The kids were in the seventh floor rooms getting ready for bed. Josh stepped down to the hotel lobby for a coffee and a moment of quiet. He imagined Bobby and Adam were likely watching some action movie on the television, but eight-year-old Megan needed a bath. He sighed and wished Lisa was there. He pushed the button for the elevator, waited, and sipped his coffee slowly because it was hot.
The window behind him cracked, and as the elevator doors opened, the window shattered. People screamed as something like a lion bounded into the room. He watched as a woman stood in the wrong place at the wrong time. The night creature tore the woman’s arm off like a person might bite off the arm of a gingerbread man. Two other creatures followed the first through the broken window and the elevator doors closed.
Josh pushed the buttons for the seventh floor and the top floor and got out his phone.
“What?” Lisa yelled into his ear. “Get the children to the roof. I’ll call you back.”
The elevator stopped at the seventh floor and Josh stuffed his shoe into the door so it would not close. They had this planned, but he feared the creatures would be on them before they could execute the plan. He banged on the door to the boy’s room and yelled. Bobby came to the hall. Adam followed. Josh told them to hold the elevator while he slid his card in the lock and rushed into the room he and Lisa shared with Megan. She was being a big girl. She was already in the tub.
A moment later, he ran to the elevator with a very upset Megan wrapped in a towel. The elevator doors closed, but not before they heard roars in the stairwell. Once on the top floor, Josh rushed his little troop to the door that gave access to the roof. It was only a wood door, but it opened into the hall so unless the creatures could turn the knob, they would be slowed breaking down the door, he hoped.
Megan looked over her father’s shoulder as Bobby reached for the doorknob. She screamed as the door to the stairwell crashed open. The creature roared. They got in, slammed the roof door behind them, and began to climb the ladder to the roof even as there was a different sort of crash on the door at their backs. It cracked the door on the first bang. Adam had seen something. He went up the ladder like a rabbit. Bobby was motivated by the splintering door behind him. Megan balked. She had no clothes on, but Josh threw her to his back like a backpack and threw the towel over his shoulders to cover her. She strangled his neck with her small arms, but he was too scared to care. Even as they slammed the roof hatch shut, the creatures burst into the small room below. He hoped they could not climb ladders.
The police helicopter was just landing and Bobby and Adam knew enough to get down. The helicopter door swung open as they heard a tentative clunk on the roof hatch. No one waited for the blades to stop. Indeed, the pilot never turned them off. They barely got in when the roof hatch sprang open and the first creature emerged. They went up. The beast leapt, but missed by inches and fell off the edge of the roof. Josh prayed the fall would kill the beast, but it was never proved. The body was not found.
Officer Tom Dickenson pulled his patrol car into the driveway and stopped the engine. He just sat there for a while. He had spiders on the mind and he was afraid he might have that nightmare again. He hated feeling helpless. The problem was he did not understand what was going on. He only understood enough to be scared. He got out slowly.
Three years ago, back in the academy, even a year ago, he would have shut his eyes and his mouth and done his job. He was not a snitch, and he always found it safer to not know in the first place. They called it plausible deniability. Five years ago a man died. He might have been able to stop it before it went that far. Now? He put his hand to the front door knob and got out his key. Now, he was not sure. He unlocked the door and went in.
This time he felt certain there was far more than one man’s life at stake. He felt afraid to imagine what the consequences of his inaction might be. “Hell.” He said that out loud as he shut the door behind him and turned on the light. He went straight to the kitchen. He got hungry, even if he could not sleep.
Dickenson got out the cereal and milk. The clock said 6 AM, on Saturday. The sun rested on the edge of the horizon. Why not breakfast? “Hell.” He said it again. He was going to have to see Detectives Schromer and Moussad. They would know what was going on. They always seemed to be at the center of spooky things. He would ask. He would ask how he might help. Maybe knowing what was happening might at least get rid of the nightmares. Then again, actually knowing might make them worse. He paused. He heard a scratching noise above his head.
Dickenson drew his gun without making any sudden move. When he finally managed to convince his eyes to look up, he sighed. Whoever or whatever it was, it was upstairs.
“Ms Hartman!” He called out to his landlady, a sweet old woman. The scratching sound stopped. “Ms Hartman!” He called again, but no one answered. He became concerned. If the woman was trying to move the furniture or something, why wouldn’t she answer. He pictured her on the floor, face down because of a stroke or something, unable to move more than to scratch with her nails.
He started up the stairs one at a time, carefully. “Ms Hartman. Mildred?” He took the last few steps two at a time and yanked open the door to her room. Spiders had covered the room with webbing. Ms Hartman lay there, mostly shriveled looking, dead eyes staring at the ceiling. He saw one spider and fired his gun. It let out a high pitched shriek and fell to its back on the floor. The spider legs wiggled in the air. There was another, and a third. He emptied his revolver and slammed the door shut. The stairs proved no obstacle, and neither did the front door. He slammed that door as well and ran for his patrol car. As his tires squealed on the driveway, he saw a spider crash through the living room picture window. Several more followed, but by then he was gone.
Next Monday, The Elect II-15 brings us to Spiders and Webs. Until then, Happy Reading.