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THE SWINES

Anecdotes Of A Piggly Family
by H.M. So
Chapter 4 Illustration

Chapter 4


Spiderboy


"The liquor is sweet like fermented nectar. Wine of the gods."



There was nothing but vast, pale landscape. In the corner emanated light. I scrambled forward. To the left. Back. To the right. Diagonally. I paused to rest. Where am I? I scrambled back. To the left. Forward. To the right. I was frantic. Where to go? Everything was upside down. More than half a dozen spindly legs extended out from underneath me.

I was dreaming I was a spider.

Instinctively, I ejected a silk-like rope from behind and plunged downward. The world was right-side up again.

A gentle breeze rocked me to and fro, and the world seemed to move. I hung from my line like an expert trapeze artist. Over to the side was a dark figure near the glowing light. It was a large, hairy creature. I wasn't sure what it was, but it frightened me.

Suddenly it moved and two bulging eyes seemed to look straight at me. Uh oh! I've been found out! Somehow I knew.

Quickly I tried to scramble up my line but a horrible boom from the beast shook the earth and me with it.

I swung like a space monkey in the air and then my line unexpectedly snapped! Down . . . down . . . down I went . . . CRASH! I hit the floor with a thump. Strange. It didn't hurt.

I scrambled. Run! Run! Run! The ground quaked as the beast jumped about in search of its prey. I presume, little ol' me!

I found a black crevice underneath an obstruction and squeezed myself in. Safety. For now. The beast bellowed! "Arrggghhhh!" The sound was horrible. It picked up an ominous red canister and began to spray everywhere. The air became toxic. I couldn't breathe. It was a chemical attack. Gas. Sarin. Weapons of mass destruction. Why isn't this illegal? I was on the verge of dying. Vertigo. Consciousness fading . . .


* * *


Luckily, the nerve gas didn't kill me. I recovered. My lungs were powerful. I was safe for now. The beast had retreated. Illumination filled the room. I couldn't see exactly what was around me, but there seemed to be an instinctive sense for my surroundings. The enclosure was ginormous. I wasn't alone. It belonged to someone. It did not welcome my presence.

Hungry. I felt so hungry. But what do I eat? I wanted to eat anything. Alive. Juicy. Moths. Flies. Ants. Mosquitoes. Worms. Gross! But there was a craving that was undeniable. Inevitable. I was famished. Irresistible.

I began to climb. Higher ground. Had to get to higher ground. And a corner. Need some kind of nook. An angle. Need to make a web. A snare. And my home. Need to build. Weave a web.

I worked hard and tirelessly. Assiduously. Round and round I went. I jumped and climbed. I crawled and ran. My eight spindly legs worked in perfect unison. From behind, I released a viscid line that was the raw material for my trap and my new home. Around and around I continued to go. I was exhausted. It felt like hours. But eventually, I was finished. My masterpiece. My beautiful web. My creation. Poetry. Heaven. Marvelous.

I inspected every millimeter. And from my new outpost, I gazed out into the world. I sensed the breeze. Odd smells. Vibrations. Indistinct. Sounds. Noises. Insects buzzing from afar. Exotic creatures moving about. Space teeming with life. And I waited. I had time. I wanted to rest. I was so tired.


* * *


Suddenly, the lines shook. Intruder! It was a fly! I think. It buzzed like a desperate lunatic. It was stuck. My meal. Food! Grub! Finally. So hungry. Starved. I quickly attacked and spun my web around and around my victim. It struggled maniacally. It looked at me with its thousand eyes. Forlorn. What a strange creature. Bizarre. Freakish. It wanted to live. I wanted it dead! Still. Lifeless. Soon, it became nearly quiet. It was rolled in a cocoon of web. I inserted my teeth into its leathery skin, puncturing it. Yum . . . I drank. Drank. Drank. Mmmmmm . . . The fountain of life. Elixir. I was gorged. Satiated. I felt myself growing stronger.

Now it was time to rest. My abdomen was full. Life was good. It was perfect. Everything was just as it should be. Wonderful!

Then the lights came on. The beast had returned!

"Buuuurrrrp!" it announced shamelessly. Effulgent light invaded the room. Everything radiated like the moon and sun. Brilliant. Resplendent. The sound of fizz. Soda. Beer. Then the television. Men swinging sticks. Balls flying. Cheers. "RRRAAAHHHHHWWW!" A riot of sounds.

The tumult was terrifying. Petrifying. What is it? Where did it come from? The noise? They seemed both familiar and unfamiliar. But I think I'm safe here. I hope I'm safe here. This is my domain. My sphere. My world. My territory. If the beast comes for me again, he'll be entrapped in my web! I hope. No, it's too big. I need a bigger web. I need a matrix of hemp and steel.

I dozed off.


* * *


In the background, there was chatter between the beast and a pig. Arguments. Oinks. Squeals. Grunts. Foul odor. Effluvium. Eccentric smells. Stench. Oh no! Where was I? What sort of hell is this? Why was I reborn here? The gods are cruel!

