The day I bought the Arachna Cam, Fly got his job as a cop. My brother used to say we weren’t related, that I was something that had crawled out of our mother’s womb and infested the house. What kind of a fucking name is Florean? I called him Fly after the time I made him eat one. It was pregnant and he had little maggots crawling out of his mouth as I clamped my hand over his jaw. I used to kick my brother while he watched TV. Asshole. Cop. Maybe he was right.
I watched him walk to work in his uniform looking like an insect. I was sitting in the cafe over from the station dipping some bread in an egg, thinking the uncooked albumen looked like semen when I saw Tarita kissing this guy. She had her tongue down his mouth and her hand wandered down to his crotch. Right outside my window. And it came to me. Her husband, Hank, was my boss and a bigger asshole couldn’t be found with a GPS set to Shit City. I snapped the bitch with my cell. Watched her wander off to the office where I toiled in dull hatred for my colleagues day in day out. Watched her keep her ass as tight as a clenched fist as she waited for the automatic doors to open. I ordered another coffee.
When I got in late Hank glared at me and I winked. I sat at my desk and looked at my emails as Hank and Tarita whispered about me over by the water cooler. I looked at her in her tight brown skirt, zipped up to her neat little waist, her pert breasts beneath the floral blouse she wore, buttoned right up to the top, and I wondered what lay beneath. She had this white face from which her bright red lips protruded obscenely, and when she opened her mouth you half expected her to stick a finger in it and run her nail along the edge of her soft wet gums.
She had these long fingers like cigarette holders and the nails curved sharply at the ends. I once inspected them as she laid her hand on a desk, her back to me, as she talked to Hank. I thought I saw fragments of skin beneath them. And she moved in a way I had never seen another woman move. It was like her bones shifted the wrong way in her skeleton. And I never saw her eat. Not once.
They were a perfect pair. Hank had this way of rubbing his hands together when he was excited. His arms looked like feelers. And he had this fuzz around the top of his head.
As I looked at them talking about me I contemplated another day in an office selling vending machine products. Another day when I looked at them all labouring behind their desks like insects.
Later Hank and Tarita came in.
‘Can you see us in an hour?’ he said.
I swung my shoes up on the desk, and put my hands behind my head.
‘Sure thing Hank, nice look you got going there Tarita.’
I’d never used their first names before and they left my office looking like I’d stuck barbed wire in them. I knew they were going to sack me. And I wasn’t going to give Fly that pleasure. Fucking cop. He’d really enjoy that with his asshole definition of law and order. I once laid my hand on my brother’s shoulder when he wasn’t looking. I wanted to see if his eyes changed when he was alone. I suspected they did. My hand sounded like it was hitting a metal sheet.
A few minutes later I saw Tarita going into the stockroom. I followed her in and closed the door.
‘What do you think you’re doing?’ she said with this big lipsticked mouth open in a shock and outrage pose.
I peered inside. Her tongue had this tip on the end, a small protrusion of flesh like a clitoris.
‘I wanna show you a little snap I took.’ I flashed the picture in front of her. ‘Looks like your guy’s getting a hard on.’
She opened her red mouth and made this noise. Bzz bzz.
They didn’t sack me. Tarita gave this speech about how much they valued their workers and would I like to go on a training course, while Hank looked at her with incredulity. He kept rubbing his hands together and the hairs on his knuckles made small crackling noises, sparks rising from them into the cooled air of his office where a fish swam blindly in a tank.
Tarita gave me a lot of dough over the following weeks while I turned up late to work and moved out of the squalid damp apartment I shared with my brother.
‘You need fucking help,’ Fly said to me the day I left.
‘You’re sick in the head, you stopped taking your meds and you’re heading for trouble.’
‘And you’re heading for my boot.’
‘You can’t look after yourself, look at what happened the last time.’
‘What last time? What the fuck are you talking about?’
‘What do you think the burns are about?’ he said.
‘You’re the one who’s crazy.’
Fly lifted his shirt up. There was a bright red scorch mark that ran across his chest. I looked into his compound eyes and saw hard skeletal forms shift on some surface that looked like sand. There was an odour like burning rubber that rose from his skin.
He was saying something as I walked away, but all I could hear was a buzzing noise. I looked at him, his hard shell of a face, and watched his black tongue twitch in his tiny mouth like an electric worm.
I woke up the next morning with a naked hooker next to me. I stared at the room, the burnt spoon over by the toaster, her G string on the chair, her large tits, and saucer like nipples, and wondered what day it was. She had a tattoo of a spider on her snatch and I looked at it nestled there against her labia. I got the blowtorch I used to burn the wallpaper off so I could see what was hiding underneath. I’d long suspected that the structures I inhabited were stage sets. I sometimes heard the whirring of unseen cameras beyond the hollow walls.
The hooker was breathing slowly as I ignited it. I had it an inch away from her tattoo when she woke and ran out of there.
After she left I tried out the Arachna cam. It said on the box, “We are the web”. I cruised some live sites and got bored. All the women did the same thing. I suspected they were all the same woman in different outfits. For a long time I’d suspected the sites were owned by a monopolist who was engineering sexuality. A pornographer was trying to manufacture one sexual response.
I wanted something new. Tarita’s money was running out and I wondered how long I could keep the nail in her.
Later that day I called her.
‘This is the last payment,’ she said.
‘I want you to do something.’
‘I want you to strip and put on a show for me, link it up to my cam.’
‘I’ll take it straight to Hank. I got other pictures.’
‘Why do you hate me so much?’
‘Because you’re inhuman.’
There was a gasp on the other end of the line and then it went dead. As she hung up I heard a scuttling noise, like small hard feet tapping the hollow top of a wooden box.
