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Seven Legs in the Forest
Twisted. The leg was definitely twisted. Dolly wrapped his body in her silk thread and lifted him into the nook in the tree bark where she slept. The storm still raged, but little rain made its way through the canopy above them. After safely carrying the small, injured child into the nook, she unwrapped her silk from his body to examine the wound closer.
“Can you walk?”
“It hurts when I try.” The young boy looked up at her with pain in his eyes.
“Are you physically able, though?”
“I don’t know.”
“I think it’s infected.” Dolly tried to remain calm but the young spider’s slender limb was grotesquely misshapen and oozing with harsh infection. “It won’t heal while still attached.” Dolly watched as his eyes widened as he realized what Dolly was inferring. “What’s your name?” Dolly tried to calm him by speaking of something else.
“Walton.” His body was shaking now with a mixture of pain and fear. He had entered the world only a few days earlier surrounded by hundreds of his brothers and sisters. They had flown out into the world. He had attempted to make his first web and had even caught a couple of creatures in his web for food. His luck was over, though, when a bird swooped down and tried to grab him and carry him away, clipping its beak around one of his legs for a just a moment before dropping him back on the ground for whatever reason. It had been just enough to severely damage his limb. The agony of the twisted leg had left him helplessly screaming on the forest floor as the wound became infected and the toddler bug waited for his sure death, when a storm began that shook the whole forest floor and thick rain drops plummeted upon him, threatening to drown him. He began to scream again, this time so loudly, Dolly, an older woman spider, heard the calls from her home near where Walton lay.
“The sooner we remove it the better chance you’ll have.”
“Will it hurt?”
“Yes, but after the dead leg is removed it can heal. You’ll get better”
“Now, if you feel up to it.”
“Now?” His breath quickened as terror covered his face. He couldn’t imagine going through any more pain. “How? How are you going to take it off?”
“I don’t know. I could bite it off perhaps.”
“Okay.” He breathed deeply with soft tears in his eyes as Dolly wrapped a tightly bound length of silk around the top of his leg to limit the bleeding and began to gnaw off the leg. It took hours but the useless limb was successfully removed. Dolly wrapped up the wound in a silk bandage and hummed softly as the exhausted and sore boy lay down and slept. He had been very brave during the operation, only making quiet yelps here and there throughout the cutting of his broken limb.
Weeks passed and the spider healed as promised. Dolly cared for him in her nook in the tree. She caught and brought food to him. It was unlike a spider to care for another spider but Dolly acted as a mammal mother to Walton. He learned how to adjust to walking on his seven legs. And Dolly showed him how to make a proper web of which Walton showed particular skill. Walton never completely recovered though; he was forced to remain dependent upon Dolly due his random but chronically happening outbursts of seizure like fits from the trauma of his young near death experience. During these fits he acted something devilish compared to the kind young spider he normally was. At first Dolly thought that he acted this way during his chronic emotional break downs because of the pain his tragic childhood bestowed upon him. He would be humming one of the sweet lullabies Dolly had taught him as he spun repairs into their web when one of the fits would overtake him. He would begin to speak violently, spasming in anger, demanding the death of all birds, but most importantly the bird that had caused him his seven legs.
An outsider would look upon the spider’s thoughts with the humor of the irony it presented; the spider thought all birds should die for hurting and killing spiders while he himself survived on the flesh of the victims caught in his own web of torture. The spider’s fits of anger and revenge happened more and more frequently that they overran the arachnid. He was up one night ranting about the dull pain in his leg and relating to an exasperated Dolly about his plans of murdering the flying creature of hell. Dolly herself was extremely worried and somewhat fearful of this new, revenge obsessed, being Walton had become. It was as if the spastic fits had not really been that of post-traumatic stress but as if two whole beings inside of Walton had been fighting for control and the stronger, the evil, had conquered. Dolly was now an elder spider, tired and near death but this also made her very wise and knowledgeable, and from the world she had observed in her life she knew it was impossible for a spider to kill a bird like it was impossible for a rabbit to kill a wolf or a leaf to kill a caterpillar or a maggot to kill a spider and thus did not even consider that Walton would at all be able to go through with the avenging of his twisted leg. But Walton’s new alter ego was determined.
And soon Walton’s chance approached. Walton was working on his web when a bird swooped down and Walton looked up to see that it was the same bird as the one who caused his twisted leg and treacherous pain without a second thought. Walton scurried to the top of his web so the bird could see him and the bird did and swooped down to consume him, but Walton was ready this time and before the bird’s beak could close around him he raced down the bird’s throat, knowing what he must do. Once inside the bird’s throat, he began to spin a web thicker and thicker as the bird choked and gagged until it blocked off the bird’s airway all together. The satisfied spider attempted to crawl out the bird’s corpse but was suddenly caught in his own web. He began to panic, getting himself more and more caught in his own sticky silk. He lay there helpless in the bird’s throat screaming for assistance. His calls were finally answered when a white blob appeared out of the hole of the bird’s mouth and began to slowly creep its way towards the self-captureed spider. This white blob was a maggot, one like the spider had seen before, they couldn’t fly but that didn’t stop the stupid creatures from getting caught in his web. The spider was unaware that this particular maggot was no ordinary maggot. This was a maggot of revenge.
This maggot had been peacefully living in a hole in the tree the same as Walton and Dolly. And on one particular day the maggot found himself caught in the spider’s web. He was not badly caught and still able, after much struggling, to remove himself from the web without the spider’s notice, but in doing so the twine of the web that had wrapped itself around the maggot’s figure tightened and sliced off a sliver of the maggot’s flesh. This was sure to eventually be the cause of the maggot’s early death, for the maggot had no bandages for the open wound the spider’s trap had caused. This was the reason he had feelings of hate and revenge towards this spider. He never thought he was to get his chance to act on this vengeful desire, but here the spider was, caught in his own web, helpless against the merciless maggot. And so he wiggled and slid down the birds throat to the spider’s web and saw to it the spider did not survive another moment by consuming the spider, who was defenseless against the maggot, the maggot dined on the seven remaining legs of the spider after which he only had to watch as the spider died of the blood loss and shock from the fresh wounds the maggot had bestowed upon him. The victorious maggot now feasted a victory feast on the delicious already decaying bird. He wondered to himself how this bird had come to die. The maggot knew it not to be the spider; a spider could not kill a bird, that would be like a maggot killing a spider…