's 2018 Horror Write-off:

An Arm and Some Legs

Submitted by Centipedal/Jackson Gilbert

The weirdest thing has been happening in the shipping yard over the past week. Unscheduled crates started appearing on boats. The captains were adamant that they were supposed to carry the crates, but couldn’t remember anything about them. And when the crates were opened, they found taxidermied fetal organisms. Overnight, the fetal things disappeared, with web-like trails leading out of the crate. And so the City Slickers were on the prowl.

Abby had grown used to the burn scars that dotted her face and arms. In all honesty, they were kind of cool. When her and Johnny had killed that thing in the sewers, it was awesome. And then when her and Aaron had gone up against the big bee-thing, they had proven useful. Apparently the five-foot five woman was “intimidating” now. She was using that intimidating factor to get into the shipping yard right now.

“Listen, guy. My boss is, uh, how do you say… important. And he really wants me to get into that shipping yard. So, how about you move aside.” She swept her arm out to the side, making sure to show the two-inch in diameter burn scars on the underside of her arm.

“Ma’am, I can’t let you in.” The man in the front booth sounded exasperated. His features were long, made longer by a tiring day. Poor guy had probably been pushing away the news all day. She knew he’d had to deal with Abby and Jerry for an hour now.

Abby was having trouble connecting with the guy. She had trouble connecting with a lot of people. Time to tag out.

Jerry jumped in. “Hey bud. It’s been a long day, right? Just… just go home, man. It’s covered.”

“Somehow, I don’t believe-” Gunshots rang out into the night.

“Well, that’s our cue!” Jerry slugged the guy in the face, while Abby cheerfully got out a pair of bolt cutters and chopped through the chain-link fence. This was going to be hard to explain to the bosses. Collateral damage was docked from their paychecks. Abby and Jerry slipped through, barely registering the stunned man’s protests.

Jerry looked around, his steely brown eyes scanning the surrounding area. “The gunshots were that way. I suggest going there first.” He pointed to the southwest, marked by two large cranes that looked to be within twenty feet of one another. Abby quickly agreed, and the two started navigating the maze of rusty shipping crates.

At about midnight, the two were around the corner from the cranes. The dim lighting destroyed the shadows’ proportions, creating ungainly silhouettes. Abby stopped for a moment, moving her arms and legs while standing in place, exactly like a child would. Her shadow reacted accordingly, creating all kinds of new shapes. Another shadow appeared behind her. Abby didn’t take much notice of it until she realized Jerry was around the corner.

When she turned around, the lights drowned out the creature’s features. As it lamely shuffled forward, she saw it. The thing was humanoid, in the same way that an embryo is. It had two large eyeholes covered with a thin film. As it took another step forward, fluid within the holes sloshed. Its mouthless head appeared to be grafted to the body with some kind of green glue. The abdomen of the thing appeared to be a normal human’s, although in places the skin was replaced with film. Its left arm had no fingers, while its right was twice as long as the left. As it walked, Abby could see that its right leg was ruined. All the flesh on the leg appeared to have been moved down to the foot, creating an ungainly and bumpy surface to walk on.

Abby stumbled back, hands reaching for her knife. The fetus thing took two steps in quick succession. Abby kept backpedaling, only to stumble into a crate. It lifted its long arm, and prepared to strike at her. Then the arm suddenly stopped. The thing tried to pull it back, but it wouldn’t work. As Abby shifted, she saw that the taxidermied fetus was stuck on a series of thin strings. When she moved out of the way, she saw more strings surrounding the creature. It turned towards her, getting wrapped in more of the web-like filament. It took one more step, then tripped on a pole sticking up from the ground. The strings held, and kept the now immobilized sloshing specter off the ground.

Abby managed to pull her knife out of her pocket, and thanked her luck. She called for Jerry and walked closer to the fetus. Abby had just started examining it when the strings, all at once, moved six feet away from her. A split-second later, a massive Spider landed on the thing.

The arachnoid horror quickly severed the webs around the creature before sinking its fangs into the fetus’s eyeholes. A slurping sound erupted from the Spider for a moment, and the creature’s corpse was dropped on the ground.

“Ugh. S’lalan is getting sloppy. That one was still wiggling.” The voice- a stringy, reverberating sound- appeared to have come from the Spider. It turned around, twelve legs clacking on the cement.

