I’m a little lost and not sure what’s going on here anymore. Things got a bit out of hand. I’m tired, anxious, but I just want to finish writing this all down.
This whole mess started only a few days ago, with a damned spider, as always.
You see, I suffer from a severe case of arachnophobia. I can’t even look at pictures of spiders without despairing and panicking. Even when I’m talking about them, there’s this lurking fear in the back of my mind.
One of my friends once thought it was hilarious to scare me with a plastic spider. It freaked me out so bad that I jumped up, rushed off and hit my head against the closet. I ended up needing three stitches and had to spend half the night at the hospital. Good going, Steve, you really outdid yourself there.
Now, where was I? Right, Saturday. I had planned to spend the weekend relaxing and unwinding, after a long and stressful week. This idea evaporated the moment I found a spider web. It was right next to a tiny hole in the door frame that led into the kitchen. I vacuumed it away and sealed the hole as best as I could.
I told myself, this was all that was necessary. My mind, of course, wouldn’t have it. Paranoia crept back into my mind like the imaginary spiders it told me had invaded my apartment. It wasn’t long before I started hearing the sounds of small, skittering spider legs.
It wasn’t half an hour later that I started to check the whole place. After that, I ended up vacuuming and cleaning the entire apartment, twice. My friends think I’m suffering from OCD, but that’s not it. I just can’t help but go through the place meticulously.
This time, like so many before, I found nothing, no webs, no spiders.
When I went to bed, I was still somewhat anxious. Finding nothing could mean there were no spiders around, but it could very well mean that I’d simply not found them.
Soon enough, my thoughts went in a different direction. What about that hole in the wall? Did it mean there were spiders inside?
I lay in bed, telling myself I was plain silly. There was no way spiders could dig, especially not through walls. Still, I felt the familiar rush of anxiety. My heart rate went up, and I started to feel dizzy like so many times before.
I must have laid in bed for at least an hour, occasionally shaking before I drifted off into an uneasy sleep.
I was woken up by noise all around me. As I lay in bed, it felt as if the walls around me had become alive. They were shaking and breathing. While I still tried to understand what was going on, I heard the sound of millions of tiny skittering legs. Then the walls burst open, and I was drowned under a wave of eight-legged horrors.
The moment I woke up I jumped off the bed, swatting and beating at my body before I realized it had all been a dream. I fell to the floor sobbing, hugging my body and cursing at my brain for conjuring up this nightmare.
I don’t remember how long it took me to calm down. Most of Sunday was a blur that I spend huddled up into blankets in the center of the living room. I was a shaking and shivering mess. One minute I told myself there were no spiders in the walls. The next I was listening for the tiniest sounds around me. I’m not sure if I even ate anything that day.
In the end, I must have passed out from sheer exhaustion on Sunday evening. When I woke up on Monday morning, I was mostly myself again.
I was still somewhat wary of the walls, but my panic attack had subsided. I guess my brain realized how silly it was to be afraid of them.
Somewhat tired and still scatterbrained I dropped my keys. They vanished behind a small cupboard in my hallway. Cursing at myself I crouched down to find them.
I reached out with my hand and felt around. Right at that moment, I felt something brush over it. I yelled up in surprise and pulled my arm back. Shock turned into absolute panic when I saw a spider sitting on my right arm.
I screamed, shook the arm and then started beating down at the spider with my left hand. I was out of it, hitting the arm over and over again, swatting to get rid of the spider. The moment it finally fell to the ground I stumped on it over and over again.
Only when nothing but a disgusting mush remained, did I rush to the bathroom. I let warm water run over my arm while scrubbing it desperately with a washcloth.
It was at this moment that I saw a tiny wound on my arm. At first, I told myself I was wrong. It had to be a mistake. I had scrubbed my arm too hard, nothing else.
After a while I couldn’t betray my mind anymore. There was absolutely no doubt:
It was a spider bite.
The moment I started attacking the spider, it must have bitten me.
My mind was running at lightning speed. What if it had been a poisonous spider? Was there poison pumping through my veins right at this moment?
