For 2022, I’ve been wanting to write more ‘creature features’ and generally improve my short story writing. My partner got me a Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual for my birthday so I came up with the idea of writing a story every week based on a different creature from that – All There in the (Monster) Manual. Hope you enjoy!
This Week’s Inspiration: Swarm of Spiders
Trigger Warning: Spiders, Suicide, Gore
Spiders-Man, Spiders-Man, does whatever thousands of sentient spiders can!
Spins a web across the sky!
Will stop all those who defy!
Watch out, here comes the Spiders-Man!
Three men in balaclavas huddle around an ATM in a bank alcove. It’s late, the sidewalk outside dark and quiet. One of the thieves holds a crowbar near the base of the machine and another swings a sledgehammer into the head of the tool. Metal meets metal with a satisfying clang but fails to pry the ATM open.
A colourfully costumed figure prods the alcove door open and slips through an impossibly small gap. They crawl effortlessly across the ceiling. Although human in shape, their movements are boneless and alien. Silent, they crawl to the middle of the room unnoticed by any of the thieves. Without vertebrae, their head swivels one hundred and eighty degrees. Their mask’s huge, sightless eyes stare emptily at the three men.
“GENERIC QUIP,” they say in a voice like a thousand tiny voices working in eerie unison.
All three bank robbers jerk around violently. Sudden fear and panic breaks out across what can be seen of their faces. The crowbar falls from one man’s nerveless hands and rings against the linoleum.
“It’s the Spiders-Man!”
Spiders-Man releases and drops from the ceiling. Hundreds of spiders explode from the seams of their costume as they hit the floor. The outfit deflates and goes flat as thousands more arachnids, big and small, pour out of it. They swarm over the closest two thieves, up their legs and into their clothing. The men stomp and scream. One of them rips a gun out of his waistband and starts firing. Loud, flat bangs echo across the alcove. Bullets splatter the spiders but every dead individual is insignificant against the whole. Within seconds, both men are covered in bristling blankets of black and brown bodies.
“My eyes! They’re biting my eyes!” One of the men screams.
Dozens of spiders cluster around the eyeholes in the man’s mask. Tiny fangs rip into the jelly of his eyeballs. Pupils, irises and sclera tear open like wet plastic bags. He rakes at his face with hands covered in more biting spiders. As he shrieks in pain, more spiders pour into his mouth, scurrying over teeth and tongue, attacking his gums and filling the dank pipe of his throat.
The second man keeps his mouth and eyes sealed shut but spiders swarm under his clothing and bite him on every inch of available skin. They clog his ears and nostrils. He’s already dead, he knows this but his body hasn’t realised. The only question is how long he wants the pain to last. Arm shaking, he raises the gun and turns it back on himself. Even now, his finger hesitates on the trigger. Even now, gut instinct pushes back on his desire to end it all with incredible force and he can’t bring himself to do it. He opens his mouth and lets out a raw, animal bellow, channelling all the resolve and desperation he can find into his arm, his hand, his finger on the trigger. With another clap of sound, the handgun fires into the side of his skull. He goes limp and tumbles to the floor, covered in a living carpet of arachnids.
The third man cowers against the wall in mortal terror. With a burst of courage he starts toward the door but a flood of spiders cuts him off and backs him into the corner. In less than a minute, both his partners are dead. They fall contorted onto the linoleum tiles, unrecognisable. Spiders swarm off the bodies and out of their clothing to join the mass arrayed in front of the third robber. Together, they shape and mould themselves into a tall and spindly humanoid composed of thousands of individuals. They loom over the final remaining human as he shrinks against the wall.
“Please! Please, Spiders-Man! I’m sorry! I’m sorry, I won’t do it again!”
“YOU WILL MAKE A FINE HOST FOR OUR CHILDREN.”
The man is knocked unconscious. When he awakes, he finds himself in an abandoned office building. Framed newspapers line the walls. Everything is draped in sheets of thick webbing. Walls, floor, ceiling, the desks and all other furniture coated. Numerous desiccated corpses, like mummies, are tangled in the webbing.
“Oh, God! No, please, no!” The third thief says, becoming conscious of a painful prickly sensation as he wakes. “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name-,
Spiders-Man crosses the room, silent and boneless in their costume again. Emotionless eyes meet the robber’s gaze as he lets out a strangled cry. The prickling sensation turns into millions of pinprick pains, like someone is stabbing him from the inside out with thousands and thousands of tiny needles.
“SOON THERE WILL BE MORE OF US. THE AGE OF MAN IS OVER. NOW IT IS ONLY SPIDERS.”
The man struggles but his arms are trapped by webbing. Looking down, he sees his skin ripple. In unimaginable agony, he feels the spiders’ young eating their way out of his flesh. Lesions rip open in his face, his neck, tearing apart his chest and the rest of his body, and millions of miniscule spiders swarm out of him. His mind snaps, and his screams follow him into blackness and nothingness as his eyes explode and eardrums collapse due to the weight of spiders bursting through them, into the world, in a grotesque and nightmarish parody of birth.
Spiders-Man, Spiders-Man, no escape from Spiders-Man!
Radioactive mutant, or freak of birth?
Soon their kind will rule the earth!
Watch out, here comes the Spiders-Man!
Sean: Was singing the Spider-Pig theme to myself, as we all do during some point in our day, when this one came to me. Obviously there are some clear lines to draw between it and my earlier story ‘Swarm’ but I told you, I love swarms of shit. Swarm of Insects and Swarm of Spiders? Definitely two very different things.
There might be something broken in me in that I find exaggeratedly horrific violence in incongruous circumstances somehow amusing? Does this story even work as a parody or is it just horrible things happening to some people for no reason?
These shorter stories are only really going up on my website, and not being posted on other fiction sites, so if you’re reading this, thanks very much for swinging by! I’ve posted a few short stories lately but next week is quite a long one.
Next Week’s Inspiration: Aboleth