The creature was taller than Abby by about two inches. It had a tan exoskeleton, intermixed with patches of black skin. The Spider’s head was about the size of an association football, and was the same shape as well. What appeared to be hundreds of eyes, like molten orbs of gold with pupils, grew out of the Spider’s “skull.” At points, they merged with each other, letting tiny black pupils zoom around. The largest spot on the head not covered in eyes was the mouth. It constantly vomited out silk, which one of three pairs of mandibles quickly wove into a web. Another mandible pair had lines of web strung between them, while the third pair was relaxed. The opisthosoma of the Spider was like a larger version of the head. It was covered in spinnerets, all constantly producing masses of silk. Next to each spinneret was a small pair of legs that wove the silk into a line of web. A third leg threw the web line out into the surrounding area.

“Well then. How are you doing, Abby?” it said, placing a considerable emphasis on the “Abby.”

With a good look at its face, Abby saw that it wasn’t talking- at least, not how she did it. The third pair of mandibles was plucking at the silk hung between the second pair of mandibles, making noises that kind of coincided with human voices.

“Funny guy. I used to be surprised when giant spiders knew my name, but it’s gotten old. If I have this right, you’re just a poor spider-thing that needed somewhere to hide. Except, oh no! Your food supply has woken up! Well, bud, we got this under control. If you would kindly leave…?” Finally, a sapient! It felt so great to use sarcasm and have a paranormal terror from beyond the stars understand it!

“It is not just my food. Jerry should be learning that soon.” Screams sounded out. “You should not go help him. It is not a good idea.”

Another arachnoid shape lumbered in. While the first Spider looked graceful, almost elegant on its eight thin legs, the second one was a bulky, nightmarish figure. It was the same height as Abby, but had a lot more mass. The thing had at least seventeen long, thick legs jutting out from its body. It’s eyeless head, mounted on a foot-long neck, had a massive mouth that encompassed about three-quarters of its head. The mouth was filled with hundreds of long, needle-sharp teeth and slightly less glowing green eyes. Abby could see a green liquid sloshing around within the hole. The Spider was covered in flabby brown skin, with millions of small stiff hairs poking out of it. The creature, for all of its bulk, moved around in erratic motions. The legs all moved independently, causing movement to be inefficient and ungainly. It looked at the other Spider- the Weaving Spider- with an emotion that almost signaled desire.

Jerry was stuck to one of the legs, hung high in the air. His body had several of the hairs stuck in it, and there was a noticeable reddening of the skin around the penetration points. He screamed again, scratching at the hairs.

“Hi Jerry. You are looking uncomfortable there. Um, bud? Do you mind dropping him?” The Weaver’s voice had the same words a question should, although it was the same stringy monotone.

The other Spider, the Hunter, flicked the leg Jerry was attached to. He was thrown off, head over heels. Abby ran to where Jerry landed and pulled him up.

“You’re a stupid bug. You probably didn’t know this, but anything that attacks an operative is instantly marked for extermination. And if you hadn’t noticed, we’ve been killing weird shit all over this town for three years now. So believe me when I say that if you don’t leave this shipping yard right now, you and your… uh… brother(?) are going to be squashed like the bugs you are.” Abby felt pretty damn powerful as she talked down to the five-ten monstrosity and its mouthy accomplice.

“All we need to do is make a little call to- oh fuck me.” Abby waved her phone at the Weaver for all of half a second before it zipped out of her hands. It clattered on the floor before a long leg stomped it into pieces.

“It’s a good thing my food got ‘out of control.’ My… brother was getting bored with the boxed meals. I think he wanted something a little warmer. A little faster.” The mandibles pulled the webbing between them up, creating a semicircular shape not dissimilar to a smile. “Twenty seconds. Get going.”

The Hunting Spider bent its neck towards them. It now projected the same emotion of desire towards Abby. She sprinted away. Behind her, Jerry screamed. Scuttling noises erupted behind her. The screaming didn’t stop, even as the Hunting Spider ran past him.

The labyrinthine mess of shipping crates directed her this way and that. Before Abby knew it, she had hit a dead end. She could hear the Hunting Spider skittering on the walls just around the corner. Abby feebly hit the wall, and felt something. There were ladder rungs on the crates.

