My hands shake.
I can't stop them. Force yourself to breathe fully, push this distraught heart to drop his pace frantic, dangerous from every point of view. My reaction is visceral, instinctive. I even uttered a cry when I woke up and saw her in a corner of the room, motionless in the center of the complex mosaic of silk. Stupid uncontrolled reaction.
Calm down, be afraid, but self-control. After all, it is that spiders, they said at the beginning, in the television news. At first, until they don't.
It is a specimen of small size, about a centimeter. She wears this light brown, almost translucent color on two segments of her body. Its legs are chiseled and slender, contact each with a strand of his Web. Still, they are painted in this alternation of black and Brown feature. There is no doubt, this is one of them, a tiger spider. Of course, how could it be otherwise?
Stay calm, the specimen has woven his trap in the corner of the bathroom or I sleep and lives for several weeks already, eating me canned and praying that neither water nor electricity come to miss. I'm lucky. So woven in height, I was unlikely to touch the canvas in my sleep. But the Web is not my only problem. The spider Tiger has this tendency to jump to bite without thinking when she feels threatened. Although two metres of it, my face is a potentially fatal exhibition area. Slowly, my hands protected by these thick gardening gloves that leave me, even in my sleep, grab my diving mask. I carefully study in the inside and the outside, suspecting the presence of another intruder and cursing in choosing a black model rather than transparent. The seeming free protection, I put it on gently by - my hood neoprene top. The diving suit is without a doubt the only thing that I'm still alive after several weeks. I will grace the State of my skin and severe allergies developed by its extended wear. They are always better than a bite or contact with a canvas.
Thus protected, I can get up this hard and cold tile which is my layer and tackle the intruder.
With experience, I have learned that only sudden movements awaken distrust of the Tiger spider. Approach it calmly remains the best way to seize to crush it. This one will be no exception to the rule. Using patience, I was able to crush it between the fingers of my right hand, without even the thrill of his canvas.
The architect of the ousted death trap, I use these same fingertips oragnised to collect the puny Marshmallow to the canvas with caution, grating attachment points that remain no fragile scrap likely to soar and fall by the Suite. This done, I use my left hand to remove the cap of compact tissue blocking the sink, hoping not to see any other spiders to arise. Then, the heart is racing again as every time, I trigger the water, praying that it has not been cut. A controlled NET appears and I can work me to clean my criminal hand the rest of the spider and his trap with a manic attention. I realized all these operations with the skill of a surgeon... Or a Minesweeper. The slightest touch of my skin with one or the other would have me exposed to the effects of the neurotoxin, chilling me in the minute.
The obvious threat evacuated, I know that the hardest remains to be done. Find the flaw, the error. How the specimen managed to penetrate into the bathroom?
After several hours, I don't see a logical explanation. The ventilation Grill. The sieve I have installed is end to the millimeter and this should have prevented any specimen to pass, as I thoroughly filled the sheath of lime and insecticide before taking up residence here. A resistant egg that is would be misplaced and would have managed to pass this filter? The specimen would have hatched and grown for several days without my noticing. I prefer not to think about. I have checked everything. The sealing of the doors and windows of which I patched the slightest gap with rubber reinforcements. The plugs of the siphons of evacuation for the toilet, shower and sink. But the ventilation Grill... I can't restrict it more, I need air.
I'm not believing, but, Lord, somebody help me...
Said like that, it would be almost poetic. The first time I've heard of this species, it was a little more than a year ago. All newscasts had announced their existence on the same day, which would have been a warning. Yet, the specimen had simply presented as a fact and an application of vigilance to the people. A bit like the Tiger mosquito and the risk of transmission of chikungunya. Deadly allergic shock cases had been recorded in contact with this species of spider, easily recognizable to its translucent appearance and its Tiger black legs which had earned him his public name. All contact should be avoided and the citizens were invited to call an emergency number if ever they were observing a specimen at home or in their garden. However, he shouldn't worry.
