Every step was painful. The glistening sunlight hurt her eyes. She had a headache, and her foot throbbed. The skin on her naked arms burned despite the suntan lotion she had used a lifetime ago. With every step, her skull pounded more, and the sun burned hotter with every passing minute. Finally, Melissa discovered a shady crack in the hot rock. She dragged herself through with her last strength. Sticky threads brushed her arms, and she blacked out.
She dreamed that it rained. Her parched body soaked up the cooling liquid like a sponge. It took her a while to understand that water truly dripped into her face. She opened her eyes and tried to look around, but her head was stuck to the ground with thin ropes. Something dark, furry, and with two big horns concealed the sun. The liquid dripped off the horns into Melissa’s face.
She heard a voice beside her head. “Mom, it woke.”
The horned shadow answered. “Bite, Leander, before it hurts you.” It changed its position slightly, and Melissa recognized it as a gigantic spider. She screamed. At the same time, she felt a burning at her neck that spread through her body, and she lost consciousness once more.
When she came round the next time, she hung in a cocoon from a branch of a gnarled tree. Only her head had not been wrapped in the spider’s silk. As far as her gaze reached, the valley with the tree was surrounded by rocks. Here and there, bushes and trees fought to survive and rocks of many sizes lay everywhere. A gust of wind brushed her cheeks, and she noticed that her chest and arms tingled as if a thousand ants danced on them. Even worse was that she did not feel her abdomen and legs. To keep from panicking, she breathed consciously and deep.
Suddenly, she became aware of suppressed giggles and the voices of several children. “But Mom! Why can’t we look at it? Only once. We have never seen a human. Is it really a human? I thought humans only exist in fairytales.”
A deep voice answered in an angry whisper. “No, you cannot look at it. Be quiet, or a Roc will come and eat you.”
Melissa turned towards the voices and stretched her neck to better see. The giant spider sat on the ground in front of an unbelievably big cobweb that her children used to romp around. Melissa couldn’t count how many children there were because the cat-sized youngsters were too fast. Her heartbeat accelerated. I really must be in another world. She trembled. It was a big difference between reading about adventures in strange worlds and finding herself in the silk of a spider as big as a horse. Why did I have to land in this world? I’ll have to flee before the spiders grow hungry.
She tried to wiggle free from the spider-silk cocoon. Horrified, she noticed that her hands did not obey. She could only move head and neck in a normal manner. Her shoulders reacted slowly, and her arms and hands refused to cooperate despite her effort. Finally, she realized what had happened. One of the children bit me, and now, I am paralyzed. Suddenly, sweat ran from her throat over her cheeks into her eyes, and her heart raced. She would have run, had she been able to. The paralysis forced her to fight her raising panic. Hard-pressed, she wondered what to do.
Finally, she remembered Herbert’s lecture on poisonous fish. It had seemed boring at that time. If only I had listened more closely. She twisted her mind until she remembered his advice. Movement! When I move, my body should eliminate the poison. I have to break free!
Melissa pulled her shoulders forward, so that the silk slacked a little. With her teeth, she pulled at the sticky mass and bit through the threads.
“Ah, you are awake. Then, I have been right.”
Melissa twisted around and stared horrified at the young spider next to her head. The horns she had seen earlier were the mouth parts, and they were as big as the head of the pipe wrench from her uncle’s tool case. Also, they were too close to her face for comfort.