Wednesday, May 13, 2009

gaunt


The bird - rotund; a ball of downy copper and rust - appeared wedged between an outcrop of rock and the packed soil of the bank. The only thing sharp about it was its tiny beak. Jabbing the air in tense circles like the frail arms of a punch-drunk boxer. A featherweight.

It did not look as if it would go the distance.

My son had come running to me.

"Dad. There's a wee bird over there with a huge beastie on it."

And so there was. A spider, toiling at its web, a bright pustule of iridescent green sprouting wavering filaments. The bird was clearly distressed.

"Get it off it, dad, " my son whined.

The web was unusual. I have never seen the like. Where other webs are uniformly flat, however intricate, this one was a sphere of shimmering gossamer.

A dandelion clock. Round and round it the spider went, spitting out its silk. The little bird shivered and squawked.

"Get it off!"

The closer I watched - transfixed and undecided, failing my child - the more unsettled I felt. The palm of my right hand pressed tight on the damp moss, supporting my weight. I could not reach out to dislodge the spider. I did not want to make contact.

A great shadow bore down on my neck as a pocket of cloud swallowed the sun.


Dizzy, I snatched up a twig with my left hand and prodded gingerly, spastically at the offending growth. There was something at the core of the sphere. Something dull and opaque.

"Dad!"

I am an indifferent parent. I have no stomach for it, I realized then. Neither was the slender stick equal to the task. It missed and the sphere burst open like an obscene spore, ashy tendrils ballooning out and releasing the contents of the sac.

The bird screamed and fought to release its wings. The spider scuttled this way and that, quite unable to repair the damage. An egg. Milky white and fragile as a pulsing tumor.

"Oh, dad..."

I looked at my son. The fury in his eyes. The stick lay heavy in my hand.

You can't beat an omelet without breaking eggs.

8 comments:

ib said...

I came awake from this peculiarly vivid dream this morning around 05:00AM. I lit up and considered whether to leap out of bed to hammer it down. Twenty minutes later, it was etched there so consciously I decided not to bother and went back to sleep.

Much later in the day I came to the conclusion I had been visited some rather disturbing anxieties. It did not seem quite so sinister with one eye first unglued.

The Warden said...

I think Freud would have had a field day with this one!

The Warden said...

BTW, Star Maker Machine has a bunch of insect-related song posts up this week you might get a kick out of.

ib said...

Yes. Everything in there bar the kitchen sink; it still gives me the chills.

Thanks for the tip regards SMM, warden. I have been ignoring my feeds of late, and such a smorgasbord of insect related fare ought not to be declined.

Löst Jimmy said...

The Horror, the horror

read like a pulp terror tale

I've got an aversion to spiders, saw jumping one's in the jungle - put the shits up me...like an episode from Lost World

ib said...

I quite like spiders - I have even held a tarantula (albeit milked of its venom) - but I am none too fond of large furry moths and flying beetles. Jumping spiders would qualify too.

I could have done with Michael Horden here, to supply the narration.

Löst Jimmy said...

With you on the Moths and Beetles flying, in Cuba they had flying cockroaches big black ones landing on your person - that's bad medicine ib

ib said...

Flying cockroaches = scary. Very...