Aisha was bored. Bored and annoyed. So bored that going outside in the near 100-degree heat that had hit Brooksborough for the last couple of days didn’t seem half bad. She had to get out of the house. She couldn’t take it anymore! The twins were driving her crazy! They were all of 5 years old and would not leave her alone! Escape was futile–these children had no sense of boundaries. She tried hiding out in her room with the door locked. They just sat outside and screamed at each other until one or both of them got hurt and started crying. She tried the broom closet…they found her. Even showers weren’t private! To make matters worse, there was nothing to do. With the move finally complete and the family trying to settle in to the Brooksborough community, her mother *brilliantly* decided to cancel the cable subscription this summer so that Aisha and the boys would find another hobby other than sitting and watching TV — making friends maybe? So far, the plan was failing. The only people even remotely interesting were the twins; and they were frustrating!!! Have you tried playing UNO with two 5-year-olds with the *combined* attention span of a fly and no sense of color? No? Well, until you have, don’t judge. As for friends, the only person available was the odd-looking red-headed girl across the street that kept staring at their house through her window. Aisha decided to pass on that. The girl seemed weird.
It was time for a change. Aisha ran evasive maneuvers to avoid the twins and her mom, grabbed her bike and helmet and ran out of the door as fast as she could. Outside, she paused for a moment. Where would she ride to? She wasn’t yet familiar with the neighborhood and the furthest she’d gone in the last 2 weeks was the end of the cul-de-sac. Already sweat was dripping into her eyes. It was hot! Behind her, she heard a loud crashing–the twins were at it again. Her mom’s voice calling her name reverberated through the house. Shudders ran down her spine and rattled her bones. Left it is, and not a moment to soon.
As she pedaled with no exact destination in mind, Aisha took in the neighborhood. Due to the heat, nobody was outside and she had the free reign to look as long and as hard as she pleased: well-manicured lawns, the odd flamingo in the front yard, white picket fences…middle class ordinary. She drummed her fingers against the handle bars of the bike as she passed row after row of cookie cutter houses. Aisha lets out a sigh. Still nothing interesting to see and she was now near the end of the road. Maybe turning right from her house instead would be a more interesting ride. She turned the bike around in a smooth figure eight, preparing to head back in the direction of home. As she did so, her eyes fell on something hidden behind a wall of scraggly trees. If she’d blinked too fast, she would have missed it. There it was, behind a strand of bushes, almost fully hidden from view: a building. But what was it doing there? Aisha hopped off her bike and secured it to a nearby lamppost. The brambles looked thick and prickly, but Aisha didn’t care. For the first time since moving to this bland little suburb, she’d found something that caught her interest . She hesitated for a second. Mom definitely would not like this place: it was dirty, gloomy, and probably rodent-infested. Who knew what manner of disease she could catch? Or worse yet, she could fall through some rotten floorboards and no one would ever find her! As quickly as the hesitation and fear rose, it subsided. This was not the time to listen to the voice of reason. There was nothing to do in this town and this was as good a diversion as any. “I wonder what this place is,” she thought out loud to herself as she made her way through the bushes. Crawling and weaving through, she emerged in a clearing in front of the building. As she dusted herself off, she mentally took in the scene before her.
The building was a large, Grecian looking monstrosity–wide and low, with elaborate columns that seemed oddly out-of-place in this cookie-cutter community. Wide, barred windows with chips of faded blue paint adorned the window frames–heralds to their former glory. Broken shards of glass lay everywhere and somebody had graffiti’d the words “They are real” in scrawling print all over one wall. “Humph,” was all Aisha could say. Possibly, the phrase could be about aliens. Great. Now she lived in a town full of kooks. She was probably staring right at evidence of Brooksborough’s specific brand of crazy–every town has its quirks.
Brushing the thought aside, Aisha approached the building cautiously, and gingerly scaled the small flight of stairs leading to the entryway–little clouds of dust rose gently with every step. Much like the rest of the building, the doors were big and ornate, with carvings of animals and people gracing its weather-worn wooden frame. One of the doors had fallen off its hinges and had been precariously propped up against the door frame–possibly by a previous adventurer or a homeless guy, who knows? As she wiggled her way through the doorway, eerie shadows danced across the surface of the wood, seeming to bring the carvings to life. Aisha, shivered. This place was already giving her the creeps.
Inside, a couple of critters, conscious of the new intruder in their midst, scurried to the familiar comfort of the murky dark corners. Aisha let out a high-pitched shriek and rushed back out to the entryway. She quickly dug out the phone her mom gave her for emergencies. If this wasn’t an emergency, she didn’t know what was. Putting on a brave face and armed with the dim light of her little Nokia, Aisha made her way through the door again.
A long flight of stairs led down to the main floor, but Aisha couldn’t see any more detail. She made her way down, carefully feeling each step and praying fervently that she didn’t step on anything furry — alive or dead. From the light of her dim phone she could see the silhouettes of furniture and bookshelves. Books were strewn everywhere, most of the furniture was covered with old muslin sheets, but a couple just lay on the ground as if someone left in a hurry. A long bar of light managed to squeeze through the moth-ridden curtain at the end of the room illuminating the dust motes that managed to remain airborne through all the years this place had been abandoned. Aisha made her way to the end of the room and drew the curtains back. She was rewarded with billows of dust shaking off the drapes. The dust filled her eyes, her nose, her mouth, her lungs, causing her to cough violently. Once she recovered, she turned around and looked through the lazy haze of dust. With a little sprucing up, this could become her own little spot.
A shuffling noise from a dark corner of the room caused her to start. “Who’s there?”. No answer, just a soft pattering sound that moved from the dark corner, along the wall farthest from the dim light of the window, and upwards. Aisha’s heart began to race. Flashes of horror stories of kids getting kidnapped kept running through her mind. “Wh-wh-who is there? I’m not afraid of you! “, she stammered, “Sh-show yourself!”. From deep in the shadows on the ceiling she made out a shadowy form. A soft whooshing noise reached her ears as the shadow fell closer and closer to where she was standing. She had a vague feeling she was going to regret her earlier statement. She now could make out what looked like an…arm? No, two? Three?? What in the–? The figure drew closer until she saw–hanging in front of her on a taut silken thread– a GIGANTIC spider! Aisha’s eyes grew to the size of saucers and her skin went clammy as she broke into a cold sweat. This was it! This was the end! The spider would bite her, suck her blood and it would be decades before her parents found her dry corpse wrapped in spider silk! The creature landed gracefully on its back two legs. It was shiny, and black. A green slouchy hat sat precariously on its head. Aisha blinked, and in what seemed like a flash of smoke, the creature turned into a short, slim, dark-skinned young man with flashing white eyes and brilliant teeth. By this point, Aisha’s mouth was dry and agape and she could feel the room spinning around her. The apparition turned to her and said in a smooth, deep voice “My name is Weaver. Who are you and why are you here?” Aisha’s eyes rolled into the back of her head, her breathing quickened, her knees gave out and everything went black.