I recently moved into a brand new flat, it’s really quite pleasant and I was really enjoying my new habitat. That was, until I saw it. The creepiest of all the crawlies, the prince of the web and the king of the bath tub. In the crack between the kitchen cabinet and the wall appeared eight long, hairy legs, a round fuzz covered body and an aura of suspicion and malevolence. I’m only slightly exaggerating when I say this spider could have easily taken on a mouse in the boxing ring. Just as my brave and valiant sister tried to scoop it up, the nasty thing darted back into its lair.
I have a fear of spiders that varies in severity – normally related to how big the specimen is – sometimes I can brush them off like nothing and other times I’m paralysed with heart-pounding, bowl-clenching fear so debilitating that I can’t focus on anything but the monstrosity before me. Since the incident I have tried to become accustomed to the idea of living with a spider in my kitchen. I may have to start charging it a share of the rent.
Despite my horror, I am thankful for one thing: I’m not a character in a fantasy adventure novel. Since my encounter I’ve been thinking on fictional spiders that would have definitely resulted in me needing fresh underwear. I probably would have just fainted if facing the fearsome spiders instead of Bilbo Baggins in Mirkwood, and I shudder to think how I would have coped with Shelob on the way to Modor. My fear probably would have resulted in my dreadful demise. No matter how much I loved Hagrid, I would have never “followed the spiders” even if I didn’t know they led to Aragog and his acromantula family. I have to admire Ron’s courage. Despite his fear he tried to put it behind and help his friend. The mere thought of the Other Mother spider in Coraline sets me on edge, she creates a happy fantasy life to suck in her prey before capturing them ready to be devoured. Walter Moers’ Spiderwitch is a similar creature who’s very web itself sends you into a blissful hallucination before ensnaring you.
In short, fantasy spiders are bigger, nastier and more deadly than your run-of-the-mill kitchen creeper. I can’t help but imagine that my spider has a whole life hidden behind that cabinet, a palace of web, holding the unwitting and unsuspecting captive, tormenting its prey before digesting then from the inside out and slurping up the foul fluid from their woven goblets. All spiders are predators, whether they are the rough size and weight of a tank or small enough to perch on a grain of rice.