into darkness

I heard this was Partytown. Spider central. The only place to be seen. The buzz got too loud to ignore, I needed to pay attention. I heard you can make things happen.

The lights can only be seen a few metres away, but the stories and the hope had spread for miles. A beacon for all creatures of the night, drawn in by the warmth and opportunity we’d heard about. There’s only so much mud and raindrops a spider can take. The older generations have given up and settled for this. They don’t understand, don’t believe that there could ever be any other way of living but their own. They stay in their holes every night, slowly waiting to die. There has to be more than this. So when rumours spread of a place where you could finally be yourself, without fear of prejudice or contempt, it gave hope to so many of us.

We made friends along the way. It seems the news had spread far and wide among many different communities. Some had had jumped at the chance to try and find somewhere that accepts them. Others didn’t really believe this place could exist till they were thrown out, disowned and forced to fend for themselves. Together we laughed and drank and ate flies as we made our way in the direction of this myth we only half believed in. Even if we’d never find the place we were looking for, we’d finally found ourselves.

Across an annoyingly long stretch of wet gravel we finally saw it. The lights. The windows thick with cobwebs; some fresh, some not so. This had to be the place. There was no queue, which was a surprise, but perhaps the mythical status had dissuaded many from even attempting the pilgrimage. We crept inside, unsure what to expect. There was no grand welcome, but there was also no-one ushering us out either. There was no-one shouting at us for being different. for being weird. for being ourselves. We’d found home.

It didn’t take long to work out how things worked, and those already here helped make us feel welcome. We learned what was true and what was just hearsay. There were a few rules to abide by, but they applied to everyone regardless of their background. The penalties were frequently harsh, but were only given to those who tried to push the boundaries too far, too often. There was plenty of space for everyone, though the hallway outside the bathroom frequently seemed far too crowded. Everyone was extremely friendly, and many of us found love, or something like it, amongst the dust and woodworm. Which were delicious.

As fabulous as all this was, the stories of fame and glamour kept resurfacing. Was any of that true? It took a while to get it out of them,  but a couple of the old eight-hands eventually told us about the early days. Apparently the guy who ran this place originally opened it to be some sort of example to the rest of society. Although he wasn’t one of us, he wanted to show the rest of the world that we were fine, normal, nothing to get so worked up about. Back then a few of us had indeed become famous, to an extent, and had admirers all round the world. That’s what we’d all dreamed of, and for a while it was all working beautifully. Then the novelty wore off. People weren’t interested any more. Just being a spider wasn’t enough of a freakshow for them. They wanted more. They wanted dancing spiders, jumping spiders, giant pumped up spiders on sterroids. They wanted spiders who could shock. Normal spiders who just wanted a bit of fun weren’t in vogue anymore. Normal spiders were boring. They were disgusting. They were unnatural. They were fine to stamp on, spit on, throw out the door again.

So the owner slowed, and stopped his attempts to spread our message to the world. The world listened, and shrugged, and wrote us off as scum. But he kept this place open and running ever since. Somewhere for us to exist without the fear and hatred we’d all felt out there.  Somewhere for others to dream about. Somewhere where a spider can be a spider and not have to apologise. So we’d come out of the dark, into the light. Though, you know, us being spiders, sometimes the dark has it’s advantages too. So that’s where I’m off right now, if its OK with you. Thanks. See you around.

Scaryness: 1. Outside is scary. Here I can be myself.

 

 

webbby

Hello, Good Evening, and Welcome.
Tonight we shall be taking a look, with the help of this picture, through the home of a famous arachnid. All you have to do is watch, and tell us who that is.

So let’s join our Freakishly-Accented Narrator in web number one. So watch closely, because remember, the clues are there, as we go through, the webhole…

 

Whelll this is everyone’s idea of a fine countryside retreat, isn’t it? The building work is clearly inspired and defined by the natural architecture of the rural surroundings. The material used here is interesting as although the structure is strong and rugged, the interior feels as soft and snug as newly butchered seal puppy fur. Clearly this mixture of practicality and comfort is important to the owner. The uniqueness of this creation all come from one mind, as our occupant claims to have thought of, designed and built it all themselves. Maybe they have a large extended family, as many hands make light work.

As we cross the threshold the eye is immediately drawn to the amazing decor. Clearly not one for pandering to popular fads or style gurus, our owner has strewn their past, future and present meals around every available wallspace. If we delve deeper we can see they must be a fan of all things insect, because who else would keep the dried out carcasses of dead flies on their living room mantelpiece?

