She stood there, half naked in the massive web within the tunnel. She heard the soft tell tale click of chitinous legs and glanced behind her as much as she was allowed. It was Delilah, beautiful with spots and stripes atop a dark dusky tone body. By all standards, Delilah was a monster for all purposes- a fluke of existence, really. Emily wasn't even certain if it was male or female, but she imagined the latter. The bigger ones usually were. Delilah answered only with the clitter clack of leather fangs and pedipalps.
How did she get here? This terrible place of nightmares; so alone and vulnerable? She sighed wistfully and turned forward again, leaning her forehead against the silk as if gaining consolation from it.
In the days and weeks, Emily Turan was superficially like anyone else. A face in the crowd, a brick in the wall, a cog in an impossibly huge work machine that could use skilled hands with as few opinions as possible. Oh, her world wasn't truly Orwellian- but it wasn't exactly fulfilling or in her case, interesting. It was no one's fault; it simply was.
She handled research as an assistant in a scientific processing complex. All sorts of random projects needing busy work, testing, and reporting. Her place of business merely took on contract work from other facilities who headed the research and the big grants. The work was certainly different enough, month to month, but it was fairly paint by the numbers in execution. The work could have been worse- but it was what she was qualified and trained to do.
In truth, she could have made management at least a year or two ago. But while the position would come up several times and she was interviewed for each and every one, she was never promoted. Emily wasn't ignorant of the reasons why. It wasn't a glass ceiling issue; both human resources and upper management was female. It wasn't incompetence- her record was good, more or less, sans some questionable sick day usage. It was more... well, her.
Emily had a personality suited for working alone on projects. But that was it. She knew coworkers talked behind her back. Stared. They made comments. 'Robot'. 'Weirdo'. And of course, 'freak'. She didn't like the terms, but she couldn't argue the terms. At least not more than two of them. Simply put, Emily was not good with people.
She didn't know how to talk to others outside of basic work related matters. She clammed up, she was awkward, and really didn't know what to say to others. Emily read books at home and it wasn't the kind of thing people were interested in hearing about at the water color. Not compared to popular television or celebrity gaffes. Emily was twenty nine years old, but she felt as awkward amongst other people as she did in middle school. In a way, nothing changed.
For her own sake, when she looked into other people's eyes, she didn't judge them. She really didn't care one way or another, but it was more the fact she couldn't see her reflection in their eyes. She couldn't relate to them. Not to her coworkers or the occasional man who came a-courting. She had blossomed nicely but her expression was usually distant so some opportunistic men thought she would be an easy mark to get into bed. They were wrong. They couldn't even get past the distracted attempts at conversation with her. And in truth, Emily didn't care much about them either. It was neither hate nor love, everyone else simply existed as much as she did, for better or worse.
The world was mechanical. A bit dull. Just a passionless existence. People with opinions. Experiments. Research notes. Just a long series of things moving in part of something bigger and more inscrutable than anyone participating in it. She worked. She went home. Read books. Had a reasonable dinner. Played solitaire. And went to bed. That was Emily Turan's life. She was the greatest cog ever, she idly joked to herself.
But living a dull life and being awkward was not the only thing people would mutter about her. No, it was the fact she was strange. Forever marked with an inexplicable haunted dreamy expression on her face, people wondered about her. Emily spent many of her lunch breaks outside. Sometimes she went on walks, which wasn't too odd. Most of the time? She sat on a bench and stared intently at the ground. Or sometimes she took a seat on the ground and gazed with as much focus under the bench. When questioned, she informed others she was looking at various ants and other insects going about their day. A woman fascinated with bugs? Better crucify that one! But it didn't help her reputation as the resident weirdo.
Again, she could have cared less. Emily lived in her own world, regardless if anyone bothered to figure it out. It was the reason she was so distracted and distant with those she interacted with. She did the same thing at home in her basement or outside in the woods on warm days. Here were these tiny little beings, mechanical in their own right, but so much more diverse and honest about their days. Gathering food, skittering around, scouting, and so on. And a lot of those books she read? They were on the subject of entomology, primarily speaking. Ants, butterflies, beetles, etc.
