He could see his mother. Her hungry face, covered in fluids. Vomit. Blood. Pus. He saw her sink her teeth into his sister’s flesh. He struggled, and a binding broke. Daisuke could move a single leg. He struggled again and used it to leverage another leg free, then a third.
After enough struggling, five of his legs were free, and he snapped the webbing holding him up. Toumei ran for his life.
After seconds that seemed like an eternity, he could hear his mother’s screeching. “I’m still hungry! I can’t stop it!”
He panicked, tripping over a rock. Not a single sound left the forest, nor did a single whimper or cry reach any animal. There was nothing in his mother’s lair.
“Fuck,” said Daisuke, picking himself up and running again. He knew that he was going to be next. He was the only one who was left.
The trees were a bit denser as he pressed on, his mother gaining speed as she thundered through the forest like a wave. He needed help, he needed something, something that would save him. Daisuke looked up and saw the canopy. I could climb up to there, he thought.
Aoi was behind him, her face still covered in her children. Daisuke’s siblings. The sisters and brothers he failed to protect.
“I think we should leave,” said Hanako. Daisuke had to admit that she was right; it’s been a week and their mother was looking ill. She hadn’t eaten in days.
“Sister,” said Daisuke with a soothing tone. “It’s all okay, we are just making sure mom is okay. We will leave soon, I just want her to be okay.”
“But there is barely any food anywh-”
“I promise you,” Daisuke put one of his legs to his sister’s mouth. “We’ll go together. You, me, Toshiro… everyone.”
Hanako paused, not speaking for what seemed like an eternity. Then she spoke. “Okay.”
Daisuke reached the top of the canopy, glancing down to see Aoi behind him. He jumped from one tree to the other, nearly falling as a crashing sound occurred from below as branches tore away. Aoi was right behind him.
“I’M STARVING, I HAVEN’T EATEN IN DAYS!”
Daisuke climbed along the canopy. He had to live. For Hanako. For everyone.
Aoi rumbled through the canopy behind Daisuke, knocking branches and what not into the ground below. She was catching up.
Daisuke continued to scramble through the canopy, approaching a thick line of branches. There was a small opening, a hint of webbing surrounding it. It must have been made by one of his brethren. He had no choice; Daisuke crawled into the space, hoping it was a tunnel.
“Dammit,” he said to himself. His abdomen was too large. “Fuck!”
Aoi was right behind him. She stopped moving. Daisuke knew what was coming.
A pain shot through his heart as his own mother’s fangs sunk through his abdomen. I don’t want to die, he thought. I don’t want to die, not like this. Tears welled up as the pain pulsed through him. Another stab to his abdomen, this time dragging Daisuke as his mother pulled him out of the tunnel, away from safety.
“I must eat! I’m so hungry I must eat, I’m sorry!”
“Dai?” asked Hanako.
“It’s been a month. She’s been getting worse and she’s started talking in her sleep. Most of the family is gone.”
“I know. We’ll leave tomorrow.” said Daisuke, comforting his sister.
Daisuke struggled to crawl away, pain throbbing through him, venom dripping from the hole in his back.
He struggled to speak. “I… don’t want…”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry but I’m starving and you look so good!”
Aoi was crying. She was crying as she ate her own child alive. Crying as she stuck her fangs into his back, chewing on the remains of his abdomen. Crying as she crunched his chitinous shell between her jaws, pneumatic fluid and silk proteins spraying everywhere.
Everything suddenly turned to an abrupt darkness. Daisuke was floating within the void, or what could only be approximated as ‘floating’ by Daisuke himself.
“I don’t want to die, not now,”
Daisuke struggled to look where the voice came from. Was that from behind me? he guessed.
“Not like this, not like this,”
Another voice, quiet, closer. He could nearly tell whom the voice belonged to, it was so familiar.
“Let the bitch starve then, she fucking ate them all!”
The voice was Daisuke himself.
His body erupted in pain and white, and he woke up from his unconsciousness. His mother, dead. The trees, decayed. Himself, healed. The branches couldn’t take his weight and he fell to the earth.
“Awake, Kumo?” asked Bloodwitch, smiling.
Kumo took a cursory glance then began to move his legs, testing the fluids which gave him locomotion.
“I am now,” he said, raising his body slowly from the ground.
“You talk in your sleep too often, Kumo.”
“Well I have an excuse to do so, really.” replied Kumo, pointing a leg at Trauma, who was sleeping soundly. He began to walk towards the door.
“Where is the boss?” he asked Bloodwitch.
She only smiled. “Don’t know where she is, but she’s hanging with the others, Kumo. Funny how they don’t seem to trust us three as much as the others,” she said, gesturing to the three inhabitants of the abandoned living room.
“To be fair,” retorted Kumo, “Trauma joined us way too easily.”
“Her powers have heavy influence over her.”
“How’d you figure?” asked Kumo in a quizzical tone.
“I could feel it in her blood.” said Bloodwitch, pricking her own index finger with a needle. Kumo watched as the blood slowly moulded into a shape that resembled Bloodwitch in her costume, and then slowly and visibly congealed to a solid mass. Bloodwitch broke off the blood sculpture and placed it on the couch where Trauma lay sleeping soundly.
“That is always creepy,” remarked Kumo.
He turned to leave for good.
“It doesn’t matter how many times you ask, he’ll never take those memories away,” muttered Bloodwitch, looking down on the sleeping trauma.
Kumo couldn’t tell who that advice was truly for.