Eight months later, television stations had stopped broadcasting in favor of an informative message Recalling the rules of survival in the face of the Tiger spider. I guess that move to Film Studio had already become too dangerous. Phones and Internet continued them at work a few weeks, then were cut off in turn. At least with regard to me. Even the emergency numbers on my cell phone worked more. Anyway, all the people I had known were then already dead. I'm trying not to think about it and what it means a death of a contact with a spider Tiger. I try every day, to not become crazy, not to vomit. And keeps next to me on the floor, the safety removed, a large caliber gun, just in case. With this secret prayer, contact, having enough time and strength to use it.
The usual pattern of a spider is the following.
Identify a suitable weave of the canvas area and wait for that unfortunate prey to traps. Alerted by the vibrations of the cloth produced by struggling prey, the spider moves so around this last to immobilize with its ropes. When the risk is thus minimized, the spider bites its prey and injects it a paralyzing venom not mortal. The prey will be consumed much later, when hunger will be felt over a period that can be very long. Some species lay their larvae directly in prey that are so consumed from the inside. The remaining alive, but paralyzed prey.
The spider Tiger is part of this happy family. She lays on the food supply available to it. With two special features, however. First, her secret a neurotoxin causing paralysis in the minute in the human being, in the event of skin contact. This paralysis lasts several hours, if the contact is not repeated. Vital organs continue to function normally, but the voluntary motor control is interrupted. The second peculiarity of the spider Tiger is to be attracted by specific human pheromones. The pheromones emitted by human skin, once in contact with the neurotoxin. The neurotoxin is present in bites the spider and on the ropes of his canvas, all contact with the species so ended a near instant paralysis. And the paralysis ended with the issuance of a pheromone into the pores of the human skin indicating the spider a new feeding ground is available. For her. And his numerous progeny.
As explained by an eminent scientist on television, the spider is not a natural predator of humans. It only spins its Web for him, but for feeding on insects.
His addiction to human pheromones emitted as a result of the contact of the neurotoxin would be secondary and random behavior.
Many theories had been voiced, mainly on the net and curiously not relayed by the newspapers. That Tiger spiders were in fact a weapon developed by the army become out of control probably being the most likely. However, the one thing we were sure was the following. The species was new.
Whatever it is, the truth was simple. Tiger spiders had nothing against us. But a single contact to occur and we become their eldorado. A giant fridge which would be eaten alive inside for weeks, until the heart fails, most often by dehydration.
Been months that I'm not out of my house. The week I had to retire in my bathroom, unable to hold the seat of the three rooms of the apartment I was renting. And I'm hungry. Three weeks ago, I swallowed my last canning. The ravioli, I still have their taste in the mouth.
And this is also the month that I have not heard a noise in the building. I guess I was the only one to have a combination of diving and gardener gloves.
On the floor of the bathroom, hand and lifted safety, my first option.
The second... Would I have the courage, can I take the risk? What is out there? A part of me, probably the most unhealthy, would like to see. What would you do in my place?
I put on my boots over my wetsuit and mask. Strips of leather, tight almost cutting my circulation, make it airtight to my hands via the collar of my gardening gloves. In my right hand, finger on the trigger, my fallback solution. I'm so weak that I can barely stand, my head is spinning. Nothing more to lose. The show that I discovered is plunged in darkness and I guided my steps me up to the front door in the light only of the bathroom. I feel the resistance of countless paintings that stand up before giving in, adding layer on the visor of my mask and my combination on my body. I cross the Hall and the staircase which will lead me to the exit of the building in the shadow of safety lamps. I cross the threshold of the residence as well as a thick canvas, almost a sheet, that I actually barely tear, ignoring the big specimens like a fist which, fortunately, have fled in my path. I'm out, on the grande Allée overlooking the Park of the residence, between the towers. I'm not alone, but what I see is beyond my understanding.
Paintings of several hundreds of meters have been strained between the towers.
But not only, some seem to stretch to the horizon. Tiger spiders come in all sizes, motionless, not showing any animosity towards me. The largest that I can see is the size of two men, suspended at 50 metres above me, between two towers. Everywhere on the ground, a twig of grass appears to be the anchor net of smaller specimens. They are everywhere, still and serene.
They are waiting.
Deprived of human activity, the world was never as quiet.
Philippe Jouy a.k.a Seth Messenger, finished in Rueil-Malmaison on Monday, August 18, 2014.
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