Daniel Bird Daniel Bird
Recommendations: 47

" - As he picked up the painting to admire it, the box dropped with a dull thud that echoed throughout the attic. - " This is just plain old good writing!

Davide Castel Davide Castel
Recommendations: 39

There was a sight (slight)? give.

Don Yarber Don Yarber
Recommendations: 42

It was THERE he headed for first. If he headed for here, he would already be there.

Daniel Bird Daniel Bird
Recommendations: 47

" - Out of the opening swarmed three-spiders, one yellow, one red and one white. - " I have to say, that despite all the little things that quite obviously suggested spiders, I did not actually expect this to happen. And the moment the box opened, the very moment the spiders scurried out, my heart skipped a beat. You might understand why if I told you of my fear of Spiders. (But don't tell nobody, lolz!) This is great! It gives me chills and really sparks my curiosity now that the box is open! 'What now?' I ask myself. So, I'll keep reading! This is a fun read!

Daniel Bird Daniel Bird
Recommendations: 47

The detail here is enough to give me the willies man! Scary!

Daniel Bird Daniel Bird
Recommendations: 47

Again...I did not expect anything like this! Wow! What a jaw dropper! My heart is freaking racing here, lolz! This is soooooooo freaky man!

Daniel Bird Daniel Bird
Recommendations: 47

" - Curiouser and curiouser... - " I think this might work better by saying something like, " - more curious than ever... - " only because - in my opinion - the word curiouser doesn't quite hold the same weight as it might were you to say 'More curious than ever' or something along those lines. Again, only my opinion.

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Jason Dookeran Jason Dookeran
Recommendations: 12

Edderkopp Bokse


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For Fools

EDDERKOPP BOKSE


The writing on the box was engraved along the flat, dark wood of the container. He had never seen the words before, so he shook the little box, trying to figure out what was inside. It was no larger than the length of his hand and about four or five inches tall. Along the sides were carved wonderfully complex spiral patterns that complimented the ornate script on the top of the box, heralding it as an 'edderkopp bokse'.


Julian had never heard the words before. He usually read things in English, seeing as how he was from an English-speaking country after all. When he bought this house, he knew he'd have to do some fixing up. The roof was leaky, and the walls were kind of drafty, but he didn't mind. He was always more of a do-it-yourself kind of guy. As he was cleaning out the attic though, he found the box hidden away behind a painting of three spiders of varying colors.


'Found' would be an exaggeration though. The box was craftily hidden behind the painting so that one couldn't see it until one moved the frame. As he picked up the painting to admire it, the box dropped with a dull thud that echoed throughout the attic.
At first, when he looked at the box, it seemed plain, because the years of grime had accumulated on it. He had placed the painting down and examined the box closely using the varnishing cloth he had in his hand to wipe away the years of dirt and soot that had accumulated on its surface. 1 comment


The writing at the top was in some language, probably something Nordic from the sounds of it. Nordic cultures didn't really appeal to him. Sure, he could tell you who Thor was (he DID read comics after all), but anything beyond the bare minimum was asking for too much.
He shook the box, listening for any rattling on the inside and yes, there seemed to be a soft rattling as if something was inside it. Suddenly, visions of some long-lost heirloom of the early Viking settlers flashed in his mind, followed immediately afterwards by the large sums of money that would surely follow. He hastened downstairs to inspect the box under better lighting.


In the dining room, he switched on the fluorescent lights and examined the box. There were no seams or hinges that he could see. It seemed as though the box was just one single panel, folded in on itself. He eyed the faces separately and turned the cuboidal shape, examining its corners. They were sharp, as though the box had been carved recently, but from the amount of dust on the thing, he could safely say that it was years, maybe even decades since the box was even looked at, much less cleaned.


The furniture polish he had used to clean the box made it shine like the dark eyes of some abominable beetle, or other chitinous insect. The wood wasn't dark as he had first thought; it was black, the varnish coating it making it shine in the dull cast of the fluorescents.


Julian muttered under his breath. The box was beautiful, but he still wanted to find out what was inside. No matter how much he would get for the box, he had a feeling whatever was inside the box would be worth a lot more. Once again, obscene amounts of money flashed through his mind. He got up and went down to get a cold chisel. He would open that box, even if he had to break it.


Julian looked for an opening, any opening, through which he could insert the tip of the chisel and wedge open the container. He tried it at every edge but only the top panel of the box had a slight give. Julian smiled as he slowly and laboriously slipped the tip of the chisel into the tiny orifice and levered up.


