I love exploring.
The black square of the open attic hatchway gazes down on me. It sighs cold air my way, frustrated to be awoken this early on a Sunday. The chilly breath finds its way down inside my shirt as I stand at the foot of the metal ladder.
I wonder what's up there?
Five minutes ago, I listen to the complaints of ageing glosswork as I apply leverage to the painted-shut hatch. The heavy screwdriver–discovered in a kitchen drawer, but too wide for any fixture I've come across–seems well-suited to the task. I twist its heavy handle, and the wooden frame flexes and begins to splinter; it looks like I’ll need to work my round the square, else I'll be doing more breaking than entering.
I wiggle the tool free, choose a new spot, and thump it into the sealed crack.
Back in the now, my shoulders covered with a dandruff of paint shards, I poke my head up into the attic. I can now hear the wind outside through the tiles, but no light makes it past them. And again, the cold strikes me, tho I detect no damp or moisture in the smell of the place. As I look about, unable to see anything beyond the few inches illuminated from below, I pick out the familiar odour of old newspapers.
So far, no surprises. Emboldened, I thump up a few more steps and stand, my hands tracing a circle around me as I search for an upright. I curse as my wrist finds one, and proceed to fumble up and down the treacherous sawn edges of the wood for a light switch.
My shredded fingertips find a control, and I flick it hopefully.
A conical lampshade lights up above an antique table in the centre of the attic. The light from the bulb is surprisingly clean and constant, and picks out tall piles of yellowing newspapers on all sides before being swallowed by the darkness. I can't see the corners of the room, but I know they're equally full of old newsprint.
Something sits at the centre of the table, but I can't make it out from over here. Intrigued, I step up and tread the old bare boards for the first time; they move beneath me, but are quiet. The newspapers slumber on as I amble over to the table, emerging into the circle of light. I expect the small, square table to be dusty. It's not; the dark lacquered wood could have been cleaned this morning.
In the middle of the immaculate table is a small box covered in lace. The decoration is delicate and intricate, a complex asymmetrical pattern that must have been tricky to weave.
None of this makes any sense.
As I pick up the shallow box–my hands bright in the overhead lamp's beam–the outside feels sticky to the touch. Dry, but sticky. I draw it closer, and see the faint seam of a lid, and feel hinges on its back edge. I flip the lid up. It's reluctant, and to my surprise the lace shell stretches across the opening.
I frown. It's not lace.
It's covered in cobwebs.
Instinctively, I drop the box, and the cobweb disintegrates as it hits the table. Something small and metal drops onto the lacquered surface, bouncing once.
I glance about, unnerved. The dark attic gazes back, indifferent.
The light flickers momentarily as I reach for the shiny object, and I snatch my hand back. I laugh quietly, chiding myself, tho my heart continues to pound.
I reach and pick the whistle from the table. It's slim and perhaps three inches long. I turn it over in my hand, seeking markings; there's nothing there, and no corrosion or blemish. And there's no room for a pea in it, like there would be in a sports whistle.
Is this a dog whistle?
I raise it to my lips and give it a blow.
I blow it again, harder this time.
And from the corners of the room, there is movement. Scratching replies, a faint tearing of thin newsprint, as many coordinated legs stretch and find purchase.
An arachnid scrabbling of creatures awakening, responding to my call.
No, not a dog whistle.
I love exploring.
But sometimes you have to leave places alone.
This blog entry is protected by copyright © Indigo Roth, 2009-2014
What a tangled web you wove with this one....now....how to put those spiders back to sleep again. I don't think I'll be venturing into my attic any time soon after reading that.ReplyDelete
Hey Delores! Oh, I'm not worried. They're fairly sleepy creatures, right? I must confess I thought I'd dropped the whistle, but I was surprised to find it in my pocket once I'd nailed the attic shut. I may have to go to Mount Doom to destroy it? Indigo xDelete
INDIGO!! Darned spooksome; this very afternoon your's truly was up a ladder (refer today's post) checking the "loft" in the bathroom. There were old newspapers. Not a critter to be found - though of course I lacked appropriate instrumentation of attraction. Didn't have a whistle to hand either.
