Mel L Kinder
Did I wake before the scream or was it the scream that woke me? I must
have knocked everything off of the nightstand scrambling to turn the
lamp on. When I realized I was gasping for air I held my breath. If
they were crawling on me I didn't want to inhale them. Just the
thought made me shutter.
"Jim!" my wife, tired of the new habit scolded me. "There are no
spiders. Go back to sleep. Gees, I'm on day shift tomorrow." She
turned over and muttered, "Damn those little heathens!"
I splashed water on my tired aging face. "I'm not crazy," I said to
myself. A few days ago I overheard the neighbor boy messing with his
sister. With her fingers stuffed in her ears she begged him to shut
up. But he kept repeating it: In your mouth and out your nose that's
where the spiders go! I chuckled and thought of my sister. The rhyme
reminded me of a tale about spiders, how they live inside of our lungs
and stomach. At night while we're asleep they come out to dance on our
faces. The boy's voice repeated in my head so many times I was
beginning to sympathize with his sister. The day was a blur even as I
watched the clock.
"I made you some sleepy tea. It's soothing," she said setting the
over-sized mug in my hand. "Oh and don't worry, I won't tell your
friends if you like it." There was humor in her voice. What a
wonderfully patient woman. I hadn't even bothered to ask her about her
day. What a schmuck.
As I set the empty mug on the nightstand I thought, "Maybe that's not
the best place for it." With that I scooped everything but the lamp
into the drawer of the nightstand. I don't know how long I sat at the
bed's edge before giving in. I had to sleep some time.
Sleep came fast. Maybe vanilla tea was the answer. Who would have
thought tea without caffeine served a purpose? The moment didn't last.
The crawling sensation tickled around one nostril and traveled across
my face. I wanted to brush it away but sleep paralysis prevented it.
Was my mouth open? I couldn't remember. The crawling was on both sides
of my face now. I could feel this happening on a layer above dream.
This was real. Unable to move or make a sound drove me mad. All I
could do was focus on the prickly legs as they went. What were they
doing? It felt like they were marching down my face. There had to be
dozens of them.
Finally, I launched from the bed, as usual but this time without the
clattering. Ah, good thinking Jim. But the anxiety was gone and I felt
disconnected. "Jim! No! Jim!" I had done it again and Jewel was
screaming at me. There was something wrong with her voice. This time
was different. I tried to talk to her but she didn't listen. It was
just like being frozen with the urge to brush away the spiders.
My perspective changed and I was beside her as she yelled, not at me
but a man kicking, screaming and clawing at himself. Jewel arm
wrestled the man for something he was holding. I wanted to help her
but all I could do was stand there. I saw it as if in slow motion, her
fingers slipped from the man's wrist. I recognized the scar on his
arm. I could see the immense force he used to pry it free. It was too
late to stop myself. All I could do was watch as I drove the writing
utensil into my own eye until no longer visible. I saw nothing after
that. The spiders may have been real or it could have been blood
running down my face from the clawing. I guess I'll never know.