When I was 21, I decided to move away from home for the first time. That move proved to be a giant, terrifying mistake. Mostly because of, but not limited to, the fact that our apartment had giant, terrifying spiders that occupied and terrorized my roommates and I for the duration of my stay in what I now commonly refer to as Satan’s butthole. Or, as the map refers to it, Savannah Georgia.
I had moved into a carriage house apartment with 3 friends of mine. I knew there was a bit of a spider problem right away because when I was moving into my room, I found a dead spider curled up in the corner of the room that was roughly the size of my closed fist. At that time I was full-on arachnophobic, and was completely unprepared for the horrors that would come with living in that house.
Shortly after moving in, the pilot light on the water heater went out. Seeing that our landlord was what is known in legal parlance as a “lazy bitch” I knew I would need to relight the pilot light myself if I wanted have hot water for the remainder of our lease. The problem was, the water heater was in the attic above the living room and only accessible via a panel in the ceiling. So, borrowed a ladder from work, came home, and attempted to access the water heater via the...er...um...attic hole? Upon opening the attic hole, I laid eyes on a sight, that when easily recalled to this day, still chills my blood.
The spider webs that blanketed, nay, quilted the ceiling of the attic were so thick, it looked like Tim Burton’s wet dream. As I scanned the attic ceiling with my flashlight from the relative safety of the living room, my flashlight beam caught on, and reflected back a set of glowing eyes that were about the size of garden peas. Attached to those demon eyes was a spider that looked vaguely like a gaunt tarantula. The spider was clinging to the ceiling in a stance that said, "I swear to arachni-god, if you come one step closer I will fucking end you." The reason for such hostility was, the silver-dollar-sized egg sack that clung to the bottom of the monster mom.
After fighting to keep the girly screams and terror vomit in my throat, I realized that I could not handle the task alone, and knowing my roommates wouldn't be home for a while, I needed to go enlist reinforcements. I left the house with an overwhelming case of the jibblies, and headed to a local coffee shop that I frequented, knowing I would find someone there that I could ask for help. After finding and persuading my friend High School Pete to join me in a modern day dragon hunt, we returned to the house.
When we walked back into the house, my heart jumped because I realized I had left the attic open. The thought of that monster having unsupervised access to the rest of the house sent ice coursing through my veins once again. I was conflicted. On one hand, when I stepped towards the attic hole, I wanted to see the spider sitting exactly where it was when I left. On the other hand, I never wanted to lay eyes on that beast again for the rest of my life. Even if that meant it were right behind me at that very moment, poised to snap my head off effectively ending my life, and then harvesting my body into a web slathered goo sack that would serve as baby-spider formula for the brood that the She-Demon was incubating on her abdomen. But, I digress.
Both fortunately and not, the She-Beast-Spider-Queen was in the exact same spot as when I left. I let out a sigh that was equal parts relief and dread. When High School Pete and I stepped under the attic hole, I raised my flashlight to illuminate the devil herself. The newly illuminated Octo-Bitch took a small step to her left and braced herself for a possible attack. Upon seeing Queen Hades for the first time, High School Pete exclaimed, and I quote, "Holy mother fuck that!" and immediately walked out the front door, never to return.
I sat for a while pondering how I could get into the attic without losing my life in what would surely be the most terrifying and horrific way possible, when two of my roommates came home. I showed them the nightmare lair and She who held dominion over it, and after a few minutes of shrieking like little lady girls, we started to devise a plan of attack.
We decided that our only two true weapons were a vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment and a can of Raid. Seeing that the can of Raid didn't shoot very far, and that we were a bunch of idiots, we opted for the vacuum cleaner. The plan was to use the hose to simply suck the beast off of the ceiling and go on about our business.
Realizing that the vacuum hose wasn’t long enough, I attached the hose to the end of a broom handle using my belt, effectively doubling the distance between me and the spawn of Satan, Mother-to-be. I climbed the ladder, got the hose as close to her as I could and told my roommate to turn the vacuum on. When the vacuum came alive, I put the hose directly on her back only to have her nonchalantly WALK AWAY. I can’t, because of the noise from the vacuum, be entirely sure that I heard the eight-legged-terror-factory issue an evil belly laugh, but the nightmares I’ve had replaying the experience certainly include that detail.
