I must update my diary. Change is happening fast, and I begin to fear that my experiment, my delving into esoteric, alien knowledge, could outstrip my feeble efforts at control. Let this be a record to explain my fate.

Prelude: I opened the mysterious sac, and to my delight, discovered beautiful jewels: like opalescent pearls, they rested quietly in a great mass, promising fortune for the future.

Day Zero: I kept the pearly orbs in a glass chamber, where I could observe them whenever I desired. I often desired. My eyes were drawn to their simple elegance, time after time. My obsession, I realize now, was a portent of danger.

Day One: O Glorious Day! The orbs dissolved away to reveal candy-like, plump babies, pale and soft, capable of only feeble stirrings of their pallid limbs. Such innocence warmed my heart.

Day Two: Their limbs have lengthened. They walk about clumsily, but still somewhat endearingly, peering about with their eight eyes. I try not to notice that a few of their siblings seem to be motionless, empty husks, drained of all life and flesh, but perhaps they are just molted exoskeletons? One can hope. I feel a vague disquiet, so as a precaution, I scatter a few flies in the dish.

Day Three: I peek into their chamber. All is quiet. The flies all lie dead and crumpled, sucked dry, but of the Children of the Orbs, almost nothing. The dish is quiet and empty. I examine the egg sac, and find it also nearly empty, with only a few scouts meandering about, and a tiny few babies just stirring at the bottom. Where have they all gone?

Then I notice a thin strand of webbing from the egg sac, stretching upward and to the side. I follow it, and there, massing on the lip of the chamber, is a great army of spiders, clustering together and building a citadel of cobwebs. They are working together. They are cooperating. What are they planning? Escape? Rushing their captor? Constructing an altar for the dark ritual that will summon Atlach-Nacha, the spider god, and begin their reign? I do not know.

I feed them more sacrifices, and close the lid. I don’t know which I fear more, that I will be accepted as their obedient human servitor, or that I shall meet a merely physical fate. If I should disappear in the next few days, tell the constabulary to look high up, in some dark corner of the building, for a grim mummified form, swaddled in silk. Tell them burial is inadequate, that I should be burned to be certain.


  1. weylguy says

    “Constructing an altar …”

    I once had an idea for a short story featuring an entomologist who discovers a primitive form of religion in an ant colony. Silly idea, but who’s to say that some of the higher primates might not evolve enough to look up in the night sky and imagine a great entity that’s in charge of everything? They might then go to war and annihilate all the “lesser” primates in the name of their imagined god. Oh wait, that’s already been done …

  2. octopod says

    Perhaps this is a consequence of the fact that I’ve been up to my elbows in bees for the last few weeks and am consequently not disturbed by the sight of lots of little leggy critters crawling all over each other, but: AAAWwwww! <3

  3. Rich Woods says

    I wonder if their instinct is to head upwards to gain the advantage of height over prey, or if they’re trying to reach a spot where they can cast a thread into the air and balloon off to find a new home?

  4. nomdeplume says

    Interesting. No reason they couldn’t be cooperating. There are examples of coordinated behaviour where the landscape finishes up being covered in web from migrating spiders – yesterday reported from Greece for example. But it could of course simply be a matter of them all responding to the same stimuli – light, corner, height. As far as I know spiders are generally territorial – perhaps not involving active defence, but certainly involving spacing webs or burrows at a minimum distance. But no reason why at least the young couldn’t behave cooperatively, in fact it would make sense – young spiders just out of the egg sac must be fairly vulnerable as individuals. Interesting.