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The Spider on My Shoulder: A Halloween Short Story

IN THE October 12 ISSUE

FROM THE 2013 Articles,
andTerrific Tales
SECTIONS

by Ron Van Sweringen

This month we will be sharing a lot of fun Halloween related short stories of different types. This first one is a fun short story about a spider, and in the same issue is another creepy Halloween feeling short story, Mistaken Identity.

It was warm on the veranda. A few rays of sunlight had broken through the white lattice work and danced over my leather slippers. The rest of my outfit included blue and white striped pajamas and the maroon bath robe with my initials embroidered on the pocket.

R.E.M., which I always laughed at when I saw them in the mirror–R.E.M., short for ‘remember,’ something I was always trying to do. Remember what day it was, where I came from and what I was doing here, tied in a wheelchair on the veranda of The Whitehurst Psychiatric Facility.

The one thing I did remember and dreaded was electric shock therapy twice a week and the fear of swallowing my own tongue. The last thing I heard Doctor Evans say was, “Watch his tongue. Don’t let him swallow it and choke to death.”
A nurse put a cup of tea and three shortbread cookies on my tray table for the three o’clock ritual; that much I could remember.

“I’m going to untie one hand now so you can eat. Remember, George is watching you,” she smiled, with vampire fangs sticking out of her mouth. God, why didn’t they just poison my tea and get it over with?

It was when I picked up the second shortbread cookie that I noticed him on my shoulder, just sitting there watching me. My first inclination was to brush him off, but my left hand was still tied so I couldn’t reach him. We maintained eye contact for awhile, neither one of us moving. I wondered what he wanted. Why he didn’t just bite me and be on his way? Finally I broke the silence. “Would you like a cookie crumb?” I asked, holding out a few in the palm of my hand.

After a long while he answered, in a very soft voice that sounded like a buzz in my ear. “Spiders don’t eat crumbs, we eat flies.” I slowly put my free hand over my crotch. “Not that kind of fly, idiot.”

“Where did you come from?” I checked to make sure George wasn’t watching us.

“Up there,” he replied, lifting his hairy black head and shining eyes. “See that silver thread hanging down? It’s my life line. Without it I would be lost and I wouldn’t know where I was or who I was, just like you.”

A chill went through me. Was I talking to myself–and where was my life line?

“What do you want and why are you here?” I asked him, somehow afraid of the answer he might give.

“You know why I’m here–to enjoy you!”

Oh, no,” I moaned, a fuzzy memory slowly coming back.

“Yes, Robert Edward Morton,” he replied, “I’m going to crawl inside your head again, through your ear, just like I did last time.”

“Please don’t,” I screamed. “I can’t stand the pain again.”

“Calm down, Mr. Morton,” the large attendant in the white uniform demanded, racing across the porch.

“What’s the matter, George?” Nurse Donald exclaimed on hearing the commotion. “Can’t you do anything right?”

“I think it’s the spider again,” George replied angrily. ”

“Well brush it off stupid, while I get the straight jacket.”

“No, that thing bit me last time!” George shouted back.

“Brush it off you idiot, or you’re fired.”

George turned sharply, his face exploding with rage. “Do it yourself,” he screamed, striking nurse Donald at the base of the neck with his balled up fist. She slumped to the floor, slowly, like a rag doll and without a sound, a stream of deep crimson trickling from her nostrils into her open mouth.

“She’s dead,” the spider said, smiling at me. George, suddenly realizing what he had done ran screaming for help.

“Thank you for protecting me from them,” I said to the spider.

“Not at all,” he replied softly, “but nothing has changed between you and me. It’s lunch time and I’m still hungry for a little piece of your brain.”


You can find more of Ron’s short stories here in KRL’s Terrific Tales section.

Ron Van Sweringen, painter and writer, 76 years old resides in Vero Beach Florida with his Carin Terrier,’ Punkin the lizard catcher’. Recent exhibition of Astroismart at the MENNELLO MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART in Orlando, Florida. Astroism is the art of air born painting, created by Ron Van Sweringen. The artist’s paintings have also been exhibited at the CORCORAN MUSEUM OF ART in Washington, D.C. and in the WHITE HOUSE during the Reagan and Bush administrations. Ron began writing 5 years ago and to date has had 54 short stories published and three Novellas.

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