Content Warning: This is a short fiction post based on DrawKill’s Goretober Prompt List. It may contain violence, gore, creepy shit, sexy shit, or all of the above.
She had brought that disgusting thing to school again, and this time she was going to regret it.
“She” being Sierra Craven, school weirdo and – unfortunately – the newest flyer on the high school cheer squad. “That disgusting thing” was her pet tarantula, that for some reason she was still allowed to bring to school. Sure she kept it in a clear carrying cage most of the time, but that didn’t make it any less gross and unnecessary.
Ashlynn shook her head, nibbling at the end of her pink pencil in disgust as she watched Sierra twiddle her fingers at the nasty little bug three desk away. Sierra wouldn’t have even made the cheer squad if it had been left up to Ashlynn – which it should have been, considering she was captain. But of course, Coach Liza just had to over-ride her once she’d seen how flexible Sierra was. The girl could do splits and backbends like she was possessed. Not to mention she didn’t even fit in with the rest of the team. Her hair was dyed black, her makeup was terrible and pasty, her nose ring wasn’t even cute.
Ashlynn scoffed, slamming her book shut as the bell rang and the teacher announced the end of class. There had only been two cheer practices since the try-outs, and Sierra had brought her spider to every single one, setting it under the bleachers. She’d told Coach Liza that it was her “emotional support pet” – such freaking bullshit that was. Ashlynn knew she’d overhead Sierra telling one of her equally creepy friends that the tarantula was her “familiar,” whatever the hell that was.
Ashlynn waited until the end of practice, when everyone had gathered in the locker rooms for showers. Coach Liza had left, and in the absence of the coach, Ashlynn was in charge. She was going to make sure every girl there remembered it.
She showered quickly, dried and dressed while the others were still in their towels. Sierra’s tarantula was tucked into its cage underneath one of the benches near the lockers. Ashlynn picked up the cage with a grimace, giving it a little shake. The big, hairy spider scrambled a bit, alarmed at the motion. Ashlynn glared at it through the plastic and shuddered. She absolutely hated spiders. Anyone who could manage to think they were somehow worthy of being a pet needed serious help.
She marched back into the showers, with the spider’s cage in one hand and a can of bug spray in the other. She’d bought it the previous night with one single intention: Sierra was never going to bring her creepy spider around them again. With luck, Sierra wouldn’t bring herself around them again, either.
Some of the girls were still showering, others were toweling off. Suppressing her disgust, Ashlynn popped the lid off the spider’s container, turned it on its side just inside the shower doorway, and gave the back of it a little kick with her foot.
The spider scurried. It only took seconds before one of the girls noticed it.
Absolute chaos ensued. The girls were screaming, running, scrambling into corners and up onto benches as the frantic spider raced around the unfamiliar room, scurrying through puddles and avoiding pouring showers. Sierra spotted it, her eyes going wide, but she couldn’t manage to get through the scrambling girls to reach the spider in time.
Ashlynn reached it first.
She unloaded the bug spray as the spider continued to scurry. Sierra began screaming the moment she realized what Ashlynn was doing, but it was too late. The spider began scurrying in circles, confused. It spasmed and twitched. Sierra finally reached her, shoving Ashlynn away with enough strength that she slipped and fell on the tiles.
“Don’t! Why the hell would you do that?” Sierra’s hands trembled above the seizing spider, hesitant to touch it as the little beasts fangs gnashed in its death throws. Ashlynn tossed back her hair, smiling as she climbed to her feet.
“Why the hell would you bring that spider into the locker rooms, Sierra?” she snapped. “Its a hazard! It escaped! It could have bitten someone-”
“Jameson would never bite anybody!” Sierra’s voice was shaking. “He was just scared…there’s no way he could have gotten out of his cage…” Her spider had curled into a ball and was no longer moving. She scooped it into her hands, and it was still big enough to fill both her palms. The other girls were slowly beginning to gather closer, realizing the threat was dead. Many of them were sighing in relief. Others were nearly gagging to see Sierra actually holding it.
“Jameson? It had a name?” Ashlynn cackled. “You’re a freak, Sierra! It’s just a fucking bug! If you’re so sad about it, go pick another one out of the bushes!”
Sierra clutched the curled spider to her chest. Her reddened eyes filled with tears. She gazed up at the girls gathered around, seeing only disgust and horror. No sympathy, no kindness. She looked back at Ashlynn, and climbed to her feet, her towel beginning to droop.