As we follow the mesmerising spiral down into the belly of this beastly abode we brush past the discarded leaves and seedheads the wind has brought in through the open door. This owner doesn’t appear to be one for keeping a dustpan and brush nearby. In fact a look round the kitchen cupboards and I can’t find a single household cleaning product. Maybe their traditional roots mean they just make do with spit and polish here.

Finally we shall retire to the garden, which as you can see is both enormous and neglected. The lawn here clearly hasn’t been cut in weeks, and the nettles appear to have been left to thrive in any place of their choosing. But look slightly closer and you can see that under the anarchy here there is order. There are small paths, well trodden, which run amongst the haphazard borders. Our owner may be no Capability Brown, but don’t be fooled by the lack of finesse as there is evidently a mind of high renown at work here.

So, let’s look at the clues. Many hands make light work. The spit and polish in the kitchen. The carcasses of dead flies on the mantelpiece. Who lives in a web like this? Meta-Presenter, it’s over to you.

 

Well thankyou very much indeed Freakishy-Accented Narrator, and now for our home and studio audience, though not for our panel, here’s. Whose house. It is.

SPINNY SPINNY WEB GRAPHIC FOLLOWED BY A SILHOUETTE OF A VAGUE 8-LEGGED SHAPE SAT IN A CHAIR. LIGHTS THEN COME UP TO REVEAL A VAGUELY SPIDERY LOOKING SPIDER WITH SOME HORRIBLE 80′S YELLOW TEXT FONT APPEARING ONSCREEN, “HORRIBLE OUTDOORS WHIRLPOOL-WEBBED SPIDER”

 

Scaryness: 7. Everyone claps and nods their heads, even though they’ve never heard of them.

 

 

 

 

 

drowned

Death is everywhere, there are flies on the windscreen, for a start, reminding us we could be torn apart

Thoughtful words there from one of Britain’s foremost thinkers, Martin Gore. Strangely though, Gore didn’t contemplate collecting those flies and wrapping them in silk to keep for a lovely snack later that evening. Instead he and his Depeche Mode bandmates dressed up in leather bondage gear and spent the rest of the nineteen eighties in a whirl of sex, drugs, US stadium tours and record signings in Our Price on Basildon High Street. Never mind lads, all the more flies for me.

But going back to the point, I got up this morning and fought my way through the usual new-build webs which have appeared across my doorways overnight. Into the kitchen, I stuck some toast in the toaster. How come I only ever eat actual breakfast at weekends? With my bread beginning to singe I re-assessed my lifestyle choices while absent mindedly looking for a butter knife. Unsurprisingly I didn’t have a clean one, but there’s probably one still in the cold washing up water from last night. OK, from last week. Over to the sink, my hand began it’s swoop down to the bowl. Just before my fingers touch the water I looked down. Yeeuuughheeewuughhhrrr.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen plenty of corpses before. Limbs removed, organs torn and smeared across blooded surfaces. I’ve seen parents randomly murdered in front of their children. Children taken from their families on thrown from a great height. I’ve seen mass killings as entire areas are “cleansed” of their inhabitants just because their neighbours didn’t like them. I’ve seen death. I’ve seen it, because I had become it. But this morning’s corpse was not my doing. When I cull, I cull quickly. A quick swat and splat and it’s done. There should be no pain, no anguish, no wondering why. But to drown? to feel your body filling up and know you have no diaphragm to help cough the water out of your basic lung system? Scratching and clawing at the smooth plastic walls in a final attempt to crawl out of your own grave. At what point do you give up and sink to the bottom? How long is it till your panic, your desperation, your agony, your hope is gone? That’s just cruel.

I solemnly emptied the water from the bowl, encased the poor spider in some kitchen roll and gave it a proper burial. In the bin. Rest well, little one. If I see your family, I’ll inform them of what’s become of you. If one of them then wanders anywhere near my head though, I’ll squash the bastard.

Scaryness: 9. Death is everywhere, the more I look, the more I see, the more I feel a sense of urgency

knockout

Round Two.

Last year we discovered that lanky spiders will stand their ground against a smaller, stockier challenger. Previously on this battleground a long leg was flicked in the general direction of the approaching threat and that was enough to make them turn and scarper. This time it was more brutal.

