The Swamp Spiders

📅 Published on August 24, 2021

“The Swamp Spiders”

Written by Kitty “The Odd Cat Lady” Olsen
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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It would just be for the summer, they said. Just until they ‘worked some things out’, they said.

As the TV screen turned to static again, Eli was starting to think that summer might as well be forever.

“Grandma! The TV’s broken again!”

Eli heard the clacking of Grandma’s walker as the elderly woman slowly plodded into the room. She tutted her tongue before making her way over there. One of her wrinkled hands made a fist and she proceeded to punch the top of the TV. The screen mostly cleared up and the old woman looked over with a smug smile like ‘see?’

“That’s how it fixes,” Grandma said in her shaky old voice before she and her walker meandered back to her bedroom.

Eli sighed as he flopped back on the couch. Grandma’s house didn’t even have internet, much less Netflix. The TV was so old that Eli was pretty sure Grandma got it when his mom was born, so it would keep fuzzing up. Somehow Eli’s punches weren’t enough to fix it, maybe he was hitting it in the wrong area, or his tiny, hundred pounds soaking wet Grandma was stronger than she looked. And all there was to watch were a dozen or so Disney video tapes. Not even any DVDs.

Going outside wasn’t much better. The nearest neighbors were this couple who had cornfields stretching out as far as Eli could see. The first few times it was fun running around the cornfields, but now it was just boring, boring, boring. No other kids to play with. No parks where he could run around. There was just no one to hang out with.

“Eli, can we watch Frozen now?”

Other than his little brother Oscar. But Oscar was seven. And Oscar was annoying.

Eli glared down at the floor, where Oscar had managed to find a clean page in a wrinkled coloring book and was currently scrawling with his red crayon over the page. “Oscar. Do any of those tapes have Frozen on them?” he asked.

Oscar looked back down at his coloring book. “No…”

“Then no, we can’t watch Frozen. Obviously.”

This had to be the eighteenth time he’d asked that in a month. He’d also asked for Moana, and Cars, and Incredibles… his brother had to be stupid. There was no way he’d already forgotten that the only movies they could watch were in that pile of VHS. There wasn’t even many Disney movies. The only two were Bambi, which was boring, and Lion King, which they’d already watched like six times since they were dropped off here with two suitcases and their mom kissing their heads, with that stupid promise that they’d be back soon.

So far, it was looking like another promise she’d forget. Soon meant a few weeks. Not two months. What was he going to do when it was school anyway? Grandma couldn’t drive, and he’d need internet to do his homework. Plus, he didn’t want to go to school here. School here was probably as stupid as everything else.

The TV went to static again and Eli groaned. “Fuck this TV,” he grumbled quietly.

Not quiet enough, clearly, as Oscar’s head snapped up and he gasped. “Eli! Grandma said don’t say that word!” He said.

“Well, fuck grandma.”

“Eli! I’ll tell!”

“Fuck you too.”

This was enough to upset Oscar, since he tore out of the room sobbing and calling for Grandma. Eli grumbled even more of his dad’s favorite curse words before he got up and stormed out of the house, slamming the screen door behind him. He wasn’t going to stick around another of his grandma’s broken English scoldings. Just slap him and get over it.

Eli veered away from the cornfields and started for the trees. No doubt Oscar would go looking for him the cornfields. There wasn’t much of the woods he was allowed to explore, but he could at least get deep enough to throw his brother off.

It was only a minute of tripping over brambles until he reached the edge of the woods, the edge that backed up to the swamp.

Grandma didn’t set down many ground rules, other than ‘don’t break things’ and ‘clean your plate’. But there was one rule she was very determined that Eli understood-

“Stay out of swamp! There are spiders!”

She said this with such determination that Eli nearly flinched, expecting a whack to the back of the head to make sure it sunk in. But she hadn’t hit him, at least, not yet.

Eli plopped down on the ground and stared into the swamp. Spiders though? There wasn’t any super deadly spiders around here, he knew that. He actually kinda liked spiders, they weren’t all that scary. Daddy Long Legs (which weren’t REALLY spiders but close enough) lived under his old bed, at his house. Maybe wherever his grandmother came from had a poisonous spider species, but that was no big deal here. So clearly, Grandma was overreacting, but it still felt like there was an invisible fence that prevented Eli from taking a single step into the swamp.

A yellow garden spider was currently chilling in the weeds next to him, and Eli watched as it repaired its web, spinning silk into that classic spider design. Maybe his grandma was arachnophobic. She was just scared of all spiders. But how could a spider be scary? That was something that never made sense to Eli.

