Short Fiction ~ Michael Pettifer
Third Prize, Strands International Flash Fiction Competition - 14
The Spiders’ International AGM over, Webster, Scooter – our American delegates - and I discuss the meeting and life in general. It had been a mundane annual bash though later in the year than normal due to the subtle yet profound environment changes that directly impacted our spider season. (I’m one of those small spiders that love spinning near trees, outside tables or umbrellas and other places that let me explore my creative options to spin my webs.)
Webster, never a chatty one, looked at Scooter who was sounding forth on those that had no idea of a spiders worth.
‘I mean, they just swat you away,’ said Scooter. ‘Tread on us or destroy our food source with the swipe of a brush. No respect or understanding for little things.’ Webster nodded in agreement and then shot a gossamer thread from a tree leaf into the breeze. He swung there, back and forth with a smile as he embraced natures free gift of wind.
Then he said: ‘You know Scooter, last week they came out with a water hose and blasted anything that looked web like in and around my terrace area. They missed my spot, I was there in the small hedge catching anything trying to fly through. They left the hedge alone. I just watched in horror as Blue, Parker and Jello got washed down the drain.’
‘Genocide, that’s what I call it,’ said Scooter. ‘Then they whinge about bugs, bites and why their veg. is being destroyed.’
‘Veg...tomatoes?’ said Webster.
‘Exactly,’ said Scooter.
I take a more nuanced view on things these days. They seem to have grasped the fact that nature offers free energy sources that can drive turbines and mills. Of course they also discover other truths about nature but then tend to shrug it off and quickly move on.
‘ You know,’ said Scooter. ‘They sometimes stop and notice the sun on our gossamer threads and the light blues, electric blues and other colours and just for a split second appreciate the skill in us being able to produce these wonders. Then, as if possessed by some demon, with a swipe of their hand our handiwork is destroyed.’
‘Terrible,’ said Webster.
‘Exactly,’ said Scooter.
Their comments made me think about the annual prizes given out at this year’s AGM. All the usual ones of course: Most beautiful web – that prize went to Muffet for the second year running – oh the symmetry - breath-taking. The longest gossamer thread went to Hunter – an unbelievable 3 metres long, and the colours! The best disguised web home went to Sonic who spent all season hidden behind the wing mirror of a BMW X4 – what a hoot! And the best story Web Sight went to Digger (...jeux de mots of course...he’s our English spider ... the English always have been good at spin.)
For me, I keep myself to myself these days. And though I sympathise with Webster and Scooter – both of whom get so wound up about things, I’m a bit more philosophical about life and them. I mean they never have had much time for things they cannot sell or commercialise and even less time for barely visible creatures that keep eco. systems ticking over.
We all hope of course, I hope, but they are very much of a NIMBY or ‘that’s not my problem’ mentality. I think what hurts most is when one of us is trod on or they smash us with some sort of ‘swat.’ I mean vacuum cleaners are an occupational hazard, but deliberate destruction of my co-spiders is of a different dimension. Is a spiders’ life so cheap? Is my life worth nothing being regarded as a pest subject to a house cleaning exercise and nothing else?
Well, having put the world to right, Webster and Scooter departed and I made my way back to my secret web. The wind had picked up but my gossamer mesh held firm pulsing with the ebb and flow of the wind. Fortunately the breeze had secured my dinner and, by the look of it, breakfast as well.
I wonder if my web will still be here tomorrow.
Michael Pettifer has an MA in screenwriting and an Honours degree in Chemistry. He writes flash fiction and short stories and is successful in International flash fiction competitions. Michael was raised near Stratford upon Avon and has a passion for the actors art and live theatre. He enjoys writing short plays for friends. When not writing he is using his word craft as a professionally qualified development specialist advising and supporting others reliant on written documentation and effective communication skills to further their career opportunities.