Not all spiders catch their prey in webs. We learned this on the longest day of the year.
The swelling had begun a week earlier. First, a band of red above a fingernail, like a smear of war paint. Pain ratcheted as our blisters inflamed, skin thinning like bubble gum about to pop.
We soaked our hands in salt water, applied poultices. The neighbourhood chemist sold out of ibuprofen and plasters.
Then came the heatwave. The air above Crescent Drive shimmered. Car tyres squealed as they pulled out of driveways, tracking black lines on the asphalt. We mopped our faces in the streets, bemoaning the heat while Jenny at number eleven collected money for the Red Cross Yemen appeal and John at sixteen droned on about locking in the latest mortgage deals. Unravelling bandages, we compared our injuries like children, wanting more sympathy than we gave.
At two forty-three in the morning, and we know this because that’s when the screaming began, our wounds burst.
Hundreds of baby spiders exploded out of egg sacs, scurried over bare limbs, bedding, carpets.
The spiders grew at an alarming rate. In four hours, they had brown, furry bodies the size of adult Wolf Spiders. By eleven, they were the size of a toddler. By noon, they were hunting.
Cole Beauchamp (she/her) is a copywriter by day and fiction writer by night. She was recently shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award and her work appears/ is soon to appear in Ellipsis Zine, Free Flash Fiction, Lost Balloon, Damnation Lit and Bending Genres. She lives in London with her girlfriend, two children and an exuberant Maltipoo. You can find her on Twitter at @nomad_sw18.