Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Demon-Spider Chronicles

It has been a nerve-wracking, sleepless few days. And tonight, it all culminated into one pulse-pounding, prayer-filled showdown between good (me) and the spider (evil). I am relieved to report that good does indeed triumph over evil.

As my readers know, a few days ago I found a brown recluse spider in my bedroom. Now, before I go any further, I need to give you all an accurate picture of my feelings regarding spiders:

I have a very definite case of arachnophobia. Believe me, I do not use this term lightly. When I was a little nine or ten year old at summer camp, I got bitten by a wolf spider and was sick for a few days. Since my preteen years, I have had a powerful, recurring nightmare in which I am running through a wooded area and get trapped in an enormous spider web. I struggle desperately as either one HUGE spider or hundreds of small ones come towards me, fangs bared. I wake up in a cold sweat and it takes a long time to calm down. Now I'm no coward - remember, I'm the same girl who moved to Korea for a year and went to Manilla all by myself right during another round of kidnappings of white women. I can face a snake and not flinch - I've even handled them many times. I went parasailing once and loved it. I am a logical, adventurous, educated person. Yet when it comes to spiders, I feel like I'm trapped inside that nightmare again. I know that I'm bigger than them, I know that I can easily overpower them, and yes, I know that as a Christian I should fear nothing. Guess what - all that knowledge flies out the window the second I see a spider. As far as I'm concerned, they are King Kong and I'm the defenseless Fay Wray.

Now with little spiders, I am okay. The fear hits me, but I can overcome it and stomp them pretty quickly. Big spiders are another matter altogether. They mesmerize me at first, leaving me too frightened to be able to move. Once I can move, I find it almost impossible to kill them. I am petrified that they will move towards me, jump at me, or do any number of the devious and heinous things that spiders do. Nothing that has that many eyes and legs can be trusted. My limbs shake, my mouth goes dry, and I fight an inner battle just to be able to form a coherent thought. Yeah, I'd definitely call that a pretty bad case of arachnophobia. I even have trouble seeing spiders in movies or looking at pictures of them. Just the sight makes me feel imaginary spiders crawling all over me.

Do you see now why a brown recluse has been such a big deal? A few minutes after spotting Demon-spider for the first time, I had him trapped under a plastic container, and managed to stick a cotton ball filled with nail polish remover in with him. I had high hopes that the fumes would kill him. To ensure that he couldn't squeeze out, I put heavy items on top of the container (I figured that this would also cut his fresh air supply and hasten death even quicker). I let a day pass, unable to check any sooner (I started involuntarily shaking every time that I walked past the container). Finally, two nights ago, I decided that it was time to check my foe. I peered in and saw that he was near one of the edges. I put on long gloves, then lifted the container just slightly and placed the edge on top of Demon-spider. I pressed down, hard. Crunch. To play it safe, I pressed down a second time. Crunch. Convinced that the evil eight-legged monster from Hades was now very much deceased, I boldly lifted up the container . . . and he wiggled at me. I slammed the container back down.

I ran into the kitchen and grabbed my trusty can of Lysol disinfectant spray. From experience, I know that it is very successful at killing insects. With my gloves pulled as far up my arms as they could go, I summoned my courage, lifted the container, and sprayed. Demon-spider sprang to life and bolted straight toward me. I screamed and slammed the container back down, then piled twice as many heavy things on it. A considerable time later, I again summoned up some courage and, shakingly, slid two cotton squares in with him, one covered in nail polish remover and one covered in rubbing alcohol. I weighted down the container again and left my enemy there until today.

Tonight, I knew that I had to finally end this epic battle. I can't let my life be run by a spider, no matter how diabolical he is. I pulled on gloves and heavy shoes. Then, I laid very sticky tape sticky-side-up on one side of the container, just in case Demon-spider tried to bolt in that direction. By this point, my arms and legs were shaking worse than jello jigglers, my mouth had lost the ability to create saliva, and my breath was coming in shallow, laborious gasps. I said a quick, frantic prayer, then peered into the container. Demon-spider was nowhere in sight.

At this point, I almost gave in to outright hysteria. The thought of that beast on the loose in my apartment was enough to make me consider living out of my car for a few days. Then I realized that I was prematurely panicking. Demon-spider could be hiding under the cotton squares, waiting to do horrendous things to me at the first opportunity. Yes, in my arachnophobic mind I DO credit spiders with that level of tactical planning capability. I said another prayer, then slowly lifted the container, my heart now lodged somewhere near where my tonsils used to be. Demon-spider remained hidden.

Inwardly, I debated whether to peak first or attack first. Attacking sounded the most palatable, so I grabbed the can of Raid that I purchased earlier today, as a special present for Demon-spider, and sprayed the cotton squares, ready to leap out of my skin at the slightest movement. I paused, holding my breath. Nothing stirred. Knowing that it was now or never, I stomped the cotton squares with all the strength that I could summon. When I lifted my foot, one of the cotton squares clung to my shoe, revealing the shriveled spider corpse underneath. Instinct made me leap backward at first, but then my eyes finally convinced the rest of me that Demon-spider was, at long last, very, very dead. I used some cardboard to push him into the container, then carried him over to the toilet, where I dumped him in. I made sure to watch as I flushed, just to be certain that the mangled corpse was really gone at last.

It was a few minutes before my limbs stopped quivering and my breathing finally slowed to normal. A sudden exhaustion came over me and I sank into the welcoming embrace of my couch, at last able to relax in an apartment no longer tainted by the lurking evil of Demon-spider.

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"