Dalton Long hates cobwebs

David Mack
4 min readOct 15, 2023

Dalton Long sat in his garden, soaking in the final warmth of the October morning sun, when a spider descended from the maple tree above him. It was black, with thin brown stripes across its body, small black fangs and glistening eyes.

Dalton sat agitated, still echoing ruminations from his divorce one year prior. He lifted up his water glass and caught the spider in it. The spider ran to the smooth walls, its legs flailing to climb up them. Dalton set it aside and lit a cigarette.

The next morning, cradling his coffee on the patio, he looked aside and saw the cup with a fatigued spider, still attempting to climb the walls. He poked it with his lit cigarette, the spider recoiled, then climbed onto it. Dalton lifted it up in front of him and the spider dangled on a line.

They stared at each-other for a timeless moment, Dalton thinking this was the only contact he’d had in days. The spider hung pensive, focussed on his eyes.

“I’m going to climb into your brain” the spider said to him, in a voice quiet and deep.

Dalton flinched in panic, casting the spider across the garden. He picked up his coffee and moved indoors.

Dalton threw off the memory as a waking dream, a hallucination from his sleeping medication and nights stuck awake. He talked about it with his therapist on video-call and she asked him what those associations meant to him. “I think my brain is the problem” he replied, “I’m trapped by it… trapped making bad decisions. I don’t want this brain any more.”

“But what about the good? What about the progress you’ve made this year?”

“I’m not so sure I have made any.”

He asked her for something stronger to help him sleep and she told him the clinic would have it in the morning.

The sun had just gone down and the old wooden house lay quiet, empty. Dalton retreated upstairs to the protective comfort of his bedroom. He knocked back his Flurazepam with some water and cozied himself in bed.

He picked up a book and started to read, but kept dropping his sentences, noticing the thin shadows around him. He looked at the open window, and thought of the spider.

Groggily he climbed back out of bed, began closing the windows and placed a towel against the crack under the door. His legs were woozy, melting into jelly and he rolled back onto his bed as the medication took him under.

He woke refreshed by the serenity of long and dreamless sleep. Feeling nourished by his first night of actual sleep in weeks, he stretched out and took in the bright morning light. He saw spider webs glistening from the beams above him. He screamed and ran downstairs.

He went out for breakfast, then for a hike, then to a dive bar for whiskey cokes until his cash ran out. He nursed an empty glass until the inquisitive stares of the bartender drove him out into the crisp cold night, back to his dark house.

He got home, steeled by the whiskey and coldness, grabbed a broom and headed upstairs to evict the spiderwebs. Moonlight streamed through the windows, casting gray shadows across the pale furniture. He thrashed at the webs, then took to the desk and shelves, knocking paperwork aside.

He looked at his bed, and felt no sleepiness anywhere in the depths of his body. He knocked back two sleeping pills and climbed uncomfortably into his bed, sat wrapped in anxiety and waited to pass out.

In the coolness of predawn he watched in a waking dream. Spiders crawled out of the cracks between the wood panelling, silently descending down from the ceiling onto his bed. He swiped them away, but didn’t, his arms forcibly sedated, his body unresponsive. He darted his eyes side-to-side, feeling the percussion of tiny legs reaching his arms and neck. He tried to cry out too, but only breath could be heard.

The next morning Samantha knocked on his door, with his daughter Tabatha, but there was no response. Assuming the man was passed out from another night of binging, and would be in no fit state for custody today, she headed upstairs, unceremoniously throwing open his bedroom door.

He lay there, motionless, his eyes and ears bloodied, baby spiders cavorting across his purpling chest. Web-ladders surrounded him up into the sloping ceiling, carrying conical sheeted nests.

Samantha sighed at the sight of the limp man, turned to Tabatha and said “Don’t fuck with spiders, darling.”

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David Mack

@SketchDeck co-founder, https://octavian.ai researcher, I enjoy exploring and creating.