Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: On the Telephone (11/18/10)
By Troy Manning
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After being flushed down the toilet, Charlotte returned to Natalie’s home sopping-wet and sour as all get-out. Charlotte laid low for several days, formulating a strategy while her numberless brood hatched beneath Natalie’s bedsprings. Though there were moments when Natalie thought she heard faint traces of activity in the night’s small hours, she opted to ignore them.
Sometimes she would awaken to an itching sensation, unaware of the hundreds of tiny legs traversing the surface of her face. Other times, she coughed herself awake from the minor companies that fed on the microscopic food remnants in her mouth as she slept with it ajar.
As Charlotte’s offspring grew, avoiding Natalie’s detection became impossible. The increasing frequency of arachnid sightings spurred Natalie to phone her landlord about sending pest control.
Natalie began to lose track of the number of times she had to wipe webbing from her face. At first she immediately took showers as afterward she felt, imagined or not, as though invisible spiders were burrowing into her hair. When this routine became unmanageable, she started wearing a shower cap around her apartment. She considered taking off work and leaving town to stay with her parents, but, instead, called her landlord again and insisted he get someone there that day.
As she spun an intricate design across Natalie’s front window, Charlotte recognized the truck of the Man in the White Jumpsuit. This man and his likes have been responsible for the annihilation of multitudes of Charlotte’s kin. Aside from Charlotte’s sinister Black Widow and Brown Recluse cousins, she and hers don’t play for keeps like these people do. Attempting to contain her panic, she called together her young. Collectively they brainstormed possibilities for persuading Natalie to spare their lives.
The first tactic undertaken was to assemble in a formation that read, “Were sorry,” on the kitchen tiles. Natalie didn’t even take the time to read their apology--let alone notice the missing apostrophe--before dispersing the lot with the crash of her broom. The spiders released a sigh of relief that the gust of air from the broom whisked them out of harm’s way as the bristles hit the floor.
A knock at the door signaled to the spiders there was little time to lose. As Natalie approached the door, Charlotte led the first dispatch up to the doorknob where they occupied. Natalie jumped back with a screech as she saw them while reaching for the knob.
“You okay in there?” came the Man in the White Jumpsuit’s voice from outside.
“They’re on the doorknob!” exclaimed Natalie.
“Is it unlocked?” asked the Man. He tried the knob, opening the door before receiving an answer. The Man in the White Jumpsuit stared at Natalie, “Sorry, were you about to take a shower?”
Natalie quickly pulled off her cap. Her long, silky auburn hair fell across her shoulders; her eyes sparkled; her teeth shone. As she began to reply, the remaining brigade marched out from her mouth and through the open door.
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