An edited and improved version of this story is now available for purchase as part of the ‘Prophecies of the Drowned Oracle’ collection.
Shane took his finger off the doorbell after two seconds. He put the jar between his hands again and waited patiently for Danielle to open the door.
When the door opened, he held the spider jar in front of him.
“Shane! I wasn’t expecting you to- What’s this?”
Shane grinned. “I got you a spider!”
He lowered the jar so he could see her face. She had her hair pulled up into a messy knot on top of her head. Her eyes were bright. A high pitched noise escaped her. “Oh! this is great! We’ll put it in my office…” She grabbed Shane’s arm and dragged him inside. “The flies have been driving me up the wall!”
She let go of his arm halfway through the hallway. Without the sun shining through the door windows, the hallway was dark. Danielle continued to the stairs and Shane followed, amused by her enthusiasm.
He felt a pang of envy as they passed the paintings of sunny landscapes in the upstairs hallway. However much he liked his fireplace, he still longed for the sun.
He snapped out of it when something hit his forehead. Before he could feel for it, he saw the fly already floating away. He smiled down at the spider in the jar. Revenge would be sweet. Well, sweet for the spider at least.
Danielle held up her hands for the jar when they reached the office. Shane gave it to her and rubbed his hands together, only now realising how cold the glass had gotten. He was starting to regret not putting on a coat. It usually wasn’t necessary for the short walk from his house to Danielle’s, but it was really cold here.
“Sorry, the radiator’s been having some trouble,” Danielle explained, “I’m considering getting an electric one for in here, but they tend to kill any humidity.”
Shane rolled his eyes. “Better a little less humidity than you freezing to death in your office.”
“Ha ha,” she said. “Give me a hand, will you?” Shane helped her climb onto her desk. Around her feet, he noticed multiple squished flies on the wood.
“I can see why they’re driving you up the wall, how many are there here? Five?”
“Seven.” She strained to open the jar lid. Shane held out his hand. “All from yesterday.” She handed to jar to him. The lid was on tight, but he did a good job of making it look effortless.
“Seven in one day?” He handed the jar back. She put it on the plank closest to the ceiling corner, then jumped from the desk.
She smiled at him, and Shane was helpless not to answer it with a grin of his own. “Thanks.”
They moved back trough the hallway in the direction of the stairs. As they walked in contented silence, Shane noticed a strange static coming from behind the walls, like Danielle had forgotten to turn off her television. He put his hands in his pockets to stave off the cold. “Isn’t the cold bad for your plants as well?”
She hummed. “Not ideal for the tropical ones, but it’s better than low humidity.”
Halfway down the stairs, a resounding clap blasted through the house. With his heart in his throat, it took Shane a few moments to realise it was just the sound of the house adjusting to the warmth of the radiator. Danielle didn’t react to it.
A little breathless from the scare, he said, “I don’t think it’s supposed to be that loud. My house doesn’t do this you know.”
“What? Oh, that.” She was so unconcerned Shane wondered if she’d heard the noise at all. “I never got those renovations done.”
He supposed that Danielle’s house did look a little saggier than the other houses in the street. The roof concaved in the middle, not much, but enough to notice when you saw it through your window every day.
“You should have it checked.” He waved another fly out of his face. “And finally call an exterminator while you’re at it.”
She didn’t have to turn around for him to see her rolling her eyes. “And kill the spider you just generously gave me? No way.”
He sighed. “Should I bring you the others that come out of the fire as well then?”