Spiders: A Fear Rooted in Childhood
As a young girl, my parents moved me from the city to the country. When I say young, I mean seven. I had the concept that where I was going was far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life, but I didn’t know how deeply it would affect me…
I should probably thank them, mainly because my love for reading continued to grow out in the wilds of Ontario. That and my fear of many, many things!
Spiders. Who freaking knew that there were so many types of spiders? In the city, there were spiders of course – silly to think there wasn’t. But the country held so many different and utterly grotesque species; I say grotesque because I’m writing this from the perspective of a much younger person. Here in the boondocks just outside the city, we have a variety I refer to as garden Spiders – mainly because you find them in the garden, among other places. They’re really called Orb-Weaving spiders but sometimes the names you call things in childhood stick with you.
They have huge teardrop shaped bodies, smallish heads and long legs. They build the biggest webs I have ever seen, stretching them between trees even, waiting patiently for unsuspecting prey. I shudder at the memories of becoming that prey for even the briefest of moments…
Is anyone else beginning to feel prickly?
Not only are there garden spiders but jumping spiders and wolf spiders. None of them are terribly huge in retrospect, but the younger version of me morphed them into gigantic eight legged monsters.
Gigantic monsters that began to haunt me, and hunt me, in my dreams. I can remember waking up in a panic, calling out to my mother, breathless and clammy. The wait for her to stumble to my bed was infinite in those instances.
Goosebumps? But it’s not even cold… Okay now I’m itchy, what the heck is going on??
Part of that feeling is what drove me as I wrote Madeleine, my short story in Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed. That feeling of impending doom before you mother bursts in to save the day. I think it’s a feeling that we can all relate to on at least one level. In the light of day, your fears are never as vivid as when they’ve been covered by the cloak of night.
In the dark, everything seems bigger – even the smallest spider, suspended just above your head on the thinnest thread of silk.
Anyone else beginning to think looking up might be a bad idea?
A gentle flick of a leg, the whisper of eight on your skin.
Paralysis ensues while you try to determine the origins of the sensation you think is moving across your face.
Each ancillary hair has raised the alarm – Intruder!
But you’re paralysed into inaction. You can feel it crawling, invading the once tranquil surface of your skin…
Okay, I swear I felt something this time!
Spiders. They creep me out to this day; I’ve come a long way in my phobia but I’ll never be cured.
Those whispered tales of monsters hiding under the bed, or of the demons lurking in the shadowy corner where we dare not glance for fear that seeing them will make them all too real. Oh, how the innocent landscape of a child’s imagination lends fertile soil to horrors ready to be sown on the slightest of sounds; the tales and the terror they wreak on our youthful minds never quite leaves us.
We asked the authors in this collection to reach into the forgotten recesses of their twisted minds and share with us the tales of nightmares that can only thrive in the hidden corners of a child’s imaginings; the bogeyman under the bed, the outlandishly fiendish creature lurking in the dark, the slight murmur of sound coming from the hall… did you close the door completely?
Explore the myriad terrors that only a child can twist from nothing into some ‘thing’ in the span of a single rapid breath. Do you dare delve into your own memories? Perhaps you’ll start sleeping with the lights on again…
Tell us, who is Under the Bed?
Contributing Authors: Colin F. Barnes, Nina D’Arcangela, Phil Hickes, Amber Keller, Kim Krodel, Lisamarie Lamb, John McIlveen, Kate Monroe, Brandon Scott, Joshua Skye, Julianne Snow, and Jack Wallen
Pick up a copy of Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed as either an eBook or in print format from:
Madeleine is the story of Stella, her frightful and harrowing nightmares, and the beautiful gift that changed her life forevermore. Here’s a longer look at Julianne’s contribution to Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed –
Still nothing. No tell-tale shuffling sound of socked feet on the hardwood floor.
Nothing… Where was she? How could she have not heard?
With tears streaming down her cherubic face, Stella wondered if her dream had come true. As she debated running the short distance over the oaken surface to her parent’s room, she listened intently for the sounds of her mother’s imminent stirring.
Stella heard the soft sounds of her mother’s footfalls in the hallway. She was coming.
The thought made her throat swell with even more tears.
As her door opened, the light from the hallway spilling into the room, across her bed, Stella could see her mother silhouetted in the doorway.
Her mother; her savior.
Whenever the bad dreams plagued Stella, her mother was always there to soothe her fears away.
But something wasn’t right with her mother; something just seemed off about her as she stood in the doorway, somewhat propped up on the jam.
Maybe it was the fact that she hadn’t entered the room yet.
Perhaps it was due to the fact that her mother’s arms – in fact, her whole body was slack as she stood there.
“Mommy? What’s wro-”
Stella didn’t finish her sentence, startled by the jerking movements of her mother. Into the room, jerk by jerk until she could go no farther, her knees giving way beneath her.
Her mother hit the floor with a dull thud and a plop, almost graceful in her descent.
With the light of the hallway illuminating her now crumpled mother, Stella saw the blood.
Red. Dark. Ominous.
Stella screamed through her tears.
Jolted fully awake, Stella choked out, “MOMMY!”
Rewarded by the sounds of her mother padding down the hallway, Stella started to cry even harder. It had all felt so real…
If you’d like to read more of Julianne’s writing, you can find more of her writing via The FlipSide of Julianne or Days with the Undead. Her story, The Plight of Phaylen Ponsford also appears in the newly released anthology from Sirens Call Publications, Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity.