Updated: Mar 24, 2020
The first thing I did after she took off was check my car to see if I might have left some spare change somewhere. I figured I could probably dig enough coins out of the floorboards to get me a bite to eat before hot-wiring the vehicle. I was only a little surprised to see my phone, wallet, and keys sitting on the passenger seat waiting for me.
My head was spinning and I desperately needed something in my stomach, even if it was only gas station food. I did a quick run up and down the aisles, collecting whatever foodstuffs didn’t look like they’d make me throw up--a bag of trail mix, some chips, a stick of jerky, and a Gatorade--and brought them to the counter where the cashier, Jack, was typing something up on a laptop.
I knocked the counter to get his attention, and he looked up from what he was doing with a smile and said, “Found your wallet, huh?”
I dropped the stuff in front of him and answered, “Go figure.”
He rang it all up and I paid, then he went back to his computer. I didn’t feel like waiting any longer, so I opened the chips right there, and then had a small heart attack when hundreds of tiny spiders poured out of the opening in the bag. They were tiny, black, and crawling over one another in every direction. I dropped it to the ground and started stomping them all underneath my boot.
“What the holy fuck?!” I yelled at the cashier.
He looked back at me with a raised eyebrow and asked, “What?”
“Did you not see that? There was-”
Right then I lost all ability to speak. There was something in the store with us. Something impossible.
Another spider was crawling up the wall behind the cash register. Only this one wasn’t tiny. This one was at least the size of a rottweiler, with shiny black legs as thick as walking sticks and a pulsating black abdomen. I could see the reflection of the fluorescent lights on its bulging wet black eyes, and I could make out clear as day the thick needle-like hairs covering its body. It crawled all the way up the wall, then turned upside down on the ceiling and started towards me.
I grabbed the spot on my side where my gun should have been, and fell backwards into a display of pork rinds, landing on my ass. My voice finally came back to me and I screamed, “What is that fucking thing?!”
Jack clearly hadn’t seen it yet. “What?”
It was crawling, slowly but steadily, on the ceiling overhead. I waited quietly for it to move past me, never looking away, and only after it had crawled all the way to the other side of the store I whispered, “Do you see that?”
Jack followed my eyes up to the ceiling, then looked back at me and said, “What, is it a giant spider?”
“Yes! What the fuck?!”
The spider stayed at a constant speed and crawled back down the wall on the other side of the store near the coolers, but I lost sight of it behind the rows of groceries. I jumped to my feet and took a few steps to the side, trying to find where the thing had gone to, but it wasn’t there anymore.
I looked back at Jack, who was not reacting to this situation the way I would have expected. Or really, at all.
“What do you mean, ‘No’?” I whisper screamed.
He sighed deeply and yelled out, “Marlborough! Come here for a second.”
“Who are you talking to?”
He stretched casually and closed his laptop, then looked me in the eyes and said, “It’s the pain meds they gave me. I had to stop taking them because they were making me see spiders.”
“I know, right? Weirdest side effect ever, but apparently it’s a thing. Brand specific hallucinations. Spiders everywhere. On my clothes, in the shower, in my toothpaste. I decided that the pain wasn’t as bad as spiders in my cereal.”
“Wait, you drugged me?”
The door to the storage closet opened and the clerk from earlier, the one that had painted my nails, came out drinking a beer.
“You rang?” he asked.
The cashier answered, “Did you give this guy my old pain meds?”
“Oh most definitely,” he answered, “I ground up like four and put them in his water bottle.”
My heartbeat was finally starting to come back down to normal, the adrenaline spike slowly being replaced by pure, undiluted rage. I tried to hold it together and asked as calmly as I possibly could, “Why would you do that?”
He smiled, shrugged, and said, “Just trying to help.”