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spider's nest
by Myra Çakan

translated from the German by Jim Young

part 2


He looked for Ant for so long that he forgot who he was looking for, and why. Then he went hunting for Geigercounter and Sandoz and finally found them in the house with the cracked windows. They were both leaning over a dusty plexiglas plate with their glass pipe and the magic blue crystal spread out before them. Yeah, it was magic, all right. Spider was so cold turkey he would've done anything that came along in order to get the little bunnies out of his head.

Looking at the two of them getting stoned — Sandoz inhaling the smoke from Geiger's mouth, her neon-silver hair mingled with the smoke — made him feel like an intruder.

It made him feel as if he was doing something new and wild, like that morning when he felt Sandoz looking at him and he wondered what she'd look like without her shirt on. In the dark. With him.

And now, in the blink of an eye, his fantasy had become reality. It was already night, and the moon cast strange shadows across Sandoz's naked back. And he saw Sandoz, and what she was doing leaning over Geigercounter, and the way she moved. Without realizing what he was doing, Spider put his hand down his jeans and stroked himself with the same rhythm. Different from Silver Spider, but it got him off.

Sandoz tossed back her head. Spider tried to look her directly in the eyes. Her pupils had become a gate into a sweet, forbidden world. That was when he realized she was looking straight through his brain. She knew what he was thinking. He turned around and ran until he collapsed gasping for air. Spider heard his breath wheeze deep inside his chest, and he closed his eyes so he could hear it better. There was only an echo — Sandoz had disappeared from inside his head.

The Silver Spider was different. She was always there inside his head, just like the thought of his next fix. Yeah, man — she was the only real shit. Every night she was there for him. And she knew what he needed, everything. All he needed to do was to hang with her, in her net.

As soon as he reached interface, Spider recalled what it had been like that first time — and would be the next — when he'd discovered her in one of the Unternets that had dissolved after the big crash. Unlike everything else, it had only gotten better since the first time. He knew how she pulled him in, stuck her silver probes into him in a deliciously painful ecstasy that he never wanted to stop. All he noticed was how his body wound up tight like a wire coil and how his hips jerked. It was holy robot night, better than any shit, man.

The sun was shining harshly once more, and out of its light appeared the Silver Surfer. His hair was punked out like a shark's fin, cutting though the air. Spider waited for him, half in the shadows. He felt a lot better today, as though his power cells had pretty much recharged during the night. She'd been good to him again. But he thought it was better to restore the vibe with his dealer again. And, in his hiding place, Spider rolled the words around in his mouth until they fit.

"Spy." Ant had found him. He was waiting, too.

Totally cool and unapproachable he stood there on his hoverboard, floating above the dust so his feet never had to touch the dirt he was made of. Every one of them was nothing but dirt — Sandoz, Geigercounter, and him too — yeah, even Spider was dirt. Why not? None of us has done anything but sit here on our asses getting high and whining while everything around us collapsed. Spider figured it must have been the effect of the sun's rays, making him see things so clearly. All those months they'd been expecting one of the Unternets to send out a repair program that would reboot the Obernet again. At first Spider and a guy called Zero-One tried to launch an emergency program through the interface. Zero-One intended to melt away the brain while Spider … well, he met up with Silver Spider. And after that, at some point, they'd all gotten lazy and couldn't do anything but wait for their next fix, for Ant.

"Dude, got a couple o' bennies for ya. Paint yo' day."

Spider trembled. The mere mention of paint and he flashed on a whole range of pastels, and that made him think about the plush bunnies that had been zooming around inside his head. But the memories were nothing more than a faded picture at the edge of his perception.

"Okay, man. Thanks."

It was a peace offering. Better not to refuse. You never know when you could use 'em, Spider told himself. But he couldn't dismiss the nagging little questions he wanted to ask Ant, even though he knew the trouble they'd get him in if he did.

"Where d'you get your stuff, man?" Words come so damn quick. What was he trying to do, asking such a thing? But he had to know where he was at. You gotta know where you're at with your dealer.

"Here and there," Ant answered. His board rose and fell over small, invisible waves. Ant raised his hand to the nape of his neck, as if reassuring himself of something.

