As a bizarro spin on the classic weird tale, it only seemed appropriate to serialize “The Spider Couch,” just like they used to do in the old pulp magazines. I hope you enjoy this first installment. – K.A.
by Philip Tannehill
Even though all my friends are dead, I do not regret dragging in the spider couch on that frightful, frosty night last December. I do not regret it because without the spider couch I would be dead myself. Who needs friends when they own a couch with fangs and eight legs? Who needs anything at all when the slightest hunger pang sends their couch scurrying for another meal to feed them? The spider couch knows my needs better than any human ever could. The spider couch loves me like no other has before. So what if Griselda and her cat had to die? Wasn’t it worth the sacrifice? Countless people have sisters and feline companions, but I am the only one blessed with a spider couch.
Around Thanksgiving, Griselda and I had fallen on hard times. Our inheritance had just about run out and the bankers were threatening to repossess the house. Naturally, the narrow-minded Academy of Sciences still refused to allow me back after my little fiasco with the rabid chinchillas. Ha! They could shove their science up their ass. Without them, though, Griselda and I were broke. My sister had suffered from a paralyzing nervous condition ever since she was young, so I couldn’t expect her to go out and find a job. Eating oatmeal was about the most strenuous activity she could undertake. Anything beyond oatmeal was liable to juice a blood-curdling scream from her bones.
I spent a great deal of time brooding in the darkness of the basement. I felt a kinship with the mold that grew on the walls. Then one evening right before Christmas, an idea struck: I would go for a walk. Of course! Why hadn’t I considered it in all the previous month? A vigorous walk always brightened my spirits and got the goop flowing to the old brain box. So I set out a quarter past eight with no destination in mind. Perhaps I’d wander into a pub and waste our last coins on fine ales imported from Belgium. Or, if my tender parts tingled, I might arrange to lie for an hour with a lady of the night. That’s not to say I was a women and booze man. It’s just that sense the destitute get from the last sorry coins in their possession. They believe anything can happen. That’s what I believed. And wouldn’t you know, after marching through the cold for several hours, my breath freezing before my face with every exhalation, I came across a big black furry thing blocking the pedestrian walkway on Lower Waits Bridge.
I was suspicious at first and halted in my steps. I shouted at the object, fearing it to be a vagrant sea monster or even a ghost. Sea monster sightings were rare in December, but once in a while they got mixed up and returned upriver when they meant to make for open seas. It is also possible that the ales I consumed – not Belgian, but still of fine quality, I assure you – at several pubs along my walk contributed to my unsettled state of mind. Whatever the case, after shouting at the big black fuzzy thing for upward of an hour, I came to realize that I would have to make the first move. The temperature was still dropping and the alcohol I’d consumed was being metabolized at an undesirably quick pace. I needed to cross the bridge to get home. I had no choice but to confront this monster or ghost. So I approached.
Imagine how I squealed when I discovered not a beast, but the opposite: a seemingly unused, luxurious, artisanal couch. The appendages sticking out of the couch were bizarre, sure, but they only added to its uniqueness and beauty – not to mention the fact that it was free for the taking. So I slung the heavy couch over my shoulders and stumbled the rest of the way home, where I lugged my newfound piece of furniture down into the basement and sank into a slumber known only by the frostbitten and the damned.
What happened next was nothing short of nightmare.
[To be continued next week on Flash Fiction Friday!]
Philip Tannehill spends most of his time working on his family’s farm in the Midwest. In his spare time, he reads and writes. An enthusiast of gothic literature and bizarro fiction, he dreams of someday opening a cult movie theater in a haunted mansion. Right now, he’s just waiting to win the lottery.