Uninvited Visitors
Part Two
By: Gabriella Balcom

Beth-Ann relaxed on her bed two days later, thinking warm thoughts of Martin. That hadn't always been the case in the past. He was a bit of an ass when they were growing up, constantly teasing and pulling pranks on her, but he really cared about her now.

It was truly miraculous how much more comfortable and safe she felt since his visit. He’d done a good job; she'd watched him pry off the trim and saturate the areas behind with poison before replacing it. A few spots couldn’t be reached because of built-in shelving units, but everything else had been done.

Lying on her stomach, she laughed at Dean and Sam from “Supernatural.” She'd finished a season and was watching the bloopers.

Her right foot tickled. Secure in the knowledge her brother had dealt with any possible spider, she smiled, glancing at her fan rotating a few feet away. But then she felt the same thing on her right calf. Turning to look, she gasped and shuddered.

A large spider crouched on the smooth, bare skin of Beth-Ann's calf. Her mind went blank. Her breath caught in her chest. The creature from hell stretched three or four inches in diameter. One of the nasty thing's legs lifted and repositioned, followed by another, then another. The slow, steady menace of that motion paralyzed her as the thing inched up her leg.

Her heart pounded as if fighting to escape her chest, and she struggled to think clearly. “It's only a spider,” she whispered. “Not a monster. Only a spider.”

Closing her eyes so she wouldn't see it, she concentrated on taking deep, steady breaths and imagined herself as a yowling cat, leaping straight up in the air with its fur raised on end. She mentally prepared herself, trembling with fear, then launched herself off the bed. She shook herself like a wet dog, stomped her feet like a madwoman, stretching her neck and arching her back so she could check herself from every imaginable angle. Nope, the spider hadn't clung to her.

There you are,” she muttered, glaring at the awful thing on the bedspread.

Looking around the room, she tried to problem-solve. What could she use? The swatter she kept by her bed was missing. Others were in the kitchen, but she feared the monstrosity might vanish in the time it would take to retrieve one. She didn't have bug spray left. After Martin helped her the other night, she'd retraced their steps and sprayed out every last particle of her own poison, figuring the more, the better.

So what could she do now? Using a shoe or magazine occurred to her, but that didn’t seem like a strong enough response. Nate hadn’t returned her gun yet, although she’d visited him and threatened, partially teasing but partially serious, that she’d sneak into his home and get it for herself if he didn’t give it back soon. She'd argued she could do what she wanted with her own belongings. The home was hers, hence the floor was hers, and the gun most definitely was hers. She had the receipt to prove it.

Receipt? That gave her an idea.

She whirled and ran to her closet, yanked open the door, and rummaged through a box of Christmas presents she’d gotten early for relatives.

“Aha,” she crowed, pulling out a set of stainless-steel steak knives. They were intended for Mom, who loved to cook.

“Heck,” Beth-Ann muttered after struggling to open the plastic-encased set. She finally raised it to her mouth, sank a tooth in a corner and tore the covering. Freeing one knife, she brandished it, took a deep breath, and ran toward the bed.

Hi-yah,” she howled like a karate master and stabbed at Spiderzilla. Then she scowled. “Rats!”

The thing had darted away before the blade could penetrate its body. She tried to stab it a few more times, but — almost as if it timed its responses down to the split second — the spider evaded each attempt.

“Stop freaking moving!” she demanded, anger bubbling over inside her at the miserable thing invading her home. The spawn of Satan didn't flee or hide. It just moved a few inches up or down, right or left, each time she’d tried to get it. And now it crept, one dang appendage at a time, across the covers in her direction. “Stop, you nasty thing!” It didn’t, of course. “Damned freak show,” she spat, fleeing for the kitchen.

The stab holes on her bedspread caught her attention the second she returned, making her wince, but the spider was gone. Easing around her bed with slow, cautious steps, Beth-Ann searched. Crisscrossing her bedroom, she looked high and low but caught no sight of the sneak. She nabbed her large flashlight and continued her search, glancing under her bed and even looking inside drawers. No spider.

An hour and twenty-four minutes later, Martin left her home for the second time that week. He’d gone on search and destroy, locating a spider-home of sorts, telling her the news amid chuckles. She shuddered to hear the spider had been under her bed, hidden in the open underside of her box springs, but her brother made short work of both the Hell Fiend and its webbing, and re-sprayed her room.

When he left this time, she accompanied him, planning to spend the next couple days with him and his wife.

***

“Beth-Ann’s going to kill you once she finds out what you’ve been up to,” Nate said the following afternoon, silently coming up behind Martin.

The other man jumped, dropping the containers he held. “Uh...”

“That's a guilty look if I ever saw one.” Stooping, Nate grabbed a container and lifted the lid, raising his eyebrows at the couple of roaches that scurried out. He found other bugs in the second container.

“This isn't what it looks like.”

“I think it's exactly how it looks. You're sneaking into Beth-Ann's home with bugs. I figure that's to attract spiders and provide them with something to eat. I guess that means the so-called poison you've sprayed isn't really poison, right?”

Dropping the innocent routine, Martin chortled and slapped his leg. “She goes bananas about spiders. It's the funniest thing ever.”

“You idiot,” the police officer snapped. “She's afraid of them. Terrified. Are you aware she took a gun after one the other day?”

“Gun?” Martin snickered. “Ah, stop kidding around. I know you're pulling my leg.”

“No, I’m dead serious, you jackass. And this ends here.”

“Promise you won't tell her. If she found out, she really would murder me.”

“Idiot,” Nate snorted and walked away.

***

Six days later, Beth-Ann stood at her sink, washing dishes. She rinsed off a large plate and set it in the drain rack, frowning when she saw a small roach run across her counter. Something dropped onto her hand, and she squeaked.

