PLEASE NOTE—if you suffer from arachnophobia then please do not read this story. Blood, guts, gore, graphic. Swearing.
Adrian looked around the cages to make sure the doors were locked. After checking the inhabitants had enough food and water, he grabbed the jacket he’d stuffed between two terrariums, dimmed the lights, and headed for the outside world.
Having secured the inner and outer laboratory doors, he ambled down the corridor and stepped into the warm sunshine, shielding his eyes from the glare.
He needed a break, something sweet to take away the aftereffects of lab disinfectant and chemical vapour that hovered around his nostrils and tongue.
Thoughts of the confectionary shop just around the corner made his mouth water. He headed in that direction. A pleasant tinkling sound came from the bell above his head when he pushed open the full-length glass door.
Weary eyes roamed over the shapely blonde girl as she entered from the small kitchenette at the rear of the shop. Adrian breathed out a sigh and relaxed.
He pointed at a box of caramel bars.
“Six of those, please. A packet of marshmallows and a bottle of fizzy orange.”
The blonde girl put the chocolate bars in a brown paper bag and placed them alongside the marshmallows near the cash register. Turning her back on Adrian, she opened the glass-fronted fridge and took a bottle of fizzy orange from the top shelf.
Adrian opened his wallet, took out his bank card and was about to make a contactless payment when the girl stepped backwards shrieking.
Confused, Adrian looked to where she was waving her trembling finger.
“What the…? Bloody hell… it must have hitch-hiked in my jacket pocket when I left the laboratory just now.”
Straddled across the packets of fudge and liquorice bars was a fat, bright yellow spider the size of a tea plate.
He’d broken the cardinal rule that morning when he’d arrived late—ALWAYS change out of streetwear and into your special research centre clothing before entering ANY laboratory.
In his rush to get on with his work, Adrian hadn’t bothered to change into his white overalls and jacket.
The blonde girl stopped screaming, opened her mouth wide and began hyperventilating, her shaking finger still pointing at the spider as she gasped for breath. Adrian tipped the caramel bars out of the brown paper bag and thrust it into her hand.
“Breathe into this while I deal with it.”
He scanned the store for some kind of receptacle in which to catch the venomous laboratory experiment. Racing to the door, he picked up the tin wastepaper bin where customers leave their wrappers and turned back toward the spider, only to see the girl grab the cash book from under the counter and lift it high into the air.
The spider’s eight hairy black legs wriggled around the sides of the thick book and yellow skin oozed out from underneath it.
“What the hell have you done?”
“I-I’ve k-killed it.” The girl’s voice was high-pitched.
“You haven’t. You idiot. I said I’d deal with it. It’s come from the laboratory where I work, and she’s pregnant. Now you’ve split her open and all the little babies are gonna come rushing out any minute now. We won’t be able to stop them. And she’ll recover. You can’t kill this type.”
The girl put her hands to her face and began screaming again as hundreds of tiny yellow, fat-bellied spiders ran across the counter, the chocolates, and the till. The giant yellow pulsating blob spread over the floor. Like a shadow creeping up a wall when the sun goes down, the moving mass rose higher and higher toward the ceiling.
The blonde girl fainted. Her head smacked against the side of the fridge as she landed in a crumpled heap on the linoleum.
Adrian had to think fast. The spiders climbing the wall turned around and began descending when they felt the vibration of the girl crashing down. He scooped her up in his arms and rushed through into the kitchen, where he laid her on top of the draining board out of the way of the deadly yellow throng.
After laying the girl down, Adrian turned around and lunged for the vacuum cleaner he’d sighted in the corner. He rammed the plug into the wall socket, dragged the cleaner into the shop and began hoovering up as many spiders as he could as they ran amuck over the floor.
Having sucked up a hundred or more of the smallest spiders before the cleaner choked and ceased working, he turned to the counter. The arachnids had torn open the packets of sweets and chocolates using their jaws and hairy legs and consumed so many they had now doubled in size.
Sugar was their staple diet. It’s what Adrian fed them in the laboratory. The only thing was he had to weigh out each arachnid’s meal exactly so that they would not double in size every twenty-four hours. Something these yellow-backs were known to do. There was no way he could vacuum them up now. They’d block the hose.
Adrian knew it would only be a matter of minutes before the mother spider rallied round. It was near impossible to kill a yellow-back mutant. He’d tried many times. That’s why the lab cages were so full of the bloody things. He couldn’t drown them or gas or even poison them. Whatever he did, they just either got bigger or suddenly became pregnant and exploded with hundreds more venomous babies, most of which had the telltale two black dots over their eyes that showed they were asexual—capable of reproducing at will.
