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Arachnophobia


by shadih_temporary

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Squeak! Squeak!

      These squeaks and many more could be heard as hundreds of Spyders of all different shapes and sizes ran freely throughout the relatively small store they were in. While some Spyders tackled and mauled one another in a playful manner, others simply sat around and socialized. It was their free time, the once-a-day, everyday session that involved letting the Spyders out of their cages so that they may stretch their legs and enjoy life as a petpet for sale.

      As she sat behind her desk, Bryn, the owner of the store, watched her Spyders play. Bryn was a yellow Lenny who had had a great love for Spyders for as long as she could remember. As a child, she would go out into the forest at night and capture stray Spyders who would have a much better life living with her. This Spyder collecting went on for years, and as it did her collection grew and grew. Bryn's parents frowned upon the idea of keeping Spyders as pets. After what seemed like an eternity, Bryn's father got rid of each and every Spyder she owned.

      There wasn't even a warning. Bryn thought, adjusting the straw hat on her head and brushing a bit of dust off the jean overalls she wore. I came home from school one day to find that… everyone was gone. From Richard to Mary, to Benny and Stephen. Daddy just sold them all to that dirty petpet shop across the street from me. All he ever cared about was money!

      After that horrible incident, Bryn was determined to get back all the Spyders she had lost to her father. Not only did she restart gathering Spyders from the wild, but she began buying Spyders from suspicious-looking petpet shops; shops that might abuse their petpets, underfeed them, etcetera. The result was this: The Spyder Shack. It was a shop Bryn devised around two years ago. Originally, Bryn didn't plan on selling the petpets she collected. But as she grew older, Bryn had to move out of her parents' Neohome. She now had to support herself, and the best way she could think of was to start a Spyder-selling business.

      Bryn no longer had to go out and collect the Spyders herself. The company she worked for shipped them all to her. But because Bryn named every single Spyder that arrived at her store, selling them was not very easy. The Lenny grew rather attached to the Spyders. So, for each pet that walked into her store to buy a Spyder, an interview was conducted. This way, Bryn was 100 percent sure that the Spyder would be going to a good home. And they always did.

      "Okay guys, free time is up!" Bryn exclaimed, hopping out from behind her desk.

      The Spyders stopped their squeaking and squealing and turned to look at Bryn, a disappointed look on all of their faces.

      "Sorry, guys. But that's the way it is." Bryn shrugged. She kneeled down and began opening all of the metal cages the Spyders were contained in. "You can come right on out tomorrow, just as always!"

      The Spyders sighed and began crawling gloomily towards their assigned cages. After one cage was filled up, Bryn shut the cage door and locked it. The Lenny went from cage, to cage, to cage, making sure all the Spyders were where they should be and locking the doors. Once all the Spyders were locked up, Bryn breathed a sigh of relief and plopped down into the chair behind her desk.

      "Man, you guys really are a hassle." Bryn laughed.

      Ding ding!

      The sound of the small bell attached to the wall near the ceiling colliding with the front door as it was opened went off. A small, purple Shoyru whose attire consisted of a black shirt and a pink skirt stepped into the store. To Bryn, the Shoyru seemed like she was an elementary school student. The Shoyru walked across the store and towards Bryn's desk, eying the Spyders around her as she did so. The Spyders froze in fear. They had a feeling one of them was going to be sold off that day.

      "Yes ma'am? Can I help you?" Bryn piped up.

      The Shoyru approached the desk and rested her arms on top of it.

      "Yes," the Shoyru replied. "I'm looking for a petpet of my own. My mom suggested a Spyder, because I like to read books about them."

      "Well, as you can see, we have plenty of Spyders here!" Bryn exclaimed. "Go ahead and look around. Come see me when you have picked one out."

      The Shoyru nodded, and took to the left wall of the store. She bent down and eyed a cage full of about ten or eleven Spyders, placing her paw against the cage and smiling widely. Her eyes sparkled with delight when she noticed a small Spyder hiding in the back of the cage.

      The Shoyru spun around to look at Bryn. "That one!" she cried.

      "My, you're fast!" Bryn bent down beside the Shoyru and soon saw whom the Shoyru was pointing to.

      "Ah! I see you've selected Flora." Bryn smiled. "Nice choice!"

      "Flora… that's a pretty name!" the Shoyru commented as she watched Bryn unlock the cage door and reach inside.

      Flora squeaked in horror as she was pulled out of the cage, the door being shut behind her.

      "Oh, Flora, hush!" Bryn cried. "We don't even know if you really are going with this girl yet. I still have to interview her!"

      When the Lenny noticed the confused look on the Shoyru's face, she chuckled. "I apologize. Maybe I should have informed you earlier, but I have to interview you before I can allow you to take Flora home as your own."

