Riddle Spider

Dried leaves covered the gravel road and it all but disappeared in the forest of grey trees. In the middle of the road was a gigantic spider with thick, pointy legs and a human head. Its legs stretched almost all the way across the narrow, country road.

The two children stood frozen in their tracks, staring at the creature blocking their path. The girl whispered, “Kill it, Marty.” Marty just stared.

The spider remained motionless except for its head, which swiveled this way and that, eyes never leaving the children.

“Should we run?” whispered the little girl. The spider monster laughed. “No, don’t run,” it said. “Where would you go, anyway? I’d catch you.” It began to move toward them, legs moving gracefully over the dry leaves. “And anyway,” it went on. “I have a riddle to ask you.” Just then the boy grabbed a sharp stick and ran at the monster, stabbing the body, a spray of green blood erupting from the wound.

“Hey!” the spider said, lifting the boy high into the air with several of its legs. The little girl screamed a high-pitched scream. The spider picked her up too and as it moved slowly down the road it wrapped each of them in a cocoon of webbing, leaving only their heads free. Then it hung them both from a tree branch high above the ground.

“Now, my little captive audience… I will tell you my riddle.” Suddenly a military tank came barreling down the country lane, metal treads clattering away. It fired at the spider monster but kept missing, blowing gaping craters into the forest earth and felling trees. Small fires started here and there. A man dressed like a ninja jumped out of the tank and cut the children down, freeing them from the web cocoons.

The spider sprang forward suddenly and speared the ninja through his chest with one of its sharp legs. Then it threw his corpse aside. The children backed away, the little girl lifting the short ninja sword off the ground where it had fallen.

Then the spider jumped up onto the tank and somehow managed to fit down into the small hatch. “What should we do?” asked the girl. “Go inside there and kill it with the sword,” the boy said.

“You go in there!”

“Alright, I will!” the boy said. He took the sword and climbed up the side of the tank. Then he lowered himself down into the hatch. The girl waited and waited but neither of them came out.

Finally she climbed the side of the tank and peered down into it. The boy and the spider monster were in the midst of a civilized discussion. “The farmer should take the grain across the river,” the boy said. “And then return for the wolf. Wait, no. Wait, he brings the grain back with him and leaves the chicken. No, wait.”

The little girl had heard this riddle at school and recited the solution perfectly. “Exactly right,” said the spider. I’ll grant you each one wish.”

Soon they were driving down the country road in the little boy’s new vintage Trans Am. And the little girl wasn’t little anymore, she was a beautiful adult woman. Satisfied with the results of their wishes, they drove back to town, full of excitement to tell their parents the whole story.

Copyright © 2008. All Rights Reserved.

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