I felt weird almost instantly. My heartbeat sped up, and I felt short of breath. The moment I stepped out of the bathroom I felt dizzy, so much that I had to lean against the wall for a moment.
In the hallway, I pushed the damned cupboard over, picked up the keys and rushed outside.
I needed fresh air, but most importantly there was a doctor’s office nearby. My body was shaking, and it felt as if my mind was slowing down. For a moment my vision seemed to go blurry.
I told myself it was my anxiety, a panic attack and that I had to calm down. There was this creeping voice in the back of my mind though, asking me “What if it’s poison? What if that spider was dangerous? What if you are dying right now? What then, Sandra?”
The first thing I remember after that is pacing back and forth at the doctor’s office. A nurse had hurried over to me, asking me what was wrong and telling me to calm down. I couldn’t stand still though. The moment I stopped, my heart rate went up, breathing became harder, and my arms and legs started to feel all tingly. No, I had to keep moving. Only after a while was I able to yell at her that I was bitten by a spider.
It took her a few moments to understand what was going on. Then she came back and gave me a small shot. She explained in a slow and soft voice that everything was going to be alright. Nothing bad was going to happen to me.
She sat me down and asked me if I remembered anything about the spider, like a mark on her. I told her I didn’t think so.
It was a few minutes later that the doctor came to see me. He assured me that there was no such thing as poisonous spiders here in Germany, at least not the lethal type. He even told me that the ones who actually were poisonous were rarely sighted in our area, if at all.
He took only a short look at my arm, smiled and told me nothing was wrong with it. The wound was small, and it looked like I’d only scratched it open myself. No sign of any poison. He prescribed me a sort of ointment that would help treat the wound and keep it free from infection.
What he was more concerned about was my mental state. He asked me if I was seeing a psychiatrist and if I was often suffering from episodes like this one. It wasn’t normal at all, not even when considering my arachnophobia.
I hated this type of talk ever since I was a little girl when my mom had dragged me from one psychiatrist to the next. I made a few excuses, ripped the recipe for the ointment from his hands and made my way out.
Once I’d gotten the ointment from a nearby apothecary I made my way back home.
When I opened the apartment door, it didn’t feel like home at all. It felt as if the place had been invaded by an invisible enemy that was lurking in the shadows.
I strode towards my bathroom, scanned each surface and then locked the door behind me. Once I felt safe, I started to administer the ointment. I know I used too much of it and bandaging up the arm was ridiculous. Still, it helped to calm me down, at least a bit.
When I still hadn’t been able to calm down by noon I gave my friend Lisa a call. I was pacing through my apartment as I waited for her to pick up. Lisa and I go back forever. We became friends back in middle school and have been hanging out ever since. We are even going to university together.
She and I couldn’t be more different. Lisa is the fun, outgoing type, while I’m an anxious introvert. The only thing we had in common was that we both smoked weed.
The moment she picked up I asked her if she had anything that could help me calm down. Maybe weed or maybe something else, something a bit stronger. I knew Lisa had a way of getting things. At first, she laughed at my freak-out over a mere spider bite. When I told her about my reaction though Lisa became serious. She said she’d come over later today and bring something that she was sure would help.
I stayed in the bathroom for a while longer, but then I finally risked making my way back to the living room and my laptop. At first, I went on YouTube, put on some music and watched a few random videos. Soon enough curiosity overcame me, and I looked up information about spider bites.
Oh god, the images I found. I was never one of those people who could look at gore, but what I saw there… I’m not sure what it was. It might have been an infected wound or something?
There was one thing I read that made me close the lid of the laptop in an instant. I read that spiders could lay eggs under human skin.
“That’s bullshit!” I said out loud.
“It’s an urban legend and nothing else. There’s no such thing. And even if, I’m in Germany, there’s no way we have anything like that here.”
When Lisa rang the doorbell, I almost jumped up.
“Jesus, what’s the matter with you?” she asked the moment I opened the door and she saw me.
“Can spiders lay eggs under human skin?”
“What the hell Sandra? What did you do, watch some shitty horror movie or something?”
“No, I read things on the internet, and-”
“Oh god,” she cut me off raising her hand, “that’s even worse. Don’t. Read. About. Things. On. The. Internet. Okay?”
