Marcy walked down the alley, purse held tight against her chest and heels clicking on the cobblestones of the street. She knew it was far too late, that she should already be home, but she’d had to stay late at work and if she hadn’t gotten those cases researched completely…well…she could just kiss any hope of getting that promotion goodbye. Deep in her thoughts, she didn’t hear the heavy footsteps coming up behind her quickly. She only noticed when the hand went over her mouth and the arm around her waist. Panic took over her mind and she tried to fight. He shoved her against the wall, grabbing her purse and tossing it to the ground. All she could feel was the heat of his breath, his hand over her mouth, the roughness of the wall behind her. Then, just as suddenly as he’d appeared, he jumped backward. He was patting himself all over, slapping at sleeves and shaking pant legs. Not one, not two, not five, but thousands upon thousands of spiders poured out of the cracks, out of the shadows, out of countless nameless places humans never notice and never think of to swarm all over him. Soon, there was nothing left but bones and the thousands upon thousands of spiders and Marcy. A few hundred of them broke off to work together like a little team of engineers to bring her purse back to her as she knelt on the ground, physically shaking as she hugged herself in relief. Looking out at the thousands of tiny eight-legged bodies, she gave them a shaky smile.
“Th-thank you. I don’t know if you can understand me, but thank you.”
The largest among them, ancient and white, stepped forward and bent its front legs in a clear bow.
“No, thank you. You, who save instead of kill. We have come to know you and your many cups and papers, your words of friendly cajoling as you ease one of us to somewhere safer. You leave our webs alone and protect our eggs. For all the lives you have saved, it is only right and just that we should protect you.”


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