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Volume 17, Issue 1: Similitudes

Black Widow

Douglas Wilson

Without thinking, Andrew lowered his spear and began to advance toward the woman. "Who are you?" he said.

"I am Samil," she said, not moving.
"I would like to go now," Andrew said, taking another step forward. He gestured toward the doorway with his spear.
"Do you have something that is mine? I cannot let you go if you have been thieving."
For some reason, Andrew had no desire whatever to give her the knife. He knew that this is what she was referring to, and he also knew that if he gave it to her, he would be lost. He did not know how he knew anything about it, but he just knew. It felt that way in the air.
"If I have something of yours, then you should be able to tell me what it is," and then he added, "and prove to me that it is yours."
"This is my home," she said, raising her left hand. Andrew thought he could see a glistening line of something stretching from her index finger to the wall behind her. "If you have taken anything from here, then it must be mine. Have you?"
Andrew knew that he must not answer the question. "How do I know this is your home? From the looks of it, no one has lived here for many years. This is a ruin."
Samil looked at him with a very hungry look in her eyes, and just shook her head.
Andrew looked at her jet black hair and the red sash. "Are you a widow?" he said.
At this she took a step backward, shaking her head. "Where is your husband?" Andrew asked. She shook her head again, and tried to say something. "Where is your husband?" Andrew asked again. She seemed shorter, and not as slender or nearly as beautiful.
"Are you a black widow?" Andrew said, raising his spear. With this, the same shriek he had heard when he picked up the knife, filled the lower chamber. Andrew blinked, and when he opened his eyes again, the woman was a spider, the size of a small pony. Andrew threw his spear, with all his strength, at just the moment the spider lept. Had he thrown a moment later, the spear would have completely missed, but as it was, the spider was just leaving the floor and lept into the spear.
The spider fell backwards, all the legs curled in toward its abdomen. A fearsome hissing overcame Andrew, and he staggered out the door. Beow was quietly grazing in a small pond of sunlight. "Beow, Beow! Come here!"
Beow came right away, and because of the urgency in Andrew's voice, he even trotted. Andrew could not understand why he had not heard the two shrieks, or even the words that Andrew had exchanged with Samil. He had just been a few feet away. Beow approached the door, and put his head inside. There was nothing there, nothing on the floor, with the exception of Andrew's spear.
"What is it, little one?"
Andrew gasped, and pointed at the floor. "There was a giant spider there. Right there. I got it with my spear."
They were silent for a moment, and then Andrew asked, "Did you hear the two shrieks?"
"No, no shrieks." Beow didn't say that he didn't believe Andrew, but Andrew had a curious feeling. He wondered if he had just been terrified in his imagination, or if it had been a spell or something. He inched cautiously into the tower again, and leaned in to pick up the spear. Bringing it out into the sunlight, he and Beow looked at it curiously.
The head of the spear and about a foot of the shaft were covered in what looked like green blood. But as soon as it came out into the sunlight, the blood disappeared like mist off a swamp on a hot day. A few moments later the spear point and the shaft turned to powdered dust, and fell to the ground.
"I am certainly willing to grant that this was not your imagination," Beow said.
"I should say not," Andrew said, and shuddered.
It was not long before they were on the road again, walking along a low ridgeline that went parallel to the shore. Andrew was not sure what to do with the knife, but finally he took it out and showed it to Beow. Beow hardly ever looked startled, but he was startled now.
"Where was this?"
"Lying in the middle of a ruined table," Andrew said.
"Out in the open?"
"Yes," Andrew said. "Why?
"This is the knife that St. Rule used to trick the giant. It is one of our oldest stories. It must have been placed there for you. Many have searched for it, but fortune was not with them."
"Look!" Andrew exclaimed, pointing toward the sea. And there, extending along the shore, was a line of about twenty longboats.

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