to his plan. Yes, he had escaped the deadly mandibles of the spider invasion, but he had no way of telling what was now going on “outside”. And if he opened the door, a million arachnids would descend on him, pouring into the opening, a tide of terror, intent on drowning him in its eight legged grip.
What the hell was he going to do? Think man, think.
He knew he needed to calm down. Got to get a grip. His mind raced as he fought frantically for a solution to his predicament.
Then it struck him.
Penfold Stekins (or Smiley to his sadly devoured mates) had a revelation. He suddenly knew exactly that to do!
Beer! That was it. He’d just get drunk.
It would work either one of two ways. He’d drink enough to have one of those “I could never think of this unless I was drunk” moments, or he’d simply drink himself to death. He hoped it was the former but either way, given his situation, beggars couldn’t be choosers.
He hunted around for a while, behind the piles of clothes, rocket launchers and sex toys he’d brought with him. Ah ha!
“There you are my beauties! ” he shouted. Suddenly he froze, realising that this was the first thing he’d actually said in over two months. He laughed even more when he realised the first thing he’d said in over two months had been said in a really bad pirate accent. He had no idea why but he added an “Ahoy there!” just to complete the effect. He laughed at his comedy greatness as he lifted crate after crate of beer from out of the darkness into the centre of his living quarters.
Soon he had ninety six crates of prime San Miguel Spanish beer piled up in front of him. It worried him not that he couldn’t actually get to his bed now, as his new, genius plan was laid out before him. It worried him even less that part of his plan involved ninety six crates of beer…
He reached into the first crate and pulled out a bottle. He looked at it. Beautiful. Golden brown with an ornate silver and gold label. Never had a bottle of booze looked so tempting. Then for a second, he got scared… ninety six crates of beer, but did he pack a bottle opener? Then he remembered…twist top. Thank god for the Spanish! Best thing the Europeans ever did.
With that he gulped. And gulped. And gulped. Bottle after bottle “hit the spot”. The more he drank, the less he cared.
” Come and get me, you bastards!” he yelled. ” Incy Wincy spider climbed up the water spout…” he slurred.
” Down came the…something and something something else”. By now Smiley was, as his old dear father used to say before he was devoured by a huge tarantula, as drunk as a skunk.
Smiley was having a fantastic time! Fuck the spiders! He has his own private pub. True, it was very very private, but hell, he was enjoying it.
But there was something missing. Damn what was it? He had his metal cell. He had hordes of marauding killer spiders outside. He had lots and lots of beer. But something was missing. What was it?
He wracked his clouded brain for what seemed like an age, but was infact about 10 seconds.
Crisps!! That was it! Cheese and Onion crisps!
He was a genius! Again!
He surveyed the climb ahead of him. It would be hard but, damn it would be worth it. With that, Smiley started to climb over the crates before him, his beer clogged brain treating every crate as if he was climbing Everest. He carefully planted each hand and foot, so as not to lose his grip. He couldn’t afford to fail now. His goal lay on the other side.
As he reached the pinnacle of the beer crate mountain, he surveyed the terrain on the other side. Sheer drop. But he could see a huge Family Bag of Walkers Cheese and Onion crisps in the valley below.
Has to be done, he thought. He steeled himself for the trek down. And with that, he took his first uncertain step down the Wall Of Hell.
He tried hard not to look down, but the more he tried not to, the more he did, each time sending his world spinning. In his infinite drunken wisdom , he decided on some reverse psychology. “Don’t look up” was his clever plan, hoping, of course that he therefore would. However he simply took his own advice and looked down instead…
It was hard and tortuous and totally nauseating, but he finally made it. And there she was. The Family Pack.
He picked up the treasure called Cheese and Onion, opened the pack and picked out a packet of crisps.
He held them before him briefly. “All hail the Cheese and Onion” he intoned.
With that he opened the packet. The smell captivated his senses. He remembered times and places he’d enjoyed his favourite snack. Sights, people, loves, fights…all remembered thanks to the blessed Cheese and Onion.
And with that, Smiley started to eat. Crunch after crunch, each packet was devoured. With each packet, he opened more beer, with each beer he opened more packets.
What a night, he thought. He had no idea whether it was in fact night time, but he equated good times with night, so that was good enough for him.
One more packet, he thought. When one has the munchies, one has to have one more packet. And, of course, one more beer.
His old dad would have been proud. Drunk as a skunk, Smiley opened his last twist top bottle of beer and picked up his last packet of Walkers Cheese and Onion crisps. He clumsily opened the packet of crisps and reached inside.
As he lazily stuffed the contents into his mouth, it didn’t really cross his mind, given how much he had had to drink, that crisps were meant to be crispy. Hence their name. Not really squidgy. And hairy. And that you had to stuff all the extraneous leggy bits into your mouth to get the crisp in…
As the spider struggled to get out of Smiley’s mouth, the importance of what had just happened hit him. He started to vomit, the creature in his mouth leaping to its freedom.
Smiley fought to control his nausea, scrabbling at his face, frantically brushing away unseen demons. He spat until he could spit no more, retching, trying to get the thought and feeling of what had just happened out of his mind.
After what seemed like forever, he managed to control his actions, as he suddenly remembered he had company…
He slowly raised himself up from all fours. He wiped his mouth as he looked into the face of the enemy.
The spider sat there. Looking at him. Waiting.
Smiley sat there. Looking at it. Waiting.
Then the spider did that thing that only spiders can do. It slowly raised one of its legs and waved it at him. Very slowly and deliberately. Mocking.
Then it raised itself up and quivered, it’s abdomen dancing in a blur of movement.
Smiley started to sweat. The spider lowered itself back down. It flattened itself against the floor, and pulled it’s legs towards it body.
Suddenly it raised it’s whole body up, it’s head in the air, all eight leg’s stretched as wide as it could make them. It’s mandibles parted and it started to scream. A high pitched, unearthly scream, it’s body shaking, it’s legs shaking in it’s battle cry.
And with that, the walls started to shake, the floor vibrated and the roof bowed. The terrible scuttling and scratching returned.
Penfold Stekins ( or Smiley to his late, but soon to be re-united with friends called him) watched as every remaining packet of crisps, every remaining sachet of dried pasta, every remaining anything of anything burst open. They scurried and swarmed, multiplied and devoured.
As he was enveloped in the silken web of the spider horde, he screamed the last words ever spoken by a human being: ” I fucking told you so!”