“I bet it’s a lot funner to be a spider than be a kid stuck here,” Eli thought aloud. The spider didn’t respond, but it wasn’t like Eli expected it to.


Eli cringed as he saw his brother crashing through the underbrush. “I’m right here, stop yelling- and slow down, you’ll step on the spider,” he said as he got up.


Now Oscar was definitely arachnophobic. Eli snickered as he saw his little brother jumping up and down, swatting at his arms and looking like he was about to cry. “You’re such a baby. Let’s go back to Grandma’s,” he said as he strode away from the garden spider and the edge of the swamp.

“Grandma said you aren’t supposed to go in the swamp,” Oscar said in it his know it all voice once Eli was caught up to him.

“Well, fu-”

“Don’t say that!”

Eli huffed. “Well, I wasn’t in the swamp, so if you tell Grandma that I was, you’re a liar.”

Oscar pouted, but at least he stopped trying to act all bratty. All he did since they got here was whine and complain about everything. He missed mom. He missed their dog Buster. Eli wasn’t allowed to do this, or say that. He wanted to watch a movie they clearly didn’t have. If their dad was there, Oscar would get whacked real good for being such a lil shit.

Then again, the ‘whackings’ is what got them sent here in the first place.

Grandma was serving some sort of disgusting meat loaf onto plates at the dinner table when Eli and Oscar got back to the house. Oscar wrinkled his nose at the sight. “Grandma, that’s gross!” he proclaimed.

“Good for you,” she said as she spooned out some green beans as well.

Grossest vegetable, green beans. But Grandma always said clean your plate, so Eli plopped down in his chair and begrudgingly began to eat. The loaf was as tasteless and chewy as it looked, but Eli just grabbed the ketchup bottle and drowned it in the ketchup. He’d do the same to the green beans, but that just made that intolerable vegetable even worse.

Oscar’s bottom lip trembled as he looked at his plate. “I don’t want it,” he said.

Grandma sighed. “Eat two bites. I’ll make sandwich,” she said as she got up from her chair.

See, if Eli pulled that, he’d just get told to suck it up. Well, maybe not in such rude terms, but he was too old to whine and complain for a sandwich. But kicking up a fuss about it didn’t work either, so Eli just kept the ketchup bottle right next to his plate.

After dinner Eli headed to his room, wanting to be alone, but Oscar was right on his heels.

“Can we play-”


Oscar scowled. “I’ll tell Grandma you were going into the swamp!” He snapped.

That swamp. Eli curled his lip. “Maybe I will go next time, since you’re such a baby and scared of spiders!” he said.

Oscar puffed his chest out, trying to look bigger than he really was. “I’m not scared !”

“Sure. Leave me alone, or else I’ll go into the swamp and get some of those spiders and I’ll put ‘em in your bed.”

That threat was taken seriously, as Oscar bolted into the living room to join Grandma in watching her game shows- after dinner, Grandma had control over the TV, and the one channel she got had all the old trivia and guessing shows on it. Eli couldn’t care less about those stupid shows, so he slammed the door to his bedroom and flopped down on his bed.

That was an idea though, wasn’t it? Go out to the swamp, have some time for himself. Sure, he’d be bored, but at least he’d be alone. Grandma couldn’t get out that far on her walker and Oscar was too scared. And who knows, maybe Eli would find something cool. Like animal bones or a species of spider he’d never seen before.

That was settled then. Tomorrow he’d go out to the swamp and check it out. Free from grandmas and whiny baby brothers.

The next morning was fine enough. Eli ate his mostly cooked pancakes, Oscar found another stash of untouched coloring books in the attic so he was content to let Eli control the TV, and one of Grandma’s neighbors brought over some of their old video tapes so Eli finally got some different movies to watch.

But Eli knew sooner or later Oscar would get bored, and he’d be stuck with his obnoxious little brother hanging off his arm. So that afternoon he waited for Oscar to go to the bathroom before he made a break for it. He didn’t even tell Grandma he was going out, she was probably napping right now anyway.

Eli tromped through the woods, courageous until he reached the edge of the swamp. He almost took a step into it when he froze. The hair on his neck prickled and he told himself to move his foot again, but he just couldn’t make himself do it. All that previous bravado had vanished, his grandmother’s warning repeating itself again and again in his head-

“Stay out of swamp! There are spiders!”


He took a step back and away from the swamp, almost ready to turn and go back to the house. What would be so interesting in a gross old swamp anyway?


“Eli! Eli, are you here?!”


Well, Eli knew what wasn’t in that swamp.


