I’m going to back up here from yesterday’s post. I had the webs disappearing because I thought I’d tortured Carl enough. It’s a serious cop-out for a writer to take things easy on a character without justifying it in the story. Sorry, Carl.
By the way, this entire story was inspired by the title of the children’s book Be Nice to Spiders by Margaret Bloy Graham, which my mom would read to me when I was growing up. It didn’t keep me from being afraid of spiders but it did give me a healthy respect for how they eat the bad bugs, even if they do look really creepy.
He stopped seeing fireflies. Carl looked around. He didn’t see any more little yellow lights. The spiders were that weren’t still crawling all over his body were scuttling away from him into the shadows like regular spiders would.
Carl gingerly pulled aside walls of webs to get out of the attic. They strands were so thick they made sounds like crinkling cellophane. They broke away from the wall, dead skin falling into sticky clumps.
A spider ran across his netted face. Reflexively Carl went to swat it. He changed direction at the last second and hit himself in the face instead.
The spider ran onto his hand. Carl put it into a nearby web.
“I hate to seem ungrateful, guys, but all these webs will have to go. You know that, right?” he said aloud.
The spiders didn’t react. They sat in their webs, waiting, like the eternally patient hunters he was used to seeing.
He reached the ladder out of the attic. Carl swept the last of the spiders off his body, careful not to kill any of them, and got as much webbing off him as he could, too. He started downstairs. He had to let Jen know he was all right. Mr. Traumer would be glad to hear it, too. And he had to call a shaman about getting some dreamcatchers painted in the house.
Carl pleaded ignorance to the evening news team that showed up at the house. They filmed the webs from dozens of different angles. The neighbors’ kids came forward with about a dozen videos of what looked like fireflies attacking the house. Carl pleaded ignorance on that, too. There weren’t any fireflies in the spider webs, so where did they go?
There was one video, especially blurry, of Carl running around inside his house swatting at the air. “I was dancing,” Carl said. It was hard to see him through the mosquito netting, which was mostly covered by the curtains and the blinds, anyway.
Jessie stayed with her aunt while Carl and Jen worked with the health department to clean up the property. Carl and Jen insisted on a green solution, hiring a contractor to take down the webs, scoop up the spiders and dump them into the woods rather than use pesticides. One supportive neighbor showed up with a cake decorated with chocolate spiders. Another promised to watch Charlotte’s Web with them when it was all over.
Mr. Traumer talked with his friends in Ontario. Two days after the incident, he brought a Mr. David Bright Wind to the house. He winked at Carl and Jen as he introduced himself, saying, “I heard you have a genuine velvet Elvis that might be for sale.”