The smaller, fatter spider, lets call him Eddie, had been living peacefully where wall joins ceiling for a week or so. Every now and then he would pop out for a bite to eat, maybe have a look out the window, then go back home. Then one afternoon after a nice trip down to the carpet it started a climb up to have a nice rest, but could see something wasn’t quite right. Sometimes if you’re walking towards your car across a large carpark you squint slightly, just to check your car is ok. Are those windows smashed? Does that tyre look flat from here? Is that a much taller, thinner, slightly geeky looking spider in my seat? As Eddie got nearer the ceiling he slowed down and stopped. His beloved space had been taken. He couldn’t believe it. Looking down, unconcerned, was one of the long, thin, sleek wallcreepers who have taken over my house recently. Lets call this one Syd. Syd was too busy making small web adjustments to take much notice of Eddie approaching from below. Every now and then the legs stopped moving and he leant down to see what this annoyance wanted. But Eddie was still. Thinking. What did he want? That was his house. His wall. His ceiling. Remnants of his web were still visible. He couldn’t just walk away and leave this again, could he? He’d been kicked around the ceiling from corner to corner already this year. Now he had a home, was he going to give it all up once more because a lanky git had moved in? Was he heck as like! (That means no, dear overseas readers.)

So Eddie started his final ascent towards Syd. He could feel the adrenaline pumping through his heart. He could sense some sweat dripping from his forehead and started to shake at the thought of this confrontation. He stopped to wonder why he was the first spider in history to have these physical reactions, and the mental capacity to think about them. But then onwards and upwards, towards this homestealing beanpole. Syd readjusted his body and looked down towards this sweaty rotund annoyance. Who does he think he is, barging into other peoples webs like that? Eddie just about opened his fangs to ask if Syd would be so nice as to kindly vacate the premises when a foot swished in nowhere and smacked him in the face. Syd extended his leg with a slow flourish after it had made contact, and like a proud batsman he watched his shot as it rushed to the boundary. Eddie woke up on his back, legs curled up to his chest on the edge of a pile of CDs on the floor. This was not his home. This place would never be his home. Home means not having to look over your shoulder every second of the day. He couldn’t stay here. He slowly turned his aching body over and crawled into the dark corner behind the bookcase. A home could be taken from him. His death would be his, forever.  I never saw him again.

Scaryness:

Eddie, 2. I liked Eddie. He was a cheeky little fellow, with his chubbyness and funny outfits.

Syd, 8. Not much to look at, but doesn’t think twice before kicking you in the throat.

 

midnight hour

From the wall the route is clear. Straight lines. Down. Across. Up. Keep to the right and there’ll be no trace but the line you’ve stretched across. Use that to get back quicker if you need to, though you shouldn’t be detected. These operations are rarely planned to precision, they unfold naturally and are adaptable depending on the nature of the terrain. Always have an eye on each available corner and each possible entrance. Keep away from the light and the space. You need to think between your feet. When the door is shut and the bulbs are cool, we begin.

The world does not end with the dawning of each night, or the ending of your time. Your eyes do not cause our existence.

Your philosophies do not define us.

Your hatred does not kill us.

Your structures do not hold us.

Your world does not concern us.

We will always be here, somewhere.

You will not.

 

Scaryness: Irrelevant.

 

Drumroll please, 8-armed drummer, for this is the first of our guest contributions. See the “Guest Contributions” tab for more details about this new exciting feature which may/may not return later on, depending on how many humans are left after Spidergeddon. If you want to feature here in the future, send in your photos, text, finger-paintings or anything else to scarymail@scarywebs.com.  

So, our first guest contribution is from Professor. J. In this important, informative article we have a serious look at what happens to our brains when we see a spider, and how the evil seeps into our psyche. I’ll leave you in Professor J’s capable hands…

Spience

If we’re being completely up front about this, I think we can all admit to finding spiders just a wee bit unsettling. Go on, you don’t have to tell me but you can just nod at the monitor. As somebody with several science-type qualifications who’s seen quite a few spiders around the house and sometimes in the shed I’m going to explore with you today some of the reasons why we find spiders bothersome and what you can do to make sharing a planet with them a bit more bearable.

 Spiders are unpredictable

 If you see a human mooching around somewhere, you can be pretty sure which direction they’re going to move in. It’s going to be forwards. You don’t often see people move backwards or sideways. Same goes for tigers really – their whole thing is based around running very fast forwards too, so if you’re behind a tiger there’s not much to be concerned about (disclaimer: don’t ever go anywhere near tigers as they’ll catch you and eat you). Crabs are a little bit more difficult because they can go left or right with no indication, but at least there’s still a safe zone to the front and back.

 Spiders, though are what we professionals call a ‘whole different kettle of fish’. If you stand in front of a spider, it might run at you. Behind? Still in danger. To the left or right? Nope. Wherever you are in relation to a spider, you’re a target.

