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Arachnid Convergence in Maplewood Hollow: A Flash Fiction Story

This week's writing prompt is a really fun one. I saw the movie Arachnophobia at a young age (probably too young), and it gave me such intense feelings of excitement and dread. While writing this piece, I kept that movie in the back of my mind. Enjoy!

A natural anomaly brings the country's spiders to a horrified town.


Maplewood Hollow was nestled on the border of Massachusetts and Vermont. A small, rural town with a population of about 2,300 people, it’s often overlooked as another hamlet in the rolling hills of Northern Massachusetts.

Maplewood Hollow small town New England
AI Generated Image of what Maplewood Hollow may look like

I wasn’t a native of the town, so I didn’t quite understand the uniqueness of its culture. It was the first time I ever heard the phrase “townie” to describe a person (or family) who remained rooted in the predictable environment of a village like Maplewood Hollow. While I understand both stagnation and security, two items that would certainly influence the desire to remain in a tedious place such as that, the more conversations I had with the good people of that town, the more I realized they desired to stay closed off.

On the first day of my job as principal at Maplewood Elementary, one of the faculty members sat with me during lunch.

“Owen, this place is quiet. It’s always been quiet,” he said. “We like it that way. An hour's drive to Worcester, away from the big city. I used to live there, you know? But when my wife and I came here, we wanted to settle down."

“I was surprised at the numbers in the school system. Seventy-eight students graduated high school last year?”

“I’m tellin’ ya. This is a small town. But we do right with our education. That’s why we bring on Ivy-leaguers like yourself.”

I felt my face become flush for a moment. I appreciated his recognition of my achievements, though I worked hard to maintain a sense of collaboration with my faculty. Occasionally, I caught wind of some staff members who thought I was difficult to approach, but it was a rare occurrence.

In the summer of 1998, I received a phone call from a former classmate at Brown. He sounded excited and nervous.

“They’re calling it an “Arachnid Convergence.” It’s got something to do with that cluster of asteroids passing by. Get this: they’re emitting a frequency.”

“I’ll take your word for it,” I said. “So what?”

Asteroid outside Earth's atmosphere Flash Fiction
AI generated image of the cosmic anamoly described in the story.

“I’ve got a good reason that frequency acts like a homing beacon. And it’s pointed right outside your cozy new home.”

I stopped in my tracks. This was how I first heard of the Convergence. I hid the information from everyone but my family. We discreetly made preparations to leave the town and head to Worcester. When Councilwoman Emma Blake called everyone to the town square to formally declare an emergency, it was evident that the spiders had already invaded.

A group of townsfolks shouted their disapproval.

“The paths on the river are overrun with webs! We can’t go out walking, and I’m afraid our grandchildren might get stuck in them.”

“It’s an infestation! They’re going to get inside our homes and sleep in our mouths!”

To my surprise, Councilwoman Blake handled the situation with grace. At her side, a stoic-looking fellow with silver hair stood patiently. He introduced himself as Henry Dawson, a lead scientist from the Office of Environmental Protection. He informed the crowd of the ongoings at the federal level and made constant reassurances that the infestation would be harmless.

“I can promise you they are not interested in getting inside our homes or businesses. We plan to contain them, study the phenomenon, and assist them as they migrate back to their homes once it is over.”

“Just how many spiders are we talking about here?”

The question seemed to stun the otherwise surefooted man. His face scrunched, and he clasped his hands behind his back.

“Over the next seven days, we are expecting hundreds of trillions of spiders. Somewhere in the number 350 trillion.”

A chorus of gasps echoed through the crowd. Some men with rifles slung on their backs couldn’t contain their befuddlement, their eyes wide with surprise.

“This is fucking crazy.” One man said as he grabbed his wife's hand and stormed off the green.

“Folks, as Mr. Dawson said, there is no reason to fear this gradual buildup of insects. We expect to go about our daily lives with some unforeseen limitations.”

“You’re talking about our rights? They’re going to take away our rights.”

“I can promise you it will be nothing like that. We are just asking that everyone stay away from large build-ups of insects on walking trails. For the time being, Lake Haven and Summer Beach are closed.”

AI generated image of a lake house during the Fall
AI generated image of what what Lake Haven and Maplewood Hollow might look like during Autumn.

Another collective groan.

“It’s the middle of the damn summer!”

And it was early in the summer. Some days would dip low into the 50s overnight, allowing a crisp breeze to pull through our stuffy home. The first night I woke up in our new home of Lake Haven, it felt as surreal as the dream we had that got us there. I stretched my limbs and had a hot coffee on the balcony overlooking the massive body of fresh water. It was a quiet Autumn morning. We finally felt settled. The Convergence was about to change all of that.

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