Beautiful Nightmares

Musings on our creepy friend, the spider.

Aware only of hunger and the elaborate patterns it somehow knows, a spider creates its web above my head.

I considered killing it, but the light caught it in a way that was—should I say—beautiful?

I'm unsure what kind it is but its body is light brown and its legs are a distinctive length.  It will drop on a tiny strand of gossamer all the way down to the table, stroking it with its front legs as if to measure the geometries before shimmying back up to the ceiling again.

I wonder if it knows I'm watching.  Probably not.  Our worlds are both connected and separated, and neither of us truly knows the other.

Twice it almost landed on me, but I moved out of the way and it went back to work.

It feels the walls, crawling across them for a bit before returning to the corner where the first foundations of its web are being made.  It twirls like a dancer in front of the computer screen, and if I squint I can see its spinneret working diligently.  Between each jaunt it rests for a while in that perfect stillness only an invertebrate can have.  It is unnerving how insects and spiders can remain in one place for hours or days without moving, almost as if they're dead. But there's only an illusion of dormancy, and they're conducting business often when you're not looking; a secret world.

They're so alien compared to us, and gross, but I can't help but be awed by their patience and their graceful movement that seems mindless and infinitely clever at the same time.

 I like the role spiders play in human culture.  They've stood in as Tricksters, antagonists, sometimes even guardians. The process of building a web equates with lies, and its ability to deliver poison is symbolic of so many things, not unlike that of the Biblical fever snake.

Yet for its ingenuity, predatory or otherwise, the spider has a special place in our collective psyche, inhabiting our most primal dreamscapes along with tight spaces and fanged forest-dwellers and inpenetrable black pits.

I've used the motif myself, modeling some of my Void Monsters after spiders.  Like an abomination dubbed the Siren, an energy vampire who lures in prey with a telepathic lullaby before encasing them in a slimy cocoon and sipping on their life force until there's no more to take.  By the time its done victims are still alive, but are often turned into catatonic empty shells. Sirens keep them around, almost as toys or trophies. The laws of the Void are not what we would consider natural or right. It is, after all, a warped mirror that reflects what we both despise and adore.

The idea came to me that what Sirens were at heart—amorphous manifestations who are only able to come here by draining a steady supply of thought and energy from humans—noticed spiders and mimicked their forms to suit their twisted fancy.

The main thing we get from spiders is a curious mix of revulsion and fascination. A being that beckons, hides in the dark, thinks of nothing but its own perpetuation, yet weaves the most elegant, intricate craft.

That is the stuff of beautiful nightmares.



The End

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