She remembered a line from Ren and Stimpy, from one of the times she watched television when she was much younger. "The little creatures of nature... they don't know that they're ugly." She knew it was said as a random non sequitur, but it stuck with her because it was the complete opposite of what she thought about them. If anything, these little beetles with their colorful carapaces, the fuzzy moths, and the metamorphosis of the caterpillar- these were naturally beautiful things. It was something she didn't see in her own kind who almost never saw wonderful aspects to the little creatures.
In a way, her favorite research assignments (and something she would volunteer for) was the various invertebrate studies. They were admittedly a bit heart breaking- the grants were primarily for testing out new bug killers rather than learning about the critters. But they opened her world to seeing foreign types of insects, or at least ones she would never see locally. Emily could at least always be counted on to tackle the creepy assignments like these, as far as management was concerned.
Early on in her career as a research project assistant, Emily vaguely made more of an effort to stay relevant in the eyes of management. There was a Halloween themed costume party one October evening- the job was the best she had since graduating with a degree in Biology and if it meant dressing up funny after hours for one day out of the year, well, it was better than choking down loan payments with a 'career' in fast food. So she decided to play ball, make a little face time with the bosses, and call it a night. Oh, she dressed up as a child like most others did, but there was a certain bemused joy an adult to be had in wearing a costume to work, as her superiors were saying "Attention worker, fun is mandatory today!". Was there a silly hat day to follow as per her training manual? Regardless, she knew her place of work was socially political so like it or not, it was a costume party that was anything but voluntary.
It was admittedly nice to be someone, or rather, something else for a while. True to form, Emily had a ladybug costume, composed of black leggings, antennae, and a modest cloth ladybug she bought at the store. The scientist in her would notice the inconsistencies but she was able to overlook it, if just to pretend to be a bug in public for a few hours. Of course, she was still expected to socialize so she awkwardly schmoozed with her coworkers and their disinterested "Hey, that looks adorable! Wherever did you find it?" questions mashed with greetings. She knew the tone well. Day in, day out, being asked "Hi, how are you?" to people who don't make eye contact made it easy to recognize a shallow nicety that everyone accepted as the norm.
So, she had a drink or two, got hit on by a drunken Julius Caesar from Accounting (who apparently later lost his car keys in the toilet after downing a quarter of the punch bowl), and stood around uncomfortably half the time watching coworkers in more modern sexy or tongue-in-cheek costumes win gift cards. She regarded the entire situation without much concern, just sort of mentally daydreaming the time away while holding a paper cup of JD and diet coke in her hand. When she was certain enough time had passed and the dubious amount of excitement at the work party had settled down, it was time to go. There was work the next day, after all.
She fumbled with her keys, a bit more buzzed than she imagined. When was the last time she had a drink? She was fine to drive but was a little more casual and careless than she had been when she entered the party. She walked as straight as ever, but she forget where exactly she parked her Volkswagen.
It wasn't in the main parking lot, since the night crew hogged up all the space. She knew that much, at least.
She then fuzzily remembered parking on the other side of some trees bordering a parallel neighborhood road. It was one of those forgettable woody dividers many suburbs had, nothing terribly big. Although it had become dark in the evening, Emily wasn't particularly fear prone to much of anything. Probably why she managed handling the less savory research work so well.
Hiccuping ever so slightly, made her way out of the complex and cut through the trees. Now to be fair, the day before Halloween, or Mischief/Devil's Night if you prefer, is a time where vandalism is fairly common. Toilet paper in the trees or across the school. A banana smeared on someone's windshield. Whipped cream or silly string spread wherever mischievous juveniles felt like. She had done similar nonsense in her teens but like how April Fool's often snuck up unexpectedly, so did Mischief Night. This wasn't a dangerous neighborhood by any means, but bored youths in suburbia can act inexplicably. And while Emily wasn't being specifically targeted for anything, the local brats knew about the footpath shortcut through the woods and that the idea of making it inconvenient for someone would be funny in idea, at least.
