I ran as fast as I could across the transparent surface heading for the node in webs stretching high into the sky. I hit objects as I ran, spinning as I did and trying to recover without losing pace. I had about 1000 paces to go when I started to run into tendrils of web. In the distance, I could make out an object near the node. I thought I saw it stand and wave at me.
Above me grey darkness, fragmented by huge taut lines stretching to infinity, with the unmistakable patterns of a shambolic web, built over and over again. The webs did not bother me, it was the movement within that made me run. As I ran, the movement resolved itself into a massive spider coming towards me, fast. Hundreds of small ones running in front of it.
I taught myself as a kid to survive the moment. Achieve that, and there would be plenty of time to ask questions later.
I hit one too many obstructions.
This time I fell, watching the mobile skid across the ground in front of me hitting a low transparent structure.
As I watched, the webs disappeared and I was back inside the hospital. I saw the mobile continue to spin away from me, into an unoccupied nursing station.
I froze, no sign of the spider. The floor suddenly solid. The sounds of a hospital all around. Windows to the outside showing the night, a river in the distance and a park. Almost no traffic along the well-lit roads. The city centre a little further distant.
I was inside the labyrinth of the hospital, late at night.
Noting where the mobile was, I quickly looked around, taking a long drink of water from the nearby dispenser.
The nurses station was labelled “Severe trauma unit – high security”. A bank of monitors were showing pulse and brain activity of two patients. I start to walk to the station when I hear the murmur of voices, an argument in an adjoining waiting room.
I recognise the voices.
The fat guy – We have been told to pull out and we will. There is nothing we can do here. Both of them are in comas and they may never come out of them.
Weasel – Someone has that mobile. It can’t have just vanished. We should…
The fat guy – I told you, it is not going to happen. The mobile was never going to tell us anymore than his computers and they suggest he is just a nutter. Like the others out there.
Weasel – She was..
The fat guy – Not interested. Lithium heard what you had to say – she said it was nonsense. You were the last person to see both of these breathing before there went into a coma – I would be rehearsing my explanations if I were you.
Weasel – We are both in this.
The fat guy – Not interested. Time to go.
Weasel – I want to search her again.
The sound of footsteps as the fat guy started to talk on his mobile.
I start to move, a little stiff from the fall, as Weasel comes into the corridor.
Weasel - There she is!
From inside the room, the fat guy – Nonsense. She is in a coma.
Weasel - It is her. Stop or I will shoot!
Fat guy, in full panic – What are you doing? That’s a nurse.
I dive into the nurses station as bullets rip into the wall. I grab the mobile, and feel a jolt of static electricity. For a moment, the smell of the hospital is replaced by the small of a summer storm.
I hear footsteps coming towards me and both men shouting.
Fading, as the hospital is replaced by the bleak grey horizon of the spiders.
I freeze, I am back in the realm of the spiders.
The spiders are moving away. Close now, the node, and someone waving at me.
One last dash. I start to run to the node. I do not need to look to know that the spider has resumed the chase.
An old man by the node is waving at me, encouraging me to run. But there is fear in his eyes and he turns and fades into the node. Twenty paces to go, the spider stabs at me. It grazes my side, and for the second time, the mobile fall from my hands as I crash into the ground.
This time, your face hits grass. The graze left by the spider is starting to burn like acid.
I smell the old man before I see him. Booze and sweat and a thousand other smells of the city. He is not waving at me now. Instead he is sitting on a park bench nursing a paper bag, and taking a deep swig of the grog inside.
He says in a slurred voice - Get your own bench. This is mine.
I say - I am hurt.
He says - Go somewhere else. Stupid kids, shooting up everywhere. Let me sleep. Hospital across the road, go there. They will fix you up.
You say - I cant go back there. They shot at me. I need to rest.
The pain was starting to bite. I gasped.
I say - You saw the spider. I need to rest here.
He said - Spiders everywhere here. Try to bite Bob all the time.
A couple of lumbering shapes some out of the trees.
He yells at them - Get your own park bench. This is mine and me sister’s. Keep way from us you Aussie clowns or I will wake up Bob and you will be sorry.
He looks at me with blurry eyes. He was incoherent - What sort of spiders she asks. Big ones, in the mist.
He thought a bit.
He says - They will come after you. We know someone, up in the mountains. Old dragon lady. Fixes spider bites.
As he gets up off the bench, your mobile falls out from under him
He says – Your mobile. Hmp. Out of charge.
He gives it to you.
He says - Come on. We have to go.
I say – I cant go far, this pain is killing me.
He looks at his bottle. Gently wipes the rim and says – That will help. Come on, we will pinch a truck from down the road.
I look at him, shock starting to set in.
He says – Or do you want to go back to the spiders?
I remember Bob asking me what colour car I preferred, the sound of glass breaking and being helped into the back seat. Then I went to sleep.
I woke up as Bob finally nodded off. He was driving along a straight narrow road heading towards west towards the South Island Mountains. The early morning sun was hitting the peaks and it was magical.
I was stiff, but the pain had diminished. I made him pull over and take a break. After an hour he insisted he was alright and we finished the trip along a small dirt tack pushing into a forest.
The road finished near an old wooden barn. A track continued on to a small brook, across a stone bridge and an old two story stone house. There was a whiff of smoke from the chimney and a glint of early sun off the windows.
An old woman was standing by the door.
Bob nodded at her and said quietly – The dragon lady. I have brought bit people here before. She will fix you. You go see her, I am going to stay here and have a sleep.
I limped over the bridge and she came down to see me.
She said, with a quiet New Zealand voice – How can I help you? You look sore and weary.
I said – I have been bitten by a spider. My friend tells me you might help me.
She said, more kindly - So you let them bite you. The poison hurts but is just intended to paralyse. Come inside and I will draw it out.
I thanked her, and asked her name. She smiled. The people who come here call me lots of things.
She sat me down in a kitchen, dressed my wound, muttering to herself.
She gave me tea to relax and then, when she thought I was ready, some food. She talked the whole time, telling me about her little farm, her pigs and cow, the weather and the creek. Then she asked me about the spiders.
In the light of day, it all seemed a bit unbelievable. But I ended up telling her what I remembered.
She said – Most of the people who come here have similar stories. I get Bob to watch out for those who get hurt.
She continued – I am too old to go into town myself. I retired years ago.
She smiled kindly – I will go fix Bob a meal and send him on his way. You can rest up here for a couple of days and work out what you want to do.
Over the next couple of days, I gradually recovered. We talked about lots of things, kings and princes, men and children, eggs and cream.
When I was well enough, she started to tell me about the spiders.
And then she told me about the dragons.
I said – Bob called you the dragon lady.
She smiled – I don’t know real dragons any more. But a friend once told me something of them, and I remember it clearly:
Walking among us are powerful creatures. From a distance they look ordinary. They have friends, lovers and children. But when you look you can feel the air shimmer around them. Near them, reality starts to liquefy. Close up, reality changes to match their whim.
The more powerful, the larger the area they influence. To them, they draw the entire wealth of the world. These are the dragons, the princes of industry and the queens of state that impoverish the world-mind with worthless imaginings and who are the cause of most suffering.
You cannot kill a dragon. You cannot resist the touch of a dragon's smile, eyes or words. And you should resist it with every ounce of your being. But in the end, all you can do is not become one.
I asked – Who was you your friend?
I asked – Who was you your friend?
She said – It was Onesti, I think. She called me the blue dragon.
> Part eight
Image - Molonglo High Plains, today
(No dragons or cats were hurt writing this part.)
This is a continuation of a story (a "braided yarn") that started on an earlier G+ post. Details and story at: