The BIG SPIDER bound across the Limerick hills, skirting along beautiful lakes and leaping high over trees and houses. The freezing air turned Roberts fingers numb as they dashed up the hill. He could see night coming to an end. A hint of orange in the sky to the east. It looked like it was going to be a wonderful day.
They began to slow their ascent as they came upon a dark, twisted forest. It seemed to be alive with hulking great trees bending themselves over the travellers like crooked shadows ready to envelope them and eat them whole. Two huge trees, streching high into the sky and as broad as the SPIDER himself, acted as an entrance to this terrifying wood.
The SPIDER moved swiftly through the frightening forest with purpose. Every step along this path he had taken before, and would again. Robert noticed the growth along this route wasn’t as thick as around them. Plants were dead or dying, their leaves brown and withered and no animals could be seen or heard.
Soon, they began up a steep incline, the SPIDER using trees for leverage, his massive frame expanding and contracting with deep breathes. Robert legs dangled off the SPIDERS back, his palms stinging from clutching hair so tight. From up here, deep in this forest and high on this hill, it felt as if they were they only creatures on this lonely planet.
The fading moon cracked over the top of the slope, filling Robert with hope that this ordeal was almost at an end. But, when the SPIDER heaved them over the edge, Robert was unprepared for what he saw. A football field sized clearing dotted with the sparkling bones of the dead. Black crows circled above cawing loadly. Sometimes, one would land to peck around the remains for scraps but usually they just flapped away empty mouthed. The SPIDER strode across the clearing, crushing bones beneath his eight feet, to a cave hidden in the dark on the other side.
“Welcome to my home”, announced the SPIDER as they entered his dwelling. Rock, sharp enough to cut, jutted from the ceiling and walls. Moss crept in from outside the entrance turning the air musky and thick. Robert swore he could taste the blood from the SPIDERS victims and hear their faint screams echoing throughout the grotto. Their final thoughts etched into the stone, written in red.
“What are you going to do to me? Are you going to kill me?” Robert was scared; more scared than he has ever been, and he trembled when the SPIDER took him from his back and placed him onto a stone slab that served as a table. It was cold beneath him and the dampness saturated the seat of his pants.
“My father, it is destined that I end this torment here, tonight. I have travelled the country growing stronger by the day, feeding off roaming cattle and helpless villages like the one you saw tonight.”
Robert remembered the dead child briefly, but quickly removed it from his mind.
“By eating your face, I will have completed the circle.” The SPIDER drew a circle in the air with a leg. “What started with you ends with you.”
“But I had no hand in this… Why must I die?”
The SPIDER turned away from Robert and exhaled, perhaps annoyed that Robert didn’t understand… or perhaps sad that it is finally over. He scuttled and rested his head against a wall, the deep cold easing his troubled mind.
“This is the way” he said, “Only with your death will I stop killing humans. Only with your face in my mouth, will I be placated.”
Inside his stomach, Robert burned up. Fear and anger fighting each other, turning his muscles weak and filling his mind with conflicting images and feelings. His arms hung limply by his sides and his head lolled on his neck. He didn’t want to die but could not bear the thought of more children being murdered, more towns and villages destroyed. Robert knew there was only one thing he could do but he was so afraid.
“Big spider” said Robert weakly but with calmness that came from his resignation, “I am ready to die.” He stood and looked at the SPIDER who was still facing away. “How will this be done?”
The BIG SPIDER didn’t turn around to face Robert. He couldn’t look his father in the eyes before he was to kill him. Tears dripped down his face, into his mouth and down the cave wall. His hairy body shook as he cried freely in front of his next victim.
Robert could hear the SPIDERS voice in his head. It said calming words, thanking him for being intelligent enough to know when to do the right thing. And this indeed was the right thing. He was to save many lives by loosing his.
“But what will happen to you? Where will you go?” asked Robert, unaware that these were his final words.
“I will disappear forever.” The SPIDER said with his real voice into the wall. “No human shall ever lay his eyes on me again. I promise.” And he turned around.
The last thing Robert ever saw was his face in the jaws of his son.