There was a sight give then the box shuddered and Julian yelled, caught unexpected by its movement. The chisel slipped out of the little catch it was in and fell to the floor. Julian eyed the box apprehensively. Boxes don't move on their own. Don't be silly, his conscience told him. Of course boxes don't move on their own. You were sensing things that weren't there. 1 comment


Of course, he told himself. Laughing nervously he retrieved the chisel and set back to work on the box. Slipping the chisel along the top of the box, he realized that the little catch he had found had somehow closed. Julian raised an eyebrow. That was singularly strange.


"Whatever you got in there's probably special," Julian said, addressing the box. "I'm going to get it out of you, one way or another, and I don't particularly care if you don't want me to."


The box didn't respond and Julian nodded.


"Silence gives assent," he chuckled to himself as he went over to the fireplace.
The grate was one of those old Victorian deals, with the black-painted metal and pokers along both sides. A nice, glowing fire was set up; Julian had lighted it earlier and the roaring had died down to a few crackling embers burning their lives out on the grate floor. He took one of the pokers out from the holder at the edge of the fireplace and stuck it into the heart of the embers. Julian figured that he'd try heating the box up. He didn't dare risk putting the box itself in the fire, lest whatever was inside was destroyed, in which case he'd lose both the box AND the treasure. He felt the best way to heat up the box would be to suspend it over two hot pokers right above the convalescent heat of the fireplace.


He stuck in a second poker, lodging it deep in the heart of the embers. He touched the first one, but the metal of the shaft was still a bit cold. No worries, he thought to himself, I have all night. Before tonight is over, I'll find out what it's hiding in its varnished grip.


The pokers would take a little while to heat up, so he figured maybe he should try to decipher what the words on the box top meant. He felt as though it had one of those Nordic rings to it, like from Scandinavia. He took a piece of paper and a pen from the tabletop and jotted down the words 'edderkopp bokse' on it, then proceeded to the library.
Julian had bought the house because of many reasons, but the most important one was the size of the library the place came with. He always had a passion for reading, and he could read things and recall where he read them, even if he didn't have the gift of a photographic memory to remember the exact details. Still, he enjoyed going through thick tomes, the older the better.


The Library doors were immense, carved out of solid oak. The left door featured a griffin, its majestic mane flowing back in some imagined wind as it reared up on its hind legs, claws bared towards the right door. On the right, a serpentine dragon forked its tongue at the griffin, seeming to taunt the beast. The dragon's eyes were jeweled emeralds whereas the griffin sported rubies. Both had been covered in a burnished layer of silver, which the muted light in the corridor shone off, casting wavering shadows on the walls.
Julian pushed aside the doors unceremoniously and entered the library, a deep, musty smell permeating the air he breathed. From what the agent had told him, the library was originally built in the late nineteenth century by the original owner of the house, and all the other rooms were built around the library, making it the oldest room in the house. There was a central nave that led to a circular standing floor lit from above by an oculus. Along the near edge of the standing floor, filing cabinets had been erected which contained the locations of books by author and by genre. It was here he headed for first. 1 comment


Quickly moving through the index drawer, he checked the languages section. There were a lot of books on learning languages and a few foreign language books by authors he recognized, and others by unknowns. Nothing about the Nordic languages popped out at him. The very last card contained what he was looking for. An old Bavaric language primer was available from an unknown author and he figured that was the best place to begin his search.


He walked down the wide passageways, looking at the numbers that had been engraved onto the shelves, finally slipping into the one that he was looking for. The musty smell was deep and rich here and Julian had a feeling that if he was allergic to dust, these shelves would have suffocated him. Still, there was something that made him feel uneasy in this place. He shook his head, feeling as though he was being stupid and progressed down the aisle.


He extracted a nondescript, red leather bound tome from the shelves and carried it over to the handily places reading nook at the center of the aisle. There was an audible creak as he cracked the book open, the unused spine binding having grown stiff. He thumbed through the pages, but almost immediately realized that it would be very little help to him. The book was far too ancient, and some of the spelling he noted was no longer in use. Still, there may be hope, he told himself as he dug deeper and deeper into the venerable tome.
'Bokse' was easy to find, and he found out that it meant 'box' in English. Now he was getting somewhere, although on reflection he realized it would have been terribly easy to intuit what that word meant. Still, he had confirmation now.


He ran his fingers down the pages as he got to the 'E' section, flipping page after page and poring through its contents. Finally, he ran into the word 'edderkopp', but the only word they had for its equivalent was 'attercop', followed by a small discussion in some Nordic language. He had never heard the word attercop in his entire life. Maybe it was some made-up word that the writer used to make a link between them. Frustrated, he slammed the book shut, releasing a cloud of dust from the aged pages.


