Spider, huh? I’ve dealt with his kind before.
I backpedaled carefully, lifting my heels with a slight exaggeration. The last thing I needed was to trip and land on my ass, helpless before the approaching spider. These bastards find my little hidey-hole and think they’ll just move in. Nuh-uh, not after all the effort I put into this lair.
And this guy, I don’t want to hurt him: he’s great against wasps, and I have a hard time with wasps. I’d love him for a neighbor, except this species is awfully aggressive. Our paths can’t cross, and I’ve got to be constantly out and about, looking for food and scraps and resources.
So he was about to charge at me…
And I dodged to the side, into a tiny chute marked with a birch twig. No, there aren’t many birch around here, but I needed something distinctive to mark this tiny little hole. It was a tight squeeze for me to shimmy into, and it took a lot of effort for me to get over my shrieking fear of tight places and being buried alive, but you do whatever it takes. I mean, either you give up and let a bastard like this gnaw on you, or you find clever ways to make it to the next day.
For instance, I listened for a moment to that large bastard scrabbling at the dirt around the hole. He was too chunky to fit in, himself, so he attempted digging. And while he did that, I crawled on my belly and hooked around to this little chamber. There’s no light in there, but I groped around and found that metal bar. It came off of some kind of tin can, a long thin strip that I was able to bend into shape, burying it beneath the floor of the tunnel that leads to my cellar/living room, attaching it to the lid of the can. So when I flipped it up, the spider found a solid metal wall arisen from the floor, sealing him (or her, I don’t know) off from the rest of my network. And he could have hung out there, with two inches of shade to his name, or…
Yes, there you go, buddy. Good luck elsewhere.
I reset my trap door and crawled my way back to my little room. My muscles ached very nicely. I brushed the soil off my arms and looked at them: yes, living on the edge of someone else’s property all this time has done wonders for my BMI.
Not that I’m about to express any gratitude for the giantess who abandoned me. Not after−
No. Actually, I’ve been trying to push C____ out of my mind. It does no good to dwell on my former living arrangement, and her deal was so wrapped up with so many mysteries, it’s not worth meditating on. Hell, for all I know, I ended up with a psychopath and got out all right. I could’ve been… No. I can’t give that any energy. C____’s dead to me, and I’m the captain of my ship.
I plonked my tight little butt in a bright yellow plastic chair I hauled down here a month ago. That was a great find: I really don’t like to cast about too widely, but I’m starting to realize how oblivious Southern Californians really are. I swear, a teenager looked dead at me two weeks ago and was completely unfazed. No reaction at all, just kept on walking, rapping aloud to whatever he was listening to. Fine with me. So yeah, I found this chair, scuffed the back two corners of it pretty badly as I dragged it a full block from where some little kid had left it outside, and had to widen my little dugout a little more to accommodate it, but now I have a freakin’ me-sized chair in here. A couple swatches of fabric for cushions and the thing’s nearly civilized.
Kicked my feet up on a stack of bottle caps, held together with gum. Glanced over at a portrait of an attractive women I laboriously tore out of a magazine and stuck up on the wall. Did the old “dying battery and LED” trick, giving me enough light once my eyes lose the sun-dazzle from my above-ground adventures. I found a small fragment of carpet, actually, just large enough to cover the bottom of this little chamber, but thought twice about introducing it: the last thing I need is tiny-black-lung from a mildewed carpet.
The Hilton it ain’t, but it’s shaping up.
This is just the room where I kick back and relax, because it’s important to do that. I tried an all-purpose chamber where I eat, sleep, plot, store, all that crap, but that’s no good. One of the things I studied during the long days alone at C____’s place was feng shui. You may see that as a load of mystical crap, but actually I thought the placement and function of items was handily analogous to the condition of one’s mind. You can see this on the basic level: a cluttered house either leads to or is indicative of a cluttered mind. So many artists and writers insisted they had to clean up at least their creative space before doing anything useful, and I think that was getting their minds in order, sure. So I’ve got this room for relaxing and attempting to capitalize upon my meager creature comforts. Down the tunnel is my resources chamber, some plastic baggies I cleaned out and can store food in. It’s all perishable, anything I have access to is perishable, but some things last longer than others, so I’ve got my “must eat NOW” bag and my “you’ve got a week” bag.
Down the hall from that is my bedroom. And because no one’s here and no one can listen to me, as I run through these thoughts in the privacy of my tiny skull, I’ll go ahead and admit that I padded them with C’s panties.
I ran back to that fucking bungalow, yes. It’s right across the street, staring at me every day. I knew the inside much better than the outside, but now I’m very familiar with that sloping facade. I watched the new people move in, a giddy young couple who I have to guess were recently married and this was their first home. Sure as shootin’, they didn’t pay for it themselves, but it’s a nest for the lovebirds. I watched them haul their stuff in, and I watched another crew trundling C____’s possessions out. Seven over-sized boxes that presumably held the most expensive stuff, and then a couple large bags of anything that couldn’t be sold, donated, or foisted off on the lovebirds.
