Karen was not quite asleep. Through her closed eyelids, she could sense the setting sun shining through her bedroom window. “I will need to order blinds for these windows”, she thought as she envisioned sleeping in on a cozy Sunday morning.
It had been a whirlwind month for Karen. In just over 30 days she had moved from the West Coast to Nevada to be with her Fiancé Steven. Since then, she had started a new job; gotten married; and together with her new husband, purchased their first home. They were supposed to be on a Caribbean beach right now, but had pushed back their honeymoon to close on their new home after the paperwork cleared much quicker than anticipated.
Karen was resting for what seemed like the first time in ages. There were still boxes to unpack, but Steven had convinced her that the most important thing to do on your first day in a new home was to “christen” the master bedroom. Karen had obliged without much convincing… Now laying there in Steven’s arms, she could not help but think that everything was going exactly as planned.
A Rude Awakening:
It was getting late. Karen could still sense the slightest of light from the setting sun, though she could no longer feel the warmth shining through the window onto her body. It was Fall and the days were getting shorter. Karen knew that she would need to get up soon to make dinner. “Fifteen more minutes”, she thought. She was comfortable lying in Stevens arms; her lower half covered by a silk sheet, and her upper body warmed by Steven’s body heat. The fact that Steven’s snoring had ceased a few minutes ago made it even harder for her to fight off sleep.
“We will order pizza”, Karen thought, as she could no longer resist sleep. But as she drifted off, a slight tickle on her leg kept her tied to the earthly plane. “Am I imagining the feeling?” she thought. It seemed to her that the tickle came and went every time she was about to slip into REM. After the fourth time, she decided to wake up slightly more to focus on the feeling.
“There it was again”; Karen was sure this time. Her skin crawled at the thought of a bug inching its way up her calf, and she forced herself to believe it was just a string. The sheets were new, and against Karen’s wishes, Steven had made the bed without washing them. “It’s just a loose string”, she willed.
Hoping to stop the tickle without getting up, Karen shook her leg. As quickly as she had convinced herself it was a string, the reality of the situation flooded over her. The movement of her leg caused the slight tickle to intensify, and quickly progress up her calf and over her knee. Karen’s heart leapt as she realized a bug of some kind was crawling up her body.
Although Karen remained in a post coital haze, her reflexes kicked in as the tiniest of feet crested the top of her knee and headed towards her inner thigh. With the flick of her arm, she swatted at the area midway up her thigh where the tickle was most prevalent.
The tickle was so slight that Karen had anticipated something small. What she felt as her hand pressed against the skin of her thigh was roughly the size of a quarter. She had struck it squarely, and its body collapsed under the pressure of her middle and pointer fingers with a sickly squish. What remained of the creature was a gummy smear. “OUCH”, Karen shouted as she pulled her hand out from under the sheet. Squinting through blurry eyes, Karen could see innards and chunks of exoskeleton smeared across her fingers. It was obvious that Karen had killed whatever was crawling on her, but not before it bit her. As thoughts of the bug began drifting from her groggy consciousness; Karen’s focus shifted to the ever increasing pain emanating from the bite. In the span of a few seconds, the pain from the bite had elevated to a feeling like someone was driving a red hot needle into her skin. From the point of the bite, Karen could also feel a feverish warmth emanating through her veins.
Karen’s mind raced. She was trying to recall what types of biting insects were native to this area. She was also frantically searching her half awakened mind for any knowledge she might have accumulated regarding the treatment of an insect bite. Instantly, Karen’s focus shifted and her awareness snapped into clarity as a second bite pierced the flesh of her toe. Karen screamed out in pain and tried to sit up, only to find she was slightly pinned under the weight of Steven’s motionless arms. Second, third and fourth bites sent shockwaves of pain through Karen’s lower half, and she began to kick her legs violently.
With each kick, the silk sheets slid further down Karen’s legs, exposing her skin. Even through her thrashing, Karen could see that dozens of spiders scurried about both Steven and her legs. The frequency of bites was increasing exponentially. Karen’s thrashing legs only seemed to drive the spiders into a fervor.
