Aphelion Issue 245, Volume 23
November 2019
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Submission Guidelines
Contact Us
Flash Writing Challenge
Dan's Promo Page


女郎蜘蛛 (Whore Spider)

by Renee Harden


Nephila’s hunger quaked in her gut, sending waves of nausea to her throat. The warm smell of the evening meal was exacerbating her three day fast to intolerable levels. Giving into impatience, she sampled a tiny portion of the meat, but spat it out quickly. Not ready. And now the whole dish was struggling and howling and bleeding from the ragged hole in its cheek. Nephila turned her back to it and ejected a sticky web, dragging it across the source of the offending noise. The silk scraped across the white flecks of frosting and crumbs on the mouth and stuck to the blood-soaked ear. The screams dulled to a muffle and Nephila tip-toed like a dancer back to her hammock in the kitchen.

She folded her long limbs inward and heaved her bulk into the comforting cotton weave. Her hammock was much larger than the others that were strung up around the dark café. By day they would be occupied with reclining customers; sipping on hot drinks, eating cake and browsing the Internet on their phones. Couples pressed close, hands on denim thighs, mothers absently swinging children as fists full of cookies crumbled to the polished floor, a few solitary individuals trying to look secure in their loneliness. 

Nephila entertained the young adult crowd in the evening hours with live music played by one of her thin, cracking limbs. The oblivious clientele did not see her gold-marked, jointed leg or the bulging appendage hanging next to it. Rather, an attractive, young Angura Kei sang and danced, turning the heads of men and women alike, with an altered kimono that revealed much more skin than a traditional one. Her five other legs were the hostess and wait staff; patient, efficient and exact. They earned magnificent tips. Nephila was a master of multitasking, having more than a century to perfect her lure. This hammock café was a garish modern necessity. As she brooded in her nest, Nephila recalled the quiet atmosphere and clean smell of her old tea room and even before that, the decorum of her shrine. Meals tasted better then. They knew who she was and discharged fear and loathing in satisfactory amounts.

Focused on passing the time, she began a fast paced song that she had recently learned. Her abdomen had expanded to its full size in preparation for the spread and she had to reach around her girth to produce her musicians. A lead singer, a drummer, a bass player and a bony female on the keyboard. All enthusiastic in their motions, with the music muted enough that no attention would be drawn to the café. She tossed them away after the drum solo. The tune was aggravating and dull at the same time. In their place a demure woman with sleek black hair and petite feet played the biwa, her voice vibrating with emotion at every turn of the story, perfect painted lips pursed in concentration. Nephila’s current clientele would never appreciate the tinny plings and affected singing of this traditional music, but she basked in it. 

As the song ended, she gave into impatience. She approached the meat, throwing out the form of a woman, dressed in short denim cutoffs and a black see-through top that flowed through the sleeves. Her hair was atrociously styled, falling in waves and dyed light. Large sunglasses perched atop her bangs. 

Talan, the meal’s name according to the ID that was now shredded in the garbage disposal, was hovering just past consciousness and barely acknowledged the approach of the woman. She knelt next to him and carefully pulled the blood-stained webs off of his face. His eyes opened a crack and then widened in hope when he saw her. His lips moved, but the paralysis had spread to his tongue and only a groan escaped. The woman gazed on him kindly and wrapped her arms around his freezing, naked torso. As she leaned in towards his face her eyes dilated with arousal and she licked the seeping wound on his left cheek. Nephila withdrew the woman and leapt forward, quivering in anticipation, chelicerae and fangs clicking. The meal was ready. 


© 2014 Renee Harden

Bio: Ms. Harden is an online and magazine journalist by trade, who occasionally chucks the AP Stylebook across the room and attempts to write fiction and poetry. She asks that you please be gentle with feedback, as she has a fragile ego.

E-mail: Renee Harden


Comment on this story in the Aphelion Forum

Return to Aphelion's Index page.

Comment on this story in the Aphelion Forum

Return to Aphelion's Index page.