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.