The Green Spider


By Paul Morantz

A scream of an everlasting terror echoed throughout the dark room as Stanley awoke to the rapid beating of his heart. Cold sweat covered his face, dripping from his forehead. It was, as always, however, just a matter of moments until he realized that again it was just that dream, that same horrifying dream, which he continuously suffered. As his senses returned, he rested quietly on his pillow and endured his grief. Here he prayed that never again would he sleep and dream and be haunted by this fearful nightmare. Alas, this was a wish beyond fulfillment. It went on and on, night after night, with a very infrequent break, always the dream, always the awakening of horror.

Every night of his childhood he had dreamt this vision of his death. He would see about him a strange and colorless mist. In this weird mist there would appear an arm and on the arm was a large green spider with yellow spots scattered across its body. This scene would end with a close-up concentrating on the spider and then the feeling, the terrible sensation of death. At this point he would awaken, sometimes with a scream of torment, but always with the cold sweat dripping down his chilled and frightened body. His first reaction would be to search his hands and arms for a bite of death and then to make sure that he was really alive. Always the dream was the same; always the green spider on an arm, followed by the sensation of death. Always the awakening of horror.

For years and years this nightmare struck deep into the mind of Stanley Silverdale causing his fears to grow and grow. It was only natural that he soon came to believe that this was his fate. This was how he would die. He did not think himself mad, but rather haunted by an imp who craved his soul.

Stanley was always aware; always awaiting the attack. Many unusual experiences helped convince him that it was only time that separated their meeting.

Late one night while taking a shower, he felt something crawling up his shoulder. Suddenly, with an air of panic, his whistling stopped, his bar of soap fell hard upon the floor and slid towards his feet, and once again the cold sweat crept out from his pores to blanket his skin. As he felt eight gruesome legs tapping on his shoulder, he thought that the end was coming. Death was near. At last, it seemed, the malignant green spider had come for his bite. Finally summoning enough courage, he turned his shoulder and swatted the spider to the floor. His heart sank, as his body turned, for his eyes spied not the green spider, but only a large ordinary spider. Stanley reached for a shoe and struck the spider with the entire weight of his might. He struck again and again, paused, and then continued slamming the heel of this shoe upon the crushed figure of the arachnid. Stanley hammered as if repaying the spider for all the torture he fell victim to every time he experienced his fearful nightmare.

Stanley leaned back, dropped the shoe and made efforts to regain his breath, calmness and control. His eyes starred at his squashed victim as his left hand brushed his hair back off his face. Stanley felt that perhaps he had been victorious over a messenger from the green spider.

It would appear that awake or asleep, Stanley could get no peace or freedom from this fiendish curse. Another event further illustrating his peril  occurred in the preparation for sleep one night. A look of lazy contentment masked his face as his right arm reached to turn the light off and return to pull the covers gently to his chest. Almost immediately, he felt the crawling sensation, moving slowly upon his leg towards his stomach, towards his arm. Again the same agonizing cold sweat poured over Stanley’s frame. He was seized with fear; fear that this was it, that it was the green spider with the yellow spots, that this was his death. After a few moments of incomprehensible fright, he reached up, turned on the light and threw off the covers. To both disappointment and grief, there lay not the green intruder but another  large ordinary spider. As before, he beat the spider viciously and cruelly as if it were the green spider in disguise.

Stanley anticipated that soon the spider would strike and his only hope was to seek out the green spider with yellow spots and destroy it before it destroyed him. Many hours, many days were spent in its pursuit. The gardens around his apartment house were searched and, even sometimes, the gullies and alleys in the vicinity.

Never, to his distress, did he come across the dreadful green spider. When any other spider came into view, he would capture the little monster and murder it with a sinister pleasure. Stanley would torture them to death very slowly for enjoyment, which he felt was a price for his misery. Some spiders Stanley burned while others he drowned. Some had their legs pulled off one by one while others were placed under dripping acid. Stanley sprayed his room and his bed with insecticide not only to ward off attacks, but also because of a superstition that the insecticide might hold an invasion of the portentous dream.

As the years passed by, the dream made its appearance less and less frequently. Months of freedom could pass with no appalling dream. Stanley’s fears slowly began to subside, and he gradually returned to a normal state. In his subconscious, however, his insane attitude towards spiders still existed. The occasional dream of the yellow-spotted spider on an arm and the sensation of death would strike to bring back  his fears for a short duration.

Still, Stanley lived on, fought his peril and strived for adjustment. He had obtained a slight maturity to conceal his morbid thoughts. He had a small job and was now in search of a new place to live and one which his low wages could easily afford. Replying to an ad, he became the border in the apartment of a young zoologist student, Ray Miles. Ray needed a border for extra money. He was not yet prosperous but had high expectations. Together the two of them struggled to make the best as they became the very best of friends. No one, including Ray, had knowledge or awareness of Stanley’s lifelong dilemma.

