New World Spiders

“There it is, gents! The New World!” a triumphant captain Smith folded the golden telescope and handed it back to the lowly crows nest spotter, who straight began climbing the mast again. And so the journey of discovery which began in Liverpool several weeks ago heading west across the Atlantic was nearly over, this year being 1482.

The ship had on board a total of forty men which consisted of five gentlemen (in reduced finery due to the heat) the rest being workers of various rank. No cannons had been needed and they were still covered below decks. Captain Smith (gentleman) was the mastermind of the journey (along with his enormous headed wife who back in London who was at this moment giving birth to her twenty fifth child) and he had hoped they would find a new continent and it seemed to him as he stood on the deck laughing under his breath that he would do just that. And all the contracts that would follow! He joined the other gentlemen in the bar and they opened a vintage bottle of red French wine and the scene turned jovial as in approximately two hours they would set foot on the land that stretched from north to south on the horizon and promised silks and timber, spices and trophies.

They stumbled back above onto deck half drunk as the crew began shouting of arriving and laying anchor. One of the gentlemen on seeing that they were only fifty yards from the beach and everything looked calm threw aside his wig and jumped overboard shouting in glee. He made a big splash and when he surfaced, began swimming towards the land. Smith realised that this man, his friend, would be the first man on the new continent. Well he could not have that and snatched the ropes from the workman that were lowering the small row boat to the water. He increased the speed at which the boat descended and it hit the water, nearly overturning. His face determined he clambered down (along with the other gentlemen) and they began rowing towards land.

They did beat the fat swimming man to shore and Smith was silently very pleased to position himself to be first to jump overboard and wade ashore. He scanned the horizon for savages but all there was was a very long sandy beach and past that fields of low scrubland, a bit like a field of corn that had been harvested some weeks before. They would probably be able to set up camp on that ground. He looked back towards the main vessel and saw the workers (all but two of them who would remain) were lowering their own boats to come ashore where they would set up camp and so on.

The other four gentlemen (the swimming one very out of breath) advanced up the beach and three of them sat down on some small stones where the sand ended. The swimming one reached them and lay on the sand and made greedy noises of glee, waving his arms and legs around. Soon the workers approached them in the sun to await orders and one of the gentlemen on the stones reached a hand back into the scrub behind him. He felt a sharp pang and yelped and brought up his hand. It had two puncture marks on it. It immediately started burning and a wave of dizziness overcame him like the worst bought of fever was on the way. One of the keen eyed workers looked behind them to the scrub and saw reflected in the sun, eight primal eyes and eight small creeping legs heading into a burrow. He spoke up confidently and said

“That field is full of thousands of incredibly poisonous, not large, dull in colour – almost transparent even, burrowing, extremely aggressive spiders.”

“Absolute rubbish.” came back Smith but through narrowed eyes he could see strange movement in the scrub that he nevertheless dismissed.

The bitten gentleman began moaning and his entire hand and lower arm was covered in purple scabs with green spit coming out of his mouth and he was shivering violently, not breathing at all properly, his clothes soaked in sweat. One minutes later he was stone dead.

“Fuck this. I’m going back to Stockport.” said the gentleman who had swam ashore and who made his fortune making hats and building viaducts “Workers in group B, I order you to take me back to the ship, we set sail immediately.” He did not hesitate but made brief eye contact with Smith who looked angry.

Only three of the workers obeyed the hat maker and rowed him back to the ship, but a couple of minutes later another of the gentlemen followed along with a few more of the workmen.

Back onboard they watched as the remaining gentlemen and workers set up camp on the beginnings of the scrub fields as the sun went down quickly. They could not set off immediately (much to their dismay) as the hull had to be repaired just above the waterline lest they sink in heavy waters.

In the dark, in his tent, Smith lay down and felt very pleased with himself “So much for spiders. HUH!”

On the ship, the hat making gentleman watched as the camps final torches were extinguished for the night. He watched, breathing hard. Then the distant screaming began.

Smith’s bed was full of spiders! He awoke from slumber and looked down screaming like a girl but he was already being bitten tens of times. His bare legs were crawling with them, he could feel every step they made! Even more spiders emerged from burrows and workers ran screaming in every direction covered head to toe in biting arachnids. They all fell and quickly were dead. Smith didn’t even make it out of bed, his head swollen to the size of a large pumpkin. One of the gentlemen and two of the workers managed to make it to the water having only been bitten once or twice. But they were already in agonising pain as the began swimming for the ship. Everyone else back in the camp was dead and covered in swarming spiders, some already being sucked dry through the spiders mouths.

“Ready the cannons, unfurl the sails, we set off now, right now.” said the hat gentleman through his teeth.

“But sir, we cannot kill those men.” said the worker by his side.

“Do as I say! They may have eggs impregnated in them or spiders in their garments!” and without looking at the man, went down to help uncover the cannons himself.

A minute later the cannons began firing and in the moonlight all three of the swimmers were blown to pulp by flying cannonballs as the heavy ship began moving slowly in the light wind.

Soon the land was far behind and they were well on the way back to England. The hat making gentleman stood on deck as the other remaining gentleman got very drunk below. He felt a crawling in his trousers and his hand went down to attack the spider in a moment of panic, but it was only an itch …



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