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Who Knows What Evil Lurks? : We do. Think killer mushrooms. Think crafty spiders. The winning entries in our scary story contest will leave you begging for more. : Jump

October 31, 1994|KAREN BLANK | Blank, 48, lives in Long Beach. She is marketing director for the Extended Education Department at Cal State Dominguez Hills

Emily took a glass jar with her into the woods. She had pounded nails through the lid so the insect she caught could breathe. She didn't really want to kill anything, especially just for a creepy science project. The sun was just going down over the trees, the last lingering fingers of light beckoning to her through the dead branches.

"Rats," she said, when she realized it was getting so late. She wished she had started this part of the project earlier because it was due tomorrow and she had to be ready at 6 for her dance recital. At least she knew her part for the dance. Her costume was ready for her to jump into and take her part in "The Waltz of the Flowers."

Now she wished she had brought a better flashlight. It was going to be hard to see any insect she could use to illustrate its body structure now that the sun was going. Aha! Maybe a spider? she thought.

She could just make out a web coming up along the trail, glistening as it caught the last rays of light. Woven between two trees, the web was above head level and the spider had caught plenty of other insects too. "Wow! It's Bugs R Us!" There was no time to do anything but take the whole thing and stuff it into the jar.

Emily knew she'd have to use everything she knew about jumping--skills learned and practiced in ballet--to get it. She bent her knees in plie and leaped into the air. The jump was short. She tried backing up for a running start. She took three great strides forward, kicked her right foot in front of her, brought her left into the air and her arms reached above her head for the web as she turned in the air.

This time she brought the web down to the ground with her and, in doing so, pulled the branches the spider had connected with his web along with her. Having twisted in the process of getting the web, it had wrapped around her. The white lace was draped on her dark jacket, which created a gloomy pattern in the ever-darkening forest.

She struggled to get the web, filled with dead bugs and, as she now saw, bugs still struggling to escape, off her coat and into the jar. The web was a lot stronger than she thought it should have been, and as she lifted the now-filled jar up to the last light in the small clearing over her head, she drew in her breath.

Emily saw her own face reflected in the jar from a luminescence within--the glowing red face of a huge spider, heaving, as if in anger, anchoring his hairy black legs against the sides of the jar as if to break the glass with the sheer pressure of his body. She clapped the lid on and screwed it tight, dropped it in her backpack and started running for home.

As she ran along the path, she felt her bag become heavier on her back. It just must be that I'm getting tired of running, she thought. But after another 10 feet, she heard the breaking of glass. She flung the backpack from her and witnessed the spider, now a full foot in diameter--the size of a cat--struggle out of the nylon and bite through the straps as his head still glowed.

He was already ahead of her on the path and she knew from science class how spiders can jump. She reached for the bag and her flashlight, now covered with sticky white web, but her wrist became entangled and the bag stuck to the ground. The spider, now the size of a Weber Kettle, started after her. He ran up her tethered arm and spread his gooey web over her mouth first to gag her screams. By the time he had enclosed her in white, there were no more screams.

"There," he intoned in spider talk. "Now I have a specimen for my class. And a good jumper too!"

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