Guiding herself wearily by moonlight, Emily cut into the treeline and expected to leave it within a minute or two worth of time. She was already thinking about tomorrow's work. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. But her considering her costume, what happened next would surely strike her with a bit of irony.
Somewhat unaware and not fully possessed of all her sight in the dimly illuminated woods, Emily stumbled into a large tangle of Halloween spider webs, stretched from tree to tree, and branch to branch. And for once, her dreamy expression seemed to break into a look of sudden wakefulness. "Huh?" It took several seconds to process what occurred as she began to swat at the air in front of her, only to find a wide wall of tangling cotton fibers. She tried clearing them away and continued walking ahead, but there was always some piece she missed or stumbled on further.
Nowhere that she walked seemed completely free of the holiday props. Tipsy and bereft of her full vision, she was turned around several times. She snagged her feet on torn down webbing and that which was stuck in the brush. She walked into more layers and would turn directions she already came from- nothing was going correctly. She realized what the stuff was, but she wasn't coordinated enough in the dark to evade it all. Strands and swaths began to tangle upon her limbs and the ladybug costume caught on everything.
Moments later, Emily found herself not so much trying to push through so much as just standing in place, straight jacketed against her own ladybug costume by a massive cluster of faux webbing she tangled herself in. It was hard to believe such a standard prop could do it, but many didn't recognize the tensile strength of the cotton fibers, particularly with enough of the material and against someone kept off balance within it. Emily certainly didn't- she rarely did anything for the holidays these days.
Embarrassed, she squirmed in place, trapped in fake webbing as a fake ladybug. Fidgeting for several moments, she slowly began still. She happened to glance upwards to find several long tell tale black legs and beady red eyes gazing down at her. She stared back, wide eyed for once. It didn't move, of course; it wasn't even remotely real or animatronic, the latter being far outside the income of the pranksters. No, it was a black fuzzy fabric with long metal padded legs ending in a tuft of faux fur. The eyes were probably plastic and the crude fangs were stuffing you'd find at a craft store. And the body was likely filled with molded Styrofoam to hold its shape. Yep, a perfectly regular prop spider, worth maybe thirty to fifty dollars depending on the retailer's mark up.
But she wasn't staring at it thinking it was fake or real. She seemed hypnotized, obsessing over the features of the thing. She became aware of her immobilization in the made up cottony spider webbing. She felt the costume of the ladybug pressed tight against her body and her legs heavily wound up. Her pulse raced for the first time in a long time. She was fully cognizant these were props and this was some gag, but she was alone in the woods and the experience here and now was solely her own.
For once, she was not thinking over mundane things. She felt strangely real herself, as if waking from coma only to enter a fugue. What was happening, she thought. This situation wasn't some prank- she didn't have proper words for it, but the concept of an 'epiphany' struck her like errant lightning from an unseen cloud. She felt... alive.
It was an explicable feeling and she could not immediately understand it. Neither the how or the why, but only in this time did she suddenly belong somewhere. Despite the subject being fictional; something she found otherwise elegant and oddly beautiful in work had captured her. It kept her. Possessed her. Sealed her in a mesh of its own making. She belonged to it now. She was a foolish and careless ladybug, drunk of the nectar of aphids. Maybe she thought a great of herself. Now she was held her... at first against her will and then, following the spider's will to stay. The merciless creature could do anything it wanted to her and her outlook on the world meant nothing. She was free from responsibilities, duties, and expectations. She had only 'it' now.
Her palms sweat even in the chill of October's dusky sky. They quivered in their restraints and she had heard that this is what a crush was like. She continued to look up and admire her venomous suitor. This was predation as much as courting. A tear formed in her eye. She was so happy. Someone chose her. Rescued her from this mechanical world and brought her to an open air room in a way that responded to her interests. This elegant creature could love her or kill her. It could kill her lovingly... that would be fine too, she thought. She wanted to be close to it. Understand it as it seemed to understand her.
