WEDNESDAY: A Close Thing


Copyright is held by the author.

I STAGGERED to the bathroom at 5:00 AM. (First thing in the morning, the old ankles aren’t in a bendy mood so movement is along the zombie line.) I did not have my glasses on.

There was a tiny black creature crawling around the tub, trying to climb the wall in my direction. It had the hair-raising gait of Public Enemy #1. Clearly insects don’t suffer from morning ankles.

I peered closer. Strewth! A black widow spider?! In our bathroom? It sure as wombat cubes looked like one, although I wasn’t positive about the telltale red mark. There was definitely a hint of rosy shine on its back but maybe that was just the glint of flattering bathroom light on the carapace. How distinctive was that red hourglass from four and a half feet away, and seen without glasses, anyway?

I filled a cup with hot water, trying to watch over my shoulder while doing it, but failing. ANYTHING could have been happening behind me. When I turned around, the black devil was gone. In case she — “she” because, if it was a black widow, the females were the dangerous ones — had fallen in the drain hole, I dumped my cupful there. There was no way I was sticking around to use those personal hygiene facilities, so I shuffled out of the room and creaked my way downstairs.

Of course, once downstairs, all I could think of was the fiend upstairs creeping out of the tub and slipping silently into any room it chose. Damned, little, freaking ninja. I made up my mind. I had to go back to defeat the D. I. (Dread Intruder) — and on an empty stomach too! Life’s gGreat trials come at the most inopportune times.

Turning on all the stair lights before mounting them — sorry about that, Ken, were you still sleeping? Well, too bad! Thirty years ago you would have killed it for me — I whimpered my way up the stairs. I leaned around the bathroom doorframe, being careful not to touch anything, to verify the light switch was safe to touch. No black spots in the vicinity. I jabbed a finger at the switch to illuminate the battle arena.

I scanned the floor for minute assassins before entering. Was there movement on the navy floor mat? I waited it out. Nope. All clear. I turned my attention to the tub. There, I found the situation was still Code Red. The D.I. was there, poised to pounce and bring those poison-packed chelicerae slashing into the unwary — or the wary, for that matter.

I emptied the roll of toilet paper to create a wad thick enough to protect my hand from lethal injection, and lunged. (In the war between humans and arachnids, he who hesitates is lost.) A satisfying crunch told me the room was safe. The threat had been ELIMINATED.

It is true that just before my TP-armoured hand slammed into the tub floor, I got a good enough look at my opponent to correctly identify the little freak: Steatodo grossa, the False Black Widow. However, I will not lose sleep over her demise. A spider is a spider. They all want to kill us. It is up to us to crush them first.

  1. Awesome job, Alice!!! Keep up the writing!!!

  2. Sadly, with the demise of this beneficial predator, you are more likely to encounter more insects in your abode.

  3. […] we re-post a favourite story or poem from the CommuterLit archives. Today we present the story, “A Close Thing.” Click on the link to […]

  4. Now that, my friends, is everything a short story needs to be. Fun, dramatic, entertaining, and short!

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