His next stop was the dictionary and reference section, to confirm if the word was indeed an English word. He flipped through an old thesaurus and was pleasantly surprised to find that attercop was indeed a word, and that it literally translated to 'poison-head'.


"Poison-head box?" he asked himself. "What has a poison head? A snake?"


He continued reading and the entry described the Attercop as a spider, usually one very poisonous and able to cause death in a single bite. He had no hate for spiders, but he didn't harbor any love for them either. Still, a spider that was put in that box would have been dead a long time ago. Maybe it was just an old warning. Superstitions and all that. He still wanted to know what was in that box.


By now the pokers should be nice and hot, so he should try to open it. As he progressed down the corridor towards the entrance, he noticed the paintings along the top of the arch above the doors on the inside of the library seemed to be missing one. There was an obvious space where a painting had been it seemed, but it seemed to have been moved. His mind thought back to the painting in the attic but he brushed it off as his mind trying to rationalize things. Maybe it was done for style purposes; he never knew with interior decorators. Filing away his thoughts for future reference, he walked back to the fireplace, making a small stop at the dining room to pick up the box.


He had a feeling it was probably wear and tear on the box or just cold causing the hinges to clamp down, so the warm should cause them to expand and maybe the box would open of its own accord. It was worth a try at the very least. The pokers were angled towards the embers at a gentle incline. He cautiously touched the shafts and felt the heat coming from them. Luckily he didn't leave his hand there for long enough to get burned, just long enough to figure out that his plan was working. Deftly, he slid the box down the poker shafts until it was midway between where the handles jutted out of the grate and where the heads were buried in the ash.


After about ten minutes, he gingerly extracted the box and whilst holding it with a pair of tongs, took it back to the dining room table. He felt around for the opening in the top of the box and miraculously found it, minute though it was. He slid the flat chisel into the opening and pried, levering out the box top. It took three tries until the top of the box snapped and flew behind the table. Out of the opening swarmed three spiders, one yellow, one red and one white. Each of them scuttled off in a different direction, leaving Julian to stare at the box perplexedly. 1 comment


"You've got to be kidding me," he said to himself. "Then again, what would you expect for something named 'Spider box'?"


Julian turned to look at the running spiders, catching a glimpse of them as they disappeared into tiny cracks at the base of the wall. Now he had three more pests in this house, to add to the roaches and silverfish that were already overpopulating his walls and floors.
Termites too, he reminded himself. Don't forget the termites. Still three more pests in an old house weren’t exactly desirable. He made a note to call the exterminator as soon as he could.


After an evening full of surprises, he decided a good rest would be in order and climbed the stairs to his room. Flipping off the lights, he climbed the stairs, hearing the flittery scratches of the denizens of the house in the wall.


*


Julian awoke with a fright, brushing frantically at something on his arm. Something that was hairy, and large. He had felt it crawling up his arm, slowly, placing one of its myriad legs in front of the other, taking it's time as climbed the human mountain. He hated having bugs in bed with him. He held back a scream as he brushed frantically at the creature, knocking it off his arm and to the floor. Quickly he flipped the switch on, just to see the pale form of a spider disappearing into the wall-level ventilation crack. 1 comment


"Nasty bugger," Julian yelled as he tossed a large book from atop the mantle, but he was too late, the only reward for his mistimed throw being the odd, metallic clang of the ventilator grate.


He could hear his quarry scuttling away in the walls, along with a lot of other denizens, he assumed. He could hear the minute scraping footprints they made as they traipsed along the internals of the old house, walking between the old wiring and the plaster walls, the dragging of their chitinous feet making his eye twitch.


He shuddered. The touch of the spider made him feel unclean; like an unclean that no matter how many times he showered he would never be rid of it. He threw on a t-shirt and walked out of the room, trying to leave the skittering sounds behind him. He walked down the stairs, flicking on lights as he went. He would see small shadows retreating along the far corners as the light hit them, but he put that down to simply being shaken. Nobody likes having a spider crawl on their arm to wake them up.


He walked down to the kitchen, considering that maybe a midnight snack might be able to help him get back to sleep. As he flipped the light switch on, the sight that greeted him almost made him scream. All along the floor, covering almost the entire kitchen were spiders, all of them black and hairy, and all of them seeming to be heading out of the open kitchen window. The roiling mass of arachnids seemed like a living sea, with spider after spider climbing up the backs of its mates, trying to escape from something. 1 comment


Julian spun and half walked, half ran to the phone, grabbing up the phonebook as he went. Something needed to be done about these spiders now. He had never seen so many different species all of them seeming to be running from something. He wasn't averse to spiders, but the sight of so many seemed to make his mind reel. He closed his eyes and swallowed, calming himself as he went through the book for exterminators. He glanced at the clock, noticing the time as almost quarter past three. It wasn't likely that he'd find anyone willing to work at this hour anyway. Still, the sight of all those creepy crawlies unnerved him. He felt as though he didn't live in his own house. How did they all FIT in here? It was a big house, sure, but there were hundreds, maybe thousands of spiders climbing out of his kitchen window.


