My creepy Christmas story ‘With Their Eyes All Aglow’ was recently singled out in a review on Shocktotem, so I thought I’d share a little research that went into the tale.
Last Christmas time I heard a disturbing factoid reported on the radio: Each Christmas tree brings up to 25,000 bugs into your house.
Okay, tiny mites are icky, but it’s hard to beat spiders for pure terror. I looked at the lights shining on my tree and imagined a cluster of luminescent arachnids. Do glow-in-the-dark spiders even exist?
The glowing spider has only been spotted once, in the deepest jungle of Myanmar in 1923 by Barnum Brown, the curator for the American Museum of Natural History.
“Darkness came on swiftly and my pony began to stumble. Somewhere we had missed the trail…Presently, a few feet away, I saw a ball of light as large as a man’s thumb.
Tying the horse, I advanced as carefully as possible toward the object, which was surrounded by thorny bushes…I struck a match. There in full view was a spider, his large oval abdomen grayish with darker markings. Still he did not move, and as the match flame died out, his abdomen again glowed to full power, a completely oval light, similar in quality to that of the fireflies.
Remembering native tales of poisonous insects and spiders, I wrapped a handkerchief around one hand, parted the brush with the other, and when close enough, made a quick grab. Alas! The handkerchief caught on a stick before I could encircle him and my treasure scurried away. I followed as quickly as possible, but the light soon disappeared under stones, brush, or in some burrow, for I never saw it again.”
I had my spider and my setting. To make things more interesting, I made my glowing spiders more sociable.
Social spiders cooperate like ants or bees. Colonies can spin much larger webs and then swarm to take down prey as large as birds and bats.
(I was going to insert some photos of bats in webs, but I couldn’t find any that were not being feasted upon by giant spiders. You’re welcome.)
My wife suggested the title for this story be, ‘Spiders get all up in yo’ bidness and then ruin Christmas.’ Yes, these spiders may ruin Christmas for a few unlucky people, but don’t let that stop you from checking out the anthology O Little Town of Deathlehem. You can buy the book at Amazon, and all profits from the anthology will benefit the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.