Little brothers, no doubt wanting to ask about another movie they didn’t have or to play some stupid game with him.


Before Eli could doubt himself any longer, he bolted into the swamp, away from Oscar calling for him. The soil under his feet went from firm to soft, each footstep sinking into the earth just a little bit. Pools of water and weeds that went up to his shoulders surrounded him, and in a minute that was all that was around. Any trees that were around were short and scrawny, more like bushes than trees. Several had toppled over, their roots still deep in the mushy ground but snapped or cracked in the trunks. Eli could hear the croaking of bullfrogs and something flopping around in the water.

And much to his surprise, there wasn’t a single damn spider in sight.

Eli laughed with relief. So his grandma was just nuts! Sure, he was a bit disappointed he wouldn’t find any spiders back here, but at least this place wasn’t infested with black widows or something!


Now he could really explore. The boy took off with a whoop, nearly throwing himself into one of the murky ponds in his excitement. He only caught himself at the last second, giggling up a storm before he took off deeper into the swamp.


Maybe it was the forbidden part of it all, but the swamp was far more interesting than the cornfields or the backyard. That, and there was no Oscar. No one back here at all, not even a house in sight. Eli threw himself to his knees to get a better look at the shallow pools of water. They seemed extra full, Eli imagined it was from the rain a few days ago. Not much was inside of them, save for a few tadpoles and water skeeters zipping around the surface. But it was fun to try and scoop a few of them up. He got close to grabbing a tadpole once or twice but he never actually managed to get one in his hand.


No doubt it was the tadpole catching that sucked away the afternoon. His growling stomach dragged him back into reality, the sky was dimming and the skyline was starting to turn orange.

Eli got back up to his feet, doing his best to brush the mud off of his jeans. There was nothing to do about his shoes, they were soaked through. Grandma wasn’t stupid, she’d know where he’d been. But it didn’t matter. She was a crazy old lady who only came into his life because his Dad sent him and Oscar to school with a black eye apiece. No amount of excuses could hide the truth this time, this time, they knew what had happened.

Eli was about halfway back when he heard Oscar yelling his name.


Eli ground his teeth as he made sure to drag his feet as he headed towards Oscar’s voice. It wasn’t too hard to find him, he was screaming himself hoarse.

“Calm down, you baby, I’m fine. What’s for dinner?” Eli asked as he walked up to Oscar.

Oscar immediately threw himself at Eli, tightly wrapping his arms around his older brother. “Eli, I’ve been looking for you forever! Why are you back here!? Grandma’s so scared!” He sobbed.

“Get! Off!” All that earlier anger and frustration exploded at that moment and Eli shoved Oscar off right into one of those muddy pools of water. “You’re so annoying! I went in here to get away from you!”

Oscar looked up, his eyes all puffy and red from crying and his face now splattered with mud. His bottom lip trembled and a tear rolled down his cheek. He looked so pathetic, sitting in that puddle with mosquitoes starting to swarm over his head.

Something clenched in Eli’s chest, something he didn’t like. He turned away from Oscar. “Let’s just go back to Grandma’s,” he growled. “Hurry and get up-”


Oh for fuck’s sake. “There’s no spiders out here, you stupid…” Eli turned back to his brother and his voice caught in his throat as he saw that his brother’s face had gone white as a sheet and he was pointing right behind Eli. The hair on Eli’s neck stood up as he heard the squelching of mud and a crack that could be compared to someone standing on a branch. He slowly turned around.

In the dark, it was so much easier to see the swamp for what it was. Broken branches became legs, patches of grass and weeds became a round body, sticky mud and water became webbing. A piece of the ground stood up on those broken branch legs and made a watery hiss.


Eli couldn’t move. He couldn’t breathe. He just watched as the ‘spider’ walked towards him, hissing again as each step sounding like a crack.


Oscar’s hand roughly grabbed Eli’s and pulled him so hard it nearly took him off balance, but it was what Eli needed to snap out of it. A warbling scream ripped its way out of his throat as the pair of boys took off into the swamp, running away from the spider that was now chasing the both of them.

“We gotta hurry, Eli! Hurry!” Oscar’s fingernails dug sharply into Eli’s wrist. “Where’s Grandma’s!?”

“I-!” Eli whipped his head around, trying to see something familiar, but the sun seemed to set in the blink of an eye, he couldn’t see anything familiar now. “I don’t know! Just keep going!”

