Spook the Human
By Adam Dixon
“So, what are you up to these days?” Fred the house spider asked his friend Stan as they met for a chat underneath a leather sofa. It was dark and quiet and that suited them well. The humans had been out of the house for most of that day, so they could fully relax. Stan raised two of his front legs in a non-committal gesture.
“Not much, friend, the usual,” He replied lazily. “Just one day to the next; avoiding the humans and trying to find a suitable mate.” After a moment, his eyes lit up suddenly in the dark, eight globes of excitement fixed on Fred. “Oh, but I have done well today for grub! Two fat, juicy bluebottles flew straight into my web this afternoon, one after the other. Beautiful, it was, and I’d not long finished spinning it! How they wriggled and fought! It was such fun wrapping them up!”
“Well done!” Fred cackled. “Impressive! By the way, where is your new home? I thought you were in the front porch?”
“Yes, I was,” Stan sighed. “But that bloody woman decided to clean it, and she caught my web with that vile pink thing that she brandishes around when collecting dust. Anyway, I moved into the conservatory after that, just above the doors. Prime location, perfect for catching curious flies!”
“Good choice,” Fred was eager in his approval. “Maybe I’ll leave my web in the loft and move in there, if you don’t mind, of course.”
“Not at all, it’ll be nice to have some company.” Stan sounded pleased at the thought. “Tell you what, come over this evening and share my meal. Consider it a welcoming present.”
“Don’t mind if it do!” Fred replied warmly. They lapsed into an easy silence for a few minutes, listening to the sounds of the house. The slight creaking of the floorboards, the whisper of a draught under the door, the electronic hum of the refrigerator. Then Fred spoke up again.
“Listen, I have to tell you about this hilarious game that my siblings and I have been playing,” He said excitedly. “We came up with it a while ago, and it is brilliant fun every time.”
“Alright, you’ve got my interest,” Stan replied stretching his rear legs a little.
“It’s called ‘Spook the Human’,” Fred continued. “It’s self-explanatory, really. You know how some humans are actually frightened of us? Even though they are several times bigger and stronger than we are?”
“Yes, I know. Ridiculous, isn’t it?” Stan guffawed.
“Completely. But that’s the point of ‘Spook the Human’; the aim of the game is to reveal yourself to a human in order to scare them into running away from you. I don’t mind telling you that when it works, it is absolutely hilarious! Sometimes, if you get really close, they all but lose their minds!”
“That does sound quite funny,” Stan said, amused. “But surely they’d just step on you right away? It can’t be worth the risk.”
“Wait and see, my friend,” Fred winked four of his eyes at Stan. “I’ll give you a little demonstration when the humans appear again. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.” Stan agreed to wait, and so they stood motionless for a long time, silently enjoying one another’s company. Eventually, the colossal ‘bang!’ of the front door and subsequent tremors along the floorboards announced the arrival of at least one of the larger occupants of the house. As the vibrations came ever closer, Fred became more animated in his anticipation.
“It’s the woman!” He cried, his fangs trembling he hopped about excitedly. “She’s terrified of us! Wait…She’s coming in! Watch this!”
With a devious chuckle, Fred scurried out from underneath the sofa. He ran across the smooth laminate flooring towards the towering figure of the woman. He made it about three feet before the woman let out an ear-splitting screech and threw her arms up in the air. Spinning on her expensive heels, she fled from the room, a squealing mass of blond hair and designer clothing.
Fred went back under the sofa next to Stan, laughing loudly.
“See?” He said, blinking tears from several of his eyes. “She can’t stand us! It’s a riot every time!”
“That did look like fun, I’ll give you that,” Stan chuckled. “In fact, I think I’ll give it a go next!”
“Great! But there are some warnings about the game that I must give you,” Fred said, becoming serious. “It is good fun, but you need to be careful about which humans you try it with and where you try it. Some aren’t scared at all, and will attack you instead of running away. Two of my brothers got crushed by choosing the wrong humans, and three of my sisters were drowned in sinks. Just be careful, even though the thrill is in the risk.”
“Alright, I’ll be careful,” Stan said dismissively. “Come on, I want to play!” With that he inched closer to the edge of the sofa, scanning the room beyond. His hairy legs were quivering as he waited impatiently and he clicked his jaws together in irritation. Soon, the floorboards began quaking once again, and a blond-haired child of about four years old came galloping into the room, grinning from ear to ear.
Laughing, Stan shot out from under the sofa, his legs moving like a skeletal hand with too many fingers. The child saw him and stopped in her tracks. After a second or two of scrutiny, the child seized a slipper from next to an armchair and squashed Stan flat. Smack! Smack! Smack! Without a word the child walked out of the room, leaving a brown smear on the laminate where he had been.
“Bugger…” Fred cursed sadly. “I did warn him!” Fred shook his head with regret before stealthily moving off in the direction of the conservatory. Well, it would be a shame to waste those fat bluebottles…