I called again an hour later and she agreed.
‘On one condition, this is the last you ask,’ she said.
I was sipping Tequila and crushing the ice between my teeth when she began the show. She popped up on my screen in a negligee, looked at me, and moved towards the bed. I stared at the cam as she did the things they all do, to begin with. She turned her back and let the negligee drop to the floor, let it slide down her toned legs. She took off her bra and turned to the cam, hands over her tits. She looked into the cam, dropped her hands, ran them up her body and rubbed her nipples. Then she turned round and slid out of her panties. She bent over so I got an eyeful of her ass. Then she gave me the full frontal. She looked good, her tits were firm and she had a good figure. Her cunt had a tuft of thick black hair sprouting from it and she put her hand down there and lay down.
She spread her legs and began rubbing herself, her neck arched, her fingers covering most of the action. Then she removed her hand and I saw it.
It looked like a wound on the side of a bleeding cow, like someone had hacked her open. And there was something alive inside it. I saw black legs wriggling around in there and then it came out of her, all eight legs dripping with come, dragging an umbilical cord. She reached out her hand.
‘Come to bed with me,’ she said, her eyes black and hollow, as if someone had scooped them out of her head.
It crawled across her legs towards the camera and shot venom at the screen.
I went to the bathroom and sprayed carrots and booze down the toilet.
She came into my office the next day and put her hand on my leg.
‘Did you like what you saw?’ she said.
They were in her eyes. A whole fucking nest of them.
‘What the fuck are you?’
I looked at her. She didn’t have a head but a tagmata. In the fluorescent light of the office the anthropod segments were clear.
She locked the door, pulled down the blind and began to strip. And I watched, stuck to my chair as she peeled away her clothes and stood there in front of me.
‘Now you know, you can have me,’ she said.
The words came out of her mouth in small clicking sounds.
She had her hand down my pants and pulled it out and sat on it. She squeezed my cock inside her and clenched it hard with a muscle that felt like a hand. She rode me on the office chair. As she climaxed she put her finger in her mouth and rubbed the tip of her tongue. The clitoral protrusion was bright red and squirted me with some clear fluid that shot out of her mouth and smelt like acid. She left me dripping as she stood and dressed with a calculated knowledge of corruption deep within her alabaster face and the lying lines etched across it. I looked at her, come dripping down her thigh and I saw it, its legs working out of her snatch like feelers coming out of the wall. She opened her snatch up right in front of me, parted her lips like two cuts of raw steak, marbled and lined with fat, and I saw it. I saw its eyes, bright red with a million computers inside them. Beneath the surface of her flesh things were moving. Their motion was an entomological conspiracy I knew was pandemic among the forces controlling our streets.
‘I suppose you’ll plug your orifice, tear off some genitals, eat some body parts or engage in a psychedelic ritual,’ I said.
‘That belongs in the comic books,’ she said, a slow sure smile working its way across her face like a measured scar.
They live beneath memory. Could I find them in the fermions of hidden sexual mutation? Did they exist in the half-integral spin of subatomic matter? She turned herself inside out, like a breathing glove of insect flesh, watching me watch her show. She ran her nail along the edge of her snail like skin, letting the slime seep out of her as she yowled and threw her neck back, her bullet nipples erect and dripping black milk from her swollen breasts across which black cicatrices emerged like the slow crack in a window pane. I wouldn’t let her crack my window. I saw it there within her, her body a plot against mankind, her juices full of acid corruption.
She dressed and closed the door.
I quit. I sat at my apartment drinking whisky.
I surfed the net for an answer. I studied the nature of bombs. And as I did I saw small red eyes peering at me out of the cam. I ripped it out. I threw it at a passing bum from a speeding taxi that dropped me off near the shop.
I’d made the bomb from semtex, spent hours studying how to make sure it detonated. The shop sold nothing but fucking insects. A freak show place for insect whores. It had a chain across the city and I was heading to each of them with a bomb. I was Herod waging war against arachnids in a violent twilight set against the spider snatch of Tarita and her insect seductions in the scuttling dark. She was probably preparing others like her. They were running the live shows and feasting on humanity. They were filling vending machines across the country with food that would render people pliable to them. The police force bought their products.
I peered through the window. Spiders were crawling across the silent glass of their cages. One assumed the form of a naked model, wearing only a skirt. It raised the hem with hairy fingers and showed me a thick bush covering a wound.
I set the device down and walked far enough away. Then I flicked the switch. I watched the shop explode into an orange ball as I headed across town on a stolen Yamaha, my list in my hand.
I blew up all the shops before the police cars flooded the corner of the last road in flames. The cops stepped out of their cars and marched toward me like ants.
‘Did you see anything?’ one of them said.
‘I’ve seen everything, I have a window on the world.’
He looked at me and took off his gloves. He was writing something in his note book and I watched the thick hair crawl all over his hands.
‘Someone is blowing up shops selling insects, can you tell me anything at all?’ he said.
‘The next guy you arrest will beat you to death with a tyre iron, he will rape your wife and torch you. You are my brother, I always loved you, and you ask me that?’, I said.
I watched them scuttle around the crime scene as I left.
The next day I bought a can of fly spray and a lighter. I tailed Tarita to the office. As she stopped I gained on her and flicked that Zippo like a switchblade. The spray ejaculated out of the can and I touched it with the flame, and as she turned I hit her with a stream of fire. She was clutching at me and she went down screaming. Her touch felt like a hot needle.
She looked like a burnt raisin on the ground. I could hear the noise of hard wings beating against each other as I headed out of there.
I went back to the flat and shaved my hands. Then I dug into the walls looking for them beneath the apparent surface of buildings, hunting them into the arthropodal dark.