GINORMOUS • by Benjamin Langley

When a shrill scream shocks me from sleep, I work on auto-pilot. Possibilities run through my head and with them the implications. If Kara’s fallen out of bed, her mum will analyse every bruise and bump when I take her back home and she’ll hold it against me.

On my way through the hall I stub my toe on Kara’s toy buggy and I stifle a yelp by biting my knuckle. I hurriedly hop the rest of the way, expertly swerving through the maze of doll’s accessories.

I switch on Kara’s light. She’s in bed. Phew.

Kara shields her eyes. Her hair is bedraggled with strands pasted in tiny ringlets to her forehead. She has her teddy-bear in a tight headlock, squishing him against her cheek.

“What is it?” I ask as I step over the toy ponies which clutter her doorway. A good parent would have tidied before bed. “Bad dream?”

“Stop!” she screams and scuttles along the bed, closer to me.

I stop. “What is it?”

“A spider!” she cries, shivering.

“That’s nothing to worry about, pet,” I say and hurry to her.

“Get on!” she says, urging me with tears forming in her eyes.

I sit on the edge of the bed. “Calm down,” I say. “A spider can’t hurt you.”

Kara pulls my legs up onto her duvet. “It was ginormous.” She stretches her arms apart, as wide as they’ll go.

“Where’d it go?”

“Under the bed.”

I hop off and as I’m about to bend down Kara grabs me.

“Don’t.” She’s trembling. Tears roll down her face. “Don’t let it get you.”

“I won’t,” I say. “I’ll grab the hoover and suck him up.”

She shakes her head. “He won’t fit.”

“He can’t be that big.”

“I told you, Daddy,” her voice drops to a whisper, “he’s ginormous.”

Between Kara’s sobs I pick up a soft rapping sound coming from behind us. Dappled shadow stains the wall.

Kara sees it over my shoulder and gasps. She squeezes her teddy-bear with one arm and puts her thumb in her mouth.

I turn to see a moth fluttering in the light-shade.

“Is that what scared you?”

“No, Daddy, that’s a moth. Can I sleep in your bed?”

“Sure,” I say and pick her up. She’s heavier every time she stays. As I step over her toys she drops the bear.

“Teddy!”

Kara squirms and almost slips from my arms, so I keep moving. “I’ll go back for him in a minute,” I say, dashing carefully across the hall. I lay her on my bed and place the covers over her.

“Teddy,” she says.

As I head into the bedroom the moth flutters past me, attracted by the brighter hall light. I look down, but Teddy’s gone. Scanning the room I see its fluffy paw under the corner of the bed. That’s not where it fell. As I step towards it I hear a scraping sound. I bend down and reach towards Teddy but something long and as thick as a broom handle emerges from under the bed; it’s black and hairy and like a spider’s leg only… ginormous.

Big. Huge. Massive. Enormous. Gigantic. Ginormous. Those words aren’t interchangeable. There’s a strict rank to them when you’re a kid. When she said it was ‘ginormous’ I should have believed her; you don’t amalgamate enormous and gigantic if the subject doesn’t deserve it. Not when you’re six-and-a-half.

“Daddy,” she calls from my bedroom, “where’s Teddy?”

“One minute.” I get down onto my stomach. I can feel the pizza, heavy in my gut, and when I see the light glistening off the spider’s eight enormous eyes I fear it’s not going to stay down. As I scramble backwards, it works a couple of legs around the bear and takes it further under, its eyes always on me, its fangs pulsing, warning me to stay back.

“Daddy,” calls Kara.

I could buy her a new bear. And board up this room. Maybe set it on fire. Or run away, as usual.

“I need Teddy.”

If I don’t get him back she’ll never stay again.

“Getting him now, pet.” I scan the floor for a weapon. I toss a pony, but it bounces off the bed-frame. I throw another, but it’s too late, the spider has disappeared into the darkness under the bed.

I stand up, grab hold of the bedframe, and count down from three. I can feel my hair pasted to my forehead with sweat. Three. My heart is racing, it wants to get out and run. Two. I can hear the spider making a clicking noise under the bed. One.

I yank the bed away from the wall and jump onto it.

The spider reels up on its back four legs, and somehow supports its fat, hairy body as the other four legs stretch forwards, challenging me.

I reach down and grab a pillow and throw it, but the spider is too quick and scurries into the corner, over Teddy. I grab the end of the duvet and pick it from under my feet and hurl that into the corner, covering the spider and Teddy. It’s trapped. I step down onto the duvet, and I can feel the beast trying to squeeze away between my feet, leaving Teddy behind. I pull back part of the duvet and grab him, but he’s stuck. I pull again, and see a thick strand of web attached to him.