 I’m a pretty dab hand with scientifically accurate diagrams so I’ll use one here to explain it in layman’s terms:

graphic 1

Spiders have lots of legs

 It’s a well known phenomenon in science circles that the number of legs on a species is directly proportional to the number of people who are scared by that species. This is largely because legs can be used for so many things, and the more of them you have the more things those legs can be doing at any one time.

 Take Paula Radcliffe. Paula can run a marathon on two legs in 2h 15m or thereabouts. Assuming each of her legs provides half the energy she needs to propel herself to the finish line, imagine what eight legs can do for you! We can find out by working through the maths like so:

 2 legs = 2h 15m

4 legs = 1h 7.5m

8 legs = 33m 45s

 So although Paula is an incredible runner and an inspiration to us all, she would have a torrid time keeping up with our friend the spider who could probably run 26 miles in just over half an hour! To further illustrate the point I’ve included a graph from the popular science book “Legs – Getting One Over on the Competition” (Harper et al 2009):

graphic 2

This neatly leads into the next area in which spiders scare us all silly. Speed.

 Spiders can run very fast.

 Spiders aren’t slow. I mean, you’re not scared of a hedgehog or a snail because a quick sprint will take you well out of harm’s way when they start kicking off. Applying the same mathematic principles from the previous chapter we see that – yet again – spiders come out on top of the nature pile and will make a mockery of your sprinting. We’re going to pop Paula back into this equation here – her marathon running prowess yields an average running speed over the 26 miles of 11.55555555555556 mph. Gordon Bennett, that’s impressive. Well, prepare to have your socks well and truly blown off:

 2 legs = 11.55555555555556 mph

4 legs = 23.11111111111111 mph

8 legs = 46.22222222222222 mph

 FORTYSIXMILESPERHOUR. To put that in context, that’s faster than popular American automobile the Ford Model T and not far off the top speed of an American Quarter Race Horse. So if you’re confronted with a spider don’t even think about hopping in your popular car or on your horse, they’ll chase you down without breaking into a sweat.

 Spiders – they’re a concern

 That just about brings an end to my small foray into the science behind the fear of spiders. As we’ve seen in this illustrated guide spiders are 360 degree killing machines with three times as many legs as Paula Radcliffe who can definitely run at almost 50 miles per hour. If you were playing Top Trumps then spiders would be banned.

 What can you do to feel safe around these ultra-death multi-eyed turbo-legs ultra-speeders? Well, looking at our first diagram the clever amongst you will probably be thinking “Ah HA. I know, I’ll just stand above a spider to be out of the circle of death. That’s only a 2D diagram so I’m safe up here in my third dimension.” Well I’ve got some bad news for you bub. Jumping spiders are a thing that exists and according to sources they can jump 25 times their body length. If they were a human that would work out at 150 feet. That’s around two thirds the length of a football pitch!

 So in short, you probably can’t do anything. They can walk into your house at night, tippy-tapping all over your naked body, sleeping on your toothbrush and chilling in your underwear drawer. They can see more, kick more, run faster and set webby traps for you to walk into on your bleary-eyed struggle to the cereal each morning. Yep, you’re pretty much screwed.

 My advice? Make friends.

 

hoover dodger

You don’t know, man, you weren’t even there.

This spider was. In the kitchen, halfway up the wall, around head height. I know this looks like the other huge kitchen spider from a while back, but its actually slightly smaller. Which means somehow I got the camera even closer to pick out the details on it. It also means that there’s more than one of these bastards in the house.

For the last few days this skittering shitfit has been testing out the best spot on the wall to get a view out the window. It wasn’t thinking about the cupboard door which would’ve crushed its tiny skull if I’d opened it fully. Or maybe it knew exactly what it was doing, as spiders don’t have skulls. Or bones. Or toenails. Or television licenses, the freeloading scum.

So this scheming brainiac found itself halfway up my kitchen wall, knowing exactly what my plans were for this weekend. Yes, its the annual outing of the hoover. Other brands of vacuum cleaner are available. In fact mine is a Tesco’s own cheapo bagless cylinder jobby, so I’m not sure why I called it a hoover. Just brand habit I guess, like saying Sellotape for stickybacked plastic or Cleano’s Arsewipes for toilet paper.

Vacuum day is annoying for all. For me, I have to dig it out of the dark horrible cupboard I stick all my useless junk, drag it round the place and spend the rest of the day sneezing and wheezing. My neighbours get the fun of an afternoon listening to the horrendous loud whining. Then once I’ve actually got the box out of the cupboard they have to listen to the cylinder spinning up an earpiercing scream as I move it from plug socket to plug socket. But worst of all, the spiders have to run for their lives as the plastic tube of death comes for them.

