Mia was crying.
The sound cut through the heavy silence in the house. It swept across the hall, down the stairs, and into the livingroom where I was watching one of the eight channels available on our grandparents' television. It was our first night in our grandparents' farmhouse, and mom, grandma and grandpa had gone to the bingo hall. We were alone, and Mia was crying.
"Mia?" I said uncertainly.
Little sobs answered me. Nothing else but the small sounds that shouldn't have been able to carry through the house way they did.
I left the sofa and crept down the hall that led to the stairs.
"Are you okay?"
The already-weak yellow light illuminating the hallway dimmed. The lights in the living room behind me sputtered out and died.
There was a noise so soft, at first I wasn't sure I had even heard it. A small scritch scritch scritch, as though something was skittering in the walls. I stopped moving. The noise grew stronger, getting louder and faster and closer.
"Hello?" I said.
Then I saw the spiders. Hundreds of hairy, black, fist-sized spiders spilled from the upstairs hall, crawling into the stairway along the walls, floor, and ceiling.
"Mia!" I yelled. The spiders skittered towards me.
I backed out of the hallway and then ran into the kitchen.
"Mia!" I shouted again. "Not funny!"
I don't think she heard me. The spiders followed me into the kitchen. They crawled up chair legs and onto the table and all over the porcelain antiques our grandmother kept on the shelves. I ran to the counters and looked in the cabinet under the sink, where my grandparents kept the bug spray. A fat brown spider the size of my open palm was crouched defensively on the top of the canister. It watched me with eyes far too big for a normal spider.
I looked around until I found a large wooden spoon grandma probably wouldn't miss from one of the drawers. Then I went back and poked the spider off the can. It hissed at me and crawled into the shadows. I didn't waste time wondering if real spiders could actually hiss and grabbed the can.
Spiders were still surging into the kitchen. They carpeted half the room, coating the walls, floor, and ceiling.
There was a big window behind me. I could run outside and hope they all cleared up before my mother and grandparents came home.
But Mia was crying.
My grandfather's boots were in the corner by the fridge. I put them on before the spiders could get my bare feet. Boots that would be long on an adult went a little over my knees.
I charged through the hall, spraying the bug spray all around and stomping on as many of the spiders I could as I went. I ran up the stairs. When the can of spray ran out, I started smacking them with the spoon. Dead and dying spiders fell from the walls, but not the ceiling, since I'd made sure just to spray the ones down below. I didn't want any spiders to fall on me.
The wave of spiders was thicker on the top of the stairs. I sloshed through them and hoped none of them would climb into the boots. Another big spider, this one the size of a frisbee, sat squarely in the middle of Mia's door. It clicked and hissed and wiggled its fangs at me. I hit it with the spoon and it backed itself up to the ceiling, hissing all the while.
I opened the door.
There were no spiders in Mia's room. Spiders that had gotten onto me fell off and ran outside as soon as I stepped inside. Mia was in her bed, under the covers. I could see her shaking through them.
"Mia?" I said, going over. I lifted the covers and found her face. She was still red and streaked from crying. "You okay?"
"I had a bad dream," she said.
"I know." I sat down next to her. "Spiders, right?"
She sniffed and nodded.
"Well don't worry. I scared them all away."
I held up the spoon. "They run away when they see this coming. They know I'll get them good if they don't."
She bought it. She always believes me when I say things. She sniffed and smiled and said, "Thanks," and curled up under the covers again.
"Night, Mia," I said, going to the door. "You remember: I got this," I wiggled the spoon, "and they don't stand a chance."
I stepped out into the hallway. It was clean and quiet. Even the lights were back on. There weren't any spiders, dead or alive, left in the house.
I went downstairs to watch TV.