It moves again, back towards Teddy, and back towards me.

With my other hand I reach for the pillow. As its legs emerge I shove the pillow and push it against the floor. I can feel it struggling, so I let my knees sink onto the pillow, and I feel a pop. Teddy’s free. I clamber over the bed, tug off the webbing and take it to Kara.

She smiles at me and hugs teddy tightly. “Daddy,” she says, and looks up at me with loving eyes. “Can I have my pillow?”


Benjamin Langley teaches and writes in Cambridgeshire, UK. He has recently finished an M.A. in Creating Writing at Anglia Ruskin University.


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Rate this story:
 average 4.3 stars • 6 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • Colin Garrow

    Great story, with a hint of the Indiana Jones about it.

  • Colin Garrow

    Great story, with a hint of the Indiana Jones about it.

  • Five stars. Really, what is there not to love about this story. Without telling us, we know our hero is a divorced father with only decreed visits from his young daughter. He loves her, she loves him. So well written you can see the scene very easily.

    And who isn’t leery of spiders? They all look ginormous to me. And the ending! Too funny. Emotion, conflict, humour…this story has it all.

  • Five stars. Really, what is there not to love about this story. Without telling us, we know our hero is a divorced father with only decreed visits from his young daughter. He loves her, she loves him. So well written you can see the scene very easily.

    And who isn’t leery of spiders? They all look ginormous to me. And the ending! Too funny. Emotion, conflict, humour…this story has it all.

  • Paul A. Freeman

    Fun read. The punctuation of the direct speech needs a bit of attention, though.

  • Paul A. Freeman

    Fun read. The punctuation of the direct speech needs a bit of attention, though.

  • A delightful bit of fantasy horror set in a familiar secne. Well done. First sentence askew, but after that I paid for the ticket and went for the ride.

  • A delightful bit of fantasy horror set in a familiar secne. Well done. First sentence askew, but after that I paid for the ticket and went for the ride.

  • Scott Harker

    Really fun ride back into the early days of parenting. Brought back some great (and some not so great) memories. Very smooth story that flowed well and easily allowed suspension of belief. A lot was accomplished here in such a short space.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Scott Harker

    Really fun ride back into the early days of parenting. Brought back some great (and some not so great) memories. Very smooth story that flowed well and easily allowed suspension of belief. A lot was accomplished here in such a short space.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • MPmcgurty

    “Big. Huge. Massive. Enormous. Gigantic. Ginormous. Those words aren’t interchangeable. There’s a strict rank to them when you’re a kid.”

    Needs a few commas (instead of periods) with the dialogue tags, but I was starving for a good story. Thanks.

    5 ginormous stars.

  • MPmcgurty

    “Big. Huge. Massive. Enormous. Gigantic. Ginormous. Those words aren’t interchangeable. There’s a strict rank to them when you’re a kid.”

    Needs a few commas (instead of periods) with the dialogue tags, but I was starving for a good story. Thanks.

    5 ginormous stars.

  • I enjoyed reading this.

  • I enjoyed reading this.

  • joanna b.

    terrific story. 5 stars.

  • joanna b.

    terrific story. 5 stars.

  • S Conroy

    Good fun read. Thanks.

  • S Conroy

    Good fun read. Thanks.

  • Jacquie Rogers

    Turns every parent’s experiences into a twist of horror. I was sweating by the end.
    A few fewer ‘grabs’ would be nice; minor point.
    Great story!

    • MPmcgurty

      But a very good point. Three in one paragraph.

  • Jacquie Rogers

    Turns every parent’s experiences into a twist of horror. I was sweating by the end.
    A few fewer ‘grabs’ would be nice; minor point.
    Great story!

    • MPmcgurty

      But a very good point. Three in one paragraph.

  • Richard Phelps

    Loved this story. Great ending!

  • Richard Phelps

    Loved this story. Great ending!

  • V

    Great story!

  • V

    Great story!

  • Carl Steiger

    This was particularly fun for me because I have a basement full of “giant house spiders” (Tegenaria duellica or T. gigantea).

    • S Conroy

      Not sure if I want to Wiki that one…

      • Carl Steiger

        Oh go ahead, Wikipedia has a pretty good article on them. The kids stomp on them and use the carcasses as dolls driving various toy cars. I’ve also found stomped spiders “sleeping” in the beds in the doll house.
        Incidentally, I accidentally down-voted your comment when I meant to hit “reply,” so I’ve also up-voted it to provide some balance.

        • S Conroy

          Well that throws a whole new light on this story. 🙂 Poor spider just getting his revenge for murdered relatives.

