The spider cocked its head. “You can move. How surprising.” Nimbly the spider’s child walked over Melissa and climbed up the tree. With a quick bite, it cut the finger-wide thread the cocoon hung on. Melissa dropped to the ground with a thump, and the spider jumped after her. Melissa bit her lower lip. She did not want to admit that the fall had hurt. Her heart raced. I don’t want to be eaten. She tried to roll away but her body did not obey well enough.
The spider sat on Melissa’s chest and looked at her with its tiny eyes. “Don’t look like a hypnotized unicorn. I will not eat you now, will I?”
“Actually, I would prefer not to be eaten at all; neither now, nor later.” Melissa’s answer sounded hoarse but she was secretly surprised that she could talk at all.
The spider clicked angrily with its mouth parts. “So, you were raised to believe that we eat anything in front of our mandibles, too. How typical.”
“What are mandibles?” Melissa’s curiosity was as big as her fear.
“These.” The spider moved its mouth parts.
Melissa went pale. She wanted to retreat but wrapped up as she was, she did not have a chance. The spider bent forward and lowered the mandibles till its tiny eyes were only inches from Melissa’s face.
“I have not eaten a single human in my whole life; only a unicorn or two. Now, keep still.” The young spider started to eat the silk Melissa was wrapped in. Soon, the cocoon had disappeared.
“Run away before my Mom notices. There is a unicorn path outside our valley.” The spider pointed to the exit behind the great net.
Melissa thanked it but stayed put. The kindness of the little spider puzzled her. “Why are you doing this? Surely, I would make a good meal for you and your family.”
The spider crooked its head as if it was thinking. “Perhaps, we don’t like humans.”
“You cannot know. I heard that you have never seen one.”
The spider giggled. “You’re right. Mom thinks we must eat you or else you will betray our valley to the hunters, but I don’t believe it.”
Melissa was surprised. “People hunt you? Why would they do that? I don’t think you’d be tasty, and you’re dangerous, too.”
“Spider-hunters kill us for our poison. It is fatal for all living beings here on Greenwitch. That’s why I find it strange that you can still move.”
“Well, I am not from here.” Melissa sat up. Her lower body was still numb but her legs tingled, and she could use her arms.
“Leander! What are you doing there? Don’t play with your food!” With unbelievable speed, the giant spider roped down from the treetop.
Melissa’s heart missed a beat. She knew she wouldn’t get a second chance. This time, the mother will bite me, and her poison is certainly stronger than that of her children. I won’t survive.
“Off with you. Mother hasn’t seen you yet. We can’t see that well; our eyes are too small.” Leander nudged Melissa’s side, and she fell over.
The cut in her foot started to pulse again. Pain shot through her leg so that she couldn’t get up. As fast as possible, she crawled toward the exit that Leander had pointed out.
At this moment, something broke through the treetops that was much bigger than the mother spider. Wood crashed and splintered. Leaves, branches and twigs rained to the ground.
“Roc!” Leander screamed. His mother trilled a warning signal and jumped into the height toward the attacker.
Hypnotized, Melissa stared at the gigantic, sky blue bird of prey smashing through the trees. Long black talons raced in her direction. They were as long as her forearm and shiny from fish oil and blood. Before the bird reached Melissa, it slammed into the giant spider. Instinctively, Melissa grabbed Leander, stuffed him under her pullover and crawled out of reach of both.
This is my chance. I have to make it. With difficulty, she fought to stand. Her legs felt like jelly, and the pain in her foot pulsated to her hip. After a couple of steps, she had to grab a tree because she felt dizzy.