“You shouldn’t have done that, Ashlynn,” she said, the tightness in her voice betraying how hard she was trying not to cry. Still clutching her dead spider, she shoved past Ashlynn and out of the showers. Her eyes fell at once on the spider’s cage, lying on its side. When she looked back, her face was contorted with fury, and for the first time, Ashlynn felt a drop of fear.
“I know you did this on purpose,” Sierra said softly. “I fucking know you did, Ashlynn Vance. You’ll be sorry.”
With that she was gone, fleeing the locker room still in her towel. Ashlynn had to laugh. The girl was crazy. Running through the school in only a towel with a dead spider – whatever reputation she’d had, it was really gone for good now. Maybe she’d even leave the school. She made a show of comforting the other girls, giving hugs and reassuring them that everything would fine.
Things were restored to their rightful order. Ashlynn was not about to have the school freak trying to climb through the ranks by getting placed on her team.
Sierra wasn’t in school the next day, but her name was still in everyone’s mouths. The day before, someone had managed to get a video of her running through the hallway in her towel, holding the spider. It was already all over Facebook and Twitter, going more viral by the second. Whenever someone tried to show it to her, Ashlynn just shook her head.
“I just think its sad,” she said. “You can’t help crazy. I think she had a mental break or something. The pressure on the cheer squad was probably too much for her.”
But of course, Ashlynn had already seen the video plenty of times. Her bestie Justine had sent it to her first thing in the morning, and she’d almost cried from laughing so hard. Poor, freaky little Sierra. It really was her own fault. No girl in Juneberry High got to go against Ashlynn Vance’s wishes and get away with it. Sierra just had to learn the hard way.
By the time Ashlynn got home that night, Sierra had deactivated her Facebook and the video of her was still making the rounds. Ashlynn flopped onto her bed with her phone in her hand, burying herself in the cozy, fluffy white pillows as she watched the video for probably the dozenth time. It just didn’t stop being funny. It was too good.
Her parents weren’t home yet, so she took the opportunity to go into her mom’s medicine cabinet and sneak out one of her Xanax. She chugged it down with a Peach La Croix, turned on Netflix, and zoned out. She wasn’t sure how long she laid there, utterly relaxed, before she finally fell asleep.
Something woke her abruptly. Something tiny, nagging, and insistent, that poked and prodded at her dreamy Xanax-stoned state. She jerked awake, reaching down to scratch furiously at the itch on her leg. So. Fucking. Itchy.
She squirmed in bed. Sleep was already almost on her again.
But the itching. Her legs kept tingling. Furious, she flapped the blankets, thinking some of her cat Luna’s hair must have gotten into the bed. The itching seemed to subside, and she turned over, her mouth hanging slack as she fell back into slumber and began to snore.
She was dazedly aware of something brushing her hand. Fuzzy, a little soft. Was Luna still in her bedroom? She flicked her fingers, trying to shoo her away. But the cat persisted. Except…it stopped feeling so much like a cat. It felt like fuzzy little fingers tap-tap-tapping the back of her hand.
The Xanax had worked too well. Her sleep was too heavy. She barely managed to open her eyes, unable to even move to close her mouth. Her bedroom was dark, her door and curtains closed. But even in the darkness, Ashlynn could see that it wasn’t the cat touching her hand. Something small and dark was curled there, twitching. Slowly, it began to move. She could see its long, skinny legs testing the air as it made its way forward, over her palm and onto her arm. Each step of its little scurrying limbs tingled and itched. Her heart began to pound. She knew what it was, but she couldn’t manage to wake up enough to throw it off. It was right in front of her face now.
A spider. Not just any spider. It was Sierra’s fat, hairy, monstrosity of a tarantula.
And it was still crawling.
Straight toward her open mouth.
It was like the worst of her nightmares where no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t scream. Sleep paralysis made her chest feel as if it were being crushed. The spider’s fuzzy little legs brushed against her face, all around her mouth, finding the entrance. Panic shot through her brain as the spider’s limbs tapped over her lips…then her tongue. It was beginning to disappear. She could feel its weight on her tongue. Its fuzzy body bumped against the roof of her mouth, its limbs feeling slowly, cautiously towards her throat. She couldn’t move, she could barely breathe. Her brain was screaming but her body remained useless. The spider went deeper. Its limbs began to descend, it was squeezing itself against her tonsils and down…down…
The urge to vomit was overwhelming –
With a shriek she scrambled in the bed, kicking off blankets and pillows. Sunshine streamed through her gauzy curtain. The sound of children laughing drifted in from outside. It was morning. It had all been a dream.
She couldn’t shake the urge to dry-heave in the bathroom as she straightened her hair. The nightmare had left her shaken. Stupid Sierra…stupid spider…she told herself she was done thinking about it. Done watching the stupid video. Done.