Hope you're doing okay buddy. Good to see you out and about in Blogville. YAM xx
Namaste, Yam! Now, that IS a coincidence. I only read your blog entry after. I wonder why we always find newspapers? Do you think we keep them for sentimental reasons? Or do the spiders just need something to read? And thanks, I hope to see you soon. Indigo xDelete
Magnificent! I am immediately reminded of the spiders of artist, Odilon Redon. These are webs and whistles that work in dreams.ReplyDelete
Hey Geo! I must thank you, as I'd not heard of Msr. Redon. His spiders are very weird, and unpleasantly symbolic. Much the same as mine, perhaps. IndigoDelete
I was sure you'd be supper for those fellows, but here you are, replying to comments after all :) Very creepy story!ReplyDelete
Hey Jenny! No, this is probably Max or one of the badgers. Indigo xDelete
Step away from the whistle! Slowly! That's it... now back down the stairs...ReplyDelete
Silly man! Don't do that again!
what a gorgeous tale! hope you kept the whistle as a souvenir! love those lacy webs and old dusty attics...ReplyDelete
Hey Eolist! It's a very pretty whistle, so I popped it in the mail to you... Roth xDelete
Lovely, Indigo! I'm glad you're back!!ReplyDelete
Hey Pearl! Me too. It's been too long. I may even tell you all where I've been in the meantime... Roth xDelete
It is so difficult, whilst wearing cobwebs, to think of them as "silk." And I love the idea of a whistle for everybody. Just think! A table full of whistles of all shapes and sizes, and you don't know who they'll gather up! The swelling thunder of spider legs...the microflapping of gnat wings...ReplyDelete
Or maybe the gentle soft-shoe shuffle of a Louisiana croc crooner?Delete
Oh great, you've discovered a spider whistle. Spiders in and of themselves are bad enough but now you've found a way to irritate them. Nice.ReplyDelete
Hey Dufus! Be calm, sir. This whistle won't bother THOSE kind of spiders. It'll bring the scary ones. Side of a spaniel, exoskeletons, razor mandibles... IndigoDelete
Run! Faster! And the next time you try this, just keep it to yourself, okay?ReplyDelete
Sorry Miss. Won't 'appen again, Miss.Delete
Do you think the whistle's (absence of) sound could be recorded? I have need of such a thing. For a harmless little family project not involving school age children, oh no. And a digital version might work just fine.ReplyDelete
Jam, welcome! I'm sure Maxell would claim they had something. As for not scaring kids, I'm glad. I could never condone such a cool idea. RothDelete
Wow! Lovely and creepy at the same time. I was on the edge of my seat! Spiders! Eeeek!ReplyDelete
Hey Dawn! Edge of your seat? But that's where the spiders like you to be... Indigo xDelete
Omigawdomigawd! Eeeeeewwww! I just turned on every light in the house and checked my chair three times before sitting down again. And my skin still creeps. Damn, you are good!ReplyDelete
Hey Roxie! Thanks =) Are you of a nervous disposition? I don't like spiders either ;) It made me uncomfy writing it all down, and I guess you inherited that feeling. Sorry! Indigo xDelete
OH MY GOSH OH MY GOSH OH MY GOSH!!! I think this is my VERY FAVORITE post out of all you have written. I was on the edge of my seat, reading SO FAST to see what happens! You are such an amazing writer, my friend. This was chilling and exciting and wonderful. I'm off to tweet the link. It is incredible!ReplyDelete
Hey Katherine! Well, blimey! That's a very special thing you said there! Thank you =) And thank you for the shout on Facebook, it's always welcome. I avoided the 30M2DoW as you know for my own reasons, but now it's done, I'll pop by and do some catch-up on your blog. Indigo xDelete
What a fun and totally terrific tale! So good to see you back hear exercising that wonderfully demented mind of yours. :)ReplyDelete
Hey Jayne! Terrific AND demented? Bless you, I can work with that =) Indigo xDelete