Last night was not my first encounter with a supernatural occurrence. However, it was by far the most recent. It’s situations like that when you look back, laugh to yourself, and try to explain away the fears you had. “The lights were clearly coming from a car,” you’d reassure yourself. “Oh, the noise was just some kind of animal.” Last night, the most frightening part of this was the fact the reassurance was true; the noise was some kind of animal. At least half animal, that is.
Allow me to backtrack slightly so that the readers will be able to make sense of this jumbled mess I call a recollection. What had started out as a collection of absurd and tasteless jokes, when combined, became somewhat of an urban legend. This tale, based entirely in fiction (or so we thought), was that of the deceased relative of a friend of ours.
“There’s a bed and two mattresses,” our host had stated when we enquired as to where we would be sleeping that night. Of course, being the selfish teenager that I am, I instantly took claim to the bed. After all, sleeping on the floor was something uncharacteristically undignified for someone such as me. Later on that night, we discovered that his grandma died in that bed. Rather than be shocked and immediately move to the floor, we jokingly prophesized that, come 3AM, the spirit of his grandma, inhabiting the body of some kind of twisted man-spider, would come knocking on our window, clacking and screeching for us to get our mothers in a demented and horrific tone. The kind of guttural yet piercing tone that we would inevitably begin to mimic as the tale took on a history of its own.
Backtracking even further as a brief note, you, the reader, may be pondering the relevance of a man-spider’s body. “That’s just improbable,” you may think aloud. “A spirit returning to it’s place of death, perhaps. But to invent a diabolical creature such as that? Hogwash.” There is more fact grounded in the creature that is the man-spider than any other part of our tale. The man-spider was an incredible legend because it could adapt to almost any shape or form, becoming indistinguishable from a regular human being. The original draft of one of James Joyce’s short stories from his collection entitled “The Dubliners”, ended with a woman realizing that she had married a man-spider, after finally seeing through his disguise. The most interesting thing about the man-spider is that they actually do NOT disguise themselves. It’s possible that the human brain is not capable of seeing something as utterly disturbing as a large man with several legs, clacking jaws, eight beady eyes and a swelling, hairy abdomen. That is not to say that it is impossible, far from it. It is however incredibly difficult to see through this deceitful web that our mind spins to shield us from the truth.
For several weeks, my friends and I would continue with the elaborate joke of a spirit-possessed abomination coming to us at night and shrieking, clacking and devouring. It was an incredibly morbid joke in hindsight, but a joke we nonetheless appreciated as being one of the funniest things we had ever encountered in our relatively untainted lives. But on that night, the joke was no longer funny.
It was a Saturday night. Saturday, the 7th of November, 2009; to be exact. Jordan, the other orchestrator of this elaborate farce, walked in the door without knocking, took a seat at the table and proudly announced, “I told my family the spider grandma story at dinner tonight.” I laughed loudly, abruptly stopping to enquire as to what they had thought of it. “Mum reckons it should be a movie. My brother was crying,” which was then followed by a brief re-enactment of his brother’s tears. I am still not sure whether they were tears of laughter or of fear; perhaps Michael too had seen this demonic wretch prior to us. Tim, who had not heard the story before, asked as to what we were talking about. This was a frequent occurrence of this story; we could go on for at least a half hour without restating a section. I failed to explain it correctly to Tim, as he didn’t laugh as much as we did. I still feel the joke element of it is something you had to witness at its conception to truly appreciate.
We were quick to shrug off the joke and begin to watch the movies I had rented for that fateful night. While I am aware of this digression, Raising Arizona is not a good movie, contrary to what any reviewers may say. The plot is contrived, and while I watched every second of the film, there were more than a few sections where I had absolutely no idea what was going on. We continued on to Frank Darabont’s adaptation of the Steven King novella, “The Mist”. While the message behind the film is something I will defend to the very end, the way it is presented is sub-par, and I regret defending it as much as I did to my friends. That being said, we laughed a good way through the movie, until my good friend Kristin and her boyfriend Ryan showed up. “We were out buying limes to make mojitos,” Kristin stated as she walked in the door, uninvited, “it’s a really refreshing drink. They’re quite delicious. We decided to stop by. I didn’t realize that your house was so far away.” Kristin could talk for a long time, so I took the opportunity to interrupt her and ask, “far away from what?” She laughed and replied, “from my house!” Let it be known that it’s around a 15 to 20 minute walk from my house to Kristin’s. That night, on the way back, we made it in less than 5.
After watching what is supposed to be a heart-wrenching finale of actor Tom Jane killing his on-screen child to keep a promise of keeping him safe from the monsters, only to find rescue less than a minute later and laughing hysterically the whole way through it, we decided to walk Kristin and Ryan home; it was a beautiful night, and after hearing about these mojitos for three-quarters of an hour, I was very interested in trying one. So off we set, the five of us, wandering the streets at half past twelve on this pleasantly cool Sunday morning. The rest of the night at Kristin’s is not really part of the story, so I won’t go into it here; I feel I have already digressed too far from the initial point, padding the story with an element of reality and relatable points. I don’t need to do this, because this entire story is true, but there no doubt will be skeptics.
As we wandered through the streets, me without shoes as I had decided not to wear them, Tim and Jordan both with shoes, we jokingly spoke of the spider grandma to pass the time. While I shrieked and screeched and Jordan made the clacking sounds, there was definitely a presence around us. We decided to quiet down; it was 2AM after all, and we were walking fairly close to houses. As we continued onwards, I could hear a faint clacking, a sound reminding me of bone hitting bone. At the time, I just assumed Jordan had taken a new approach to his section of the joke. I even felt slightly envious of it, there was only so much you could do with a shrill scream. When we reached the end of the street, Tim commented, “it was really weird. There was someone just standing in their driveway looking at us.” We questioned him as to what they looked like, but before Tim was able to answer, the air was filled with the rasping shriek that we had jokingly made not two minutes before. I looked to Jordan, a look of fear that was immediately returned. We turned behind us to see a figure standing under one of the few streetlights on the short boulevard. The figure was enshrouded by shadow, almost a pitch-black obelisk, limbs indistinguishable. As the shrieking started up again, we did the only thing our brain would let us do. We ran.
Running over jagged rocks and broken glass soon took it’s toll on my shoeless feet; I was in agony. We had to pause, letting us catch our breath, but after only a few seconds of our break, we turned back to see the figure again; only this time it was hiding in the shadows, only slightly emerging, yet towering over the pole in front of it. We began to run, even faster than before, not even caring about the pain I could feel in my feet. As we almost reached home, Jordan yelled something to us: “Fuck, we did this! We summoned it!” Part of me wanted to laugh, while the other part of me wanted to cringe and weep, I knew he was right. We had brought this creature to us with our imitations and horrific calls. This was our problem.
There is not a lot of solid evidence in this story. We are unable to provide photos, we didn’t even see the extra limbs or abdomen. But that inhuman shriek, the figure standing under the light, that powerful, intimidating presence we felt. There was no possible other explanation. I only have this to offer you, the audience. When wandering those dark streets at night, never make a sound. You have no idea what might return that call.