The Spyders are Coming
"Daina! Daina, get inside!"
The blue Wocky turned from her game of marbles
with the other children to regard her mother. "Why?" she asked placidly.
Her frantic mother took hold of her daughter's
paw to tug her into the house. Around them, the other children were chivvied
by their own mothers to abandon their games and hide within their homes.
"The Spyders are almost here," Daina's mother
said, closing the door firmly and latching it. "Help me fasten the windows,"
the older Wocky added, and rushed off.
Daina trailed in her mother's wake, watching
her slam windows shut, one after another. It was a warm spring day in their
village in Meridell, so nearly all of them were open; the air inside the house
became more and more stifled as the supply of fresh air was cut off.
"Why are the Spyders coming?" asked Daina, watching
as her mother slammed the last one closed.
"No one knows, dearest. Quickly, run upstairs
and close the windows!" The Wocky shooed her daughter towards the ladder that
led to the upper floor.
"No one knows," Daina grumbled, reaching for
the next ladder rung. "I'm sure someone knows. I just have to figure out who
does," she added, and pulled herself up onto the dusty second floor. Straw was
scattered around, which crunched pleasantly under her paws as she crossed the
one large room to the first window. She pushed it down, then clicked the latch
into place and walked unhurriedly over to the next window. It faced east, out
of the town and towards the hills. An odd black carpet covered half the ground
between the hills and the village; it seemed to be moving, for some reason.
Daina paused to look at the carpet. It stretched nearer as she watched, and
little red dots appeared somewhat randomly in it.
With a start, the young Wocky realized that
these were the Spyders. She slammed closed the window she was standing in front
of and raced over to the next, her heart thumping with fear. She hadn't thought
there would be so many of them, or that they'd be so big--nothing like the little
Spyders who hung webs in the corners of the attic. Those she watched, when the
other children couldn't play and there were no chores to do. These were frightening;
these were monsters.
The Wocky ran around the loft, slamming windows
closed, until there were none left open. Then she stopped in the middle of the
room, breathing deeply, her eyes fixed on the far window--the one she'd seen
the Spyders through. Slowly, with soft, stealthy pawsteps, she trod over to
it and peered out.
The Spyders had nearly reached the edge of the
village now; they were pouring down the street between the houses of two of
her playmates. Some even scrabbled for a hold on the walls of the houses themselves,
pulling themselves up and over. Fights broke out between the Spyders, pushing
and shoving to get in front of the others. Daina was captivated. Though these
might be larger--and scarier, at first glance--they weren't really all that
A small smile spread across her face as she
watched the Spyders. If I could catch one of them, I'd be the envy of the
village, Daina thought dreamily. The Spyders were coming. The Spyders
The Spyders were closer now, closer to the village,
closer to Daina--and then they were spilling down the streets that ran past
her house and scrabbling for holds on the slatted wood siding of Daina's own
Daina was jolted from her trancelike state by
the appearance of a large Spyder on the windowsill, not even three inches from
the Wocky's face.
It waved its front legs gently at her, and Daina
smiled again. She raised a paw and waved back to it. It seemed calm and relaxed
there on her windowsill, unlike the other Spyders, which climbed upward and
onwards in their frantic rush to attain the other side of the village--and then
to where? the Wocky wondered.
The Spyder--her Spyder, as she had begun to
think of it--twitched its legs again. Daina stared back, and she could've sworn
that there was a spark of intelligence in those red, beady eyes. She reached
for the window latch in a trance, not even thinking about what she was doing.
It was half open when she was interrupted by a shout.
The Wocky whirled, slamming the window shut.
Her mother stood at the top of the ladder with straw in her hair. "Daina, keep
those windows closed," she said firmly, brushing the straw off of her. It was
strewn across her shoulders and back, evidently from the climb up to the attic.
The older Wocky almost never went upstairs, and when she did, she was reminded
of why she never did. "They're dirty, nasty creatures, and I'm not having any
tramping through my house. They have teeth, too, Daina, and they will bite you."
"Yes--I--I wasn't opening them," Daina lied.
She glanced over her shoulder at the Spyder. It still sat there, its forelegs
moving slightly as if blown by a breeze, its red eyes fixed on her. Looking
back at her mother, she said, "I just--can I stay up here?"
"If you'd like," her mother said with a worn
expression. "Just make sure that the windows don't come open," she added, and
began the descent once more.
Daina turned back to the window and pressed
her paws against the window glass. "I don't know if you can hear me," she murmured,
"but I can't open the window. Anyway," she continued, glancing behind her to
make sure her mother wasn't listening in, "I'm going to figure out where you
all go. I'm going to follow you. I can't do it yet--my mom watches me, you see.
But when I'm older, I'll come and get you. I promise," she said, her words muffled
by the glass. She watched the Spyder carefully.
Its forelegs tapped once, sharply, against the
windowsill; its eyes were on her. It was a silent promise to match hers. Then,
with a swift, abrupt motion, it leapt for the top of the window, got its front
legs over, and scrambled up.
Daina watched the Spyders for the rest of the
afternoon, seeing her Spyder friend in each and every one of them. This one
had the intelligence in its eyes; the other, her friend's waving forelegs. In
each one she saw something, too, that was peculiar and odd and completely their
own, just as she never mistook any for her friend. Though some would say all
Spyders look alike, Daina learned to tell them apart, that day; she studied
them carefully and saw what others did not, for she looked more closely, and
she cared about the ones she watched, as many did not.
And when her mother called up the ladder in
the evening, when only the stragglers were still passing through the streets
of the village and the sky was a dark shade of blue, the Wocky climbed down
from the attic with a glad heart and the knowledge that she'd found a friend;
and her promise to her Spyder--to all the Spyders--thrummed in her ears as her
heartbeat did. She would find out where the Spyders went, when she was older.
She would follow them, and see their land.
When she was older.