Sitting in the comfortable chair, found himself falling into a doze and before too long into the waiting arms of sleep. In the kitchen the skittering sounds of fleeing spiders could be heard until the first rays of sunlight penetrated the gloom. Then they noises turned to terrified mewls, and long before Julian awoke, a dread silence had fallen on the kitchen.


*


Julian's eye fluttered open late in the day. The entire morning had almost passed him by. He ran to the kitchen, to take stock of what damage the spiders had wrought the night before. Julian's eyes narrowed as he eyed the kitchen. It was possibly more spotless than it had been before the siders passed through. This didn't make any sense. First he pops open the box and now all the spiders in his house run away. What were they running from?


"Curiouser and curiouser..." Julian said aloud, as he spun around and headed back to the sitting room. 1 comment


Pacing in front of the fireplace, he tried to rationalize what he had observed. The box when it had popped open set free three spiders of differing colors. Of that he was sure. What was odd was that all the spiders that had been fleeing the night before; they had all been some shade of black or brown. None of them matched the colors of the spiders that had come from the box. As weird as that was, what was even weirder was the place he had found the box. He thought back and remembered it had fallen (been hidden?) behind an old painting up in the attic, a painting which portrayed siders, three of them in multiple colors. As he thought back he vaguely remembered that there was one red one, one yellow one and one white one. Still, he thought, I'd like to have another look at that painting.


Briskly, he ran up the steps, pulling down the trap door and climbing up into the attic. In the dark quiet of the attic, he could hear the soft clicking noises as whatever it was, was populating the walls of his house now moved around. It sounded like a whole lot more than just three spiders. Quickly he walked over to the place where he had laid the painting.
Julian's face grew puzzled. He swore this painting had had not more than three spiders on it. Now it showed an army of spiders in three colors, red, yellow and white, all chasing a man, his tortured expression evident as he ran through a room. His face was twisted in a terrifying scream as he glanced over his shoulder at the multitude of arachnids seemed to swell and wash down towards him. He put the painting down, trying to figure out where the one with the three spiders were, but there were no other paintings in the attic.


Frustrated, he picked up the painting again and froze. The background had changed slightly. The man was now facing away from the spiders and Julian noticed that the background had become somewhere that was filled with books of all colors and descriptions. A chill ran down his spine. Something really strange was going on here and he was going to get to the root of it, goddamn it. Tucking the painting under his arm he came down from the attic. As he walked downstairs he could hear the skittering of the bugs living in the walls. It seemed more pronounced, as if there were more of them. He sped up, almost running for the library.


He yelled as his foot snagged the edge of the carpet, causing the painting to fly out of his hands and the frame to smash on the wall ahead of him. Luckily there wasn’t any glass in the frame, but the splintered wood rankled more than the bruised knee he had sustained. Picking himself up again, he walked over to the ruined frame and noticed a small bit of some type of cloth sticking out of the remains of the bottom rung of the frame. Gingerly, he extracted the cloth, unfurling it carefully so that if might not break up. Whatever it was, it felt old and slightly damp. The words on the cloth were written in some brown ink, with splotches of the ink making small droplets around the page. The writing had started off neat but became more erratic, simply trailing off at the end along with a long swish of the ink.


From a glance he could tell that, whatever this letter was written in, it wasn't English. Maybe it would be the same Nordic language earlier. If so, he'd have a lot of translating to do. Leaving the splintered frame and the canvas of the screaming man in the hall, he hurried to the library, eager to find out what this cloth would have to tell him. Behind him, the skittering in the walls continued.


He entered the library and made a bee line for the aisle he had found the last translation he had needed. Sitting there with the bit of cloth, he started translating, and with each word he broke into English, he grew more and more anxious. After about an hour of feverish work, he sat with the letter fully translated on the desk. He didn't know whether to believe what he read in it, but at the same time, there was no other way to explain what was going on. With his hands shaking, Julian picked up the letter in its entirety and started reading.


"My name is Espen Lie. By the time you read this, I shall be no more. The spiders, they are coming closer and I must sacrifice myself to save this family. I have fashioned a box made of wormwood, so that their infernal master cannot speak to them. But now I must stop the master.


