He woke up one fine evening. It was winter, the house’s primary occupant hadn’t returned yet which meant the heater wasn’t on yet. He went back to sleep. A while later he sensed the door being opened. And closed. The man was back! Within a few minutes he could sense the heat in the house and decided it was time to start proceedings for the day. He woke himself up laboriously, all 8 legs reluctantly overcoming their passiveness. A long night lay ahead for them.
He had lived there ever since he had been born, which wasn’t too long. All of his family had perished around the time the new occupant had moved in. He had learnt that that was the case with all spider families around that place. They lived and flourished from move in to move out. A move-out usually signaled a cleaning of the house by the owners which finished out most of their populace. Still they survived just enough to ensure there were enough of them to survive the next clean up. Keeping the species going was an important duty.
The recession had been bad on them. People had been moving out quite often. This meant that more houses were empty and they had to be kept clean more often for visitors to see. All one could hear was about one family or the other being wiped out. It was almost like they were Jews in the holocaust. Just that the Nazis this time were content with killing them and not conquering neighbours.
Pickings in this house had been good. Winter was a good season for them. There was heat inside the house and the gap between the door and the frame was wide enough for tiny insects to sneak through. Not having too many others around meant that competition was also less. He had been preparing for the season well too. He had spun quite a few webs around the house and the kitchen where it was usually the warmest during the evenings. The pain was in going around checking which of these had managed to trap any. Of course it helped that he could afford to spend the day wherever there was any trappings.
He ambled around and saw a big one going about sullenly to a dark corner. She was really big! He had been eying for a while now. But the problem with bigger ones was that you pay with your life after you are done with them. He still had some love left for life to go do that right now. Maybe in a few months from now, if it comes to it. “We might be the sole survivors around here” she said. “The last family in the neighbouring apartment just got obliterated.” She paused. “Not even a professional job. Heard it was painful. Its tougher if its someone who is scared of us. They neither have the courage to kill us, nor let us go. You end up looking at the inevitable for a long while, get played around with as you run around trying to escape the inevitable and then die a long and painful death, and all this just because they did not have the courage to finish it off with just one blow.”
He sighed. He wasn’t exactly great at conversations. And her size did intimidate him. “You do realize we two are the only ones left in this house?” She continued. “It just might be upon us to procreate and keep the species going around here.” Was she coming on to him?! Say something that will drive her away!! “I-I-I…” he managed to mumble. “Oh well. I know you are young and all. But you know these are hard times and we need to keep our kind going.” He realized he was actually listening intently to what she had to say. “Here’s a deal. Doesn’t come around too often and believe me, this is the first of its kind. And am not sure am going to be around for too long with this offer. I am growing older and bigger and its just a matter of time before I’m spotted and killed. Spiders my size don’t survive for long in houses, you know that well enough. So it is pretty much ‘limited time'” He was more than eager now. “Help me procreate and I will break precedent and not eat you.” He was almost jumping in joy before the thought struck him – “She needs me only once. What’s to guarantee that she’ll spare me after am done?!…”. “I-I-I’ll think about this and let you know later.” he mumbled. She gave him a glare and shook her head in a “The levels I have to stoop to!” way and ambled away to finish off the slimy moth her web had caught.
The lights in the kitchen were now on. That usually meant staying in the shadows and away from the floor. The man was walking around humming something out of tune. He could sense the kitchen heating up from the stove. The worst time ever to hit the floor! He decided to stick to the bottom of the kitchen counter and move along there to the other side. It was the longer and the most painful route, but definitely the safer one.
Half way across he saw something black move along the floor. ‘Move’ was what it seemed from up there. That thing was actually trying to move as fast as possible. It was her!! Why the hell would she hit the floor! And with her size she was definitely going to be seen!! And the man was now jumping around scared! The door to the shelf where they had been talking was wide open. He realized what had happened. The man had spotted her when trying to take something out of the shelf and her size had naturally alarmed him. She now had a scared man who wanted her dead. She ran along the floor, trying to reach the other side and disappear under the sink and into the drain. This wasn’t exactly a safe place as there were things there that even spiders dared not take on. But with her size she just might be able to get away with it.
The man had managed to get hold of a sheath of papers and was thrashing around her. A couple of legs hit. She was now limping. Safety was a few more feet away. Another couple hit now. He knew she’d never make it now. And with each blow the man was getting more and more confident. And then he saw her look at him. It was a weird look. There was no anger. There was pain, yes. Hurt and sadness, no. Some resignation to her fate, probably. But then, laughter? Was it just his imagination that she was laughing at him?
She wasn’t moving now. Her legs had given away and she kept a steady stare at him going. WHAM! It was the loudest, most confident blow and he knew that was it. He could see her lying there curled up and her massive back broken.
It took him a little time, but the seriousness of the situation was not lost on him. He was now the sole spider in the whole house. There were no other spiders in the neighbouring house either. And there was no way he would ever procreate or lay legs on a female!
“Damn, that was one ‘limited time’ offer…”