A black hair-like limb sprang free from its flesh tomb. This was followed by another. Then another and another. Eight limbs in total as Chase’s forehead gave birth to a hockey puck-sized spider. It was black as sin and covered in spiky hairs that broke off and stuck in the sides of the now gaping wound in his head. It took no more than 15 seconds for the spider to break free from his skin, and as soon as it came to light, Chase swatted it down into the sink. This was out of pure instinct as his mind was no longer capable of reasonable thought. No sane person could think right if they’d just witnessed a giant arachnid—straight from the nightmare world of an Ezekiel Boone novel—come bursting out of their forehead.
Chase reached up and touched the wound. There was no blood or pus or any other fluid. He stumbled backward in a combination of disbelief and terror. But he had no time to untangle what was happening as a scratching sound from the sink stole his attention.
His gut told him to run but his farm boy curiosity told him to investigate. So with frayed nerves, he crept toward the sink. Each step forward sounded like a cannon going off. With each inch closer to the sink he grew colder; his skin more clammy. His heart thumped in his ears and the red light on the ceiling seemed to deepen in color. One more step and the spider would come back into view.
Chase took a deep breath and steeled his nerves. He took a glance up at the mirror but could no longer make out his reflection through the now dark crimson that flooded the room. With his body as far back as he could manage while still being able to look into the sink, his eyes dropped down. The sink was empty.
Panic rushed through his body even worse than when the spider had emerged from his skin. Where did it go? Did it jump on his pant leg? Was it working its way up his back?
“Fuck me!” Chase hollered.
He spun around with wild abandon. He smacked at his legs then brushed off his arms, shoulders, and upper back to the best of his abilities. There was no spider. But the restroom was so dim from the red light that he couldn’t see a spider even if it was directly in front of him.
The stifled words hung in the air, or maybe only in his mind. He wasn’t sure if he’d actually said them aloud. Maybe he was going insane. Maybe that crack to the head had knocked him out and he was in a coma right now. These thoughts spun through his mind like a cyclone. And before he could settle on any one idea, another round of cannon fire went off. This time it didn’t come from him stepping on the hard tile floor.
He jumped back and bumped into the wall. With a sudden snap, the whole room went black. The darkness brought with it the scratching sound he’d heard coming from the sink moments earlier. It took a few seconds for Chase to realize he’d flipped the light switch off. Immediately, he ran his hand across the empty black wall to rectify his mistake. His hand slid across the smooth wall—made of tile similar to that of the floor—and came across something hairy. He pulled his hand back with lightning quickness. The scratching moved from the wall to the floor. From the floor toward him.
Even though he couldn’t see anything, Chase sidestepped where he thought the noise was coming from and slammed into the door. Of course, the door!
He fumbled with the handle and then remembered the latch. The scratching grew louder behind him as if the thing making the sound was getting bigger. The latch wasn’t where he thought it would be and he rushed his hands up both sides of the door frame. Something sharp clamped onto the back of his pant leg, barely missing his skin, and began tugging. Chased kicked his leg and ripped it loose from the thing’s grip, banging against the same wall he’d bumped into seconds earlier. This time the light switch flipped back on.
Red light filled the small restroom once again. It wasn’t as dim as before and Chase could make out the features around him—or more accurately, the lack thereof. Gone was the sink, squat toilet, and like a fever-induced nightmare, the door had also vanished. He now stood in a completely sealed cube the color of blood. But there was something in the center of the cube that threatened to paint the walls in a much thicker, darker red.
The spider had grown to the size of a tiny dog. If it were your run-of-the-mill ankle-biter, Chase’s knees wouldn’t quake beneath him like they were. But the greenish-yellow liquid dripping from the spider’s immense fangs proved this was no ankle biter. No, a bite from this creature would most certainly be a death sentence.
Its eight legs scratched across the tile as it moved toward him. The spider’s eyes were pools of red and Chase couldn’t tell if they were reflecting the color of the light or if they were naturally that evil shade. Though, there was nothing natural about this creature or how it came to be.
“Somebody help!” Chase screamed, pounding on the wall until his fists ached.
His words reverberated through the cramped space and seemed to aggravate the spider. He knew he had no other choice but to do what he had seen his father do countless times back on the farm. It was time the spider became intimate with the bottom of his shoe.
Leaning back and slowly extending his right leg, Chase positioned his foot above the spider. There was only one chance to squish the sucker. If he missed, with the size and speed of the spider… well, he figured he couldn’t afford to miss.
He braced himself against the wall with his foot hovering over the spider’s engorged body. It inched closer to him but didn’t make any sudden moves. Almost as if it was anticipating what was coming next. They both remained still. Watching each other. Chase, with his scared gray eyes. The spider, with its menacing red button-eyes.
The spider moved. Or at least Chase thought it moved. But that was his only thought as his foot acted separately from his brain and crashed to the ground. There was a loud crack and it felt as if he’d stomped on a large crab. The overhead light exploded with a burst of orange flame.
It hit Chase with a force so powerful that he collapsed into a seated position in the corner. A downpour of vicious red liquid erupted from the light fixture. By the time he came to, the liquid was up to his neck.
“Oh, god,” he craned his neck upward to keep his face out of the liquid, “somebody please help!” The room filled too fast and he struggled to get to his feet. “Help!”
There was a metallic taste upon his lips and the smell was unmistakable. He was going to drown in a sealed vat of blood.
Mere seconds went by and he was already wading near the ceiling. The sealed room continued to fill up at a terrifying speed. And when the blood reached the top and there was no more air to breathe, Chase closed his eyes and waited for the inevitable.
The sound of cannon fire blasted in his ears.
He opened his eyes and saw his sweaty reflection staring back at him. The first thing he noticed was the lump on his head. A small goose egg at the base of his hairline. Barely noticeable unless you were looking for it. Everything else in the restroom was the same as when he’d first entered, only the red light was now a cool blue.
Somebody pounded on the door and said something in Japanese. With the reverberation in the tiny restroom, it almost sounded like a cannon going off. Chase unlatched the door and opened it with great caution. On the other side stood a short, middle-aged salaryman. The man’s face was flushed and he barreled past Chase so quickly that his features were no more than a blur. Even though he didn’t feel the man push him out, Chase somehow found himself standing outside of the restroom door facing the crowded bar. His head was swimming.