Writing this blog has made me slightly more sympathetic to the plight of my arachnid neighbours, so I no longer dance with glee as I suck the webs from every dark corner. However, I must admit that many may have been lost during the Spinnenacht of 2013. I apologise. But, of course, the spider above was not one of these. It saw what was happening and got out early. Get halfway up a wall, well away from the webs of the lower dwellers. Get into the kitchen, far enough from the stairs for the extension cord to snap back as the hoover gets close to the door.

Scaryness: 7. This spider has stared into the abyss unblinking, then jabbed the abyss in the eye and laughed as the abyss ran off crying.

 

Image

Have you seen this season’s fashions dahhhling? They’re so outrageous, so out there, so now. Stripes are out. Colour blocking is so last year. This year it’s all about cute brown circular patterns. So if that’s what you’re wearing, don’t hide yourself in a corner, show it off!

Some spiders are so hip and happening that they’ll hide away for years just because their markings are unfashionable. Have you seen the Camouflage spider recently? No? Exactly. As for the Global Hypercolour spider, that’s not dared be seen since the early 90′s. It came out once in august 2007, but when everyone laughed at its outdated fashion its face turned red with embarrasment and it slunk back into a hiding place till it returned to its normal yellowy-blue colour. Let us not discuss the poor Shell Suit spider. (highly flammable).

This model above however is so proud of its on-trend motifs that its rushed out of the gaps in the woodwork and placed itself out and proud against the white painted beam which props up the roof. This is just above head height, and pretty much the first thing I see when I walk in the living room. It might as well be going *Ta DAAAA* and giving it some jazz hands everytime I walk in.

Scaryness: 2. How can you be scared by someone so fashion conscious? Think of the famous fashionable people for a minute: how scary are they? Michelle Obama? Nope. David Beckham? Nope. Kate Moss? Nope. Fred Astaire? Nope. Grace Jones? Nop… Oh ok, bad example, but generally they’re not scary.

Image

That cushion’s too big, isn’t it? Or is it too small? Or the wrong shape. Just throw it over there and get it out the way.

That’s better.

No. Now my back hurts a bit. Get that cushion back here again.

Sometimes no matter how hard you try you just can’t get comfortable. This spider knows how you feel. It started off with a nice patch of wall by the front door. Plenty of sunshine, good supply of flies and room to hang a number of webs. But the cold drafts were too much, so time for a move.

Next, upstairs to the bathroom wall. Another nice large expanse of web potential here. Also a bit warmer, so a much better place to hang around and clip your toenails. But no, perhaps the humidity of the daily shower got too much and yet again the bags were packed and the maps got out for another trip.

Finally, somewhere quite nice. A warm room with normal humidity and not many drafts. Quite a large wall, although sharing with a couple of friendly neighbours. Maybe this will be the place. One problem, it’s in my bedroom, and you’ve decided to live only a couple of feet from my head. I’m sure you’re lovely and everything, but I’ve called the council and they’re getting you evicted. Sorry.

Scaryness: 7. One of these horrid looking things with a fat body and stubby little legs. I could tolerate it from a distance, but when you wake up facing something which looks like this, you know something’s gone wrong with your life.

curtains for you

Morning!

Don’t you hate that feeling when you wake up and you’re not quite sure what the time is? Do I need to get out of bed yet, or can I roll over and just close my eyes for a couple more minutes? What day is it again? Do I need to go to work?

Oh, it’s May. I suppose I’d better get up then.

Spiders everywhere have been rolling their multiple eyes and struggling out of their bedsocks over the last few weeks. As they brush their teeth they’re trying to recall a dream they had in February which is now lurking just beyond the event horizon of their memory. Which outfit did they wear to the office last time? Can’t be seen to be wearing the same look two years in a row.

So, off to work. Work being lurking around in corners and crevices and generally being a bit annoying. Take this ‘ere ‘orror for ‘xample. Still busy wiping the sleep from its eyes, it thinks its found the perfect spot for a quick snooze. But fuzzy morning head forgot that section of bathroom curtain is exactly where I put my hand when I open it each day. If I’d not been quite so unusually alert I’d have a squish mark on there now, and I’d probably still be stood at the sink trying to wash the skin off my fingers.

Scaryness: 6. It’s not huge or hairy or too freaky looking, but its there. Hiding dozily in the folds of my curtains, just trying to stay awake till Lunchtime.

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