Adrian had got to get on top of this mayhem. But what could he do?
The one good thing amid the carnage was that the spiders would recognise him as a laboratory worker and would not feel the need to attack. But he had to protect the girl.
Back in the kitchen, the blonde assistant was still out cold. Adrian found a large piece of wood, which he was about to shove across the open doorway when he saw someone looking through the shop window.
He grabbed the edge of the counter as he scooted around it and banged the door bolt into place with his fist. Quickly turning the sign on the door from open to closed, he side-stepped to the window and pulled down the blind.
Now the room was in darkness. Using the torch app from his mobile phone, he carefully stepped over the spiders on the floor and headed for the light switch near the kitchenette entrance. The mother spider, who had clearly recovered from being hit by the cash book, was moving across the wall and heading in the same direction. She rested smack bang on top of the switch.
Adrian leaned away from the spider as he clung to the countertop and edged his way back to the kitchen area. Once inside, he stuck the large piece of wood over the gap and then wedged a chair up against it, securing it in place.
Breathing heavily, he looked around the room. No spiders, thank god.
Groaning came from the draining board as the girl moved and opened her eyes.
“You’re safe. Don’t go screaming again. I’ve put that piece of wood up at the entrance.”
Adrian pointed at his handy work. Hairy black legs of various sizes pushed through the gaps around the piece of wood, making scratching noises. Then they moved away again.
“I think they’ll stay that side where all the sweets are. It’ll keep them busy for ages.”
“What can we do? Shall we call the police?”
”No. Definitely don’t do that. They’ll try to kill the critters and these spiders are more likely to multiply every time you have a go at killing them. So, I think we’ll leave the police out of it.”
The girl sat up, her legs dangling over the side of the draining board.
“Here, have some water.” Adrian gave her a full glass. She gulped it down.
“You’ve got a bruise on the side of your head from where you hit the fridge.”
She lifted her hand to the lump on her head.
“I need to get back to the laboratory to get some tranquilizer liquid and shots so I can deal with these bastards humanely. It’ll take a while because I’ll also need some crates to put them in. The buggers have probably grown twice the size by now after eating all that confectionary.”
“What? They’ve eaten all my stock?”
“More than likely. That’s what’s kept them quiet all this time.”
Adrian put his ear near the piece of wood blocking the gap between the kitchenette and the shop.
“I think they’ve had their fill now and they’re sleeping.”
Adrian dragged the chair across the kitchen. Then pulled the sheet of wood away and leaned it up the wall. As he was placing the chair alongside the piece of wood, he turned to see the girl edging toward the archway.
Too late, the enormous belly-full-of-chocolate mother spider landed on the girl’s head. It’s black hairy legs wrapping themselves around her face. The weight of the spider knocked her to the floor. Adrian grabbed two of the arachnid’s legs and tugged as hard as he could but it was no use, the legs had dug into the blonde girl’s flesh and all he could hear was the crunching and sucking sounds the spider made as it went for her jugular vein and then began devouring her head.
Vomit shot from Adrian’s mouth and landed in a huge puddle on the floor. Hundreds of baby spiders stampeded toward the vomit and began slurping it up like thirsty Warthogs who’d found the last vestiges of water in the middle of a long dry season.
While the young arachnids were occupied, Adrian ran to the door. He pulled at the bolt. It was stuck. It wouldn’t budge. He was trapped.
The horde of now bloated yellow youngsters marched toward him.
“Go away. You know me. Stay back.”
Adrian’s arms flailed as the venomous spiders advanced onward. Their hairy black legs clinging to his trousers as they climbed upwards onto his stomach and chest and then bit into the flesh of his face. He yanked two of them off and threw them onto the floor. They landed with pieces of his skin still in their clenched jaws. He felt the blood draining from his body as the spiders tucked into their still living meal. Adrian collapsed and heard his head cracking as he hit the floor.
Plumped up yellow baby spiders surrounded him and gorged on his cheeks with their blood-covered fangs. The mother spider paddled over and placed her labium into Adrian’s mouth and sucked on the last remnants of the vomit.
Adrian heard someone rattle the shop door and turn the brass knob back and forth. He opened his mouth and sucked in some air, but the only sound he could make was a crackling noise as he gasped for his last breaths.
Laying on the hard floor, wide-eyed, lids flickering, fingers twitching in his final death throes, he heard a voice outside the shop.
“Is there anybody there?”