All I remember is that Arachnia was written for a writing contest a few years ago. It started with the beginning of a poem I had started, and never finished, a couple of years before that. Where that poem was going, I have no clue. But the story started from that led me into a tale of torture and revenge (again, no clue why). So, that’s my short story of how Arachnia came to be.
On another note, enjoy the following short story written purely for fun by an adolescent me:
It was an exceedingly well-kept and equally respectable neighborhood and not one person would stoop to spy on a neighbor. It was a rather quiet place and even the children knew to keep quiet. The gardens were perfectly groomed and the houses shone with a new coat of paint every other year.
This air of quietude was not to last, however. It came to be shattered one morning with the daily mail.
It all began with a letter delivered to the house of one very respectable and elderly Mr. Connolly and his wife. It would seem that an unusually square envelope arrived in the mailbox and instantly attracted Mr. Connolly’s interest, as it did have his name written in a rather ornate fashion. Curious, he opened it right there by his mailbox as his neighbors wandered out to retrieve their own letters. None, of course, paid much attention to the elderly man other than a genial smile.
Mr. Connolly stood for some minutes, silently contemplating the square letter he had received, before turning abruptly and heading into his trim white house to show the letter to Mrs. Connolly.
“My dear,” he said rather gravelly. “Come see what the mail has brought me today.”
Mrs. Connolly wandered in calmly from the kitchen, an apron around her waist and a dish towel in her hands. She carefully took the letter from Mr. Connolly’s hand, took one glance, and fainted dead away.
Startled, Mr. Connolly instantly went to the phone and dialed for an ambulance to take Mrs. Connolly to the hospital.
Though not curious folk, the neighborhood gathered in the street outside of the Connolly house to see why an ambulance stood at the curb. There were many a gasp when Mrs. Connolly was rolled out and still more when Mr. Connolly refused to leave with them.
They certainly were not inclined to go poking into other people’s business, but they could not help listening when Mr. Connolly proceeded to explain that Mrs. Connolly had collapsed after viewing the daily mail.
“Would you recite the alphabet for me?” Mr. Connolly asked of a little girl of six by the name of Penny James.
The little girl smiled and primly folded her hands and began to recite, “ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXY.”
At the end of this recitation, Penny curtsied and Mr. Connolly nodded thoughtfully as Penny seemed to stiffen.
“Just as I thought,” he announced. “There is indeed something missing.”
“Whatever is the matter, Mr. Connolly?” Mrs. James asked.
“Did not you find something strange in Miss Penny’s recitation?” Mr. Connolly asked curiously.
Mrs. James and several of the other mothers looked at each other in puzzlement.
“There was certainly nothing wrong in Penny’s recitation, Mr. Connolly,” Mrs. James said somewhat indignantly. “I taught her myself.”
“Then, I am afraid, you, too, Mrs. James, have made a grave error,” Mr. Connolly said solemnly. “There is indeed something wrong with the alphabet.”
“Don’t be silly,” Mrs. Williams said. “Of course there cannot be a thing wrong with Penny’s recitation. Indeed, my Timothy could recite it just as well.”
Mr. Connolly nodded. “Then, Timothy, please step forward and recite to me the alphabet.”
A timid little boy with dark hair and large dark eyes stepped forward and stared up at Mr. Connolly. His voice quivered uncertainly as he recited, though he knew the alphabet just as well as Penny James.
Timothy stared up at Mr. Connolly, a look of horror slowly spreading over his face. He suddenly turned and ran screaming up and down the street. Mrs. Williams turned to Mr. Connolly with wild eyes.
“What have you done with Timothy?” Mrs. Williams demanded.
Mr. Connolly spread his hand. “That I cannot tell you. Timothy has done it to himself. Mrs. Williams, would you do me the honor of reciting the alphabet?”
“This is ridiculous,” Mrs. Stevens said from the front. “Do you mean to test us all on the alphabet, Mr. Connolly?”
Mr. Connolly lifted a hand. “Please, Mrs. Stevens, bear with me. We must get to the bottom of this.”
“The bottom of what?” Mrs. Stevens demanded.
“Mrs. Williams, would you please recite?” Mr. Connolly said in reply.
Mrs. Stevens stared angrily at Mr. Connolly, but said not another word.
Mrs. Williams stepped forward and recited, “ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXY.”
At the last of it, Mrs. Williams suddenly widened her eyes and screamed. She then collapsed on the ground and curled into a ball. She began to cry excessively and no amount of soothing could calm her.
“What is the meaning of this?” Mrs. James cried out.
Mr. Connolly turned to Mrs. James quite calmly and exceedingly gravely. “Mrs. James, would you be so kind as to recite the alphabet to me?”
“Mr. Connolly, this is absolutely ridiculous,” Mrs. James protested. “Why, you know as well as the rest of us that every one of us can recite the alphabet perfectly.”
“Then why is Timothy running up and down the street and his mother curled in a ball on the ground and weeping? Mrs. James and Mrs. Stevens, would you ladies please be kind enough to recite for me the alphabet?”
The two women stared angrily at each other before stepping forward and doing as Mr. Connolly requested.
At the end, Mrs. James let out a piercing cry and fainted dead away. Mrs. Stevens gasped and became as still as a statue with both hands clasped across her mouth and her eyes as wide as they would go. She looked so stiff that she could have toppled over and fallen like a tree.
Timothy Williams suddenly came running up to Mr. Connolly. He tugged at the elderly man’s coat until Mr. Connolly looked down at him.
“Mr. Connolly, something is dreadfully wrong!” Timothy cried out.
“Indeed there is,” Mr. Connolly replied. “And I know just what it is. You see this square piece of paper? It holds what is missing, what has been stolen from us.”
Mr. Connolly held the paper up and turned it around. His neighbors gasped. The children cried. Many of the women became almost inconsolable.
On the white sheet of paper was written in thick black pen a single letter. It read:
Timothy pointed up at it. “That’s it! It’s what’s missing! It’s the end of the alphabet!”
“And what do you think it means?” Mr. Connolly inquired of the child.
“We need more Zzzzs!” Timothy cried out.
And, after that, everything was quite normal once again.
Up Next: Who knows? I haven’t decided yet. Stay tuned!