She quickly pulled herself up the three crates, before looking back down. She felt a surge of nausea. Looks like her fear of heights were coming back. “Thought the therapy got rid of that.” She muttered.

Wind coursed through her short hair. Abby thought she could feel the crates shifting beneath her. The metal shook again, much more noticeably this time. A telltale skitter was not close behind her.

“Oh shit.” Abby started running again. She leaped off the edge of the crate, barely grasping on to the next. She could’ve sworn it moved a little bit to help her get ahold. The Hunter was not far behind her. As Abby climbed up, she noticed that the area where this all started was not too far away. The crane’s arm was only a little bit further. Following it down, she also noticed Jerry was climbing up the crane’s ladder.

They connected eyes for the briefest instant, and Abby instantly knew the plan. Just a variation on Plan 4X52. Easy. Abby stopped and turned around as the Hunting Spider, in all its leggy glory, clambered up onto the crate. Green liquid dripped from its mouth, burning through the metal below it.

Abby had fought these kind of things before. The thing was big and tough, but it had no motor control. All she needed to do was evade. All she needed to do was wait for Jerry. All she needed to do was not be killed.

As Abby settled into an evasion stance, a thought crossed her mind. “Hey, dickweed. I hope you don’t go Bishounen on me any time soon.”

It’s mouth yawned open in response. The eyes blinked twice in unison.

“I don’t know what the fuck you’re trying to tell me.” Abby muttered. She beckoned towards the creature twice in an overly dramatic fashion, laughing a little at the immaturity of it.

“If you’re gonna die, go out with style.”

The monster scuttled towards her, caustic venom flying from its mouth. It slammed three legs down, but Abby had already rolled under it. The strike had punctured a hole through the crate’s metal, and the creature struggled to take the legs out. As Abby finished the roll on the other side of the monster, it had pulled one leg out of its hole. It used the momentum from doing so to pull the other leg out, then whipped its head around towards her. Venom flew through the air, and Abby ducked under it. The Spider then swiped low at her with a leg, followed by a stomp. Abby hopped the leg before twisting to the side.

Instead of pulling the leg out, the Hunter initiated two jabs, a swipe to the right, and a stomp. Abby again tried rolling under, but she collided with one of the legs still on the ground. Immediately, the hairs stuck to her. Abby screamed in pain, and madly scratched at them. In the second that she took to deal with the pain, she was stomped on square in the stomach.

Abby was launched into the interior of the empty crate. She picked herself up and looked above. The crate began to shudder as the Spider began frantically stomping. A flurry of legs kept punching holes through the ceiling. Although they didn’t reach far enough down to hurt Abby, they allowed the venom to get in.

She was too preoccupied with making sure the acidic substance didn’t land on her to notice that one of the legs had touched her. It stuck to Abby’s forearm and quickly lifted her up. Abby’s shoulder was pulled through the hole when Plan 4X52 went into action. The sound of grinding metal shrieked through the air, and the crate went flying. As it turns out, the massive metal claw on the crane had moved too fast for the Hunter to notice. The crate toppled end-over onto the cement, landing on top of the Spider.

Abby woke up screaming. Jerry had called the Slickers’ HQ and gotten some special EMTs on the scene the moment the crate fell. Her arm was trapped beneath the metal box. Unfortunately, it had to be severed at the shoulder. Jerry was treated for major rashes. The hairs appeared to be made of a substance similar to fiberglass. The Hunting Spider itself was clearly dead. Apparently, some extradimensional entities still need something that resembles a nervous system.

The taxidermied creatures stopped appearing after that, and the Weaving Spider was not seen again. Really, it was almost a footnote in the Slickers’ history, but for one thing. A note was found in the wreckage of the crate Abby and the Spider fought on. It read:

[Uh, sorry, I still don’t know how to do the italics. Could they please start here?] Thanks for getting that thing off my back. I think it was about ready to start hunting me. Hah- those guys, am I right? Anyways, I’m sorry about the arm and the rashes. It could have been done differently, but whatever. Too much work.


P.S.- When you get to the Party, tell the Lion I’m not gonna be there. [Sorry again, and thank you very much.]

It seemed to be written in and made of some sort of silk.