We realized we needed another plan. What happened next will be burned into my memory for all time as the simultaneously funniest and scariest thing I have ever witnessed. My roommate Brandon somehow grew an extra set of testicles and decided that he would climb the ladder and shoot the spider with the can of Raid. He then pulled the hood of his sweatshirt over his head and drew the strings taught, leaving himself a very small anus-like opening to look out of. With Raid can in hand, he started to climb the ladder. While two of us had flashlights trained on the enemy, Brandon reached the top of the ladder, and after what seemed like an eternity, he let a burst of Raid fly. Now. It was on.
The spider immediately dropped from the ceiling to the attic floor and started coming after Brandon. At this point the two of us in the living room just started full on screaming. Brandon then dropped off the ladder, skipping all of the rungs, landed on the living room floor, did a ninja roll backwards, stood up and pointed the can of Raid at the ceiling, waiting for the aracnhi-banshee to give chase. What he didn't realize was while he was doing his acrobatics off the ladder, she had already dropped out of the attic onto the floor of the living room, and was coming right for him.
We stood there trying to alert Brandon of his impending doom. The problem was, we were all in full blown caveman mode and could not communicate. Mind crippling fear had made various parts of speech such as verbs and nouns completely unavailable to us. So instead of saying things like “run” and “spider” all we could do was point and scream. With the spider covering ground very quickly, Brandon realized that she was at his feet, and started to empty the contents of the Raid can onto the baby-laden-aracnhi-tank.
Despite the deluge of chemicals being sprayed into her demon eyes, the she-beast continued to gain ground, forcing Brandon closer and closer to the corner of the living room. Eventually the attack became almost too much for her. I say almost because then she, in complete disregard for natural law, DROPPED HER EGG SACK leaving it behind, and CONTINUED to go after Brandon.
A few more seconds and the remaining contents of the Raid can later, the fear-fräulein finally started to succumb to the effects of the poison. We watched as she slowly took her last dying steps, still trying to get to Brandon, she eventually curled up into a ball of demon death.
After standing around in slack-jawed disbelief, we realized that we still had two problems. The first being the egg sack that momma-murder left behind. We knew we didn't want to squish it because that would probably launch us into a full on war with thousands of little versions of the most determined bitch I have ever met. So my roommate Josh did what any rational human being would do in that situation. He gingerly picked the egg sack up using a dustpan, took it outside, doused it in zippo lighter fluid, and lit that fucker on fire.
The last remaining problem was the water heater. After all this, I had yet to successfully get into the attic to light the pilot light. I slowly climbed the ladder and peered into the attic with my flashlight. As I scanned the dark recesses, I noticed several pairs of eyes glowing back at me from the corners of the dusty, web ridden attic. There were no less than a dozen spiders hanging dead in their webs. Each one of them was the size of my hand. Realizing that they were dead (probably at the eight hands of the Arachni-Anti-Christ) and that I was relatively safe, I completed the climb into the attic and approached the water heater. Just as I lit my lighter a tiny little house spider rappelled down on its web right in front of my face.
Before the earlier incident, the sighting of this tiny spider would have sent me shrieking and tumbling backwards through the attic hole to the living room floor below. But I had a new, hard-earned sense of bravery. I simply scoffed at the spider, lit the pilot light, and closed that attic hole (portal to hell) satisfied in knowing that it was that day that I was no longer arachnophobic.
Later that night, I took a victory shower. As I lathered up and let the newly hot water wash away the last remnants of Raid and fear pheromones from my skin, I felt accomplished and safe. Accomplished, because I had faced and defeated one of my most deep-seated fears. Safe, because I was standing in the brightly lit shower, confident in my new found knowledge that spiders prefer dark hiding places.
Dark places, like, under the chair you are sitting in right now. Or, inside the headphones you may be wearing. Or, among the soft wrinkles of the bed sheets that you are wrapped in as you read this. Sure, you could get up, frantically rip the sheets off of your bed, and search high and low. But, if there’s anything I learned in my year of hunting demon spiders, it’s that they are excellent at two things. Hiding, and waiting. Hiding. Waiting.
Sweet dreams, reader...