She felt hot in her costume, but not unpleasantly so. The bindings, although alien to her life experiences thus far, were quite sensational so tightly wound. She squirmed and smiled before it, as if presenting her host with a dance of her form. As if offering and to make beauty in the trap it laid for her. She wanted it to come down closer and tell her stories of past deeds. Maybe show her how one might kiss. And she, a mere affection or pet for it, would allow it whatever it desired. Everything about this was so unlike her, but it seemed instinctively correct. She couldn't explain it, but she allowed herself to stop being logical and simply 'be'. It was the night when Emily awoke to who she really was.
In a more real sense, the shock of cold water stirred her from warm wonderful feelings. She caught herself snoring softly as cold soft rain trickled down her neck. She fell asleep at some point, standing tangled in the fake webbing. But the rain was rapidly ruining the cotton, making it stretchy limply. It began to release her and she stumbled down onto the muddy ground. She looked around and found herself back in the dull day to day world. The reverie had ended. Her watch said it was two in the morning. How long had it been raining and how long had it been since she passed out in the Halloween webbing? She wasn't sure.
She sat there, looking as the props gradually sloughed to the ground. The spider continued to dangle in the branches, but the rain made it look like a wet dog. It no longer stared down, but banged against the branches nosily in the rain. Reality stripped the toy of its symbolic elegance. In a slumped position, her face was red with dejection. It was the best dream she ever had. Feeling saddened, she sat there in the muddy cold in a now dirt stained ladybug outfit before the chill made her rise and actually get going. Her car was not going to be fun to ride with a wet muddy bottom and she had no towels in the vehicle.
Tomorrow, there was work. The spirit of Halloween would be quickly thrown out in the trash to make way for a fascination of turkey and Christmas lights. She cared little for either. Unmotivated and longing with strange feelings, Emily puttered home. After a quick warm shower and a change into her bathrobe, she went to bed unhappily.
The next day, there was a joke around the labs that Emily finally cut loose enough to know what it was like to get drunk. Of course, jokes were made about how little she drank, with each retelling diminishing the amount until finally it was a shot glass of non-alcoholic beer and a shot of water to 'sober' up. Everyone had a good laugh. She called out sick that day, which was unlike her at the time. "I guess even a robot needs to recharge batteries once in a while," someone said.
Actually, she was sitting in the sunny breakfast nook of her house with a cup of orange juice in hand. She no longer felt like the Emily from the days and months prior. For once, even though it was through a dream and a chance situation, she felt 'new'. The sun wasn't merely bright and bestowing light... it was warm. There was a personal sensation to it. She never bothered to really feel anything, always citing it as sort of irrelevant to whatever needed to be done. Her face held that dreamy expression again, but the meaning behind it had changed. She enjoyed last night until the moment it ended in cold rain. She wanted to experience it more. She knew that even for her, this was pretty aberrant thinking; that a spider was a creature she wanted to associate with instead of a person. And if possible, she wanted to be possessed by one. But as she sat there, she realized this was surely her way. She never felt much of anything until that moment. And she was never good around people- it seemed she was never meant to be. Her calling, however strange, lay in something bizarre and her interest in arthropods this entire time had been a signal that she failed to understand about herself. At the very least, while she did not have similar intentions to other insects as she did to the symbol that was the spider last night, she felt she belonged more in that world than her own. But she would never be able to be part of it, of course. And that bothered her.
Her madness began slowly at first. Taking advantage of the time frame, she bought up fake spider webbing and other related props that had gone on discount as they always did after Halloween. She then took great joy in stringing the things around the inside of her house. Although it was fun to be like the spider itself, she preferred to be the subject of his or her attention. She spent the remainder of her sick day getting herself tangled up in the fake webbing, becoming quite familiar with the quality fibers versus the really cheap weak ones. Like the woods from last night, she spread enough of the stuff around to actually restrain herself in her own living room. What began with Emily pretending to walk across one side of the room to another concluded with her laying wrapped up head to toe by her own winding struggles upon the carpet. She wriggled and shook, but for the most part the several swaths of the faux webbing held. The phone rang somewhere in the distance, but she could not have cared less as she moaned and groaned in a cottony cocoon.
