“I can get you three Hookwink spiders for $150 or two Vietnamese Wrattlers for just $99! All you do is let them in, they feast on your negative thoughts, and you get to live a stress-free life! Just picture it!” The salesman waved his hand high into the air above the sun, his long fingers casting stick figure shadows on the driveway pavement. He curled the other boney, stick fingers on his right hand around the man’s shoulder, as though he were a long-time friend.
“Anytime you have a bad time, you forget it! Or at the very least, the spiders pick away at the thought until it goes away from your conscious thinking. Consider it a symbiotic relationship. What’s your name, young man?”
“Finn, but uh, does it hurt?”
“Not at all, Finn, my friend, not at all. You won’t feel a thing!”
“And what’s a symbi-whatever?”
“A symbiotic relationship is when two species of plant and/or animal co-exist and benefit the other species. For example, these tiny spiders get to live in your brain and feast on negative thoughts and emotions while you get to live a much happier life! You both benefit from living together, you see?”
Finn wasn’t a year over thirty but suffered from depression for most of his life. He was getting to the point where he just wanted to lie in bed and sleep all day, and waking up was a chore. Nothing made him happy, there was nothing to look forward to in his life, and he was beginning to question what the point of it all was in being alive. At this point, he was literally willing to try anything.
“So how does it work?” Finn asked flatly.
“Glad you asked, my boy! Would you like to see them? The tiny friends that you use with an eye dropper are best seen through my eye scope. Would you like to come to my caravan to see them? You can take your time choosing your new best friend. I’ll tell you about them all if you would like!”
Finn glanced over the tall skeleton man’s shoulder to see an old gypsy-type wagon drawn by two black, large horses; they looked like a pair of Clydesdales with long manes, and they were pretty much as large as the wagon they pulled.
The sun was setting and there were no birds singing or crickets chirping; there wasn’t even a hint of wind. The air was still and the neighborhood was silent, lonely.
“We can chat for as long or as little as you would like, my friend! Come, come! I insist you see my beauties I am so proud of raising!” The spider salesman’s lanky legs hopped a bit as he crab-walked sideways towards his dilapidated caravan that held wonders too interesting and curious to pass down.
“Yeah, ok. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to at least look at them.”
“That’s the spirit, I knew you would be a smart cookie!” The salesman practically skipped to the back of the wagon, pulling down a set of stairs that led to a locked door.
“Beyond this door,” the salesman pulled a key from a necklace hidden under his shirt, lies the key to end your suffering. You just have to choose.” He gently slid the tip of the key into the lock until the head was halfway through, then he forced the key the rest of the way in before turning the knob.
The inside of the caravan was dimly lit, with small, fake tea-light candles strung together as the only source of light. On the left and right walls were tightly fitted shelves that all held small glass jars with strange mesh/cork combination tops. The jars were different colors and some were larger and more plentiful than others. There were nametags below each section of jars and it was clear which were the popular ones based on the volume available and rack space dedicated to them. The Forest Fonts Spider seemed to be a popular choice, with a bright purple bottle that almost twinkled with neon light at certain angles. On the floor and bottom-most shelf were the larger specimens, some the size of quarters, housed in vivariums. They ranged in colors from mostly shades of black to otheres with more radiant colors and hues.
“Feel free to start anywhere but I strongly recommend the Sapling Tappers or the Brooder Stems; both are related species that focus heavily on childhood nightmares and removing childish-based fears and emotions. Lots of my clients have been able to repel some nasty inner demons with those babies.” The salesman’s thin fingertips pointed towards the top shelf on the right-hand side where Finn could see a series of white bottles and a set of very baby blue bottles sitting together.
To the right of them was a very dark shade of blue bottles that caught Finn’s eye. The tag below said Crocodile Tears.
“Ah, so you’re drawn to the darker shades of life? My, my, I wonder what happened to you,” the salesman said casually as he took a seat on his low stool in the center of the carriage. He spun around to face the back wall and rummaged through a small desk; the driver and one passenger could sit on the other side of this wall.
When he spun back around, he brought a tabletop with him that moved on a mechanical arm to sit between the salesman and Finn. Upon the table lie a unique microscope with a steampunk-like look to it; it looked to Finn to be very old.
The salesman didn’t need to stand up to reach the top shelf and grab one of the dark bottles Fin had been eyeing. He took a syringe, extracted a bit of the dark fluid, and placed a drop onto a microscope slide before slipping it under the scope and turning on its power. The microscope had two sets of eye lenses, one for the salesman and one for the customer. When the microscope powered on, a small light came up from below the scope somewhere.
“Have a look while I find us some friends,” the salesman said as he began to make adjustments with the knobs on the microscope. Finn looked around from left to right around the outside of the cabin of the caravan, trying to find some sign of life other than himself. With no one to catch eye contact with to say, “I saw him here with this man!”, Finn decided there was no point in worrying about whatever may come. Might as well take a chance at happiness, no matter what weird form it showed itself.
He squinted his eyes near the scope but wasn’t truly touching the eyepiece.
“Come closer, boy, come closer! They can’t jump out and bite you, lad! These little pets are your friends, and these are a unique set you have chosen, I must say!”
