The perils of an old cottage

A side story.

We were bundled up against the creeping chill of a rainy English day, watching a film called The Woman in Gold, when, out of the corner of my eye, I first saw the Beast of Bonsall.

It was the sort of creature from a horror movie. It was large, dark, and had long, spindly legs that curved up first like a hill then struck down into the thick pile of the carpet. It crept slowly forward, seeking warmth from its cold brickwork home.

I was up and off the sofa, nearly killing myself by tripping on the blanket, before it could even blink any of its eight eyes at me.

My friend, who had been quietly listening to the film and playing a game on her iPad, looked at me like I had gone absolutely insane, asked, “What is wrong with you?”

I could only whisper and point, “Spider.”

Her eyes rolled up to the heavens, and she stood up.


I just kept pointing toward the corner of the room, near the fireplace and very near the sofa where I had just been sitting, minding my own business.

“Oh, my God. It’s not that big,” she groaned, grabbing a paper to herd the beast humanely onto a more righteous path. “Open the door. I’ll chuck it out.”

“‘Chuck it out?'” I stammered in disbelief. “KILL IT!”

“It did nothing to you.”

“It’s disturbed my peace of mind. Get rid of it!”

“It probably is eating worse things.”

“I’ll take the worse things. That spider is HUGE!”

Mind you, I live in Hong Kong, where we have Golden Orb Weavers the size of human faces skulking in the trees and brown, crab-like Huntsmen who grow to the size of Godzilla and like to snuggle behind furniture and picture frames. I nearly faced planted an orb weaver in Taiwan, and I had a Huntsman try to get into my house before I chased it off, so this one shouldn’t be so bad, right?

Incorrect. There is something just tragically horrible about big house spiders. They have those curved legs which scuttle faster than Usain Bolt on an Olympic track – and usually right at you.

I crept over to the door and gave it a quick shove as she was spider-wrangling with the paper and then quickly dashed halfway up the stairs again to my safety zone. The spider was refusing to cooperate – grounds for extermination, if you ask me – and instead, it ran under the hearth rug.

My friend, exasperated with the laborious process of spider wrangling and my lack of coping ability, tossed the rug back over the Beast of Bonsall and pronounced, “There. It’s under the rug. It’s fine.”

She went back to the film and her iPad, and I sat on the stairs for awhile, my eyes on that lump under the rug.

“You really need to just forget about it,” she said.

I never took my eyes off the rug.

That evening, when I needed to get something from the kitchen, I turned on my phone’s flashlight to see around, checking the walls and light carpeting for the Beast. When the coast was clear, I slunk into the kitchen for a midnight snack, then all but ran back up the stairs.

The next morning, I noticed a strange plastic tube sitting by the fireplace. I pulled it free, and that’s when I saw that the landlady had included this item for guest use:


Indeed, it is a Fiendish Spider Remover, a long-tubed vacuum meant to suck up the monsters in a humane manner for outside deposit and wildlife return.

“That’s awesome. Lift the rug and use it on the spider from last night,” my friend suggested.

I sucked up my courage, found a pencil, and went toward the rug, ready with the Fiendish Spider Remover.

I would be brave. I would be strong. I would survive.

I flipped back the rug, intent on a surprise attack.

But it was already gone …

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