There was a spider living in my shower. I had barely noticed it the other day, as I had to put my glasses on the sink, so obviously I had them off as I stepped into the bathtub. It was a tiny thing, struggling to hold on to the slickness of the porcelain lining of the tub. To me, it was like a black dot, scurrying as it did, bouncing almost like a little ball. It was odd, though, as soon as I blinked, it disappeared. I looked around for it, (it might have seemed odd to my wife, had she came in at this moment) but could not find it. I bent over, looked inside the faucet and under the stopper that lets the water flow down the pipes; but it was nowhere to be found. Well, it must have went down there and drowned, poor guy, I thought to myself, and that was that.
The next day, Toby, our golden retriever and I were playing fetch. I threw the ball across the hallway and it ended up in the bathroom. Toby darted through the living room and hallway so fast, I thought he would crash into the bathtub when he entered the bathroom. From my recliner in the living room, I can only see halfway into the bathroom and I could only see Toby’s tail, which was wagging violently with energy. Then his tail stopped moving and I could see his fur sticking up. He began to bark menacingly at something in the tub. I walked into the bathroom and asked him what was wrong. He looked at me with his curious eyes and then back at the faucet. I got a phone call just then, and had to go back in the living room to get my cell. While I talked to my wife, I paced back and forth, my usual habit when talking on the phone, and somehow ended up back in the bathroom. Toby was still in there, sitting quietly on the rug in front of the tub, with his eyes fixated on the faucet. At the time I didn’t think much about it. I should have though.
My wife is a traveling saleswoman. Her name is Karen and she is hardly at home, in fact, that’s an understatement. I believe this month alone I had only seen her twice. I, on the other hand, work online. Mostly freelance writing gigs. So most days it’s just me and Toby here. For the two of us, this house seems enormous, when in reality, it’s a typical two story colonial home. We live in the back country, the boonies as some might say, and this is our second time living together. We moved out of the humdrum of the city to a more solitude life. It’s just something about the smells and the colors that makes the country life seem so much more beautiful and alive. I had almost declined the offer when the real estate agent showed me this house. But something about it screamed silently in my head. Purchase me, you won’t regret it, the voice said. In my brain, I could picture Karen and Toby running in the field near the trees outside. Karen and I sitting on the front porch reading books while Toby sits at my feet his big floppy tongue panting away in the dead heat of a long summer day. So I said, yes. We will take it.
As I said before, Karen, being the traveler that she is, left about two weeks ago, and other then the phone call, I haven’t heard from her since. But it was no surprise. We were both used to it. It came with the marriage, I thought to myself. Today was cleaning day for me and I was in the bathroom approaching the tub and shower with my cleaning supplies. I had already mopped the floor and let it dry. The tub shouldn’t take no more than a few minutes, then I could go back in the kitchen and prepare some lunch for Toby and me. I had begun scrubbing the tiles on the wall on top of the tub when I could hear a scratching sound resonating within the pipes. I was standing in the bathtub as I was cleaning, so I knelt down and put my ear up to the faucet. It was an odd sound, almost like thin metal nails scraping their way up and down the vast system of pipes below. This may sound a little crazy, but what I heard next I didn’t really believe at the time. I thought I heard a voice, far off, like a person having a conversation. To listen more acutely, I put my ear right on top of the coldness of the faucet head. Then it stopped. I no longer heard the scraping or the voice. I laughed nervously, thinking how silly this is, then I felt something hairy touch the side of my earlobe. The bristling caress startled me so much, that I fell backward into the tub. I saw a black furry leg retreat into the faucet once more. I thought it was now a perfect time to call an exterminator.
The exterminator, Jack, didn’t arrive until late the next evening. I didn’t notice anything strange when I took a shower that morning, but I was in a hurry. I had almost been late for a doctor’s appointment. When I pulled in the drive I went past his yellow van, the vehicle had a worn out decal on the side, “We kill all pests that crawl.” I walked around the house and saw the basement door open. I went down inside and could see big black boots sticking out of the crawlspace in the middle of the room. Jack slid his way out, and after seeing his large figure, I wondered how he could have fit in such a small space. His face was flushed and he was sweating. He offered his hand, then realizing that he had gloves on, took one off and shook my hand with a firm grip, “Nice to meet ya, I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Just a few rats. Took care of ‘em. All clear down here.”
I smiled at him and said, “Did you want to see the bathroom? That’s where that spider came from. I was wondering,” Jack interrupted me by holding up his ungloved hand, “No need. Checked the pipes. Sprayed some chems on parts of ‘em. Whatever you saw, I guarantee you, it’s dead now.” And that was it. I felt a sense of relief as I watched Jack pull out of my driveway.
The day after, I woke even later than before, and didn’t even have the energy for a quick shower. I was beginning to think I had a flu virus coming on. I made the effort to ensure that Toby had his food and water. After writing a few blogs for the companies I worked with, I decided to take a nap. When I woke up, it was already dark in the house. The only light in my room was the faint glow of the power off button on the monitor. I got up and made something to eat. As I stood near the kitchen table, I noticed Toby hadn’t touched his food or his water. And where was Toby, anyhow? Normally, Toby charges me when he sees me after a long nap. Dogs sure miss us, even if we’re gone for a few hours. But the house was very still. I decided that I would search for Toby after I had a shower. Taking an extremely hot shower at this moment, seemed to be the only thing to wake me up. I was still drowsy from the nap.