Taking a deep breath, Finn moved forward and hunched slightly to get his eyes to adjust to the scope. Beneath the lens lie a world unlike any other. The medium in which the spiders were suspended was similar to that of spaghetti noodles in a translucent, dark blue soup. The spindles that intertwined housed thousands of tiny spiders that Finn didn’t notice until the salesman increased the magnification. The tiny moments of light that Finn had seen through the tube were the spiders themselves, as they were a beautiful shade of light blue and they let off light blue bioluminescence; they shimmered among the dark blue suspension fluid, like stars twinkling in the night sky.
“These fellas pick up mommy and daddy issues as well as your own personal biggest fears. Some people have a tough time adjusting to them at first because the lifestyle change becomes something so different than the life they once led, it’s too sharp of a change.”
The salesman leaned back from the scope to address Finn directly. “I think you would be able to handle these little guys without a problem. I’m not sure what kind of demons you fight, but if they are some deep ones that you don’t understand, these guys will open your eyes.” The salesman finished with a giggle.
“I would recommend three drops for you, which runs $150, but I can give you this one-time deal of $99 if you would like!”
Finn paused and looked down at the glass slide that held the drop of thought-eating spiders. “How long do they live?”
The salesman closed his eyes, smiled, and stretched his back.
“They are guaranteed for life, no issues, ever.”
Finn looked side to side again, noticing the larger specimens.
“What’s with the bigger ones? Will these spiders get that big?”
“Oh, no, no. Those specimens are meant for removing actual sickness. The infants are administered to a patient, and as adult, they are removed from your brain surgically once their job is complete; you wouldn’t qualify for one of those.”
“I’m not sad about that, sir.”
The salesman smiled wide, revealing a row of dirty teeth sitting in rotting gum beds.
Ready to proceed with the purchase, Finn took a deep breath. Glancing downward, something caught his eye on the floor of the last shelf, in the very back of the cab. It had a faint purple glow and it was tiny; the small bottle was hidden amongst a horde of larger bottles, but the light glow it emitted gave away its location.
“What about that one?” he asked, pointing to the glow.
The salesman followed Finn’s finger, squinting into the darkness of the tiny room.
“Which one is that, my boy?”
“The one with the purple glow.”
“There is no purple glow, boy.”
Frustrated, Finn crawled under the table, to the side of the salesman’s thigh, and reached in the corner for the glowing bottle. Going in blind, he cocked his head sideways to get a better reach. He knew he touched the right bottle when he felt a frosted surface over it..
He pulled his arm out to reveal the small bottle with glowing purple fluid.
“I still don’t see how you consider that a glow, but I suppose it’s purple.”
Before Finn could object to the glow, the salesman yanked the bottle from him and was already placing a drop under the scope. He moved the knobs back and forth, and only after adjusting the light so that very little light was present could he see the spiders within.
“There you are, you… things,” the salesman whispered to no one in particular.
Finn helped himself to the other end of the scope to see some unique-looking spiders suspended in purple, metallic-like fluid. It was primarily a purple sheen, but with certain movements of the spiders within, the fluid seemed to change to a rainbow formation briefly before returning to its purple hue. The spiders themselves were completely white, fuzzy, and had bright green eyes; they were almost cute in a way.
“And what are these spiders? How much are they?”
The salesman continued to stare into the scope.
“Um, well,” he adjusted the knobs. “I don’t recall having this species… It’s hard to say exactly what they might be best for, treatment-wise.” Finn continued to stare down the scope while the salesman gently scrolled through a unique landscape full of microscopic spiders.
“Purple is often the catch-all color, meaning anyone would be fine with purple, but the thing is, the color changes under the scope, so I can’t say that these guys wouldn’t take on the properties of another color. Besides, I don’t have any white spiders; these are unique.”
He leaned back from the scope with a cocky smile. “But I suppose I could sell you a few drops for say, $75? We’ll call them Beginners Luck.” The wide grin returned, dirty teeth and bad breath not far behind.
Something drew Finn to these spiders. There was a pull about them, as though he was already familiar with them somehow. He knew one thing for sure: he didn’t want to walk away from this caravan without them. He could see them glowing, no matter what the scrawny man said.
“How about five drops for $100?”
The salesman lost his grin for a moment, then burst into laughter. “A littler bargainer, aren’t you? Ok. five drops for $100!”
The salesman pulled out a clean eye dropper, sucked up a full vial full, and said, “Lean your head back please.”
Finn did as he was told but closed his eyes. The salesman giggled.
“Sorry, son; you’ll need to look at me. Open your eyes wide and look to the bottle on the far right of the cabin here; it will be far easier to administer to your eye this way.”
Finn did as he was told and soon felt the icey breath of the drops into his eye. It didn’t hurt, it almost felt refreshing, like a mint for your eyes. Finn rubbed his eye a bit before the salesman could stop him. “Ah, ah, ah, ah, careful there. Let the juices in to do their work.”
The sun was almost set. No one else had seen Finn in a strange man’s caravan. No one was there to witness his new beginning. The salesman gave him instructions not to wash out his eyes or add any drops to them for a two days, then he patted the lad on the head, and closed up shop. No one was there to see the exchange of money or to watch the salesman take off his top hat and bow before his customer. No one saw the spiders for sale, or watched the salesman drive away with his beautiful black steads. No one was there to see Finn collapse just inside his doorway.