Emily was not a stranger to what this was doing to her. This strange form of self bondage was a serious turn on for her in a way she never had chanced upon to realize. Obviously, bound up on the ground by herself didn't leave too many options to have something happen, but even she was a bit embarrassed when she managed to unzip her jeans in her cocoon. Clearly, wearing too many clothes would be an issue in the future. Her face was beet red, but apparently this was a thing for her. Who knew the 'robot' had a fetishy side, she thought to herself. Of course, this would be just another thing no one needed to know about. It raised too many questions and people had enough ammo on her already. In fairness, she wasn't sure why she responded as she did either. But she was willing to explore it further to find out.
So began a trend which remained with her. She worked, acted awkward, went home, and did all the things she normally did. But her free time was now being spent on enjoying this fantasy she came upon. She went through several bags of fake webbing a week, finding they were only good for one to two set ups before they were stretched out. Fake spider props ordered online dotted her home to add a constant ambiance of being watched by her eight legged paramours. She even took a few to sleep at night, treating them like teddy bears. These inanimate things were a proxy for romance and her previously unknown romantic interests.
But over time, this habit turned to depression. She KNEW it wasn't real. Pretend and role play was fun, but there was no reciprocation outside of her imagination. No punishment. No capture. It started to feel like a performance art piece for herself. And there was the reality of the situation- this was a fascination no one could help her with. There was no way to be that webbed maiden of her dreams. That person and who she really was would forever remain separate. Truly, this was all there was.
It was frustrating, but she did make serious attempts to rectify the matter. She purchased online some actual web spinners from the southern states and more tropical places. Nephila breeds, primarily. They were roughly the length of her hand, delicate, but beautiful creatures. They could spin webs almost as tall as she was, which was an exciting prospect. And their venom was nothing too serious.
She made a spare room or two for these spiders. They were fairly docile and could be kept in one place without the need for a cage. They spun large webs and she supported them with a humidifier and crickets from the pet shop. And of course, she had to try 'them' out.
Not so much the spiders themselves... she would just wind up moving them elsewhere in the room because of how fragile they could be. But their webs were visually impressive and more than tantalizing for her to consider. At this point, she began becoming more submissive in her own home to them. She fed them often, hoping they would somehow cheat the the laws of pressure and oxygen ratio that kept spiders as small as they were. Partially because of the humidity and partially out of interest in sensation (and looking the part of a damsel) she under-dressed in her own time. Bra and panties were the uniform now- it allowed for the most bare skin to come into contact with the silk without anything super sensitive coming into play. She even talked to them about her day... they didn't respond, of course, but who else would understand her?
Their webs were interesting... if lacking. They were strong, no doubt. Able to hold a small hat or some keys (she specifically checked this, based on a rumor she read about their tensile strength). She knew these breeds could even stop small birds (videos of which she watched for faaaar too long and with too much interest). But while they offered tactile resistance, they were ultimately weaker than the fake Halloween webs she bought. They were tangling, but nothing substantial. At the very least, she thought the silk strands looked beautiful on her arms and hands; Emily admired the soft golden tone in the ceiling light.
But again, it just wasn't meant to be. While the poor critters were spoiled rotten, they didn't live terribly long. Each time one died, it was a sad day at work for Emily. After a while, she came to the conclusion that she wasn't ready to deal with the heartbreak of so many passing on. And so, she was back to square one.
Fate has a way of doing things, one might say. Opportunities are rare but they sometimes manifest to the right person who knows what to look for. And to every rule, there is an exception to break it.
