It was a warm afternoon in sixth grade Geography class at Spuntford Heights Grade School in Chulaska, SD. The classroom was stifling, the air close and stuffy. The kids, like sullen cons waiting to be sprung from solitary, languished in their hard wooden seats. Spring filled the air with inviting scents, putting Charlie Kinslow into a somnolent doze. The blackboard blurred. His head dipped; his breathing slowed. . . .
. . . before his trudging feet lay a mountain pass through which he could see a green and yellow tree-lined meadow that beckoned to his ravaged spirit. To reach it he had to cross a chasm. While feeling his way across a fallen tree bridging the chasm and looking downward to assure his footing, he blundered into what seemed at first a giant net. He pulled back but the net came with him; it was stuck to his face and clothing as if it had bonded glue-like against him. Recognition dawned instantly. In a panic he sought to pull his arms free from the sticky webbing and realized it was hopeless and his agitation was being transmitted like Morse code to the creator of this glutinous immensity that held him fast.
Terror enveloped him as the web’s shaking vibrations foretold the immanent arrival of its rapacious maker. He tried to look upwards but his head was stck. A dry, feral stink enveloped him, and before he could even recoil cold pincers pierced his flesh and held him firmly while two enormous fangs sank into his chest, pumping jets of caustic venom into him by the quart. In passive shock he felt his insides emulsify and his limbs grew cold and unresponsive. Clawlets on two of the spider’s free legs began turning him along his perpendicular axis to enwrap him in silk.
Hyperventilating with fear, Charlie Kinslow began moaning and panting rapidly and twisting stiffly in his seat in an effort to find release from this day-mare to the wonderment of his nearby classmates. Before he was entirely cocooned he let out a despairing wail of terror, and awoke in a sweat, gasping for breath.
Panting shallowly, he saw that the entire classroom was turned and regarding him with a mixture of curiosity and amusement. The teacher, Mr. Sagner, as well. Charlie shook his head and sagged in relief.
Mr. Sagner handled the interruption smoothly, allowing Charlie to pant his way to relative normalcy before inviting him to share the events that restored him to consciousness. Embarrassed at first, he recounted the entire dream with a few embellishments and had the room laughing hysterically by the time he was finished. The teacher was similarly amused and had him go out in the hallway and splash cold water on his face. It was the most terrifying dream he’d ever had, more real and graphic than anything he’d ever experienced while conscious.
That night he stayed up late, waiting for exhaustion before risking a slide into unconsciousness once again.