First things first: Mrs. Ritter is fine. She made a sudden, inexplicable recovery after a strange young woman visited her late last night. No one understands what happened to her — except me and Georgia — but she’s totally fine now.
Celeste called me at like 11 to tell me that I needed to go to the apartment and find a — get this — gigantic white spider under her bed or in her closet. Witness this conversation:
C: it’ll be about the size of a rat, but very thin, with long spindly legs. It’ll have huge green eyes and it’s mandibles will be white with green tips
Me: mandibles means fangs
C: yes, but it won’t bite you
Me: Just like it didn’t bite Mrs. Ritter?
C: They don’t bite unless they absolutely have to. They’re actually very sweet, intuitive creatures and —
Me: Then you come get it!
C: I’m here with Mrs. Ritter, she needs the antidote given three times at half hour increments and I don’t want to leave that creature alone in the apartment. If we wait the family will be there and then we’ll have to explain everything, do you really want to do that?
Me: Considering the options, yeah, yes I do
C, scoffing: No you don’t. It’s most likely under the bed. They like warm, dark places. It probably crawled into bed with her last night and she accidentally rolled over it.
Me: W H A T
C, totally unperturbed: If you sing to it it will probably come crawl out to you. Spindle Spiders like songs.
Which sounded sort of whimsical and nice — the alliteration got me I guess. So I squared my shoulders, grabbed a soup pot, and climbed up the stairs and let myself into the Ritter apartment. There was some mess in the main rooms from all the chaos, but for the most part it hardly looked like the sort of place where a terrifying supernatural attack had occurred mere hours previously.
I stayed pretty calm until I was standing in the doorway of the Ritter’s bedroom. The gap between their bed and the floor yawned dark and horrible and potentially full of a spider the size of a rat. I’m pretty sure I said out loud “oh fuck me.”
But then I went in and I knelt down to see what was down there. What was I supposed to do, leave that thing down there to keep biting people?
At first I just saw gloom. But then, slowly as my eyes adjusted, something spindly and pale came into focus in the dark. It was bigger than I even imagined.
I recoiled in horror, which I’d argue is exactly what you should do when you see a spider the size of a small cat hiding under a bed.
It took me a moment to collect myself. There was absolutely no way in fuck I was going to reach in and grab it. I needed to sing so it would come out, and then I’d put it in my pot and I’d put rocks on it and leave it outside my door for Celeste to pick up.
Ah, my young naive self.
I got my pot ready. The only song that came into my head was Mama Mia by Swedish pop sensation ABBA.
Go ahead and relish the absurdity if you must: me, kneeling beside my neighbors bed, singing ABBA to the spider that tried to kill her. #relatable am I right
And to my deep, sincere horror, the tips of slender white legs appeared out from the shadows.
More spider emerged. Look I have a pretty rigid distance policy where spiders are concerned. The distance varies depending on size. About five feet is alright for a small garden spider, scaling up exponentially depending on spider size. According to policy I should have stayed approximately 100 miles from this thing.
It was literally the size of a cat. Like probably in mass it was rat sized like Celeste said, but with the legs and everything that thing was fucking enormous. It could have eaten a shih tzu no problem. It was white as snow and had vivid acid green eyes. It’s fangs were as long as my finger.
So I’m thinking at that point that the cult can have me, fuck it, anything is better than dealing with this thing. And then the spider chirped out a few notes of Mama Mia.
We stared at each other for a long time. So I sang a little more Mama Mia — and this thing chirped along with me. I laughed and the spider danced a little on its legs, like it was pleased to make me laugh. Look, I know, that sounds insane, trust me, it sounds crazy, but youtube that video of the guy that untangles a wolf spiders feet — like I dunno, it definitely felt like it was communicating with me.
I sound insane.
Anyways, back to that bedroom: me, gigantic spider, soup pot, ABBA for some reason, and I’m trying to figure out what the fuck to do and this thing very slowly, chirping Mama Mia all the way, climbs into my soup pot. It had to scrunch up its legs to fit. Come to think of it, it probably could have jumped back out of that stupid pot no problem. But as if it could tell I was terrified it held very still and just waited for me.
So, I put the lid on, picked up the pot and, trying to ignore the scraping sound inside as the creature slid sideways slightly, carried it back down to my room. I did not put it under the Christmas tree because I’m not a sadist but I did think of it because that shit is hilarious.
Instead I put it in my room on the window sill and for a long time we just sorta coexisted. But then, past midnight, while I’m reading on my bed, the pot started chirping ABBA again.
So — and I’m not entirely certain how this happened mind you, it goes against my every instinct — I took the lid off the pot. I ran back to my bed half expecting it to come springing out, but it didn’t. It climbed out very slowly. I watched it awestruck as it slid down a line of spider silk onto my floor. And then it waited beside my bed until I finally turned back the covers and it very slowly climbed up to nest in my blankets with me?
Look, I know that’s batshit. And like, it didn’t touch me or anything, I have boundaries. But after a few minutes it just didn’t scare me anymore? It didn’t make any sense until Celeste tapped on my window an hour later.
She climbed in easily. “In the pot?” she asked, all business. I shook my head and pointed to the lump in the blankets where the spider was snuggled up.
Celeste beamed at me, and suddenly I wanted to give everything up and become a spider wrangler. So yeah, if I ever wondered how she and Neal became a thing (I didn’t really wonder, both are like super pretty) I guess I get it now.
Celeste began to whistle a bright, cheerful song and the spider peeled back the blankets, still very slow so as not to scare me.
“Hello beautiful,” Celeste said and it waved it’s feet. I laughed. “You did well,” Celeste told me, holding out a hand for the spider to climb onto. “Spindle Spiders naturally secrete soothing pheromones, and they’re always trying to make friends. Aren’t you?” she added with a smile as the spider crawled up to sit on her shoulder. It was very bright against her dark ringlets.
“Is that how they hunt?” I asked.
Celeste smiled. “Spindle Spiders only eat very small bugs. They’re like whales and krill. We believe that in their home ecosystems they develop symbiotic relationships with much larger creatures. Basically they just keep the flies off them. I believe the poor creatures get lonely when they wind up here.”
I felt a rush of sympathy for the creature, watching it fidget in Celeste’s hair, trying to bury itself in her curls.
“Plus they make totally bad ass pets,” Celeste said, affectionately, and then hissed when tugged too hard on a curl. It recoiled very slightly and put one apologetic foot on her cheek. “That’s alright,” she assured it. And then to me: “Alright, I have to go, I have an early morning tomorrow. You guys have quite the infestation around here, don’t you?”
I made a face. “Apparently.”
“Look, my whole coven is busy as hell. I don’t know what’s going on, but magical incidents have been popping up at record rates, so honestly I don’t have time to babysit. I’ll stop in to look after poor Feather Dog, I have food for him. I’ll send someone as soon as I can. I’ll be in touch. Try to stay out of trouble, alright?”
And then she and the spider climbed back out the window and I was alone.
And then it was Christmas with my mom. We baked and decorated cookies and brought them to the hospital. It’s tradition.
Also the hospital is seeing all sorts of bizarre traffic. I’ve been in that place so many times over the years and I’ve never seen it so crowded. The nurses and doctors are so frazzled and confused. I can only imagine how many incidents like the spider one are turning up around town.
We need the Hawthornes back. Whatever is out in the woods seems to be calling all its friends and none of us are prepared to handle it.