"I have lured them to the library. It is a safe place and the master cannot harm me here. Although I am not as great an artist as my sister Anne, I must paint this night as if my life depends upon it. I have made paints based on the elements, using ingredients that the demonic master would find abhorrent. Already I hear his mandibles gnawing at the walls of the library, and I must hurry.


"If you are reading this, and the manor still stands then I have been successful. I pray that you have not broken the box and released the bind, for if you do, the painting will require blood sacrifice to rebind the evil within the walls. I implore you, dear reader, for the love of God, do not open the box. The evil will come. And it will be angry."


Julian's forehead grew moist with the sweat that had beaded there. Espen's words hung like a miasma above his thoughts. Whatever those spiders were, they were supernatural. He was never one to believe those kinds of stories, but this one was inescapable. He was living it. He paused and cocked an ear, realizing he didn't hear anything in the walls. What did Espen say? That the library was safe? And the painting, it had something to do with this.


He ran down the aisle of the library, eschewing caution as he burst through the doors, only to see something that made his heart thump in his chest like an alarmed canary. The canvas that had spilled on the floor when he fell was now surrounded, nay, covered by a myriad of colored spiders. Angrily he swiped them away, facing the sharp nips as they bit at him, his hands being covered in the stinging bites with each swipe. Finally, he saw the brown edge of the canvas sticking up from one of his clearing swipes. Grabbing the canvas he dragged it sending a cascade of eight-legged monsters mewling, their miniscule labra clicking menacingly.


Julian could feel something coursing through his body. With the sheer amount of bites he had gotten, he was surprised that the spider venom hadn't paralyzed him. At least it hadn't as yet. He could feel himself getting weaker. He felt his heartbeat elevate and his eyes started to grow blurry. He bit his tongue hard enough to draw blood and that brought him back into focus. He closed the doors of the library behind him, not daring to look as he did, because he knew he would be only just ahead of the approaching swarm of spiders.
To confirm his suspicions, there was a series of chittering and scraping noises coming from the door just as he shut it. He ignored them and walked over to one of the reading tables. Unfurling the canvas, Julian gasped. In the center of the picture there was a huge, black spider, its spindly legs pinning down in front of it the man who he had seen running from the spiders earlier. The black hair of the disgusting creature seemed to hang lank and wet from the creature's enormous body. Julian could almost hear the screams of the man in the picture, and yes, he could see the fibers of the painting shimmer.


As if seeing a flipbook picture, Julian watched in horror as the spider raised one of its legs and brought it crashing down on the man pinned beneath it, turning his head into a bloody stump. He could see the man's body slump into lifelessness as the spider squashed his head with its bony legs, his blood pooling in front of the beast.


The macabre flipbook show continued, as the spider lurched towards the painting. Julian could almost feel the evil coursing out through the frame and enveloping him in a miasma of despair and fear. He tore his eyes away from the impending doom approaching the picture frame and darted into the library, tumbling shelves as he went. Finally, standing atop the ruins of the library, he watched in horror as a long, hairy leg stretched out of the painting, gossamer threads clinging to it as if it had passed through a spider web on its way out. Inside his mind, he laughed, but somehow he couldn't bring his voice to articulate it. This must be what going crazy feels like, he thought as a second leg exited the frame. 1 comment


Flicking open the lighter he carried in his pocket, he dropped it onto the mountain of books below him. The dry paper caught fire and licked at his legs. He stood unmoving upon the mountain of books as the fire rapidly spread along to the edges of the library, the spider was halfway out of the painting frame by this time and Julian could make out the dark ichor dripping from its mandibles and its myriad eyes looking at him hungrily.


"Blood sacrifice," Julian said as he gritted his teeth. Picking up a book from the pile below him, he lunged at the spider and started pushing it back into the frame. The beast mewled loudly and snapped at him. Acidic venom spurted onto his arm and he felt it burn through his shirt, but behind him was a conflagration of much larger proportions. The flame licked at his back and he shoved the spider again, almost pushing it fully back into the painting.


With a final lunge both Julian and the spider fell into the gossamer webs which seemed to solidify and close. The painting landed on the floor, face up and the skittering and mewling in the corridor ceased. There was quiet in the manor and all that could be heard was the dripping of an unclosed faucet.


*


"We'll take it!” Arthur said as he and Penny looked over the huge library. He had always liked books.


"Good!" the agent said as she closed her brief. "I'll do up the paperwork."


"Honey," Penny said, "I don't like that painting above the balcony."


Arthur looked at the painting, portraying a young man forcing back a spider with a lighted book in his hand. "It does look sort of gloomy. We'll take it down and burn it."


In the walls, they heard a skittering.


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