Ahaahh! Another victim! This time an ant. This critter thought he could trespass through my territory. But now it was trapped. I swiftly ran towards it. It was a worker ant. Maybe a scout. Sad little thing. Morose. It looked exhausted. Maybe it had been in search of food for hours? Now it was food. It seemed to beg for mercy. But no mercy for thee! It shook its mandibles in mock attack. I put it in chains. It was secure. But I was still full from my last meal. I would save this one for later. The ant was still alive. Fresh meat. Kosher. Halaal.

Now back to sleep. Why was I so sleepy? Spiders sleep a lot. Or maybe it remains in an unconscious state to conserve energy. I don't know. It's just a dream. I'm imagining all of this. It's not real. I think it's a dream, right? Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I putting insects in bondage and liking it? Why am I eating bugs? Why am I so hungry? Was I born this way?


* * *


Most times are uneventful. I sit for hours in pseudo meditation. If I were human I would be ersatz bodhisattva, except I don't want to save all beings. I want to eat them. I'm nearly comatose but fully awake. Just waiting. Biding my time. Perfectly happy to be still. No thinking. No wanting. No craving. Sometimes I go out to inspect my terrain. I clean up debris and push aside dried discard. Old cargo must go. There's no room for dated meat.

I travel far beyond my domain. I explore the vast frontier. I've been to the kitchen. I've traveled into the darkness. The damp basement underneath. The dusty garage on the other side of the world. It's fecund with activity. The remains of the dead are everywhere. Fossils. Skeletons. Mass graves. Danger lurks all around.

My honeycomb of silk and rope resonate with the motion of the room. I read it like a telegraph. I collect information like a news reporter. It's a radar. A stethoscope. My palace of web is an extension of my body. A byzantine bridge between the world and my self.

At sunrise when the light shines softly on the delicate silky lattice still moist from the morning dew, the view on the horizon is a thing of sublime beauty. At that moment there is a still, quiet peace that descends on everything in the universe. In the distant corner is the silhouette of an animal, the head of a desiccated ant. It's my Mona Lisa.


* * *


There was a flurry of activity in the kitchen. It's the pig. Raw bovine carcass burned on the grill. A jumbo roast. She lumbered hither and thither leaving muddy tracks on the ground. She gave out a snort. It was a call to the beast. It barreled into the room. It demanded meat. Steak. Food. It's gruff. Gauche. Crude. Truculent. "Noowwww!" it roared. A fusillade of mad oinks and grunts followed. Barrage of noisy exchanges. And then it took a seat at the table. It's heaving. Agitated. Restless.

The pig has forgotten something. In search, she plods in my direction. Uh oh! I retreat into my barrack. My organic cockpit. My latticework of web shook violently as she passed. Seismic activity. She leaves behind a bouquet of stink that hangs in the air. She finds plates buried under laundry and turns back for the kitchen. But she spots me. She knows I'm here. Discovered. She shakes her head. Oinks. Curious for a moment. But then disinterested. Forgotten. She has bigger meat to spear.

The roast is ready and grilled bovine carcass is served on over-sized plates. The air is redolent with the aroma of charcoal and burned flesh. The beast assaults the dead animal. He tears it into pieces. Poor cow. It's a hyenic feeding frenzy. It seems to go on for hours.

Many minutes pass. Quiet settled the room. Repose. Calm. It's dark outside. Night penetrated the interior. Occupants have retreated to their separate chambers. Peace. Stillness. I'm safe. I return to my leftover kill. The liquor is sweet like fermented nectar. Wine of the gods. I offer a swig to Bacchus.


* * *


Oh no! The beast is on the move again. Why can't it stay still? Or go away?! His two bulging eyes have spotted me. I'm found again. It appears upset. Very upset. It's angry! Enraged!

It's looking for something. Chemical weapons? Nerve gas? A big stick? It's frantic.

It lifted a newspaper from the table and rolls it into a cudgel. No! Have mercy, ugly beast! I'm just a tiny spider. I don't take up much space!

Run! Run! I must run! I ran across the vast, great, white plain as fast as I can. My legs carry me furiously like limbs allegro concerto.

The beast swings . . .

Thump! It missed me.

Thump! It missed me, again.

Then, thump! It got me!

I fall. Fall. Fall. Fall . . .

"Oh no!"

KABOOM! I landed on the hard floor. My limbs allegro couldn't move. They're crooked. Misshapen. Octaplegic. Cruel world.

Why? Was I meant to end up like this? Was it destiny? Fate? Kismet? Or poor decision making? Who is dreaming this?

Then a giant, hairy hoof began to come down, down, down, down, down, down, down, down, down, down . . .

"No, Dad! . . . Don't squish me!" I cried. "Mom, help!"

Bbbblllllaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaattttt!

I was dead. Flattened like pancakes.


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