Parts of the following blog are fictional accounts.
I’m always the first one back from breakfast, so the dorms are quiet and still. Halfway down the hallway, a drawing of a cartoon spider flutters to my feet from it’s position on the wall. It was an omen, I swear it was. There was a spider in the dorm’s cutlery drawer when I was looking for spoon to make hot chocolate with.
The girls went to bed that night feeling weary but quite hopeless. We all knew that the relentless torture would not ease up yet. “Third time’s the charm,” they say.
3am and the all-too familiar sound fills the dorm. I laid awake in bed for 20 seconds or so, contemplating just staying in my room and facing the consequences.
Apparently, I wasn’t the only one with that thought, as I was the first person out of the dorm. The other humans took their time coming out because they knew that there was no fire and no danger.
We’re all tired. We’re all bickering.
No sign of our 8-legged friends anywhere, so I felt internally relieved. The other girls felt hopelessly exhausted and didn’t have as much knowledge as I do.
All was quiet that night. Not a peep, not a ring, not a twitch.
6:40am and I’m brushing my teeth, eyes still closed and dozing off in the silence. A friend screams and points to the wall – a large brown recluse, crouching and staring at me from the mirror. I bring him outside and try to calm my beating heart, now definitely awake.
There’s the cartoon spider at my feet again. I had stuck it back onto the wall on Tuesday, and today… Well, there it is.
9pm Thursday. I’m prepared for their final attack.
5am and I was woken by the smell of smoke. It was faint enough that the fire alarms didn’t go off.
There were about (aw heck no) a dozen spiders on my floor.
They all ran under the crack of my door and I followed them out into the hallway and out of the dorm. It was hot outside. Like, fiery hot. Actually, there was a huuuge fire outside the dorm that singed the edges of my tie-dye shirt and curled the ends of my braided hair.
The fire alarm finally went off but the dorm didn’t jump like it usually did.
Everyone was sick of the fire alarm. Every single one of them stayed in their beds and covered their ears and groaned. Nobody was awake enough to smell the smoke or to even bother to check the hallways, where smoke was coating the ceilings.
The dorm dogs ran outside silently, followed by a cat and several hundred more insects of all shapes and sizes.
I thought I was dreaming, which is why I only laughed and waved at the dorm.
11pm (on Saturday) and I’m piling wet clothes into the drying machine. A few socks fall to the ground and I feel an ominous tingle touch my spine while reaching for them. In the gap between two machines is one of the largest spiders I’ve ever seen in my life, about an inch long with legs. Now, I’m not afraid of spiders, but I could’ve sworn that this one was looking right at me.
That night (or morning), all was well until 3am. Alarms blared and the whole dorm seemed to shake as 40 girls fell out of bed. The fire alarm had been triggered, and the standard protocol was to all file outside into our circular driveway.
I was in such a rush that I forgot my shoes and glasses, which normally wouldn’t be a problem. It was dark out and the little moonlight we had were shadowed by the bodies of stumbling girls. Twice I nearly fell down the stairs.
The real kicker? There was no fire. And we all knew it.
While making tea that morning, a (rather normal sized) spider scuttled across my feet and made its way out the door. Spiders are very normal occurrences around the girl’s dorm, but most of them actively avoid humans. So this was a very, very odd thing to experience early in the morning.
Everybody went to bed that night as usual, not suspecting a repeat of the night before.
5am came around and the same shrill sirens went off, startling the dorm and ejecting the girls into the cold. I remembered my shoes this time, but it was still cold, dark, and disorienting. 5am was an odd time for us to wake up, as most girls wake at 6:30 anyways. I considered staying up, but I couldn’t keep my eyes open long enough to decide.
One of the least appreciated rooms at our camp was the Creepy Crawly Room, located on the second floor of the barn and requires a few twists and turns down an eerie hallway to reach.
As the name states, creepy crawlies reside in the Creepy Crawly Room. Creepy crawlies include tarantulas, cockroaches, frogs, newts, and scorpions.
Many times a week my friends and I would try our luck and see if there was a counselor monitoring the Creepy Crawly Room. Perhaps one out of five visits would be successful, the other times we would leave disappointed and roam the habitats and jungle instead.
On the days where there was a counselor we were allowed to hold the roaches, tarantulas, etc. Most of my friends would cower at the entrance of the room but I would always head straight to the cockroach habitat.
These weren’t your average pest cockroaches. They were tamer, you could say, and I could easily just reach into the glass tank and pull out a roach. People called me weird but man they were cute.
My best friend loves tarantulas, so he would always go for the little tarantula enclosures first. You couldn’t play with cockroaches or tarantulas, but there was a strange charm in simply holding an arthropod in your hand and watching them move. “They’re scary!” people would shriek, “they have fangs and poison!”
Well, dogs could easily rip a person’s throat out, yet they aren’t avoided as avidly. We fear the unknown, and most people have no experience with arthropods. Let a scorpion sit on your hand for a minute and you’ll realize they really have no intention to harm anyone.
A few weeks ago a tarantula was found in our school’s courtyard. My brother and I immediately went to investigate and put him in a safer spot away from screaming girls and stomping feet. “Do you think it was the way you two were raised?” inquires a teacher, fascinated by our lack of fear. “No,” I reply, “definitely not.
(This is Joey)
I ended up going back and taking the tarantula with me to class. I named him Joey and then released him later that day upon learning that he only had a few more weeks to live. Male tarantulas live much shorter lives than females do.
I hope people will appreciate, or at least not fear, creatures like tarantulas and scorpions, because they really mean us no harm.