“Again?” This arachnid was smaller than the one in her bedroom by half, but she still flailed her hand around, shaking it so hard she expected to crack her wrist or cause permanent damage.

Puzzled, Beth-Ann tried to make sense of it. Where were these darned spiders coming from? Had it been under the cupboard above the rack? Small or not, she trembled. She thought of getting her swatter which hung nearby but worried the creature might hide if she turned away, and instead grabbed a sharp knife from the rack.

Over the next few moments, she tried to stab the thing repeatedly. But it kept evading her before finally vanishing. Had she gotten it? Her shoulders drooped after she examined the blade. Nothing. If she'd killed the thing, remains would've been on the knife. So, the spider must have run away.

Sick and tired, not only of her fear but the creatures turning up, Beth-Ann fumed, searching the kitchen — in the dish rack and under it, under the microwave and behind it, under the toaster and inside it, under, behind, and inside the coffeemaker. With a growl of frustration, she peeked inside cupboards above the sink, below the sink, inside the burners of the stove, inside the oven, around the fridge. No escaped creeper.

All she had to show for this futile exercise was a head full of steam and a workout.

She called an exterminator — not Butch — scowling at her checkbook after paying him for his services.

Bedtime arrived, but she had trouble falling asleep.

***

Beth-Ann wheeled her lawnmower out of the small shed and mowed half the front yard before taking a break. She sipped a soft drink, rotated her neck in circles a few times, and felt proud of the coating of sweat on her body. The lawnmower worked fine, but its self-propelling function had gone out years before. She hadn’t worked on her lawn in a while, and the height of the grass and new infestations of weeds proved it.

No spiders had shown up recently, and she'd begun to relax again. Maybe clearing the yard would help to keep them at bay.

Other positive things had occurred, too. Her boss, Mr. Obnoxious Pucker-Lips himself, had been written up for talking inappropriately to an employee. He'd been respectful to everyone since then and was actually working. Another good thing had been Beth-Ann finding a used microwave after the kitchen debacle. She hadn't meant to stab her previous one or short-circuit anything, but...

Once she finished the front yard, she shifted to the back, getting part of it mowed before running out of gas.

She found the five-gallon gas can on top of an old stove in the shed. As she lifted it, she thought she glimpsed movement in that general area. The shed was dark, and she couldn’t tell whether or not she'd imagined it. Fishing her cell out of her pocket, she activated the light app, and aimed the phone.

A spider larger than the monster from her bedroom crouched on the stove. She screamed and dropped the can, thanking the heavens for screw-on lids, because gas would have gone everywhere.

She stared at the horrific visitor and could’ve sworn it stared back before inching toward her. Each step she took backward, the spider took one forward. Whipping around, she ran as fast as she could toward her house.

Damn it, damn it, damn it!” she cried. “Why are you alive? Can’t you all just die?”

Shooting through her front door, she panted, looking around wildly for something she could use to end her problem forever. Fly swatter? Nope. She’d mangled hers to bits over the past several days, whacking them in all directions like a nut job. It made perfect sense at the time because she'd felt creeping things all over her skin. They'd turned out to be flies, but — oh, well.

Beth-Ann racked her brain. She had no bug spray left, dang it to heck and back. Her gun wasn't an option either because Nate still had it.

As her gaze fell on something, she remembered a movie scene she'd watched who-knew-when. She cackled with glee, sounding somewhat demonic to her own ears, but so be it. The end result was what mattered. And this might be her best idea yet.

Nabbing the can of hairspray on the counter, she snatched a lighter and a box of matches — in case the lighter let her down — and zipped back out to the shed. Her target — no, her persistent enemy — still perched in the same spot.

She picked up her gas can in slow motion, toting it a distance away. Next, she gingerly removed the oil bottles, then assorted paints and other flammable items.

Monstro never moved, which pleased Beth-Ann to no end. Nicholson’s grinning face from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” popped into her head, and she snickered, wondering if she looked just as crazed and fiendish. “You just wait, Spiderzilla,” she whispered.

After lighting a match, she sprayed the hair spray through the fire, and was tickled when a long burst of flame shot toward the spider before dying out quickly.

“Yippee for me and oh-shucky-darn for you,” she murmured, seeing the creature hadn't moved and wasn't exercising a particle of intelligence or self-preservation.

Using the lighter next, she torched the spot, delighted to see the eight-legged chicken run for a box of giveaway things. It took her less than a second to light up the box, and she snickered.

She didn’t see Spidasaurus Rex now and had no clue where it had gone. But she flamed the whole nearby shelf — sides, underneath, above, every last inch — just to be sure. Satisfied, she left the shed.

“What the hell?” Nate exclaimed, appearing beside her. "Have you lost your mind?"

Beth-Ann smiled at him. "I think I got it!”

“Got what, you crazy woman?"

"The spider.” She studied him in disbelief. “Do you ever have a clue?”

"You're a fine one to talk about having a clue," he snarked, eyes bugging out at the tall flames shooting from the top of her shed. More gouts of fire shot from the sides.

Nate grabbed her by the shoulders, his eyes wide and serious. “Did you bang your head on something? Inhale fumes, maybe?"

She shook his hands off and laughed. “I'm fine, for heaven's sake. It’s got to be dead. I really and truly killed it, Nate!”

He shook his head, "You're profoundly loony and cackling like a maniac!” Leaning so close their faces nearly touched, he stared into her eyes, speaking in an urgent rush. “You'reburningyourshedtotheground.”

"Uh-huh.” She shrugged. “It was old and falling apart anyway.” Then she grinned. "But I got it!”

Beth-Ann fell asleep that night within moments of lying down.


Hours later, a faint light shone from a small hole in her closet wall. Then a spider stepped through, followed by others.

The end.

-

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