What the hell was that thing!? The swamp that had seemed so relaxed and fun in the daylight was now a maze of terror. Every few steps Eli was tripping over a branch or sticking his foot in a mud puddle. Around the third puddle he lost a shoe, the mud sucked it into the ground and he just ended up yanking his foot out of it rather than stick around and become swamp spider lunch. His sock covered foot was quickly soaked in icy water, his toes going numb but he continued to run.

He knew he was doomed when his sock caught on another broken branch and pulled his leg out from under him. He faceplanted hard into the ground, mud getting into his mouth and eyes. He levered himself up best he could and opened the one eye that didn’t have dirt in it. Oscar had frozen in front of Eli, his little brother gasping for breath.

“Oscar! Go! Keep going!” Eli could hear the swamp spider behind him getting closer, each crackling step louder and spelling his doom. It was all his fault anyway, maybe Oscar could get back to Grandma’s if the spider was distracted by snacking on Eli.

Oscar stepped back, nearly tripping over his own feet, his eyes so wide with fear they looked ready to pop out of his head. A branch like leg stepped on the back of Eli’s leg and he closed his eyes, hoping the spider had venom or something to make it quick.


Eli heard something squall and he reopened his eyes to see Oscar beating the swamp spider away with a stick. He’d never seen his little brother so enraged, wildly swinging the branch around and sending the spider scuttling back. Eli scrambled to his feet and limped away, hope entering his chest. He was never going to refuse to play with Oscar again, not ever! They were going to run away from this stupid spider and get back to Grandma’s, where they’d watch whatever movies Oscar wanted and play games and-

Oscar’s blood curdling scream filled the air and Eli spun around to see that the spider had lunged, its twig like mandibles burying themselves in Oscar’s leg. Oscar dropped the branch and tried to shove the spider off, his mouth still twisted in that horrible scream.

Something snapped in Eli’s mind and he lunged at the spider, stomping both of his legs into its earth back. He knew he was cussing, he knew he was screaming, but it didn’t matter. He didn’t get off the spider until it finally released Oscar.

Oscar dropped to the ground, far too still and pale for this to be any good. Eli jumped off the spider and scooped his brother up, running in a direction and praying it was the right one. God finally chose to be kind as Eli spotted the trees of the forest. He could hear the cracking of the spider’s legs behind him but he didn’t stop until they burst past the treeline. Eli dropped then, gasping for breath and clutching his brother to his chest.

Finally, when Eli caught his breath, he sat up to look at Oscar.

Oscar’s eyes were closed, and even though it was dark Eli could see his leg was a bloody, mud coated mess. Eli whimpered and gave Oscar’s shoulder a shake. “Oscar? Are… are you okay?”

Slowly, Oscar’s eyes fluttered open. There was something wrong about them, but Eli couldn’t put his finger on what was wrong.

“Eli… I feel different.”

Eli swallowed as Oscar pulled his injured leg to his chest. “Oscar? We need to go back to Grandma’s. She can make it all better-”

“No. She can’t. There’s no better.”

Oscar shuddered. “Just… stay here okay? Until it’s over. Please?”

Eli scooted closer to Oscar and pulled his little brother into his lap. He was so cold to the touch, his body twitching in strange ways. “I can stay, I can stay as long as you like, Oscar. I’m sorry… I’m sorry from hiding from you. I’m so sorry.”

“I know you didn’t mean it. You miss home too.”

Oscar’s stiff fingers brushed against Eli’s face, a sleepy smile playing across his face.

“I love you, Eli.”

Eli stared down at Oscar, realizing all at once what was wrong- Oscar’s eyes were black now. Pure black. Other black speckles that he’d originally thought was mud wasn’t mud, it was more eyes. Just like a spider’s.

It took the entire night for the transformation to be over. Eli got so cold he hurt and his stomach was hollow, but he wasn’t going to leave Oscar like this. His brother’s face contorted and sprouted grass, along with a dozen more eyes and twig like mandibles from the corner of his mouth. His t-shirt tore off when new arms sprouted out, arms with a bark like texture and claws at the end. He shrunk, he grew, and by the time it was bright outside, Eli was cuddled up to a piece of swamp.

The swamp spider in his lap purred and rubbed its head against Eli’s fingers before it finally got off of Eli, ambling its way into the swamp. Eli nearly jumped out of his skin as he realized that the spider that had likely attacked them earlier had been waiting in the swamp the entire night. Oscar chirped at the larger spider, who chirped back. The larger spider ambled off into the swamp, with Oscar trotting after it.

And then it was just a swamp, a swamp with strangely broken trees and tall patches of grass.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Kitty “The Odd Cat Lady” Olsen
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Kitty “The Odd Cat Lady” Olsen

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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