I went in the bathroom and stripped down, reaching for a clean towel to drape over the side of the shower rod. With everything in place, I turned the water on. I was looking down at the drain when I could hear clogged up water trying to burst through the pipes. As I looked up, sticky white balls shot out of the shower head, along with a little bit of water. The white clots stuck to my face as I panicked and fumbled for the lever to turn the shower off. I finally gripped it, and jerked the lever to shut it down. I grabbed the towel and wiped my face and neck, as some of the white balls splattered on my throat. Observing the towel in the tub was hard, as there was not enough light to study the strange material, I had to get out and look at the towel by the overhead light at the sink. Spreading the white balls apart, revealed tiny little spiders. Jack didn’t take care of the problem after all.
Karen called me that night and we talked for a few minutes. She mentioned Toby, and I immediately thought about how I was to search for him that evening and did not. I told her about the exterminator and how, after taking a nap, Toby disappeared. She thought it odd as well. I hung up the phone and explored the house. I searched the basement, thinking that maybe I left the door open when Jack the exterminator came, but then realized that had been the day before, and Toby couldn’t have went down there, and indeed, there was no sign of Toby. I went back up the steps and investigated the first floor. Nothing. As I approached the steps to the second floor I saw a shadow on the top of the staircase. It was Toby, alright. At least that’s what I thought. It was as large as a dog and it raced toward the bedroom up there. I smiled, thinking how Toby must have slept upstairs the entire time. He was getting older and had less energy than when he was a pup. So it seemed natural for him to rest often. I made my way up the stairs and went to where I had seen the shadow go. “Toby, boy. You must have needed more rest than me,” I laughed. But there was nothing in the hallway. The doors to all the rooms were shut tight. A wave of anxiety penetrated the back of my neck as the hairs stood up. My heart began to beat faster. I turned on the hallway light and at first I didn’t see a thing. But when I got to the end of the hallway, near the bedroom, the rug in front of the door was disarrayed. I walked to the edge of the rug, and carefully pulled it back to its rightful position. I stepped on the rug to open my bedroom door; then I let out an embarrassing yelp, as my foot fell through it and landed on a pipe under the floor. Knowing something was definitely wrong in my house, I panicked. I went into my bedroom and locked the door, thinking that whatever it was, it couldn’t get through a locked door. In my haste, I had completely forgotten about poor Toby, and what could have happened to him. I stayed on top of the bed the rest of the night, both the ceiling light and the light on the nightstand bathing me in their glow, carefully surveying the room with frightened eyes. At times, as I drifted off, I swear I could hear something walking, or rather, crawling, around in the hallway. And somehow, I knew it wasn’t Toby.
After I saw the sun come up through my bedroom window, I left the safety of the bed and walked around the house. With the light casting its glow in the house, I felt a surge of bravery. Around noon, I stopped my search in order to use the bathroom. As I was washing my hands, I heard a distant sound of a dog barking. It was Toby’s bark, I was sure of it. But where was it coming from? I spent about half an hour looking until I ended up in the bathroom once more; discovering the sound was coming from the drain in the tub. I had a kitchen knife with me now, although it wasn’t much of a weapon; it was all we had in our home. We were democrats and owned no guns. I could hear a voice down in the drain screaming at the dog, whom I believed to be Toby, and then silence. When I thought it was all over, I felt the bathtub begin to vibrate until it was shaking so hard, you’d thought an earthquake was happening. But the tub was the only object shaking in the entire house. I could hear a scraping sound rising up through the shower head. I braced myself, although I didn’t know what was going to happen. Thin black woolly legs began popping out of the shower head, from the tiny holes that sprayed the once satisfying water on my body. In moments, the shower head collapsed under the enormous pressure of the monster tearing through. It was a spider, and I believe it was more than that; this ancient abomination could not have survived on the surface, indeed, it came from the depths of the earth, and it wanted me. I didn’t know the reason, nor had a chance to ponder it; as the spider enveloped me in its eight clutches smashing my limp body through the bathtub, into the basement, past the pipes and dirt; until we fell no more. We had fallen into a cave. The behemoth was nowhere in sight. The fall must have injured it and it left to recover its wounds.
I, on the other hand, was badly hurt and couldn’t walk. I believed both my legs and my right arm was broken. My ribs ached terribly; probably broken as well. But what I saw in the next couple of minutes made me try to endure the grueling pain and force myself to find an escape. Only a few feet in front of where I landed, was Toby’s collar. And beside it was even more horrifying. There were hundreds of rings in a pile. They all appeared to be some type of wedding bands, both men and women’s. And I recognized the one that was at the very top. It was my wife’s.
The creature came out of the darkness now, and as it approached me, its fangs dripped with poison. I could see through the blurriness of my vision that it had a red hour glass on top of its back. I looked down at my chest, apparently during the descent into the cave, the spider bit me. I knew then that I was poisoned by a black widow. She opened her mouth, but before she ate me, she recited a poem:
“Will you walk into my parlor?” said the spider to the fly;
“’Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy.
The way into my parlor is down a winding stair,
And I have many pretty things to show when you are there.”
“O no, no,” said the little fly, “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes down your winding stair can ne’er come up again.”
Karen laughed to herself as she walked away from the corpse. She believed that her husband’s life insurance policy was going to be very substantial; it would fix up the bathroom rather nicely. She smiled and a bit of poison dripped from her lips.
Adapted Excerpt of The Spider and The Fly fable Original written by Mary Howitt, 1829
Deadman’s Tome is a growing horror zine that publishes horror short stories and horror flash fiction. The online magazine publishes dark and gritty content from professional horror writers, Bram Stoker award nominated horror authors, along with talented newcomers of the horror writing craft. Deadman’s Tome features chilling, terrifying horror shorts ranging from ghost stories, zombie invasions, bigfoot sightings, monster horror, and even horror erotica. Deadman’s Tome is one of the best online horror zines to publish horror short stories, horror flash fiction, and dark flash fiction. The darker the tale the better. If you enjoyed the story, or even if you didn’t, leave a comment below as it helps the horror authors.