The Spider’s Spire

Sorry this is so late this week.  Mr. Wendig’s challenge wasn’t up yet when I went to do my writing, and though I wrote this on Saturday it took me a while to edit it down to (exactly) 1000 words and get it posted.  Hope you enjoy it!

We should have known they were coming.  It was obvious in retrospect.

I mean, little web towers, appearing seemingly out of nowhere?  At first, just an oddity.  But no one looked close enough.  It was only after the crisis went down that someone took one of those original towers and threw it under a powerful enough microscope to discern the truth.

They’d matched the towers that had appeared in our world, feature for feature.  The spiders had tried to warn us, in their own weird way.  Scientists couldn’t how they knew it was coming.  Maybe those eight eyes were for more than just seeing prey.  No one was too concerned about it by that point.

Because the spires were here.

I still remember the day the spires came.  I was going to school in southern california and had just dropped off the track team.  I still loved to run, but my physics major wasn’t going to take care of itself.  As soon as I was able to get a scholastic scholarship, I switched over.  I was studying in the big park at the center of campus.

That was a poor choice.

I was faster than most, as the spire erupted from the ground at the center of the park like a bullet, a twisting, strange thing of obsidian and basalt.  I saw a student get impaled on the tip as it shot into the sky.  Strange strands of shadow and mist began to wind themselves into a fence around the tower, around the perimeter of the park.  I was already sprinting towards the edge, dodging around my fellow students, as the fences began to grow higher.  I threw myself up and over, high jump never having been my specialty, and cleared the edge by a hair, smashing down on my back into the grass behind.  That hurt like hell.

From inside, everyone started screaming as the fence grew too high for anyone to jump over.  I saw one or two people start to climb, and I managed to pull one down when he got stuck at the top, and he topped on top of me.  I still remember that flash of embarrassment when we both realized he’d grabbed my breast.  End of the world or not, we were still young students.

Then there was a flash, and a deafening silence.  The colors inside the fence all—they all shifted somehow, and it seemed like I was seeing parts of the spectrum my eyes weren’t meant to see.  The screaming stopped.

I traveled with the boy (his name is Andrew, by the way) as we tried to find out what was going on.  The school was in a panic.  Everyone knew that the tower was wrong, somehow, and none of the administrators knew what was going on, confirmed by the increasingly vague texts from the emergency alert system.  Towers had sprung up all over, in almost every city nearby, some through freeways, others displacing capitol buildings with their twisting towers.  We went back to our dorms, our apartments, to try and wait for a solution.  Turns out Andrew was my hallmate.  Funny how things work out.

I remember us sitting with our RA in the common room when the news came on.  Creatures had started coming through the fences, moving as if they were just illusion.  Never the same creature twice.  One had so many tentacles, a seemingly infinite supply growing out of its center mass (some video evidence suggested this was true), another with a long tongue that sent anything it touched into a paralytic shock.  Bullets barely made a dent, and local police forces were overwhelmed.  The national guard was spread too thin to be much help, the military couldn’t get back from overseas fast enough.  Not that they should have.  There were spires there, too.

The rest was something of a blur.  We tried to evacuate, like we were told.  As we were walking to the evacuation checkpoint we saw one of those creatures tear into it, slaughtering people by the dozens as they scrambled to get away.  We ran, too.  We got lucky again.  Andrew knew a shortcut through an old alley and I was able to climb high enough and fast enough to unlock a gate from other side for him.

After that it was a week on the streets, trying to stay away from any big groups people.  We did a good job.  Never stay the night in the same place twice, always keep moving, always have a pair of eyes on the lookout, move if you saw one of those things even a hundred yards away.

Then we messed up.

We were trying to sneak past a large concentration of them.  They’d poisoned the sky, turning it a virulent purple, which always happens when they’re in groups.  An alley we were going down dead-ended, and as we turned around to find another way we found ourselves face-to-face with a creature that had none, just a head made up of a gaping maw with a thousand layered, razor-sharp teeth.  I grabbed a board, Andrew grabbed a pipe, and we prepared to make our last stand.

A door next to us tore open and a woman threw a jar of glowing goo at the monster, unloading at it with her assault rifle as soon as it broke over the thing.  It screamed like a thousand children being put through a trash compactor as it buckled and broke, collapsing to the floor in a pool of its own viscous blood.  Then she led us inside, through the old utility tunnels, checking behind us the entire way.

We’re part of the resistance now.  There’s only a dozen of us in this cell, a few more cells around the city, and a bunch more around the world.  We have a way to fight back, but only the barest wisps of an army to do it with.  It’s a long shot.

But it’s all we’ve got.

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