  • Carl Steiger

    This was particularly fun for me because I have a basement full of “giant house spiders” (Tegenaria duellica or T. gigantea).

    • S Conroy

      Not sure if I want to Wiki that one…

      • Carl Steiger

        Oh go ahead, Wikipedia has a pretty good article on them. The kids stomp on them and use the carcasses as dolls driving various toy cars. I’ve also found stomped spiders “sleeping” in the beds in the doll house.
        Incidentally, I accidentally down-voted your comment when I meant to hit “reply,” so I’ve also up-voted it to provide some balance.

        • S Conroy

          Well that throws a whole new light on this story. 🙂 Poor spider just getting his revenge for murdered relatives.

  • JB

    Brings home that ‘fathers will do anything for their daughters’ vibe. Thanks for the fun read.

  • JB

    Brings home that ‘fathers will do anything for their daughters’ vibe. Thanks for the fun read.

  • MaryAlice Meli

    Loved your story. I’ll never forget my mother leading my four-year-old self to the roaring furnace in the cellar. She tore out the page with the Miss Muffet rhyme and made me watch it burn so I would no longer have bad dreams of spiders. And wake her with my screaming. Spiders at night are definitely ginormous,

  • MaryAlice Meli

    Loved your story. I’ll never forget my mother leading my four-year-old self to the roaring furnace in the cellar. She tore out the page with the Miss Muffet rhyme and made me watch it burn so I would no longer have bad dreams of spiders. And wake her with my screaming. Spiders at night are definitely ginormous,

  • Jessica Webb

    I think the scariest moment, and there were several options, was that innocent request for the pillow – a wonderfully ominous ending that makes you shudder in anticipation of the waiting battle, knowing that as a loving father he will endeavor to please his daughter. Beautiful.

    • Joseph Kaufman

      Interesting observation — I hadn’t thought of that! I thought the spider was probably deceased due to the “pop”, but that the pillow was probably a bit…gross.

      It is impressive, though, that that final line can come off as humor to some and as lingering suspense to others.

  • Jessica Webb

    I think the scariest moment, and there were several options, was that innocent request for the pillow – a wonderfully ominous ending that makes you shudder in anticipation of the waiting battle, knowing that as a loving father he will endeavor to please his daughter. Beautiful.

    • Joseph Kaufman

      Interesting observation — I hadn’t thought of that! I thought the spider was probably deceased due to the “pop”, but that the pillow was probably a bit…gross.

      It is impressive, though, that that final line can come off as humor to some and as lingering suspense to others.

  • monksunkadan

    I really liked this story. Would work extremely well as a crafted type of Readers Theater. Would make a great campfire story.. Just Sayin…

  • monksunkadan

    I really liked this story. Would work extremely well as a crafted type of Readers Theater. Would make a great campfire story.. Just Sayin…

  • Took a few days off. Nice story to come back to.

    I killed a spider in my basement a while back. It must have been the mommy spider, because when I smacked it with the Lincoln Log that my kid left lying around… A great host of baby spiders ran from the carcass. The carpet looked like it was moving there were so many. Spiders can be real freaky.

  • Took a few days off. Nice story to come back to.

    I killed a spider in my basement a while back. It must have been the mommy spider, because when I smacked it with the Lincoln Log that my kid left lying around… A great host of baby spiders ran from the carcass. The carpet looked like it was moving there were so many. Spiders can be real freaky.

  • L J Fulcher

    So much fun to read. It was like being there, I could picture all of the characters, including the spider. This was scary, funny and had a great ending. The things parents do for love.

  • L J Fulcher

    So much fun to read. It was like being there, I could picture all of the characters, including the spider. This was scary, funny and had a great ending. The things parents do for love.

  • Shawn L. Marmo

    Oh God. SO does he need to go back,struggle with the spider,retrieve precious pillow for Kara? I’m lookin’ forward to PART 2!

  • Shawn L. Marmo

    Oh God. SO does he need to go back,struggle with the spider,retrieve precious pillow for Kara? I’m lookin’ forward to PART 2!

  • Katherine Lopez

    If the spider represents the father’s fears and anxieties and resentments, faced and conquered, out of love for the daughter, then the daughter’s asking for the pillow represents the way his wife and his daughter find ways to make him feel that despite his heroic efforts, he is never good enough. Not a very subtle story, the humor of which escapes me.

  • Katherine Lopez

    If the spider represents the father’s fears and anxieties and resentments, faced and conquered, out of love for the daughter, then the daughter’s asking for the pillow represents the way his wife and his daughter find ways to make him feel that despite his heroic efforts, he is never good enough. Not a very subtle story, the humor of which escapes me.

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