“STEVEN” Karen cried. She could not understand why he wasn’t helping her. The trashing had spread from her legs throughout her entire body now. The bites continued as the spiders progressed up her thighs and over her hips. Karen was now swinging her arms wildly across her body and slamming her legs together in a panicked motion. With each action, she crushed more and more spiders against her skin until she began to feel sticky with the oozing of their insides. In addition, she was beginning to wriggle free of Stevens arms. Finally, she was able to sit up. As she bolted upright at her waste, her face pressed through a tangle of cobwebs that seemed so thick that they halted her motion. The webbing clung to her skin, clogging her eyes and mouth. Karen gagged as she struggled to pull the webbing from her face.
Karen’s skin prickled as the web dangled from her eye lashes, and fluttered around her neck. Again and again she pulled at her face in an attempt to remove the webbing. Deeper she dug as her attempts to clear the web seemed futile. Karen was no longer thrashing about. Her hands dug left to right, up and down, in a focused attempt to clear the webbing while the rest of her body trembled under fear and exhaustion.
Slowly, Karen cleared the webbing from her eyes. Looking down, she could see droplets of blood splattering her breasts. In her attempts to clear the webbing, she had gouged the skin of her face and neck with her finger nails. In addition to the trickles of blood, tears began flowing down Karen’s face. Finally clearing most of the webbing from her mouth, she turned and vomited across the bed. There, Steven lay motionless. Spiders poured up and over the end of the bed, their sheer numbers nearly eclipsing Steven’s legs from her view. Steven’s eyes stared blankly up at her through a light layer of webbing. The spiders were in the process of wrapping his face in a silken cocoon. Karen could see open sores developing around Steve’s face, where the spiders had already fed on his flesh. Karen vomited again.
Just then, Karen’s flight reflex kicked in. Throwing the last of the sheets from her feet, she sprang from the bed. Her first two steps were instinctual, but as she reached the end of the bed, she realized that her legs had gone numb. Unable to control her feet, Karen’s upper body turned the corner of the bed, but her legs slackened, and her entire body pitched forward to the floor. She landed with a dull thud, as the entirety of her weight crushed down on a writhing sea of spiders. The floor seemed to ebb and flow with their motion, like she was laying in an inch of black tidal water. The initial weight of her fall pushed the sea of spiders away from her, but they were quickly filling in the voids around her.
Karen tried to push herself to her feet, but she had gone completely numb from the waist down. She could not even kick out her feet as the returning spiders began crawling over the skin of her legs. Karen also noticed the spider venom affecting other aspects of her motor skills. Most concerning was that her cries for help had subsided into a muted squawk. She could feel a tightening in her throat, and the edges of her vision were becoming hazy.
Karen was propped up on her elbows, and the returning spiders were making their way over her forearms. Karen could feel their bites, but some chemical euphoria was washing out the pain. Karen closed her eyes, and felt a sunny warmth cascade over her skin. In front of her stood Steven; he looked so hansom in his suit. Although in his late 20’s, he had a little grey in the hair around his temples that made him look mature and sophisticated. As the wedding march played in the back ground, Steven watched her walk down the aisle with a beaming smile across his face. Karen could see her beauty reflected in admiration of his eyes. Karen smiled as her arms fell out from under her, and her body fell slunk onto the floor. She took a deep breath in.
“AAAAHHHH”, Karen tried to shout as she pushed the breath through her ever tightening throat. A sharp bite to her neck, just below her chin brought the reality of her situation crashing back into her mind. Karen could feel the spiders crawling over the skin on the back of her neck, and pushing their way through her thick wavy hair. Karen was not ready to give up! With all her might, she pushed herself back up onto her hands. Pulling the dead weight of her legs behind her, she began clawing her way towards the hallway. Reaching out with her left hand, her palm struck floor, and her nails dug into the hard wood. She could feel her nails shatter as she used them to leverage her body forward. Reaching out with her right hand, her palm struck a mass of spiders. As their bodies crushed beneath her weight, her arm slipped forwards on their exposed guts, and her body pitched forward. This time her head struck the floor with a “Crack”, and her vision flashed red.
