Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust…

The Cast: Charlotte (mother), Myself (surprised).

Thousands. There were thousands of them.

A couple times a year I need to spray for bugs. Now, before you get all environmentally freaked out, let me tell you what I use.

With small children and pets in my home (not to mention my wife and myself) I didn’t just want to put dangerous chemicals all over my house. Yes, I know, I am trying to kill stuff but, ‘poison’ and ‘dangerous’ are not always the same thing (I know what I wrote). I did not want to put my children into unnecessary danger. I did my research. I found EcoLogic.

This company does great work with their products and for the planet. My favorite part about their stuff is that it works. I have sprayed pests with other chemicals and watched the bugs just walk away as if I had just given them a good washing. With EcoLogic, I spray, they die. Good stuff!

Why are you telling us this? You may be asking yourself. Fair point. I’m telling you all this because twice a year I spray for bugs. Once in the spring (when little buggies begin to pop out of their egg sacks, cocoons, and other stuff) and once in the fall (when the bugs decide my house would be better than the outdoors). When I start seeing them more and more inside my house, that’s when I know it’s time to spray again. It’s time to spray again. I have been spotting more and more eight-legged furry bodies on my walls. I don’t like that. And, it reminded me…

I was about sixteen and the days were getting warmer. So, I thought I would get a popsicle from our backroom freezer. Our ‘freezer room’ was just a backroom addition to the home, it had a large freezer chest, some miscellaneous tools, and other such stuff stored in it. Typical ‘extra’ room space. I walked through the door, the chest was on my right, a door to the outside was on my left, and another wall was right in front of me—along with a shelf of the aforementioned tools and stuff.

So far, this is not all that interesting. I get it. I’m just trying to help you understand that the circumstances were normal. Things were calm. Sunshine, lovely weather, popsicle in hand, then it happened. Now, I have killed, squished, smooshed, squashed, flatted, smeared, fired (I used fire), exploded (I used explosives), decimated, destroyed, mutilated, mushed, and more, to a spectacular number insects than I can possibly recall. Now, whatever you might think about the rights of insects to live, that is not the point of the story. But, part of that story is that what happened next was nothing I have ever seen before or since. And, with Google and other internet resources at my disposal, I have had years to try and track down what it was. I still don’t know.

That said, I am sure most of you have read or heard about the urban legend of how a person eats an average of about eight spiders a year—in their sleep, or some other such nonsense. Okay, maybe it is nonsense and maybe it’s not. So, let me tell you something(s): I have had a handful of spider encounters in my day that were exceptionally very freaky (each in their own unique way).

The second encounter was in Camp Pendleton, California. I was out in some field somewhere, lying prone in the dirt, watching for ‘the enemy’. This was just training. As a new Marine, in Infantry School, I spent plenty of time working on the fine art of camouflaging myself to blend in with the terrain, and then laying there, in said terrain, trying to be the terrain so as not to attract the attention of ‘the enemy’. And on one particular occasion I noticed something that freaked me out.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw movement. Great. What could it be? It was a tarantula. A tarantula that was about one foot away from me. Now, while I am not scared of them, I wasn’t excited about the possibility of the thing thinking that I was a new condominium that it could move into.

If you look carefully, on my left shoulder, you can spot my new buddy for the day.

I turned my head ever so slightly to get a better idea of what was approaching me, or even if it was approaching me. What I saw messed with my head. While I was seeing a decent sized tarantula (about eight inches in diameter), it wasn’t moving—of it’s own volition. The body was being dragged. Dragged by a small wasp. Apparently there’s a thing called a Tarantula Hawk and they are tough little buggers. I did not want to be stung by anything so small that could take down something that big (relative size). Apparently, one researcher of these spider hunters described the pain of the wasp’s sting as “…immediate, excruciating, unrelenting pain that simply shuts down one’s ability to do anything, except scream. Mental discipline simply does not work in these situations.” No thank you. I just watched that wasp drag its food right past me and on to somewhere else.

Okay, that was more about the wasp than the spider, but it was still kinda freaky and involved a spider. The third event was when I was working on my Casey Jones mask. I was leaning over a table, making adjustments, smoothing epoxy, and just staying busy. During this event my head was moving about. My wife and children were all there, sitting in a nearby sofa and on the floor as we watched television. I was bent over the coffee table focused on my craft. Then, I sat straight up—to stretch my back and see what was on the screen, but I saw something else. Right as my head became erect, a large wolf spider—with its legs splayed straight out from its body—appeared before my eyes.

