No. 112 – The Horrors, Part Two*

Way, way back I wrote this post titled ‘The Horrors of Organic Apple Picking‘. It was one of the more popular stories, sort of went mini-viral for a while. If you haven’t read it yet I suggest you do, if not for enjoyment, at least for context.

*This post has nothing to do with apples.

This past week, my wife and I went to a bed and breakfast to celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary. As you might imagine, having maybe gotten to know me a bit by now (post no. 112??),  bed and breakfast places aren’t my favorite idea. I don’t like going in people’s houses. It’s too personal.

Which is the very same reason my wife likes going to B&B’s.

That and the houses tend to have character, you get fancy food, etc. My favorite would be to stay in a square of concrete and have a protein shake for breakfast. She wants a four-post bed and Eggs Benedict.

We make a good team.

(To be fair, she did try and find one that was more impersonal…she does love me.)

Anyway, about a half hour into our drive we hit a toll booth and I suddenly realize I left my wallet at home. I didn’t feel great driving without my driver’s license on me, and so my wife had to take over, and we still had like two hours to go before we got there. And you may say, “Oh, it’s no big deal. You don’t have to worry about it unless you get pulled over, just be careful, etc.”

But I’m kind of a stickler for things like rules and laws and whatnot, and my leg felt naked without my wallet, so my wife was driving.

However I’m also not that great of a passenger, and I spent a lot of those two hours fearing for my life. Not that my wife is a bad driver or anything, it’s just that she talks with her hands, and I have a hard time looking at the steering wheel being empty for any amount of time. Already it was a struggle that MY hands weren’t on it, but now that there were (periodically) NO hands on it…

I was kind of twisted up inside by the time we got there.

And then suddenly I find myself in a stranger’s home. My wife is loving it, as usual, and I’m sort of making myself busy checking out the books, of which, at least, they had many.

The house is on a hill that overlooks a lake. My wife suggests we go for a swim. I like water, so this sounds like a great idea. Relaxing maybe, just a little dip before we head out for a nice anniversary dinner.

This would be the least relaxing experience of my life.

The lake is super shallow and muddy at the edge, our host helpfully informs us, and that we’ll have to paddle out to this floating dock thing to get to where it will be deep enough to swim (unless we want to wade through mud to get there).

We change into swimming gear and head out to the dock that runs out into the lake. Our goal is to make it from that land-connected dock to the floating dock in the distance. Choices of transport are canoe, a single person kayak-looking thing, and a floating lounge chair. The canoe has water in it and we don’t feel like trying to dump it out. My wife takes a shine to the floating chair thingy, so that leaves me the kayak.

After a few inelegant moments, we are both afloat. Me sitting on top of the water and her half in it. Somehow a friendly paddle becomes a race, she paddling with her hands, me paddling with an actual paddle. It is a wildly uneven competition so I end up pulling her there with my kayak via this little string on the nose, which means paddling backward.

KEY LIFE SKILL – You don’t beat your wife at anything on your anniversary.

We finally make it to the dock, and I’m actually starting to feel relaxed. The lake is beautiful, the weather nice, not too hot, not really any bugs, which is surprising considering our location, in the woods, on a lake, the sun just setting behind the trees.

I inspect the dock that we are about to make landing on and see that the ladder is on the far side. That means that I need to tow my wife around to the other side to get to where she will have a chance of disembarking.

It is in that moment, as I am inspecting the dock, that I see it.

Now I know that I have been accused of exaggerating…most often by my wife. But this time she was there and can back me up up on this. NO exaggeration.

This is

hands down

the biggest spider

I have ever seen.

By twice over.

It’s clutching the side of the dock, facing head-down toward the water. It has no web. I don’t think it eats flies. It actually kind of looks like it might be trying to catch a fish.

In that moment I know what I have to do.

This spider must be destroyed.

I cannot continue my life knowing that it still exists.

*Normally when you are dealing with spiders, people use words like squash, crush, squish, etc. But there would be no crushing of this spider. I don’t think of crushing it with a tissue anymore than you would be think of crushing a wild deer with a tissue.

Even if you had, like, a really big tissue.

No, I raise my paddle and attempt to decapitate the offending creature. The prayer on my lips was that I would strike true on my first blow. It has not moved at all, and I do not believe that my wife, who is somewhere in the background of my awareness, screaming and screaming, would survive seeing it scramble towards us on the surface of the water. Not today.

Not on our anniversary.

The wet paddle flashes through the fading light, and faster than the eye can see, strikes the head from the beast.

Victory.

Foolishly I had thought that would be the end of it.

The body and head fall into the water and we watch as they float independently of one another. Also a couple of meaty legs have been detached by the force of my blow, and these also float.

“Why won’t it sink?” we cry, horrified to see the legs stick up from the giant spider corpse. Its obscene form is made only worse by this new vantage.

I try fruitlessly to sink the body with the paddle but each time it returns from the depths like a leviathan.

We abandon all hope of mounting the dock, surmising that it had long been abandoned by humans and overrun by a species of giant spiders, of which we may have just killed their champion. Their fury would be hot.

Instead we  attempt to put as much distance as we can between us and the dock.

And the unsinkable corpse.

We valiantly pull at the water, moving further and further, but even at a significant distance, we can still see it since the lake is so calm. Its legs still raised like masts in an armada.

It is about at this time that I notice the spider crawling up the back of my wife’s floating chair. Many thoughts crowd into my mind at that moment, one of which is the realization that we inspected neither of our crafts for spiders before embarking on this little adventure. Ignoring for a moment what would be a most imminent inspection of my boat, I yell at my wife to hold still and attempt to knock down the spider. Its leg span only measures an inch across, a small creature compared to its monstrosity of an elder brother.

I succeed but my joy is short-lived. I watch as that spider lands on its feet and begins running with the most horrific urgency, across the top of the water.

Back toward my wife.

“It’s coming for you!” I yell, “It’s trying to get back on!!”

“Where? WHERE??” she says, but can’t see it.

Before I can get there it’s scrabbling at the float on the side, trying to get purchase with its little legs.

I flail at the water furiously to get within reach and then fruitlessly try and smash the spider with my paddle, but there’s this weird lip around the edge, creating a cavity for the spider to hide in every time I bring down a killing blow.

Finally, I hook and flip it into the air, far enough away that I can beat it into the water and then pull my wife to safety via the little string.

Free now to assess my own boat, I find several small spiders working their way across the bow, which I quickly dispatch. As I do so, I tell my wife it’s time to abandon all hope and get out of the lake. Surely there are several more spiders on her own craft, advancing on her position as we speak. Implausibly she tries to talk me into staying, that we’re probably OK at this point.

It takes only the arrival of one more spider on her chair, and a fairly juicy one at that, to drive us back onto land.

As I try to get the boats back onto the dock at the shore, I notice several more spiders making a run for it across the planks, spiders that I had somehow missed before, fool that I was.

We went back into the B&B and did not return to the lake.

The Lake of Spiders.

Now I’m sure half of you think that we’re big babies, scared of these little spiders. You still don’t really believe that it could have been as big as I’m making it out to be, not in North America. Well the next morning at breakfast I asked our host about the giant spider, and she said it was a ‘water spider’.

Go ahead, do a Google image search, I dare you.

Oh and I looked it up.

They DO catch fish.

NEXT TIME, ON THE CRUNCHY DUNGEON:

Anything but spiders…