Karen’s vision never fully returned. As images returned to view they were clouded in shadow, and the edges of her vision became a tightening tunnel of haze. Her breathing had slowed to a wheeze, which was occasionally accompanied by retching cough that sprayed blood from slackened mouth. Despair washed over Karen’s consciousness. No more than a few minutes had passed from the first bite she had received. In those fleeting moments, Karen had lost everything. She wanted to weep, but the venom from the spiders had reduced her body to a paralyzed state. Karen lay on her right side looking into the hallway outside of her bedroom. She could still see through a half moon slight from her left eye. Her right eye was blocked by a spider that sunk its fangs in to feed; Karen felt no pain, just a pressure on the ball of her eye. Remember Steven’s face, she realized that the spiders preferred to feed from around the eyes.
Karen could not remember the last time she felt a breath pass her lips. Although her body remained paralyzed, internally she writhed in agony as she drowned. The venom had rendered her unable to draw breath. Her core pulsed as she gasped, like a fish out of water.
As Karen’s vision faded to black, she thought she saw movement out in the hall. “No”! The thought flashed through her mind. She tried to yell for Max to stay out, but no sound left her lips. The last thing Karen heard was the yelp of pain her dog emitted. Sensing something was wrong, her Labrador had come to her aid. He was a gift from Steven, and while she hoped he would retreat, she knew he was ever faithful. Karen slipped into a coma imagining a wave of spiders engulf her beloved puppy. A final tear rolled down her cheek and came to rest in the corner of her mouth.
The execution needs some work, but the plotting and premise are decent. The problem here is that it feels like you're trying way too hard to impress your readers with your wordsmithing. This always backfires because it buries the story and almost always leads to incorrect word use, such as you have here.
To get this piece fully on track, let the story be what shines through. Write yourself a plot summary that's two sentences at most. Then, write a story where the events are the focus. You'll find that you don't need to go on for a lengthy paragraph that describes the same crawling sensation two or three times. Your character will be less likely to overreact to what seems like a common bug bite and will save the hysterics when later when they're really warranted. It will just be better for your story overall.
Second, really make sure you know exactly what a word means before you use it. If there is any doubt whatsoever, you must look it up in a dictionary. Words like "emanating" and "writhed" have very specific meanings and uses. It doesn't matter if a word "sounds good." If you don't know what it means, you will use it incorrectly and your story will suffer.
Those are the major things. When you've completed your second draft of this story, there are some cosmetic things you'll want to look out for. First of all, you have capitalized some words that you didn't need to. Capitalization is only necessary for proper nouns and the beginnings of sentences. Secondly, be careful of how many times you repeat Karen's name. Once at the beginning of each paragraph should really be enough since the story is entirely focused on her.
I hope this helps. This has the potential to be a very entertaining story, as long as it's the story that's allowed to shine through. I look forward to seeing your next draft.
I'll be blunt; this isn't scary or creepy or anything of the sort.
You want to come off as a person who uses a higher-than-average register but in the same breath manage to misspell "Handsome". Stick to your own English minus the colloqualism unless it's part of the characterization of your character.
The spiders arent scary because they are just too alien; arachnids are usually solitary. One bite of a venomous spider is enough trouble. Your pack of spiders is somewhat cartoonish and not very scary. It was just too convinient. Having a single super intelligent spider that turns out to hunt humans would be a better take.
A sudden and unexpected surge of pain would've woken Karen the hell up after first bite.
Unless Steven is some 300lb beast man Karen should've been to escape his limp grasp fairly easily. Dramatization at the cost of logic isn't good in realistic situations.
Lastly, the dog bit just felt like cheap shock value that served no purpose but to pull at the readers heart strings
English: I think that you have what I have heard called "Word Processor Writing Syndrome." You spell corrected your work, but you selected words that don't mean anything close to what you want them to. Here is a good example:
As she bolted upright at her waste, her face pressed through a tangle of cobwebs that seemed so thick that they halted her motion.
Waste is the stuff you toss in the trash can. Your waist is the thing between your belly button and hips. They mean totally different things.
Story: Spiders that hunt by webs are pretty stupid. They aren't pack hunters. In Nevada, you would have Black Widows, not Hobo spiders or Brown Recluses. In the United States, no deaths due to black widows have been reported to the American Association of Poison Control Centers since 1983. If you're going with a well defined natural animal as the source of the horror, you need to research it well and be accurate to be credible.
Thank you all so much for reading my story and providing criticism. This is my first attempt at sharing my writing, and I appreciate you taking the time to help me improve both my presentation, and my storytelling. I will make the suggested adjustments!