The thing had repelled from the ceiling directly over my head. Was I its intended target?!? It must have seen my head moving about. Why go for my head? It could have dropped down anywhere but no-ooo. It had to try and land on my skull. I announced its presence with an, “Oh, geez!” To which my wife tried to first smash it (onto my face). When I objected at that, she tried to bat it away from my face—good intention but it backfired. The spider swung away from me, yes. However, the web didn’t break and like the eight-legged pendulum it now was, good ‘ole wolfie came swinging right back—toward my face. I moved and we eventually smashed it as it dropped onto the table. Why onto my head? Seriously.

The fourth was just a stupid spider. Seriously stupid. I was at my desk, the very one I am typing at now. I had set a small, hollow cylinder (short in height and about 3 inches in diameter) nearby. My arm and hands were moving over it and about it. I could see into it. Then I accidentally bumped it and it made a ripping sound. I looked down and saw that a spider had moved into it—while I was working—and made a very successful attempt at trying to complete a home (I guess). The thing looked like it was cocooning itself, but at the same time, not. Regardless, it apparently did not know the three rules of real estate: Location. Location. Location. I grabbed another cylinder (solid, not hollow) and squished the spider good. Stupid spider.

Fifth event… Just skip this section if you are squeamish. I mean it.

Fifth event… It was first thing in the morning. Six o’clock. I had just awoke and the sleep was still in my eyes. And, like I do most mornings, I sat up in bed, swung my legs over the edge in preparations to stand, stretched my arms, and then wiped the sleep from my eyes. Well, out of my left eye anyway. Out of my right eye came crunching, guts, and plenty of bits ‘o spider. The spider’s goo was now smeared across my eyelids and fingers. I had both heard and felt the crunch and so I had kept my right eye closed in case something was wrong. It was. A spider had decided to build a home in my eye. On my eye? I don’t know how to accurately describe it. Regardless: MY EYE! A spider in my eye! Really?!?!

As I perused the carcass and goop on my fingers, my wife jumped out the bed and began to be fully creeped out. No, I joke. She just laughed at me. Seriously, she just laid there and laughed at me. That’s love people. Real, true love right there. I couldn’t make this up. Well, maybe I could, but, it wouldn’t be as good.

She just laid there and laughed…

Anyway, the first was the strangest, and the reason I began this tale. So, out came a spider from under our freezer chest. The spider didn’t appear very large, but it was covered in dust. I recall just staring at it for a while as it slowly walked along. I had never seen a dusty spider before. And, when I say dusty, I’m referring to that kind of dust that builds up on a thing that has just sat upon your shelf for so long it has turned fuzzy in appearance and grey in color. Yeah, that kind of dusty. What spider gets that dusty? One that is about to die!

I lifted my foot high and slammed it down quick and hard. Too hard. I blew the dust everywhere. The grey debris scattered about the five-foot square section of bare cement floor. The dust hit against my other shoe and collected. The dust drifted up, about an inch, into the air and settled back to the ground. The dust was all over. It was a lot more dust than I expected. Frankly, I hadn’t expected it at all. But, out of the dust that seemed to be settled on the spider, the stuff that flew about was like a thousand times more than I thought it should be. Then, after about three seconds, all in perfect unison, every single bit of dust that had scattered, drifted, and built up upon my shoe, activated and began to move! Yup, the dust was alive.

Turns out, it wasn’t dust. That spider wasn’t covered in dust. It was covered in baby spiders. Not in an egg sack or anything like that. They were just on the spider. On its body. Hitching a ride. Eating it alive while it casually strolled about on a sunny day. Look, I really don’t know what they were doing before I stepped on it, but I did know what they were doing now: Running for their lives. Thousands of them. There were thousands of them. All trying to get away in every direction (including into my other shoe, since they had landed on it). I had just unleashed thousands of spiders into my home! Not good.

I began to stomp and jump and dance about in a disco of death the likes of which no one has ever seen. Seriously, no one’s seen it. I was all alone. No camera. And definitely long before TikTok. So, yeah…

Anyway, the problem with all those itsy-bitsy, teeny-weenie targets was that my shoe tread missed them again and again. I had to try all kinds of fancy footwork to finally finish the frenzied fracas. I honestly wasn’t scared of the spiders themselves, it was more about the amount of them that might find the convenience of my home more inviting than the move-out I had interrupted. There is the difference of knowing something might be true and knowing it is. Like, I might have mice in my home, but there is no evidence of them, and I haven’t seen them, so, they don’t exist. I haven’t seen them, so they’re not there. So, back then, believing there might be thousands of spiders in my walls and knowing there was because I released them… No. Just, no.

Not the worst thing I have ever dealt with, but definitely one of the freakiest.

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