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One night, I awoke to feel a strange tickling sensation upon my face. Wondering what it could be, I open my eyes to find, of all things, a spider looking back at me.
Silently cursing my forgetfulness in ensuring my windows were all firmly locked, I remain completely still as she continues to make her way across my face, her fingers lightly tickling my cheek.
I say nothing, not wanting to even risk provoking her into biting. Though difficult, I remind myself that spiders seldom attack unless they feel threatened, and most of the time they are more afraid of you than you are of them.
...or so I try to tell myself, as she leans in, and I feel her on my neck. If this was fear I was feeling from her, it was a form of fear that was entirely foreign to me, completely unlike the far more familiar nervousness I feel welling up inside me.
It was all I could do to keep from yelping as I felt her brush past my ear.
Stay calm. She isn't going to hurt you.
I repeat the words in my head, over and over, like a mantra.
There was nothing to be afraid of. Spiders don't eat people, after all. They eat insects. Bugs. Small things.
Sure, I have heard tales of larger spiders being able to eat small bird, and even rodents, but surely they cannot eat anything as large as a human, right?
Granted, as spiders go, this one does seem to be quite large. Unnaturally so, in fact.
But, surely that is just my own imagination playing tricks on me! Anything, no matter how small, would obviously seem much bigger when it's right in your face! That's only natural!
Clearly, I was simply allowing my imagination to get the better of me in thinking there could be such a thing as a human-sized spider, just as I was allowing it to make me think I could feel her breath on my face.
What was it doing?
I could only wonder as I suddenly felt something warm pressing against my cheek.
Perhaps she was resting?
I assumed so, as a moment later the sensation was gone.
Glancing around my room, I could see no sign of my little visitor. No sign of anything amiss, aside from an open window.
Letting out a sigh of relief mixed with irritation, I get out of bed and close the window, wondering if it had all just been a dream.
Yes, that had to be it. It was all a dream. A vivid and strangely-arousing dream.
Telling myself that, I crawled back into bed, and went back to sleep.
The next morning, I woke up and went about my usual business, only to discover an unusual red spot had appeared where I had felt the spider resting the night before. Realizing that I had not been dreaming, I immediately became worried. What if the spider was poisonous? Like, really poisonous?
Tracking down the medicine peddler was simple enough. A girl with ears like that is easy to pick out in a crowd. Getting her to actually look at me long enough to see what I was talking about, let alone say anything about it was took a bit more effort, but ultimately she told me it looked like an ordinary spider bite and that it should go away in a few days as long as I don't scratch it..
Or, at least, I think that's what she said. It was hard to tell, for some reason.
Regardless, it was enough to put my mind at ease, and I went about the rest of my day without giving it another thought.
As the says go by, however, the spot does not disappear. If anything, it seems to have grown, and become slightly painful. Once again worried, I again tracked down the medicine-selling bunny-girl, and asked her about it. After more coaxing, and mutterings about how such-and-such isn't really her job or something like that, she finally relents and looks at the sore on my face, and once again gives me a vague assurance that there was nothing to worry about. It was just coming to a head, and I should be doubly careful not to scratch or otherwise irritate it.
Feeling once again reassured by her words, even though I suspected she may have just wanted to get rid of me because I was clearly not going to buy anything, I again went about my usual business, and tried my best to ignore the pain.
As more days pass, though, it becomes clear that the sore isn't getting any better. Now quite large, painful, and looking quite unsightly, I could no longer believe that there wasn't something wrong. Seeking out the medicine-rabbit a third time, I tell her that I think my sore has become infected, and ask her about seeing the doctor. Judging by her gasp of shock and barely-concealed revulsion, I could tell she agreed, and she told me she would inform her master of my problem, but that she would not be able to see me until the next day. Realizing I had no choice but to wait until then, I returned home and decided to take a hot bath to distract myself from the painful throbbing of my cheek.
Though the pain persisted as I soaked in the warmth of the water, I still could not deny that it felt good. Were it not for the steady throbbing, it would be quite relaxing.
If only it weren't for the throbbing.
That steady, constant throbbing, that was not going away, no matter how much time passed in the bath.
If anything, it seemed to be getting worse, growing more and more painful as the minutes went by.
With a final agonizing throb, I feel the sore on my cheek burst like an over-sized pimple, the abrupt release of pressure feeling both painful yet pleasant as I feel something falling down my cheek and into the water.
Falling, and screaming.
With a sudden feeling of dread, I look down and see them.
Dozens of tiny little spiders, floating and splashing about in the water. Shaking my head in horror, a couple more fall from my cheek and join their sisters in their sudden bath, and I realize what had happened.
As I watch them seemingly adapt to the situation and begin to frolic about like children at a pool, their tiny cries of shock and fear giving way to playful shouts and giggling, I feel a tightness in my chest, and barely notice the single spider that had not fallen making its way up my face. Even as it stopped upon the tip of my nose, looking me right in the eyes, I could do nothing but remain frozen in terror and clutch at my chest as it seems to almost smile at me.
The last sound I hear as I lose consciousness is my own pained grunting, as I desperately grasp at my heart.