Gem Spider

Gem Spider

Enjoy this story with a coffee.

They’re born slate with a million orange eyes and long white fangs with their legs reaching out wide so can they clamber about with ease in their dark cavernous habitat. And they make for wonderful weapons when unfortunate men have wet work to do with discretion. They’re not cheap and negotiating to acquire one is a subtle endeavour that takes weeks and raises questions in all the wrong places but when these unfortunate men are otherwise hapless and hard to notice — part of their misfortune, one might suppose — they can slink through the red tape. And so they’d done and they had their hands on it in a mahogany box as they slipped through the night towards their target’s small home.

When they arrive they park between street lights, the black car grey in the soft uneven white, and they step quietly up the grass to the unlit part of the house and slide in down the side where the man that cleans the target’s bins has opened a window for them to empty the spider from its velvet cage and into the house. The spider wanders forward a moment, curious and unafraid, as the unfortunate men close the window behind it with a click before heading back to the car.

Gem spiders cannot shrug. Their natural total darkness precludes almost all visual communication and, as such, the gem spiders do not make for more reliable weapons because they speak to one another in percussion with the diamond-hard tips on the ends of their legs against the rock. Or against the vinyl benchtop in the laundry, or the tiles throughout the house until the bedrooms, or the concrete of a garage. But after dark they are highly effective. Simple home security means they are still a surprise weapon, sneaking in generally only through mundane breaches. They can also hunt out life. But they do not fare well in the daylight.

A light flicks on in the kitchen ahead and the spider freezes and retreats gently to the pipes behind the washing machine. Footsteps. A fridge door slicking open. Water. Quiet moments pass as the spider peers out over the machine, its eyes struggling to see through the blinding white in the passageway ahead of it. Gem spiders can blink and this one did as it ducked back down to await the trespass before proceeding. Living weapons with an instinct. Less decisive, maybe, then knives and guns but far less mess left behind.

The light off and the spider saved from the searing agony of light off its sparkling feet. Footsteps back to the bedroom. The gem spider clambers up and out and then down to the edge of the floor. Veers to the right across the cabinets and balances itself on the skirting before climbing down to the tiles. Gem spiders are reluctant to spin their webs when they’re on the job. Like how you don’t paint or exercise during work hours because some things are personal affairs. Besides, the soft pearl they leave behind is a dead giveaway in the event of an unsuccessful affair.

But the spider crawls through the depths of the house unhindered even as its feet tickle the tiles and sing a sweet death song. The poor man about to meet God isn’t snoring because he’s just had half a glass of water that he poured the rest of down the sink but he’s still half-awake and the spider isn’t concerned because it won’t sing on the hard carpet and on the bedding. It might tear at the threads a little but so shallow and so sharp no one will notice until forensics and by then there’ll be far more substantial evidence. And it all plays out that way as the gem spider reaches the mark’s arm and rests three feet on his skin but the mark squirms. The spider darts back. The arm rises, up, uncertain, and the mark rolls over onto his side and folds his arm over him, safe and square with his body. But the gem spider’s quiet reputation as an instrument means targets like these get lazy and reveal arteries like those in the neck. The blanket drawn up only to his chest.

So the spider makes its way across the bed without incident and climbs fast up on the men’s neck before he can respond and its fangs sink into a vein and it feeds. The gem spider has its name not because of the stones scattered about its native lairs but because it is the spiders that make those stones. The blood turning hard in the mark as the spider feasts and it comes on faster than you’d expect and it’s not uncommon for compound fractures to pierce through and solidify faster than stains can spill to the sheets. A man made bright red ruby.

And now the spider casts its rich web across the room and out, away, through the house and up through the rafters where it will find some hole and perhaps something else to eat but usually the death song keeps the others away. Once it’s out — and it will get out — it will make its way back to the car and climb up along the wheel and in through the dashboard and return to its box before that killing light hits.

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