Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer
I woke to one of those ‘phantom impacts’ on the bed. The source of the bump was one of the legs of the spider looming over me. I will admit to squealing a little before grabbing my glasses to restore things into perspective.
The glasses allowed me to focus on the gigantic purple spider filling my bedroom. My squeal, which had been ebbing, climbed into a full-blown shriek.
A huge pair of mandibles swung down in front of my face and my shriek fainted dead away.
“Youthling, you have averred a policy of peaceful co-existence with my siblings all of your life. Many have not.”
The voice emanating from this monster arachnid did not alarm me as much as a sudden awareness of distant bedlam.
“Please excuse the disturbance. We are dealing with transgressors.”
I found a voice. It wasn’t my grown up one, but it had to do: “Transgressors?”
“The many who sorely afflicted my kin are being judged. We are the Avengers of Uttu.”
I swallowed hard before asking: “Uttu?”
“She who wove the net upon which the universes hang. We are her blessed, journeying the webs between the suns to bring her scattered kindred home.”
I took a moment to think slightly faster than my hyperventilation, then slowed breathing and imagination.
“You’re taking all the spiders to arachnid heaven?”
“I do not accurately parse the terms ‘arachnid’ or ‘heaven’, but derivation by context leads to confirmation of your query.”
“You will be leaving afterwards?”
“Assuredly. We have many planets yet to visit.”
“So why are you in my bedroom?”
“The sibling that you prevented your progenitor from crushing with a tome yesterday asked me to thank you.”
“Other than threats, only for a short while. I was impressed by the level of recall, which indicated repeated interventions by yourself.”
“Repeated? I though spiders didn’t live very long?”
“They live many cycles. They just do not stay in one location for long. Otherwise their uncharacteristic longevity would be noticed by your elders.”
I had a moment of wonder and horror: “Spiders live for centuries but we haven’t noticed because they were actually a part of a covert alien ecosystem in temporary residence on our planet, which is about to depart forever?”
I just stared. I may have gibbered a bit.
“My vessel is ready. Farewell, youthling.”
It backed out of my room without touching a thing. In the darkness of the hallway, the glow of eight violet eyes receded, then vanished.
As nightmares go, I thought it was new paradigm. Until I turned on the news the following day.
That was two months ago. While a lot of people had squished a spider, a strange commonality was that there seemed to be only one person in each home or office who did that. We’ve got a new view of the universe, a massively reduced population, and a lot of single-parent families.
Governments and religions are having a hard time arguing against the sudden outbreak of Uttu shrines and anti-Uttu cults, but everyone expects sectarian violence soon.
Ecologists are quietly watching and guessing what the sudden loss of spiders will do to the world, apart from make arachnophobes happy.
Me? I had to mop up my father.
Now I care for my mother: waking up to find a giant purple spider hacking her husband to pieces was a little much for her mind.
We, like everyone else, just get by. And worry about every other creature that has had an ancient divinity associated with it.
Especially the species that humanity has rendered extinct.
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