I’m super excited to have author Suzanne Warr on my blog today with a little chat about demons, and a free story too! Enjoy!
I try to get cozy with my demons. Not just the kind I keep around my house so they can answer my questions about demon anatomy and what a demon would really do if the daily sacrifices dried up—this last question isn’t something I like to dwell on, given the vagaries of a writer’s finances!—no, I like to keep my other demons close, too. The ones that wake me in the night with haunting dreams, and create instant tension between me and anyone unfortunate enough to tweak the demon’s tail. Emotional demons. They may not make your life comfortable, but they’re your best friend if you’re a writer.
Of course, I like to tap into laughter, innocence and hope as well, but they’re much easier to get to know. And they’re easier to see when I’ve woven them into a story with plenty of primal emotion that taps into my darkest fears. October is a great month for that kind of story. When else can you find side-by-side jolly orange pumpkins and flickering jack-o-lanterns? Delighted kids in costumes, and blood-streaked faces of decay? Not to mention glistening spider webs, spun from sunshine, and the twisted, alien presence of the spider himself, waiting in his web. This bit of spidery flash fiction was originally published in AlienSkin magazine, but has long since been out of print. Enjoy!
by Suzanne Warr
Timmy lay very still, holding his Spiderman in a soft embrace. He concentrated on breathing. In . . . and out. Around him loomed the shadows of a home i.v., oxogen tank, and medicine bottles.
Timmy rolled his eyes to the right and saw It just above his pillow, dangling from a web.
He caught his breath–but It came no closer. He let his breath out, and It swayed. Its legs fluttered like the frayed edges of a web, but he knew it was no web. He could feel Its uncanny intelligence at the edge of his thoughts.
Timmy’s voice was soft as a sigh. “Who are you?”
The answer came back in his mind.
I am a ghost spider.
“Did you come for my soul?”
The spider curled its legs in and out, like someone scratching their head.
I do not guide you to your God. I am a creature of this world. I come not to take your whole soul, but to taste it.
Timmy gripped his Spiderman doll, his fingers squeezing into the stuffing. “Why would you want to taste me?” he asked. “I’m sick—I probably taste really bad!”
His words stirred the air, and the ghost spider fluttered on its string.
Every flavor is unique. Taking just a taste will not hurt you. Wait.
Timmy felt a little pinch, then smelt a whiff of toasted cheese.
There, I have taken a nip, and you are none the worse. The voice was soft in its amusement. I taste all things living, but they know it not. You only see me because you will soon be dead.
“That’s what the doctors whisper behind the door,” Timmy said, nodding. He frowned. “How did you know?”
The voice of the spider seemed to chuckle in his mind. I am a ghost. I can see where the living are blind. Your soul is attached to your body by only a slim strand, like one of my webs. This is the last night I will taste you.
“I’ll die tonight?” Timmy opened his mouth to cry, but he glanced at the rectangle of light shining around his bedroom door and closed his mouth. He turned his head on his pillow to look out the window at the shining moon.
“What’s it like to be dead?” he asked. “Are there other ghosts?”
The whispery voice of the spider answered him. I eat, nibbling here and there, and the spirits I taste give me flashes of color and texture. I spin, softly traveling, through the land of the living. It is good to be a Ghost Spider. For you . . . Timmy rolled his face back to see the spider. For you, I do not know. I see many ghost children in the world. They are always wailing and lost.
Timmy shivered. “I don’t want to be lost,” he said. “Why can’t I be like you?”
Once again that dry chuckle, like thin leaves of paper rustling in the wind. You are not a Ghost Spider.
“But you bit me. Shouldn’t I be part spider now, like Spiderman?”
Spiderman is not real. The ghost spider began to swing about, and Timmy saw flashes of the finest filaments. But there is a way you can be a ghost spider. If this is what you want, you must hold very still.
Timmy jerked back on his pillow, and the spider stopped, waiting. Timmy looked again at the door, then at the stubby bottles of medicine. He tucked his Spiderman doll firmly into his arm. “It’s better to be a spider than be lost. This is what I want.”
The spider breathed a chuckle, then wove back and forth across the air above Timmy. The strands of the web were so fine, Timmy could only catch a tiny flash of silken light here, there. He watched with fascination. The strands grew thicker, wrapping his soul in a warm blanket.
The spider dropped from the web, making a pirouette in the air just above Timmy. There was a tug in Timmy’s chest. His vision shifted. Spun. Cleared. He was looking down at his body lying in the bed. He swiped out his hand to grab his Spiderman, but the soft blanket had become a smothering net.
Now he saw the strong, sturdy cord which had tethered his soul to his body. Saw the spider curl the cord up, like a spent lasso. And he knew that the cord would not have let go tonight. In fact, it was getting stronger, and would soon have been too thick for the ghost spider to cut.
Timmy screamed and thrashed, crying for his mommy, for the doctors, but only silence echoed in the room.
Fear not, little one. The ghost spider was close now, its pearly mandibles clicking as they reached toward his face. I will taste you slowly, drinking every drop, and you will never be alone again.
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About the Author
Suzanne Warr grew up in an alternate universe which runs parallel to this one but on a much slower timeline. She has since joined the rest the world, and generally manages to masquerade as a normal person. Along the way to her history degree she dabbled in theater, acquired a black belt, married her husband, and welcomed two kids. She also worked in a lab dissecting fish eyes and scaled the exterior of a building. It seemed a good idea at the time.
She is currently working on 13 Demon Days, a middle grade urban fantasy novel in which 13-year-old twins Liz and Josh Raven must battle a demon to clear their family name and prevent the world’s destruction–in just 13 days. You can follow her submission progress and learn more on her personal blog www.suzannewarr.com, or the group blog where she hangs out www.fivecuriosities.blogspot.com. We’re currently doing a giveaway of blog member Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush series! Stop by and enter to win!