‘Each of us live in shadow, a darkness created and fed by our own inability to perform the simplest of kindnesses to one another. It is a cold and murky gloom, perpetuated by our greed and our own fundamental wickedness. An icy tomb we build if not by design, then by indifference. There within we think to shield ourselves from the rest of the world, safe and secure. We come to accept the darkness we create as inherent, and pull it close as if it might conceal us from that which we do not recognize until the end. Too late realizing it is ourselves we try to hide from in the dark, and belatedly we see, there is no escape.’
Usher looked up from his writing. He’d read that all great men kept a journal; therefore he started one. Every thought, every idea, was written in the small red book.
A record of my genius for future generations.
He jumped up from the kitchen table that served as his writing area, and crossed the floor to the dirty brown sofa. Stretching his long frame across it, he cupped his hands behind his head. He gazed at the spider that had weaved its web in the corner above where he lay.
The studio apartment was as dark as a burrow, the shades drawn tight to ward any light entering. He hated the sun, preferring the nocturnal bliss of the cool evenings.
Much like the spider.
He thought of the spider often since he first spotted it last week. He felt a kinship with it. He admired spiders, for they neither asked for anything, nor cared for anyone. They rid the world of unwanted pests, yet were hated for it. People abhorred them, killing them on sight yet; the spider caught and ate the vermin of the insect world. Flies, ants, termites and anything else it snared in its web. The spider rid people of these pests, but rather than recognize the service they performed, they were detested. A spider could not survive in an area where there were no pests. Therefore, Usher reasoned, the spider was created for no other purpose than to rid the world of vermin.
The spider moved one of its legs as it sat in its web patiently waiting for a victim. Usher moved his own leg as he waited for nightfall.
Usher glanced to the window and stood, creeping across the room, he flicked on the television as he passed it. He cared little for the syndicated nonsense others found so enjoyable, but he did listen to the news. It was filled with all the reasons for his existence.
He pulled the shade back, looking to the dirty urban streets below. It was almost dark, and he would be able to leave the apartment soon. He watched the pedestrians as they scurried on the sidewalk below his window.
He listened to the droning voice of the news commentator on the television behind him, reporting yet another gang shooting. Another baby killed by its crack-head mother. Another teenage shooting of classmates. War, greed, subjugation.
“We live in a necrotic society my small friend,” he turned from the window to gaze once again at the spider. “Too busy with its own destruction to realize that spiders walk amongst us for a reason. The very society that detests them also creates them.”
To rid the world of vermin.
Usher turned back to the window and raised his eyes to the sky as the last of the light vanished into the horizon. He released the shade and turned the television off. Glancing again in the direction of the spider, he crossed the room to his writing table and gathered his weapons.
Vermin exist everywhere, as do spiders. The night called to him and Usher answered.
With a last look at the spider in the corner, he donned his jacket and slipped from the apartment.