Under cover of night I sprinted across the street and tore a hole through the bags, which the agents had just set on the curb. Lazy palookas. Seeing as it wasn’t due to be collected for three days, I went ahead and camped out in there for two. They just dumped all the food in there with what looked like C____’s oldest clothing. I couldn’t get at any of the good stuff in glass jars, sealed tight, but an hour of steadfast burrowing and climbing over detritus yielded a packet of almonds she brought home from a flight and stuck in the fridge for no good reason. Energy-dense stuff like that gets hauled to my little burrow, where I can worry it apart at my leisure. Just look at these forearms: these are almond-smashing arms, baby.
But I was poking around and my head was swaddled in an all-too-familiar smell. Above the hot plastic bags, above the rotting pizza, and deeply entwined in a twist of fate, I found my face mashed into C____’s panties, the used pair she left me on the bed. Still smelling very distinctly of her. I permitted myself to cry openly for five minutes, no more, and promptly hauled that tremendous garment across the street. The pastel pink fabric glowed a radiant blue under the full moon, I’m still stunned I didn’t attract anyone’s attention. It was nothing to drag it into my hole, haul it down the corridor, and pack it into my bedroom. It fills the space, it’s not like there are floors and walls in there. It’s an uneven oval-kind-of-sphere-cavity that’s full of C____’s panties, her dried juices still redolent through the fabric, and I crawl into this and gratify myself to sleep.
I still get urges. I can’t forage all the time, sometimes I just park it and people-watch, and… This is the season when young women like to show off their bodies. They complain when anyone notices them, but there is no question they’re showing themselves off. I’ve long since stopped trying to riddle that one out. Whoever said people should make any sense? I just fill my head with images and crawl back into my faithless ex-lover’s underwear and rub one out. It gets me through the days.
I do a lot of people watching lately. Back in the house, it was just me and C____, and when she disappeared, I had that online community, at least. More of them began to realize I’m actually a Tiny, and I lost some followers then but also gained a few. That got a little creepy, so it’s for the best that my connection was severed, in that sense at least.
But there’s a gnarled tree in the sparse grove, in which I’ve dug my living quarters. It’s nothing but handholds and ledges and protrusions, super easy to scale. I can break into a piece of candy (Smarties are really handy for portioning), get all jacked up on sugar, and climb pretty high into the branches. It doesn’t bear fruit, and its blossoms aren’t much to write home about, so I’m unmolested by birds and squirrels up there. The highest I’ve dared puts me around shoulder-height to the Normals, and on a busy weekday afternoon I get to watch all sorts of people going about their business. People going to and from shifts of work. Kids and teens trudging home from school. Malingerers and tourists and whatnot, just anyone out for a stroll on these balmy summer days.
I used to make up little stories about them in my head, you know, try a cold read like I’ve heard done, but my point of reference is bullshit. You’re supposed to look at someone and go, oh, he’s chiseling at work, or she’s incapable of being faithful to her boyfriend or girlfriend. But that’s not the world I come from. All my stories were like he’d probably be gentle with me, but I really don’t want to go down his pants or holy fuck, she’d tear me apart with her teeth out of boredom and see nothing wrong with that. Now I just clear my head and watch people drift by, without judgment or association, as remote as clouds.
I’m doing that right now, in fact. I’m sitting in the crotch of a branch (that’s what it’s technically called) and watching this rusted brown flatbed truck turn the corner and park across the street from C____’s old bungalow. Kind of a burly dude sitting in the driver’s seat, checking his phone.
Ah, there he goes. He must’ve been looking up directions or taking a call or something. Very responsible of him.
I hear birds far overhead, but they’re not interested in my tree. I hear two groups of birds, in fact, chattering at each other. They’re describing their territory—I learned this on a nature documentary. They sound angry but they just have to be strong or they’ll lose resources to some ballsy competitor. Yeah, humans are just large animals that are too stupid to accept this. If they could see their relationship to the animal kingdom, they’d learn so much about themselves. Even outside of forming new bonds with animals and understanding them as sentient beings, they would at least learn how to resolve some of their own problems.
Here come two girls. I’m guessing elementary school age. Summer dresses, pail and a bucket, those sneakers that light up in the heels. That’s sweet, just a couple friends going out for…
Wait. What are they doing?
No. Not here. Not my tree. They’re squatting down right outside… oh, fuck no. No.
One of them’s singing and digging. The other one’s asking what she’s looking for. Did the wind blow the leaf off my hole? I covered it, didn’t I? Why’s that girl going straight for the hole? For all she knows, a ferret or a snake could live down there. Doesn’t she have any defensive instinct? Didn’t her parents…
Fuck. Fuck me. They found my chair. I guess that belonged to the little girl that’s not digging. Yes, be delighted, go away now…
Goddamn it. They decided there must be treasure in there. You little shits.
Bottle caps. Battery and light. The magazine picture. Great, you little brats, you got it all, all my treasure. Where’s that damned spider? He’d chase them off with much hilarity.
My entire body just chilled. They found the baggie of perishable food, and that means they can’t give up until… yes, the less-than-perishable food. Well, that’s all I had to survive on, so please go straight to hell, you brats.
Leave the panties. Put those back. You don’t need them. You don’t need to ask your mom what they are.
Come back and put the panties back in the ground. Keep the food, I hope you choke on it. Just come back and…
I can’t decide whether I hate C____ more than most people, or if I really just hate all people in general.