Spider squinted. Something was happening here and he didn't know what it was. Ant always running his hand over the back of his neck. But it wasn't just a nervous tick. Sparks danced around Ant, and then an intense anger flooded through Spider, rolling him over, grinding him down. And he knew that she, she had deceived him …

Zero-One had been the last one, he was sure. But that meant Zero wasn't special anymore! Spider leaped forward, eager to hear Ant's bones crack between his fingers, but the boy faded into the shadows at the far end of the street. And Spider stood there, alone beneath the hateful sun while the questions reared up inside him, croaking through his throat, trying to form into words in his mouth. Spider gagged. There was only one solution to the problem, and it was going to get very nasty. When he thought about Zero-One, he gagged again. Telling himself he needed some courage and a bit of Dr. Feelgood to get through to the end, he shoved one of the bennies into his mouth.

He knew where she was.

Down in the holy place, the Net Center. Nobody he knew had ever been down there. Or nobody who'd ever been there was able to talk about it. Either way was the same to Spider. He was at home in her net, belonged there, in fact. He was Spider, not some juicy little insect. She could catch him, but not destroy him.

Spider waited before the great house with the many doors, waited until it was dark. Silently he thought about the words he wanted to say to her. Just so he could talk to her — nothing more. She was different from Ant, understood the crystalline logic of what he said. In fact, she understood his very thoughts. Nothing to worry about, Spy. Nothing at all.

He tossed down the rest of the speed at one go. It was like he was going out on a date, a very special date. A "White Wedding," yeah. And nothing was certain in this world, or his world, or hers. Anything was possible. Man, Ant knew how a guy could have all the colors he wanted and but Spy still owns the night, brother. The web. Nothing is fair in this world. He pushed against the nearest door. It had been ajar, as though left that way for someone expected. Someone who had finally arrived.

Darkness embraced him like clinging foam and it was warm, a familiar long-forgotten warmth. Spider laughed silently and his body danced to the rhythm of his laughter as it beat out a mad tattoo. Then he tripped over a clicking, resisting, something . Spider picked it up without thinking. Felt like a metal bar.

In the end, he knew it was all one of Ant's crazy dreams. You didn't even have to think about it very long. But those dreams can get ugly very fast. One of his weapons. Always good to have a weapon. A weapon against the faceless things crouching in the chemical twilight zone.

And then, the air wrapped around him, crackling, and the hair on his arms stood up as if the energy of the whole city was focused on him. Boyah, what a trip! But something was wrong with his vision. And a stench engulfed him., not knife-sharp corrosive ozone, but a rotting, sweet scent, like — oh, no, fuck.

He knew his memories would bring them back, all the dead out of his past. And here they were already. But they'd never been so frightening. Those fucking bennies.

It must be the bennies, Spider thought to himself; Ant must have given him bad stuff, and he had made it worse by taking them all at once. Panic shuddered through him. And the monster came closer — she came closer.

Deftly she rushed toward him on the glistening thread. Her head was enormous and her three eyes were doors into other dimensions, terribly dangerous and sweetly fascinating. He wanted to run away, but something was making him walk toward this monstrous thing. All he could see were those eyes, and deep inside his head there was a humming sound — ancient, electric, insane. The bitter taste of vomit gagged in his throat. How could he let this happen — let her creep into his brain, let her do these things to him? She was not the Sliver Spider of his dreams.

He swung the metal bar, surprised by how light it seemed in his hand. Almost as though it were an extension of his arm, or of his thoughts — or better yet, the fulfillment of his thoughts. Spider smiled grimly, and he wished she could see his expression.

There was a "splatch!" as the metal bar hit her head. An ugly comic-sound. Spider had never thought it would sound like this. The head splattered and cracked open. Yellow matter erupted around him and covered his face, seeking to drown him, like a slimy, moldy blanket, like a liquid corpse.

Spider threw up and staggered away, sliding down at last against the wall. He felt the spider web against his back and bare arms. Again he vomited. Though he was so small and weak, he had destroyed the monster. And was alone. Alone as though he were in his grave.

At last he knew what must be done. His hand knew what to do. The entire time he'd held the plug in one fist, a talisman against the night. He lifted the plug toward his neck and stopped, realizing at last what he was doing. But it was too late. Tricked, he was tricked. This wasn't a dream at all. This was reality.

Quiet. It was perfectly quiet, a sacred stillness. Time was without end and everything was meaningless — defeats, dreams and victories. Spider closed his eyes and stared at the featureless wall that was the interior of his skull.


[ Part 1 ]    [ Part 2 ]

Myra Çakan is a novelist and journalist living in Hamburg, Germany. She is the author of three novels, including the acclaimed German cyberpunk novel When the Music's Over. Her fourth novel is due out this year. Her work appears in Die Woche, Konr@d, Der Spiegel, and Der Suddeutsche Zeitung. She is presently writing the screenplay for When the Music's Over.

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