But her stomach was too sensitive to even eat breakfast. She nibbled on toast and managed a sip of orange juice, but it was all she could get down. Fearing she was coming down with the flu – this early in the school year? – she mixed vitamin powder into her water and threw an extra packet in her purse.
As she pulled her white Honda Accord into her usual parking spot, her phone began to vibrate. It was Justine, texting her: “you’ll never believe who had the fucking nerve to show up to school again!”
Ashlynn felt her stomach sinking even before the pictures loaded through. It was Sierra, sitting at her desk, obviously taken from the angle of Justine’s seat. Ashlynn slammed her phone into her purse. She didn’t want to think of that creep. She had never even wanted to see her again. Yet there she was: still there at school as a humiliating video of her went viral.
“She won’t last,” Ashlynn muttered as she slammed her books into her locker. “She won’t fucking last.”
By lunch, Ashlynn’s stomach pains were almost unbearable. She spent the first 15 minutes of the lunch hour gagging into a toilet, with no results other than tears and a runny nose. It had to be the flu. She planned to check out with the nurse’s office and go home early.
As soon as she left the stall, her stomach lurched and cramped tightly. She ran to the sink and leaned over it, retching. Except this time, she could feel something coming up. She kept choking, coughing and gagging until her head throbbed. She could feel something thick moving up her esophagus. The closer it got to her mouth, the more she began to choke. She couldn’t breath as the thing blocked her airway. She didn’t understand…she hadn’t even eaten anything that day…what was possibly in her stomach to throw up?
Finally, with a heavy heave and a rush of bile, something splatted into the sink. She leaned there gasping, trying to catch her breath, spitting out the vile taste from her mouth. The thing she had thrown up looked almost like a hairball, round with strange ridges, about the size of her palm…
And it was…
Those ridges were…uncurling. They were legs…and a fat, hairy body…
“No way,” she gasped weakly. “No way, no way, no way, what the fuck…”
“There you are Jameson.”
Ashlynn almost screamed. Sierra was standing there, just inside the bathroom door. Her face looked even paler than usual, her bloodshot eyes surrounded by dark bags as if she hadn’t been sleeping. Ashlynn grasped at her chest, watching in utter disbelief. This had to be a dream…there was no way…it was not possible…
Sierra walked over to the sink and held out her hands. Sure enough, Jameson – somehow bigger and harrier than ever – crawled up out of the sink into her hands. He was already busy cleaning himself, running his limbs through his little mouth, working off the bile. Ashlynn gagged again just at the thought. No way that spider had just come out of her…alive.
“That’s not fucking possible,” she moaned, shaking her head. Sierra turned to her quizzically, as if noticing her for the first time. “That spider did not just fucking come out of me, what the fuck did you do, Sierra?”
“What did I do?” Sierra giggled as Jameson crawled up her arm and settled on her shoulder, nestling in her hair like some vile, furry little kitten. “I haven’t done anything, Ashlynn. But you did. And I warned you: you’d regret it.” She smiled sweetly before leaving the bathroom. Ashlynn was too sick to go after her. She wanted to get as far away from her and her gross little pet as possible.
She texted her mom at work to tell her she was sick, and spent the rest of the day lying on her bed with her laptop. She Googled frantically: spiders crawling inside human mouths, can spiders survive in a human stomach? There was the oh-so-popular myth of humans eating spiders in their sleep…but nothing about a live spider crawling into your mouth and down your throat. The most horrifying story was of a woman who had a spider nest in her ear. Still, there was nothing regarding anything close to what she had experienced that day.
Her thoughts began to run wild. Had she imagined it all? Had Sierra drugged her somehow, and she had hallucinated? After all, that thing had looked like the same spider. But she’d killed it…spiders couldn’t just miraculously come back from the dead any more than they could survive in human stomach acid.
She couldn’t shake the feeling of something creepy-crawly in her stomach. It was all just her imagination. It had to be. She snuck another one of her mother’s Xanax, determined to sleep it off.
Something woke her in the middle of the night. Except this time, she was sure she was awake.
Her phone showed the time as 1:15am. The streetlights outside shone meager light through her curtain. The house was so quiet. As she sat groggily on the edge of her bed, rubbing her eyes, she couldn’t figure out what it was that had woken her. At first she thought it was her stomach again – but that wasn’t the source of her discomfort.
The itching. Why was she so damn itchy?