One night, due to a late project he had to complete, Ray had Stanley sleep in the room where his animal specimens were kept. Before retiring, Ray took Stanley on a tour of his collection of insects. While looking them over, Stanley’s eyes suddenly focused in a wide glare upon a jar on the shelf directly across from his bed. A stream of light passing through the window shone brightly upon the jar, and there Stanley gazed in shock upon the green spider with yellow spots, the very spider that haunts his nights.

The spider crawled mysteriously within the tiny jar, its long legs tapping against the glass walls, trying to get out, always facing Stanley. It cast an evil look as if it had been waiting for Stanley and was now laughing ghoulishly upon his arrival.

Ray noticing the look on Stanley’s face, remarked, “I see you found interest in my spider. It is a very rare spider from deep Africa. It took a miracle to obtain it. There are very few like it in captivity. It is so poisonous that one bite causes almost instant death. It is so valuable that my whole future is based around this little animal.”

When Stanley realized the value of the spider to his dearest friend, he planned no immediate action and merely tried to conceal his memory from his current thoughts.

That night, while asleep, he had the dream, the repetition of the nightmare that has brought incredible pain throughout his meager life. The mist, the green spider appearing on an arm and the stinging sensation of death. Stanley’s hysterical awakening was marked by a cry of unbelievable fright as the damp sweat dripped from his body and his heart pounded fast, faster than ever. Pain and agony took possession at the thought and vision of his persecutor.

Gasping for breath, he turned and looked across the room where the light from the window still shown magnificently upon the jar. Inside, the green spider was moving about, more active than ever, trying to get out, trying to make his way towards Stanley. Its hairy legs banged in evil motions against the clearness of the glass.

Stanley sat frozen upon witnessing the unholy scene. This sight, following the dream, drove off all remains of sanity and brought forth his spider-killing instin ct. Slowly he walked across the room into the kitchen and seized a long sharp knife. As if in an unknown trance, Stanley crept toward the demon slowly, very slowly. His eyes were fixed upon the spider and his only thoughts were hate, revenge and destruction. Nothing could stop him now and at last victory would be his.

“Stanley, what are you doing,” cried Ray, who had been awakened by the noise? Hearing no reply, Ray darted in between to halt Stanley’s intentions. The struggle ended as quickly as it began. Ray’s body dropped before Stanley’s feet. Blood poured onto the floor from the two cuts where Stanley’s knife had pierced deep into the flesh. Stanley’s right foot stepped hard on to Ray’s chest and then his left foot pressed down upon his face as he continued creeping towards the spider, not even aware of Ray’s death.

Such pleasure Stanley felt, holding the bloodstained knife, knowing soon it would slice the sinister spider into pieces of green. Before he reached it, however, neighbors, who had awakened, entered the room. On sight of Ray Mile’s body and the blood dripping from the shining knife, they grabbed Stanley and dragged from the room. Stanley fought desperately to free himself and complete his mission. The struggling man cried, “Let me go! It is evil… It wants to destroy me! It is evil, I tell you! Let me go… I’ve got to kill it before it gets me!”

Meanwhile, the green spider pranced around the jar as if rejoicing at the spectacle, his legs patterning against the sides of the jar. The devilish creature seemed to laugh at Stanley as its yellow spots shone more than ever.

Stanley would not tell of his dreams or his fear of the green spider. He would say nothing that might make people doubt his sanity. Instead he attempted a phony self-defense story. The trial was quick. Guilty was the verdict; electric chair was the sentence.

On the day of his execution he began his last walk, the long walked toward the electric chair. Many before him had made this sorrowful march. Those men cried, screamed and begged for mercy. Some fainted, others pleaded for their lives, proclaiming innocence and injustice of their fate. “I don’t want to die, I don’t deserve to die,” had echoed these halls many times past. Stanley did none of these actions. He merely laughed in his mood of relief. He was not afraid to die. He had died every time he slept his dreadful dream. Now he was happy with the knowledge that after this final execution, he would never die again.

He sat in the electric chair with a wide grin that captured everybody’s attention. Then he let out: “I’ve won! I’ve won…I’ve beaten him! I’ve beaten the green spider…Ha! Ha!…I will not die from his cursed bite! I shall die from electricity! Ha H –” suddenly his laughter ceased. He looked across the room as the executioners arm reached out to pull the switch which would deliver his doom.

As the lever started downward, once again the cold sweat appeared, moistening Stanley Silverdale’s body. Stanley’s heart pounded fast, and he let out with his last and loudest cry. For there on the executioner’s arm was a tattoo of a green spider with yellow spots.