The Old Well
Twin threads of gossamer silk drifted down over my face, waking me up from my drug-laden sleep. Blinking my eyes slowly, I look around at the unfamiliar stone walls, covered in glowing blue webbing. A few feet from me I can see my wife, still dressed in her pajamas, hovering in a husk of the blue-green webs, casting a pale light around her in this dismal cave. Next to her is our little girl, Cassie, frozen in the same webbing as if stuck out of time.
I hear some scurrying around me and lay my head back further into the sticky webs, trying to appear as unobtrusive as possible while hanging from a wall. A scurrying swarm of translucent spiders clambers past, crawling over my wife and daughter as they make their way up a tunnel in the caverns ceiling.
“A well,” a soft voice said close by, causing me to jerk as best I can while encased in the webbing. “We’re at the bottom of an old well, forgotten by time.”
“Who’s there? Who are you?” I ask, unable to twist my head to see.
“Oh that doesn’t really matter,” the voice purred, twin arms stretching out from either side of me luxuriously, the limbs twisted and long, ending in three-pronged hands. They stretched as if whatever they were attached to had just awoken as well, and moved to cup my chin and clasp my shoulder, draping both arms over my trapped frame with ease. It leaned in close behind me, and I could feel the shivers running up my neck at how unnatural it felt to be around whatever this was.
“I think it does!” I practically scream, earning a shushing noise from the voice behind me.
“Stay nice and quiet, and you won’t be wrapped up like your wife and children.” The voice calmly explained, running a long, multi-jointed finger under my chin. “The little one and your wife were easy pickings, but the others… my how they ran. We caught two of them quickly enough; one found a ridge and tried to fight us off. A foolish notion if ever there was one. The other tried to hide in the hollow of a tree. We left him there wrapped in our spectral silk, paralyzed from our venom until we deem fit to retrieve him.”
“And my oldest daughter?” I ask, hoping for the best.
“We had to kill her I’m afraid, as she injured one of us during the hunt. Her corpse, if you could even call it that, is now devoid of any fluids, her eyes and tongue eaten away by our hungry sentries. She may be found, but you really strayed far from your civilization to find us.”
I struggle against my bonds, finding them to be chilling and tight. The webs hold me down as the person behind me chuckles, bringing a long finger into my peripheral vision, wiping away tears I didn’t know I was shedding. I lean back into the embrace of the strange creature as it begins to croon a soft melody to me, my brain slowing down as if I were going to sleep. I shake my head and bite my cheek until I taste blood; I’m staying awake!
“Resilient, aren’t you?” The person asks with an audible smile. “No matter… you’ll succumb eventually.”
I blink back the urge to sleep, spitting out a bit of blood before I look over the claws caressing my body. The three-fingered hands trail over my body, half-inch talons jutting from the ends of the stubby fingers raking softly over my casing, the pale green sheen of the silk holding me up. My arms are useless to me, numb from either lack of use or poison… all I feel in my hands is a tingling as if I had kept the blood from flowing correctly for too long.
“So what is this place? What is it that my family did to find you?” I ask, trying to buy my time, to move my limbs enough to free them.
“It was the cries of your youngest actually, that echoed down into the well and woke us from our sleep. We haven’t had the taste of fresh flesh in so long; we were hardly able to wait until nightfall before emerging. The swarm moved and swamped you all quickly, biting and paralyzing any that were within reach. Like I said earlier, a few got away and one regrettably had to die.”
“You monster!” I growl, thinking of my sweet Amber. She was always so kind to people, she wouldn’t even harm a fly. To think that she died being eaten alive by a swarm of spiders, all while running through the darkened woods alone and afraid… it made me sick to my stomach.
“That I am, I assure you.” The voice said as the hands both stopped just over my stomach. Carefully, the hands peeled back the webbing covering my belly, the claws scraping my shirt and apparently my stomach, judging by the red stain forming from the wound.
“Whoops! Didn’t mean to cut you…” The voice giggled. “Sorry about that.”
The air filled with a keen whistling from behind, and it took a moment for me to realize that the whistling was coming from the speaker. Sweeping across the cavern floor, a chittering swarm of translucent spiders came rolling and running up, bubbling at my feet.
“Now,” the voice whispered, leaning into where I could feel it’s teeth nicking my ear, “we discover what kind of man you truly are.”
“And how do we discover this?” I ask through gritted teeth, watching helplessly as hundreds of spiders begin climbing up my casing, their green and blue forms shimmering in and out of existence as they move ever closer to the opened hole over my stomach.
“By finding out what you’re made of!” The voice cackles, running a claw down my stomach before slipping two fingers inside and pulling the wound further open. Surprisingly, blood did not gush out of me but merely slithered out like cold jelly. The spiders were on it in an instant, spinning webs to pull the fluids back into me as they themselves began to pour into my abdomen, their fine tipped legs prickling my innards as my gut became heavy and cold.
“Ugh…” I grunt, feeling the bile rise in my throat.
“Now see, wouldn’t it have been better if you were asleep for this part?” The voice asked in saccharine sweet tone.