She stumbled to the bathroom, flicking on the light, brushing and slapping at her skin still half within sleep. Staring at herself groggily in the bathroom mirror, all she saw was a very tired blonde girl with the previous day’s makeup smudged across her skin. She tossed aside her pajamas, planning to wash them in the morning. She shuffled back to her closet, digging through piles of t-shirts to find something to sleep in. Dust bunnies, ugly dark pieces of fuzz, tumbled from her shirts as she tried to find a clean one. When had her room gotten so filthy? Had her mom stopped vacuuming in there? She would give her a piece of her mind in the morning –
Why were the dust bunnies crawling?
She flicked on the closet light, her eyes bulging. They weren’t dust bunnies. It was dozens of tiny, scurrying, fuzzy black spiders.
Her screaming could have woken the dead.
Her parents found her standing on the far corner of her bed, still shrieking, pointing frantically at the closet. Her father investigated as her mother struggled to comfort her, wrapping her arms around her as she continued to flail and shriek. But no matter how many clothes her father flung out of her closet, no matter how many baskets and boxes he overturned – there were no spiders to be seen.
“You must’ve just had a nightmare, pumpkin,” he said, sleepily shaking his head. Ashlynn’s mother had wrapped a blanket around her, and clung to her as they stood in the hallway outside the bedroom.
“It wasn’t a nightmare!” she shrieked. “I saw fucking spiders everywhere!” She shook her head firmly. “I’m not sleeping in there. No way. We need a fumigator before I set foot in that room again.”
“Now, now, pumpkin-”
Her pitch and volume reached new heights.
“I WANT! A FUCKING! FUMIGATOR!”
The fumigator came by Saturday. They spent the day out of the house, down by the beach, getting some “family time.” Ashlynn would have preferred literally anything else than a day with her parents – except, perhaps, being stuck in a spider-infested house. But her parents insisted she come with them instead of spending the day with friends. She sunbathed on her towel while her parents walked across the sand, trying to relax as the sun fried her skin. Every five minutes she was reapplying her lotion, struggling not to scratch her flesh bloody.
The itching wouldn’t stop.
The sensation scurried over her like ants. She could feel the itches travel. Her frustration kept building. She felt like she could scream. She sat up, tossed off her sunglasses, and stared down at her pale inner arms. The itching traveled up and down, prickling, unceasing. She scratched, unable to stop. Scratch-scratch-scratch.
Something…moved…beneath her skin.
She stopped scratching. She stared at her pale wrists, at the spot where she could see the blue of her veins. Had there been…no…but…had she seen…?
Starting at the crook of her elbow, she scratched slowly upward. She could feel her blood moving through her veins from the pressure of her fingers.
At the very top of her wrist, where the skin was palest and all her veins were visible, she saw something small and black wriggle beneath the skin.
Her hands began to shake. She pushed along her arm again, towards her wrist.
Tiny pinpricks of black pressed out from within her flesh. Then dark lines, like little legs, poked tightly against her skin before disappearing again. That wasn’t possible. That wasn’t…there was no fucking way…
She was hallucinating. She had to be. There was no other explanation. Spiders didn’t live inside human flesh. They didn’t.
She couldn’t stop staring at her own skin. She and her parents stayed in a hotel that night while the house aired out, and she demanded her own room just so she could have the privacy to examine herself. She searched every inch of her skin, scratching, pressing, pushing. She couldn’t replicate what she had earlier seen.
She couldn’t sleep. She sat on the hard hotel bed, knees pulled to her chest, staring blankly at the TV. The memory of that fat tarantula vomiting out of her mouth replayed in her mind again and again. It couldn’t be real…but she had felt its thick body lurch its way up her esophagus. It couldn’t be real, but she remembered so starkly the way its legs had felt, testing cautiously around her mouth before it crawled inside.
It couldn’t be real.
Then why could she remember it so clearly?
It was Sierra’s fault. It had to be. That little freak had done something. She was pranking her somehow. But how could Sierra make spiders vomit from her mouth, infest her house and crawl beneath her skin? Ashlynn couldn’t forget the way the girl had looked at her, clutching her dead pet, eyes filled with tears.
“You shouldn’t have done that, Ashlynn. You’ll be sorry.”
Is this what she had meant? Had she planned this from the beginning? To somehow…make her lose her mind?
The itching wouldn’t let her sleep. She stared at the TV until her parents knocked on her door in the morning, and hid her bloodshot eyes behind sunglasses.
Sunday morning came, and Ashlynn still hadn’t slept. Her skin prickled and pinched and itched ceaselessly. She kept expecting to find a rash, some indication that something was actually wrong. But there was nothing. Other than the dark bags deepening beneath her eyes, no one could have guessed that Ashlynn had spiders crawling within her.