“Yeah, but what if-”
“No buts! You’ll always find the worst cases online. I’m dead serious. A bump on the arm? You need an amputation. A slight headache? Dizziness? Brain tumor. It’s always the same. Rule number one, Sandra, especially for you, never google any symptoms online.”
“I know Lisa…”
“You’re fine silly girl, calm down, will you? Jesus, you’re a mess today.”
Lisa stayed over for almost two hours. She tried her hardest to tell me a couple of funny stories to take my mind off things. It helped, at least for a bit.
In the end, she’d brought me an unmarked container of pills. She told me they were anxiety pills that a friend of hers had given her.
“They’ll pretty much knock you out instantly, so be careful with them,” she’d said with a smile.
I told myself I’d wait till evening. If they’d really knock me out, it was a chance to get a good night’s sleep for once.
I put on a random Netflix show and tried to relax. While I watched a pretty cast of high school students talk about teenage woes, my mind started to wander.
Those things I’d read. Could they be real?
I pulled the bandages off my arm to have a look. I was scared of what I’d find and shivered before I removed the last layer. For a moment one of the gruesome images I’d seen popped up in my mind again.
What I saw was the complete opposite. It was a tiny, almost invisible swelling. There was nothing terrible about it at all. I almost laughed when I saw it.
When I pressed it for a bit some blood came out, and it stung a bit, but there was nothing weird about it. I started to tear at the corner of the skin for a bit. All it did was to make it sting more and increase the bleeding. After a while, I had to force myself to stop. I looked at what used to be a small wound and was now almost twice the size.
“Stop toying with it, you idiot,” I told myself.
While I put the bandages back on, I decided to take one of Lisa’s pills. Otherwise, I might start toying around with it yet again. I took out one, swallowed it and put the container back into my pocket. So much about waiting till evening, I thought.
It took about half an hour but I started to calm down, and soon I felt quiet, almost tired. I remember that I’d not eaten anything due to all my anxiety, but all I could think about was to lay down and rest. I told myself that I’d take a nap and eat something once I was awake again.
I’m not sure when exactly I’d fallen asleep, but it was already night time when I woke up again. I was all sweaty and suffering from a terrible headache. The moment I moved around in bed I felt exhausted and hot, almost as if I was burning up.
I made my way to the medicine cabinet in the bathroom and took some Ibuprofen to fight the headache.
The moment I was about to go back to my bedroom, I noticed something strange. At first, I thought I imagined things, but then I saw something odd on my arm. It looked as if there was a bump below the bandages, all swollen up.
As I stared at it, the memory of a dream crept back into my mind. In the dream I had… no there had been something wrong with me. The moment I saw the bump on my arm again, memory flooded my mind.
I’d dreamed about spiders in my arms and legs, and being eaten alive by them. I clung to the sink, almost throwing up. I took another one of Lisa’s pills and told myself I should go back to bed, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t help it. I ripped the bandages off my arm and found a bump below. It was almost a sort of giant, pulsating blister. I gagged, and when I had a closer look, I saw something moving inside of it, below the skin.
I screamed up. It couldn’t be. It couldn’t be. I almost bumped into the door frame on my way towards the kitchen. I had dark spots in front of my eyes as I ran down the hallway and the moment I made it to the kitchen I slumped down on the floor. I felt dizzy, and my whole body seemed to be pulsating now.
The moment I could move again, I grabbed hold of a knife from the counter. It almost slipped from my hand twice while I stared at the disgusting bump on my arm. Something was definitely moving inside of it.
I didn’t hesitate another moment before I cut into it.
The pain was much worse than I’d thought. As the blood ran down my arm in warm gushes, I saw something else, something much, much worse.
First, it was tiny white things that came flooding forward with the blood. Then I saw the small spiders that came crawling out of my body.
The knife clattered from my hand, and I could only stare at it in horror and disbelief. The blood, the eggs and of course the small spiders that vanished below the skin and dug into my flesh again.
I fought myself up, put the arm into the sink and poured hot water over it. I clenched my teeth, but soon enough I could only scream in pain as the hot water scalded my arm. I hoped, no I prayed that it would wash out or burn up all those tiny spiders.