      "Erm… why?" the Shoyru questioned.

      "Oh, it's nothing personal." Bryn winked. "I just need to make sure you'll treat her right."

      "Oh, okay." The Shoyru smiled.

      And thus, Bryn spent the next couple minutes or so interviewing the Shoyru. She made sure the Shoyru would play with Flora, feed her, acknowledge her, treat her like her own sister, have enough time during the day to be with her, and much more. Finally, Bryn came to the conclusion that the Shoyru was a responsible owner. She took 2,000 Neopoints from the Shoyru and granted her Flora the Spyder.

      Bryn sighed as she watched the Shoyru walk off with a Spyder she would never forget. Flora was one of the first Spyders she collected. It was hard to see her go. Yet, the Lenny was used to it. She wasn't going to have an emotional breakdown in front of all her Spyders. Not after years of profession.

      Hours passed, and no one else arrived at Bryn's Spyder Shack. Finally, 5:00 PM arrived. It was time for Bryn to head on home. She grabbed her cream-coloured tote bag off of her desk and put it around her shoulder. Bryn waved and kissed goodbye to all of her Spyders, and then departed through the front door, making sure she locked it behind her.

      As Bryn trotted along the dirt path leading out of town and to the quiet neighborhood where her Neohome was, she hummed happily and thought about Flora.

      Could that Shoyru have been lying to me? Bryn thought. It would be quite easy. I wish I could have gotten her name and address, so I would be able to check up on her! Oh… stop it, Bryn. You're just a little paranoid because Flora is gone and you'll probably never see her again. That Shoyru looked like a very nice girl!

      The Lenny stopped in her tracks, letting out a long sigh. She fiddled with the straw hat atop her head for a while, and looked up at the sky, squinting as the bright sun shown down on her. Suddenly, faint male voices rang in her ears. Bryn spun around to find three Poogles, one red, one blue, and one yellow, all racing towards her on black bicycles with the blue Poogle riding in between the other two. The boys all had devious looks on their faces, along with a mischievous grin.

      Bryn gasped as the boys broke their bicycles in front of her, staring into her eyes with an evil glare.

      "What's in the bag?" the blue Poogle demanded.

      "Oh-er-nothing. Nothing! Just some Spyder food, of course!" Bryn insisted, slowly backing up.

      The blue Poogle snapped his fingers. "Boys, get it."

      The red and yellow Poogles put the kickstand of their bicycles up and stomped along the dirt path. One snatched the bag from Bryn, and the other pushed her backwards and into the dirt. The red Poogle turned the tote bag upside down, spilling all of its contents onto the path.

      The blue Poogle tore forward and kneeled down, examining Bryn's possessions. He tossed aside some Spyder food, Spyders toys, and several other Spyder-related things until he found it: Bryn's wallet.

      "Jackpot!" the blue Poogle yelled in excitement.

      He quickly opened the wallet to find at least 6,000 Neopoint coins all stuffed into the side pockets.

      "You actually carry this much with you? Have you ever heard of the Tax Beast?!" the Blue Poogle exclaimed, greeted by an uproar of laughter from his two lackeys.

      "Please no!" Bryn hopped up and lunged at the blue Poogle. The red and yellow Poogles jumped in front of him, serving as a sort of shield. Bryn halted and gasped in fear.

      "Uh, please yes!" The blue Poogle cackled insanely.

      The blue Poogle hopped onto his bike and clapped his hands loudly. The red and yellow Poogles snarled evilly at Bryn, and then flung their balled fists straight towards her vulnerable face.

     ***

      "Miss Bryn? Miss Bryn? Can you hear me?"

      The soft, masculine voice could be heard as Bryn slowly opened her eyes. Bryn slowly opened her eyes and found herself to be in a small room with the walls, ceiling, and floor painted white. She was lying in a bed with a white mattress, dressed in a white hospital gown with white sheets covering her and her head against a white pillow. Basically, everything was white. On the wall opposite the wall Bryn's bed was pushed against was a window, which allowed the early morning sunlight to pour into the room.

      A Green Gelert dressed in a white lab coat with a stethoscope around his neck hovered over Bryn, eying her skeptically.

      "Wh-where am I?" Bryn managed to speak.

      "Shhh…" the Gelert whispered. "Don't speak. You were found unconscious on a dirt path two days ago. This is the first time you've been awake since! My name is Dr. Schultz. I've been treating you during your time of need."

      "Th-those Poogles…" Bryn said after a moment of awkward silence.

      "Don't speak, I said," the Gelert commanded. "You can tell the Chia Police what you remember, not me. I'm a doctor, I only care about how you're doing."

