No. 121 – The Horrors, Part Three

Way, way back I wrote a post titled ‘The Horrors of Organic Apple Picking‘. It was one of the more popular stories, sort of went mini-viral for a while. If you haven’t read it yet I suggest you do. If not for enjoyment, at least for context.

Subsequently, I wrote a post titled ‘The Horrors, Part Two‘ which based on the content of the original post, could have either been about apples or spiders.*

*That post had nothing to do with apples.

So you can probably infer that this post isn’t about apples either. :/

We were traveling Europe this past year for a total of nine months. I told my wife I was unable to imagine myself traveling for that length of time, but that I would consider temporarily ‘moving’ to Europe.

Splitting hairs, yes, but it made a difference to my brain.

Part of the plan was to travel more aggressively for two months, and then rest somewhere for a month. These ‘month-long’ rest periods turned out to be more like just three weeks, first in Germany and then a few months later, three weeks in Ireland, etc. But the idea was there: Rest.

Our first rest-stop was in a little town in Germany where we had rented the gardener’s cottage of a larger castle-complex. And when I say castle, I really mean castle. It had a tower and a moat and was walled in on all sides, it was pretty huge. A count & countess lived there and our son regularly went into the castle to play video games with their son:

It was a magical time.

Not so magical was the laundry room. There was a series of problems, each seemingly acting as an omen that something potentially worse was on the horizon…

1. The Secret Room

When you move around a lot in foreign countries and you’re staying in AirBnbs, you’re never 100% sure of what amenities to expect until you’re literally there and unpacking. It’s only then that you discover that Dutch people don’t believe in ovens, and so you have nowhere to cook the pizza that you bought at the grocery store on the way to avoid making a real meal on ‘moving day’ and are now forced to search Pinterest for ways to ‘bake’ a frozen pizza using only a microwave and stove-top (FYI: It can be done). I’d like to imagine that the absence of an actual oven could be partially due to the negative inferences that have come to be associated with the phrase ‘Dutch Oven’…but we’ll never know because we didn’t ask.

Regardless of the reason, it illustrates the point: Sometimes amenities are listed but aren’t necessarily there in the end.

Anyway, in Germany we couldn’t find the laundry room. We assumed that it was actually off-site somewhere else in the castle-complex. Sometimes you find out that the AirBnb owners listed THEIR personal amenity as YOUR amenity, and you have to go into their personal space to wash your underwear (this happened, more than once).  So you can forgive me for imagining doing laundry in an actual dungeon, somewhere in the bowels of the castle, next to a ‘rack’ or ‘iron maiden’.

We felt dumb when they finally showed us a door in the gardener’s cottage that we had assumed was locked and off-limits (also a common occurrence in AirBnbs) but instead was just jammed and needed to be pulled on harder, and that the washer was in there all along.

Also in there was:

2. The Trapped Bird

We had been hearing weird bird sounds in the house but COULD NOT figure out where they were coming from. Turns out that not only was the SECRET ROOM hiding the washer, there was also a little bird trapped in that room, freaking out. I have no idea how it got in there or how long it was trapped there.

In many cultures birds can be bad omens. It wasn’t a raven or anything, but it should have been, because the bird wasn’t the only thing trapped in the laundry room…

3. The Hole in the Sink

There was a small sink that room, and like all porcelain sinks, there’s a little hole near the top to drain away excess water should the proper drain hole be plugged somehow. It was on the opposite wall from the door, just next to the washing machine, and below a window. To the left was a massive water heater of some kind. To the right was a clutter of mops and brooms.

It was a hot, claustrophobic space to be in. So no one enjoyed being in there, doing laundry, but then we didn’t know how good we had it.

4. The Screams

At some point during our stay, my two younger children came screaming to me, saying unintelligible things. I calmed them down enough to learn that they had encountered a spider in the laundry room.

Now this was not an unusual experience. Everyone in my family is regularly calling upon my spider-killing skills. Sometimes I force my son to be my spider-killing apprentice because someday he’ll have to assume the mantle, or at least deal with spiders when I’m not at home.

Yet their screams were of an unusual pitch, and their descriptions of what they ‘claim’ to have seen were slightly concerning. So it was with more than my usual caution that I opened the door to the laundry room…

5. The Horrors

I scanned the room. “In the sink” my children whispered to me.

I focused on the sink, about five feet away.

“In the hole…” they whispered.

I stepped into the room and narrowed the distance by a couple of feet. I couldn’t see it at first, it was too large for my mind to recognize what I was seeing. Then it saw me and shifted it’s bulk to face me head on, a movement that was lightening-quick and caused me to both see it clearly for the first time and leap backwards out of the room.

The children and I crouched at the door, looking upon it. We were consumed with a single, unitary thought:

This spider must die.

This was followed by another thought:

My wife must never lay eyes on the creature or she will refuse to sleep here and our ‘rest’ will be ruined.

Prepared to go to battle to defend our ‘rest’, I slowly reached my hand out to the right to grab one of the mops stored in the room. The spider pivoted again, noting the motion. Slowly, very slowly, I angled it to where it was level, and then slowly moved back into the laundry room. I held it like a trident, and brought the hard end as close as I dared…and then everything happened very quickly:

I struck with what I thought might be a killing blow.

But instead saw nothing but the sink.

In the very same moment the spider struck back, leaping out of the hole to pounce upon the handle of the mop. I had never seen such aggression in a spider before. Have you ever attempted to kill a spider and had it attempt to kill you back? Do you have any idea how that feels?

It doesn’t feel good.

I struck again and this time pinned two meaty legs, legs which were torn off of its torso as it retreated back into its lair.

6. The Battle

The spider refused to face me again for several days. I would enter to finish the job, only to see a few legs hanging out of the hole, but which would be retracted the moment I came within view.

Day after day, I tried to destroy it, with increasingly complex schemes. I dared even to plug the sink and flood the hole with water to drown the spider or drive it out into the open.

No avail.

7. The Dilemma…

Having nearly given up hope, and having only barely convinced my wife to stay in the house with my solid logic (It’s wounded, it’s afraid, it won’t come out at night, it can’t climb the stairs, etc.) I desperately wanted it dead.

Also I still had to go in there a lot to do laundry, we only had about a week’s worth of clothes with us and so we were doing laundry all the time.

And yet I was unable to draw it into single-combat again.

And then suddenly our time of rest (which mercifully turned out to be a really nice) was over, and I was faced with a dilemma. Do I leave a note, warning of the wounded beast in the laundry room? Do we say anything?

Or do we leave them to its mercy…limping through the darkness?…

We chose the latter.

Regardless, this was a while ago and I imagine spiders don’t naturally live a long time, so its probably dead by now, especially since it was wounded, perhaps mortally…so it’s safe to visit now.*

*May not be dead. Visit Germany at your own risk.