After a long minute of almost unendurable pain, I stopped and looked at the arm again. There was still movement, and I could make out tiny tunnels inside of my flesh.
I used the knife once more, this time to cut deeper. After a while, I didn’t even feel the pain anymore. I was all dedication. Dedication to finding the spiders inside of my arm. The more I cut, the more tunnels I seemed to discover. I carefully carved away the infected flesh. Tiny junks of flesh and piece of skin fell from my arm and onto the ground. I saw the eggs, the spiders, the tunnels. Only once I was sure none of it was left, did I stop.
By now I was shaking from a mixture of pain and exhaustion. My whole body felt cold, sweaty and tingly.
Putting the bandages back on was nothing short of torture. My right arm was now nothing but a hot, pulsating mass of pain. I blacked out at least once while I put the bandages back on. Around and around I put them. Once done, I noticed the deep gush I’d left in my own arm.
I felt sick, anxious and scared when I realized what I’d done. I was still bleeding, but had scalding my own flesh somehow lessened the bleeding? I had no idea.
I fought my way back to the bedroom. My arm was hurting so much it was unreal. Each step, hell even the slightest shift sent waves of pain through me.
Once back in my bedroom I couldn’t help but think about spiders again. What if they were still inside of me? Could it be? What if they were crawling through my arm right now, digging their tunnels deeper inside of my body?
That moment I felt another surge of anxiety and panic coming to me and took another one of Lisa’s pills. After that, I lay in bed for at least an hour, but I couldn’t sleep. There was the pain, but there was another thought.
What if that spider really came from inside of the wall? What if that spider had dug through the wall to get here? It would be so easy for its young to dig through flesh, right? Oh god, what if I’m actually right?
Still lying in bed with the low light of the lamp next to me, I started to take the bandages off once more. They were wet and sticky with half-dried blood and almost glued to my flesh. Would there be spiders again? Oh please let there be none, please, I prayed.
What I revealed was nothing but a gruesome mess of bloody flesh and whitish, scalded snippets of skin. There were no tunnels, no eggs, and no spiders. There was nothing.
I sat there shivering. Had I imagined things? Had I just seen something that wasn’t there and then done all… this? I didn’t know anymore.
I lay down again, but I’d barely closed my eyes when I felt an itch on my leg. My heart skipped a beat, and I was wide awake.
Had I brushed against it just now or was it something else? I turned on the night lamp and scanned my leg. There it was, on the side of my thigh, another bump.
Don’t tell me… oh god. What the hell, what the hell, what the hell! There’s no way! The moment I touched it though, I could feel the movement below.
It took me long, painful minutes to get back to the kitchen.
This time I cut without any second thought. I brought the knife down, and the moment the skin ripped open spiders started to spill out of me. I tried to hit them and swat them away before they were able to dig into my flesh again, but they just… vanished?
Had there ever been any? What if there are no spiders inside my leg? I have a fever, right? What if this is a dream? Is any of this even real at all?
But what if? I’m so sweaty and itchy all over. My body is trembling, and I am starting to feel numb. Are going for my nerves? What if they do it so I can’t feel them anymore? So I think that I am okay?
Has it always been so cold in here?
Why’s there no pain anymore?
I’ve been typing this for a while now. I still have the knife, and I’m still digging. There’s sweat, wait no, blood, all around me?
I still see the spiders from time to time. Whenever I do, I cut. I feel like I’m slowly getting them. Most of them are in my right leg. So I’ve been busy. Digging and typing.
I feel like there’s few of them left anymore. That tingly sensation in my leg is almost gone now. By now I’m almost searching for them blindly. I’ve cut here and there, at random. My vision has gone too blurry to see them clearly.
I’ve cut so much. So much work. So tired. The skin is all tangled up and in stripes.
The blood still brings them forward. There’s so much of it now, but that’s good isn’t it? It means that a lot of them aren’t in my body anymore, right?
I can’t think all too clearly anymore. I’m a bit confused and exhausted, tired.
I think I’m going to rest for a bit.
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