      Bryn smiled at the doctor, when suddenly a pain in her neck was sparked. Bryn gasped in pain and attempted to bring her arm to her neck, but failed. She was still far too weak from the attack.

      "Bryn, can you sit up?" the doctor questioned.

      "No," came Bryn's reply.

      "Well, I'm going to help you."

     ***

      The doctor helped a lot. It was only a couple of days before Bryn completely regained her strength. On her last day in the hospital, Bryn shook hands with the doctor and left, dressed in her jean overalls and straw hat rather than the uncomfortable hospital gown. It was around 7:00 in the morning that day. Bryn wasn't homewardbound; she was heading towards her shop.

      And as she pushed open the door to her shop, which had been left unattended to for the past five days, Bryn was greeted by something far different than the sound of a bell ringing. Spyders. It was now that Bryn realized two things. She had forgotten just what her job was while at the hospital; sort of like a slight case of amnesia. But she never really took the time to wonder just what her job was. All Bryn knew was that she loved her job very much, and was more than excited to get back to it.

      There was one more thing Bryn now knew about herself. She was absolutely terrified of Spyders. The way they made that awful chirping sound. The way they stared up at you with those ominous red eyes. The way they spun those horrific webs. The way they so disgustingly crept along the floor. The way their terribly long legs swung back and forth as they pulled themselves toward you so that they might breathe over you with their steamy breath.

      But how?! Bryn thought as she collapsed to the floor in the center of her store, her eyes darting from side-to-side as she watched the Spyders chatter happily at the sight of her. How can I be afraid of them? I love Spyders! No… no… I hate them! I hate bugs! I hate them, I hate them, I hate them!

      "Shut up!" Bryn bellowed, covering her ears with her wings. But the Spyders paid no attention. They just kept on squeaking loudly, extremely happy to see their owner. "Quiet, I said!"

      But the Spyders had gone five days without seeing Bryn. They had been so worried and lonely while locked up in their cages that entire time. They weren't just going to shut their mouths, now knowing that their owner was safe and sound.

      Suddenly, Bryn heard the sound of a bell ringing over the cheering and whooping of the Spyders. She spun around on her knees to find it was the Purple Shoyru she had sold Flora to. In her paws was Flora, chirping happily as she rubbed her cheek against the Shoyru's arm. The Shoyru instantly clapped her free paw over her ear, wincing at the sound of the Spyders screaming in unison.

      "What is going on?" the Shoyru laughed, allowing the store door to shut behind her. "Hey, I just thought I'd come by to let you know Flora and I are having a great time together. She's become the main reason I now stay home and play with her any chance I can get."

      Bryn gasped as the Shoyru approached her, her arms outstretched and Flora sitting in her palms.

      "I thought you might like to see her before my family and I move to Mystery Island."

      Bryn shot backwards in horror and threw her wings in front of her face to shield herself from the sight of the Spyder. "Get it away! Get it away!"

      "What?" The Shoyru seemed thoroughly confused.

      "Out of my way!" Bryn commanded as she threw the Shoyru out of the way and bolted out of the store.

      The frightened Lenny tore down a dirt path leading farther into town, holding her straw hat with her wing so that it would not fly off with the wind. After minutes of frantic running, Bryn arrived at the Neopian Hospital. She dashed through the automatic sliding doors and into the enormous waiting room.

      "Where are you going?" An Elephante in a nurse's uniform stepped out in front of Bryn to stop her from advancing any further into the hospital.

      "I have to see Dr. Schultz!" Bryn cried, trying to push her way through the Elephante.

      The Elephante shoved Bryn out of the way. "Do you have an appointment? Or is it an emergency?"

      "Yes, it is an emergency!" Bryn flailed her arms in the air. "I'm afraid of Spyders!"

      The Elephante stared at Bryn for a moment, furrows in her brow. "I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

      "No!" Bryn exclaimed, pushing the Elephante out of her way and darting down the long corridor with patients' rooms on either side. Bryn poked her head through the open doorways and peeked in on patients. She checked every room, searching desperately for Dr. Schultz. Yet, she just could not find him.

      Up the stairs the Lenny ran, ever so eager to find the doctor who had helped her in her time of need. She knew that he would know why she was so terrified of Spyders, even though she was practically in love with the little buggers a few days earlier.

      Finally, Bryn found Dr. Schultz. He was in the last room on the right side of the hallway, third floor, treating to a Wocky with Floppy Tongue.

      "Dr. Schultz, you have to help me!" Bryn yelled as she darted into the room.

      Dr. Schultz spun around and stared wide-eyed at the frantic Lenny, a clipboard in hand. "Erm… okay?"

      "I'm afraid of Spyders!"

      Dr. Schultz stared long and hard into Bryn's eyes, and then set his clipboard down on the table beside him. "I'll be right back," Dr. Schultz assured the Wocky as he took Bryn out into the hallway.

