Nightmare come to life

** Due to the sensitive subject matter of this story, there will be no accompanying photos. Persons with arachnophobia should consider skipping this post in its entirety.  **

This draft is being written from a Starbucks instead of my usual spot. Normally I type at home, from my office/craft room desk, all hooked up to a big, shiny monitor and an external hard drive, just steps from the kitchen and kept company by my family of pets. However, today I have been confronted with one of my worst nightmares. And I mean that literally. So I can’t handle being home right now, due to the fact that I am aware I’m sharing it with large, and multiplying, arachnids.

This debilitating fear stems from an incident in my childhood, as most nightmare-inducing events do. For still unknown reasons, a group of teachers decided to show the movie Something Wicked This Way Comes to a room full of second and third graders. Something Wicked This Way Comes is a classic fantasy horror novel by Ray Bradbury. As a second grader, I was not familiar with Mr. Bradbury or this work. For a quick overview, feel free to check out the wiki page on Something Wicked. Not knowing the book, I cannot tell you how accurate the film version is (not to mention that we were never shown the END of the movie, only the horrifying beginning and middle.

The IMDB short description of the film is “In a small American town, a diabolical circus and its demonic proprietor prey on the townsfolk.” Awesome.

There is a scene in the film where the main characters, two young boys, awake in the night to find that the floor of their room is filled with tarantulas. When they try to run out, they can’t leave the room. When they jump back into the bed, and pull up the covers, there’s this awful moment where you recognize what’s happening by the look on one of their faces. With mounting dread, they throw the covers back off and you can see that the bed is ALSO covered with the tarantulas. It’s horrifying. It’s awful. And it had a profound impact.

Since the day I saw that scene, I have been terrified of tarantulas. They are, by far, at the top of my list of things that I want to never see (even in photos, or cartoons). Since all spiders make me immediately think of tarantulas, and then that life-altering movie clip, I am essentially scared of ALL spiders. All of them. With that background…

This morning, when I awoke, I headed into the bathroom, as one usually does. As I reached to flush the toilet, I noticed a spider in the toilet bowl. Not a huge spider, but a spider nonetheless. I quickly pushed the lever to flush, but I wasn’t certain the spider had actually been swept away. It almost looked like he might have jumped out at the last minute. So I dropped the toilet lid to see if he were hiding back there. And found about three more spiders that appeared identical to the first. My movements startled them and they were crawling. Horrified, I grabbed some toilet paper to squash them. Since they were pretty small, I was somehow able to deal with them. Normally, I would call my husband into the room, size be damned, but Adam was already out of the house for the day.

As I stepped back, I saw more spiders. On the wall. On top of the toilet. One sitting right on the edge of the one tissue poppin out of the tissue box. I went after the wall-hangers/crawlers first. To “save” the tissue box, I decided I would tilt the box on it’s side and simply tap the box onto the toilet tank in order to shake off the offender. Big mistake. As soon as the box hit the tank, at least twenty more spiders streamed out of the tissue box. Words cannot describe the feelings that rushed through me as I dropped the box and jumped back.

The tissue box went into the garbage can, which went out into the backyard. I began operating under the assumption that, somehow, in the factory, a nest of spider eggs had gotten trapped inside that tissue box, and they had hatched overnight. But now the box was gone, and I just needed to get the critters that had gotten OUT of the box. After killing all the other little bastards that I could find, I stepped back to see if I could catch any more movement that I’d missed. And there was one, crawling from just under the edge of the toilet tank lid. Recognizing that there was a little space all around the tank lid where refugees could be hiding, I began to consider lifting the lid. After serious debate and a gathering of all the courage I could muster, I bravely (gingerly) lifted the front of the toilet tank lid.

There, on the inside back of the tank, was a spider the size of a child’s hand. My body involuntarily produced a sound which may have moderately resembled a scream. I honestly don’t know what it sounded like, but the tone went up and down and there may have been gurgling. Naturally, I dropped the tank lid back onto the toilet. Those spiders weren’t born in a tissue box. Their mother – their massive, gigantic, horrifying mother – was LIVING in our toilet tank. These were here BABIES. SHE HAD HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS OF SPIDER BABIES.

And I’m NOT brave enough to lift that toilet lid again. Called a pest control company (I’d been meaning to do that, anyway, but now the situation was serious). They’ll be out tomorrow, but the woman tried to reassure me, over the phone, that if the spider IN the tank is as big as I said it was, that it likely could no longer LEAVE the tank. I’m not convinced. I tried getting the kids next door to come over and take care of it, but apparently they attend school during the day. Adam is going to take care of it when he gets home, but that’s not until at least 8:00pm. So I left.

When one thinks about facing their fears, one doesn’t usually think of their nightmares. More like, someone who has a fear of speaking in public is suddenly forced to give a speech to hundreds of people. Not that someone who has a fear of speaking in public is suddenly forced to give a speech to hundreds of zombies who haven’t eaten in days and all have on their running shoes. I’d like to think that I would face my fears, if necessary, but this particular fear may be proving me wrong.

What sort of fears have you suddenly been forced to confront? Did you simply act without thinking, or have you had to really talk yourself through the situation?

Feature photo credit: Nicolò Paternoster via photopin cc

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