It's Friday, so it's time for another episode of Friday Flash Fiction. This week...
...And The Next Day We Move
Word Count: 593
It’s 11:46 pm, and I’ve stayed up entirely too late. You know how it goes, you’re checking your email, reading the RSS feed for I Can Has Cheezeburger. Next thing you know, it’s almost tomorrow. It’s amazing how an evening can just evaporate before your eyes, you know?
Anyway, I drag myself upstairs and change into pajamas and slide into bed next to my snoring wife. Trouble is, I can’t sleep. Almost midnight and I’m exhausted, but I just can’t shut my brain off. So I decide to read a few chapters in my book.
I reach over, pull the switch on the lamp—yes, we have a lamp with a pull chain, and yes, it’s older than either me or my wife. Anyway, I’m pulling the chain to turn the light on, but I’m kind of a klutz, so I catch the bedside table with my wrist and knock my book off.
I look over the edge of the bed, but I can’t see where the book has gone. It must have slid underneath. Great. I throw off the covers, careful not to accidentally toss them onto my wife’s head. I put my feet on the floor and the first thing I notice is that the cobwebs are just awful. I guess I’ll be dusting over the weekend.
I feel around for the book, but I can’t seem to find it. And the cobwebs are creeping me out. And it was a library book, too. I can’t wait to return that. The librarian will see it all covered in cobwebs and I can just picture her little nose raised in disgust while she judges me for not having a clean enough under-the-bed.
Anyway, I get down on my hands and knees and that’s when I see the spider.
So, the thing about spiders is that they’re not supposed to be three feet across. But this one… this one sure as hell is. And I don’t mean three feet across if it spread out its legs, I mean three feet across if it’s just standing casually. Nestled in among all the cobwebs, it’s just sitting there. For some reason it hasn’t noticed me yet.
My eyes adjust to the lack of light under the bed, but the damned thing is not getting any smaller. Then I realize what has its attention. It’s eating my book. It’s eating my book. It’s ripping it up into little pieces and eating it. With its mouth.
At this point, my jaw is trembling. I make a noise, kind of like a guttural squeak, if that makes sense. The spider turns, its eight massive eyes now looking in my general direction. It returns its attention to the book.
I guess the library won’t be getting this one back.
I stand up, as cautiously as possible, and crawl back into bed. I look over at my wife. She’d want me to wake her up, so she could run away in terror. But she’s sleeping so peacefully. Maybe if we just hold out until morning, it will go away on its own. If it’s still there in the morning we can toss it a Funk & Wagnalls or something.
“Hon, is that you?” It’s my wife.
“Just coming to bed,” I say. “Go back to sleep.”
And she does. But I still can’t sleep—not now. So I lie awake. And I listen to her gentle, contented snores. And I try not to pay attention to the muffled sound of paper being ripped into tiny pieces.
Edited by Carolyn Abram