Emily came across a very strange assignment in the duty roster. Real hush hush work for some shell company. But her eyes widened somewhat at the requirement, "Must have experience with arachnology". She was not a specialist, but her interest was there. No one else would touch the assignment. Not only was the subject matter considered disgusting but it involved moving. Something about a caretaker position in a private federal forest. And while her managers did mention the lack of actual experience on her part (they knew nothing of her nephila fascination), the contract paid very well and she was bizarrely enthusiastic. With some uncomfortable bureaucratic strings pulled, her bosses sent her on the assignment.
She was picked up in the middle of the night at her house by a black van with a couple of scary looking men in suits and sunglasses, despite the lack of light. She sat in the back seat, dressed in her lab coat, and carried a rucksack of various belongings. The assignment was a long term relocation that she wasn't allowed to talk about and she could only visit her home twice a month for a day and even then, only by escort. She would be living in an old ranger's station in the forest. Along the way, her assignment was better explained.
The strange government men told her about a project that was used successfully to restore animals from the prehistoric era via genes. The reserve she was taken to was utterly private and devoid of almost all human contact for miles and miles. Even the agents would only have contact with her through encrypted phone connections. They would bring her supplies for what she needed but it was up to her to handle the rest. No sweat, she thought.
They continued to tell her vague but intriguing details. What they attempted was not unlike Jurassic Park, but only on a smaller scale with better preserved DNA. And one of their best projects was derived from amber, which kept the DNA in impeccable condition. She was tasked to take care of and nurture an actual prehistoric spider they effectively raised from the dead through cloning. They weren't even sure where it belonged in the tree of life, but it needed to be studied and a researcher just like her would do the job. Needless to say, she was very excited. The project seemed like a dream. Isolation and a spider to spend her time with? How fast could they get there?
A day later, she was settled in. She had been blindfolded in the last several hours leading to this place and had no idea where in the States she even was. She was most interested to find her assignment.
She was not ready for what she saw. The spider was a hulking three to four feet in diameter; she didn't even believe it was real at first until it shifted slightly. The creature was sooty in color, with a bit of light colored striping on its fat abdomen. The legs were thin and the face spoke of cruelty, as if they resurrected some long dead devil. There were nightmarish webs everywhere. Massive stringy things, much bigger than herself. Cocoons hung from several while the tree branches were littered with hanging silken bags of dead woodland animals. Squirrels, rabbits, racoons, and what seemed to be coyotes. This creature did not care. And unlike many vertical web-makers, the traps were more angled along the ground than set up for fliers.
She was in love immediately. This thing was like some twisted Pygmalion fantasy nightmare come to life and her she was, incontrovertibly kneeling before it in awe. She was going to enjoy this assignment immeasurably... The prehistoric spider took notice of her and after a moment of consideration, retreated into a nearby burrow it made in the forest floor.
Emily gave a soft wiggle of her hips against the sticky silk. Unlike her nephilas, this web was stubborn and definitely strong enough to restrain and retain her. She smiled and made a cooing sound. She was where she belonged at long last. Gazing behind her again, she met Delilah's stare. It had been a month now observing this wonderful killing machine. It seemed so menacing to the forest creatures that even a bear that wandered near the area seemed to think against it, much to Emily's relief. Delilah, if inadvertently, was protecting her.
While Emily was the caretaker as far as anyone needed to know, she was Delilah's property, heart and soul. Emily's disturbed love and fascination would surely lead her to an early demise someday... and with Delilah staring at her in this compromising position, she knew it could be sooner than later. But she believed Delilah was getting used to her presence after a month of being nearby. The spider seemed cunning enough- maybe even a little intelligent. Emily never posed herself as a threat and she found Delilah retreated from her proximity much less now.
Offering herself to her obsession, she whispered softly, "Don't worry... I wasn't thinking of leaving you. I do this now to prove it to you. Am I satisfactory?" She winked and gave a soft tug against the sticky silk.
Current Residence: NJ|
Favorite genre of music: Industrial
Favorite photographer: Holger Trülzsch
Favorite style of art: Comic
Favorite cartoon character: The Maxx
Personal Quote: Everything is what it is, except when it isn't. And except when it is. That's the first step.