      After Dr. Schultz had shut the Wocky's door, Bryn broke down and burst into tears. "Why?! Why me?! I love Spyders! But at the same time I hate them! I don't see how I could have liked them, but at the same time I don't see how I can hate them! Doc! You gotta help me!"

      "Bryn, calm down!" Dr. Schultz shook the scared Lenny by the shoulders.

      "Calm down? Calm down?!" Bryn shouted, her anger and fright continuing to build up and up until it reached the point where it was about to explode. "Dr. Schultz! How can I possibly calm down? Love has turned to loathe! That which I have admired since my childhood is now my greatest fear!"

      "Bryn, don't sweat it! I think it was that nasty bump on the head that caused you to develop a fear of Spyders, otherwise known as arachnophobia. I doubt it's permanent!"

      "You doubt? So you're not sure?!"

      "Well, I'm not completely sure. But I'm almost absolutely positive it will wear off soon."

      "Doc, fears don't simply wear off. If you're afraid of something, you're not going to develop an absolute passion for it overnight!"

      "Well, this is different."

      "No, it's not."

      At that, Bryn took one last look at Dr. Schultz, and then departed the hospital. And she didn't look back. Not once.

     ***

      Bryn inhaled deeply as she admired her now completely empty Spyder Shack, letting out a long sigh of relief afterwards. She'd done it. She'd gotten rid of all the Spyders that terrified her so.

      Days had passed since Bryn first got out of the hospital and discovered her new fear. She had sold her Spyders off to some other Petpet stores around Neopia Central, making lots of Neopoints as she went along. Bryn now had enough money to support herself for quite a long time.

      Why didn't I do this before? Bryn thought. If I had just sold all the Spyders in the first place rather than selling them off to individual owners who didn't pay nearly as much, I would have been a lot better off! I wouldn't have to go and waste all my Neopoints on Spyder food, toys, and all that stuff. Gosh, I'm so stupid!

      "Well, time to move on with my life now." Bryn stood in the doorway of the vacant building that was once her pride and joy. "Never again shall I have to even come within ten feet of another Spyder!"

      Bryn shut the door to the empty building and locked it, jamming the key into her tote bag afterwards. The Lenny took one last look at the store, and then turned away. She managed to walk a few steps away from the building before her talon became entangled with a root jutting out of the ground. Bryn stumbled forward and fell to the ground, her head colliding with a large rock about the size of a basketball.

     ***

      "Mmmmmm…" Bryn moaned sleepily. "Oh!"

      The Lenny shot up into a sitting position and began rubbing her forehead with her wing. Her awakening had been greeted with a pain that shocked her cranium area. Bryn then took the time to eye her surroundings. She was lying in the grass right outside her store. It had gone from the afternoon to dusk, and fog blanketed the ground.

      Bryn stood up slowly and brushed some dirt off of her chest. "What happened?"

      Suddenly, she heard a faint, familiar squeaking sound. Bryn's eyes darted in all directions, but could not find the source of the sound, which was getting louder by the second. And then she felt something rather hairy touch her leg. Bryn shrieked and jumped backwards, but only to find that a small, curious Spyder was who had brushed against her.

      Yet, Bryn didn't feel the way she expected to. The Lenny cautiously inched her way towards the Spyder, kneeling down by its side soon afterwards. She covered the Spyder with her yellow feathers as she began stroking its back with her wing.

      Why? Bryn thought. Why am I doing this? I'm afraid of Spyders! Or… am I?

      Bryn gasped and spun around to eye the large rock she had hit her head against hours earlier.

      "Could it be?" Bryn stared long and hard at the rock. "The doctor said the bump on my head caused me to be scared of Spyders. Maybe because of this rock… I… no!"

      Bryn slammed her fist against the ground. "It can't be! I can't love Spyders again!"

      The Lenny turned around yet again and brought her face close to the Spyder's. Her beak nearly came in contact with the petpet. "No… I shouldn't be asking how I could love Spyders. I should be asking how I couldn't love them."

      The Spyder chirped happily as Bryn gently stroked its fur. The Lenny looked sadly at her empty store.

      "Well, Bryn, this time it's your fault." Bryn chuckled. "You can't blame it on Daddy, now."

      The Lenny arose from her kneeling position and looked off into the ever-darkening sky. Stars were beginning to shine into view. "I'll get them all back. I did it before. So who says I can't do it again?"

      She looked down at the Spyder, who in return looked back up at the Lenny. Bryn messed with the straw hat that sat atop her head, and then spoke.

      "I just gotta watch my head."

The End

Author's Note: A big thanks to spiritwolf_forever, who gave me the idea for this story.

 
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