They returned home to a house that still smelled slightly odd, but was guaranteed free of all pests for at least 6 months. Ashlynn wished that she had stayed home. Maybe a good dose of bug poison would kill the things inside her. She shut herself in her room at once and sat under her desk lamp, poking and prodding at her skin. Where were they? Where were their little dark legs and fat bodies? She couldn’t see them beneath her skin anymore, no matter how much she pressed and pushed. The itching, by late evening, had lessened. Perhaps, at last, it was over.
Monday morning, she had managed to sleep. She awoke with a headache and a pale, sunken face – nothing a heavy coating of makeup couldn’t handle. She’d be damned if she was going to let Sierra get to her, regardless of whatever sick tricks the girl was playing. Or at least…if she did get to her…Ashlynn wasn’t about to show it.
She sat in front of her mirror, carefully applying concealer, foundation, and powder. A fresh-faced girl soon appeared where a zombie previously was. Every now and then, a little itch ran up her arm or leg, or tickled beneath her hair. She did her best to ignore it, twitching every time she felt it. Eyeshadow and lipstick next. She actually looked human again. Then earrings…
As she turned her head, she noticed a particularly dark hair had sprouted from within her ear. She winced in disgust, horrified that she could have possibly grown such a thing. She leaned close to the mirror, tugging at her ear so she could get a grip on the hair with her fingers.
But it was not a hair at all.
It was a leg.
And the moment it was disturbed, it retreated back within her ear.
Nausea hit her like a gut punch. It couldn’t be…no…no…no…She picked up her tweezers, leaning as close as she could to the mirror, hands shaking. She could feel it…the touch of its legs…the wiggle. She dug in with the teasers, groaning with disgust, beginning to hyperventilate. The tweezers closed around something, and she felt a little scramble against the delicate hairs of her inner ear. Slowly, she drew it out –
A fat, black, furry spider, caught by one leg in her tweezers, scrambling and clawing at the air.
And as she screamed, flinging the spider and tweezers across the room, it was as if the fat arachnid had merely been the plug keeping everything inside.
Dozens of spiders began to crawl out of her ear. Tiny and scurrying, they swept over her face and mouth and down her body. She could feel them around her eardrum, itching and prickling. She could feel the swell as they all struggled to get out of her at once. Screaming and flailing, beating at herself, she stumbled across her room in a panic. Her mother burst in the door, shrieking at her to tell her what was the matter. But no matter how much she screamed and gestured and slapped at her face, Ashlynn’s mother only stared in horror.
She could see no spiders. All she could see was her daughter, in a utter panic, grab her car keys and flee the house, screaming the name “Sierra.”
Sierra Craven was seated in history class when Ashlynn stormed into the room. The teacher paused, eyes wide, and students gasped as she slammed open the door. With wide, frantic eyes, she surveyed the room until her gaze fell upon Sierra.
It had really only been a matter of time.
With a shriek that could have woken the dead, Ashlynn hurled herself at her. She plunged across Sierra’s desk, grabbed her by her shirt and shook her, screaming incomprehensibly. Sierra sat calmly, a little smile growing on her face as she watched the tiny baby spiders scurry and hide beneath Ashlynn’s clothes. So many precious babies…
“WHAT?? THE FUCK?? DID YOU DO??” Ashlynn was sobbing, crying and screaming uncontrollably. The teacher was in the doorway, calling for the campus guard. Students had pulled out their cell phones and were standing back, anticipating a fight. But Sierra knew: there would be no fight. The fight was already over.
“Make it stop!” Ashlynn screamed. “Make it stop, make it stop, make it stop, please!”
Her grip on Sierra’s shirt loosened, and she collapsed to the floor. Like a nervous tic, she continually slapped and scratched at her skin. Sierra shook her head.
“Make what stop, Ashlynn?” she said softly. Jameson fidgeted within her jacket, roused by the excitement.
“All the fucking spiders!” Ashlyn wept. “Please…please…the spiders…make it stop…”
“I told you, you’d regret it,” Sierra said gently. “I warned you. But you couldn’t just let a poor girl and her pet be. You’re a mean girl, Ashlynn.” Sierra sat back in her chair. She could hear the footsteps of the guard running toward the classroom. “But luckily I’m not. I’ll make it stop.”
Ashlynn’s eyes brightened, right as the guard got her in his grip and pulled her up, ushering her away. Sierra watched her go, and reached beneath her jacket, giving Jameson a little rub.
“I’ll make it stop,” she whispered. “Eventually.”