Ignorance made it less terrifying
I was just getting in the car, as I'd done on any day. Going about my usual business
. Hand over hand turning the steering wheel left here, turning right there. Going along my usual routes, to the usual places
. What I didn't know
was that I had a passenger with me that day. Maybe it or something like it had been riding along any number of days in the past, but I never noticed it then either.
It was orange and light yellow. It crawled along the back of the steering wheel, just out of sight, attempting to spin a web and make itself a home. Any unfortunate grip as I made a turn, would have meant my fingers coming down on its body, or right next to it.
But I didn't know that
I was listening to the radio station and trying to focus
on the road. If it sensed the presence of my hands, changing their positions left and right, it did not make any reaction. But it must have sensed that building a web on a constantly turning steering wheel was a lost cause. It gave up and began to look for an alternate home
I didn't know how spiders were able to move themselves like that. Maybe by letting out a strand and allowing air currents to catch it. But somehow it was able to attach webbing to my shirt, and began to move itself off the unstable and ever turning wheel, on to my chest.
Ignorance. That was the only thing protecting me
. Total ignorance of what was happening. Focusing on the road, trying not to get lost in the music
blaring out of my car speakers.
It landed on my shirt, and could let go of its webbing. Then it began to crawl
. I didn't know how they decided where to build a good home, but it was crawling up my left shoulder. Then it was on top of my shoulder, even as I was thinking about the rest of my day
There was a gap between my shoulder and the back of the seat. It attempted to string some webbing between those two structures. No go. I was shifting in my seat too much as I drove, unintentionally breaking its attempts to build a home and its personal hunting grounds. Frustrated, or what I can only assume was frustration, it crawled off my shoulder and on to the seat back behind me.
There it found the headrest. That was something more fixed
, relative to the rest of the seat back. That looked promising
. On to the headrest it went. My head was there, but only occasionally. Sometimes I leaned forward, depending on the music or whether I was going into a turn
. My hair regularly grazed or came close to the headrest.
It could see this moving object would not do for a great support. It had to rely on something else and avoid the side of the headrest where my head would regularly lean against, lest it be crushed by the back of my head
. The gap between the headrest and the rest of the seat back still seemed just fine though. No relative motion between the two structures. Nice and safe
It began to weave. Like a true artist and craftsman
. This was all it had really ever known. This was its past and its future. Some wobbly round thing that occasionally made contact with one of its support structures wasn't about to disrupt something so vital to its survival. It had done this very thing before under much more difficult conditions.
It wasn't particularly careful. It didn't need to be. After doing the same thing so many times, you get pretty good at it. It was second nature. All it had to do was watch its own environment, make sure it could defend itself
from imminent threats. There weren't that many things that could threaten it at its size. But for things much larger than it, my head and neck for example, that was a different story.
Even if I wasn't intentionally going to harm it, what I was doing unintentionally could still be seen as a threat. So it watched my bobbing and weaving head carefully. Its own survival was at risk after all, especially around something of such size. The web was soon completed before my drive was over. There was little doubt
in its mind it could finish. That was something it could do with its eyes closed. Fending off a giant head, well, that was another matter
It crawled into its usual position at the edge of its web, careful to place itself away from my head, but also where its prey would not be able to see it when they came its way. There it waited, preparing to strike and recharging the energy it had used up this morning when its home on the steering wheel was destroyed. When it had to move
to my headrest.
Watchful, always watchful. Both for prey and for danger. Each day was a battle for survival. Kill or die. That's all it knew
. There weren't many other words in its language
. Sometimes you had to take risks to satiate your hunger. That's what it was doing at that moment. Wait, just wait, it told itself. You will get your fill
I eventually pulled into the parking lot, having no idea it was only inches from my neck
. Things were looking good
. It was going to be a good day. I shut off the engine. Removed my keys. I picked up my jacket off the passenger seat. I opened the driver's side door. One foot out. Turn. The other foot out. I stood up, locked the door, and closed it behind me. I didn't even glance at the headrest, and so took no note of the new resident there.
I walked away from my car and into the air conditioning.
Back inside the car, it waited. Soon, it thought to itself, soon. Patience will always be rewarded and your thirst will be quenched. It altered its stance
on the web a bit, and moved no more, staring intently at its hunting ground.
By the time I came back to my car, it was no longer on the headrest. Apparently it had decided another part of the car would make for a better place to hunt. So it was just another car ride
for me, like any other of the hundreds of times
I've driven myself around this crazy town.We did not truly meet
that day. We only came close.
Soon, it was thinking.