Andorra Pett and the Space Spiders.

Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.

Write a scene or story that includes a character who has a phobia. What do they fear? How does this phobia affect their life?

For this prompt, I turned to Andorra Pett, my go-to-girl for all the emotional stuff. Most of my other characters would never admit to having phobias, being men and women of action and determined purpose.

Andorra is more ruled by her heart, I could imagine her being frightened by lots of things.

Anyhow, I asked her if there was anything phobia-related that she wanted to share. This is what she had to tell me.

Andorra Pett and the Space Spiders.

If there was one thing I never used to like, it was spiders. But space travel (amongst other things) cured me of that.

I think my fear of spiders came from when I was at school. The building was old and there were lots of spiders, they would fall on you from the ceilings, get tangled in your hair and generally wander around as if they owned the place. To make matters worse, my friend Maisie had this habit of catching them and putting them down the back of my neck. The feeling of them crawling over my skin was enough to reduce me to a quivering wreck. Occasionally, she would scoop up cobwebs and put them in my sandwiches. Even though she was supposed to be my best friend. Cow!!

When it came to leaving the Earth behind, I wasn’t worried about the whole idea of space travel, after all, everything has a risk. I was more excited to know that there wouldn’t be spiders on spaceships. It stood to reason, nobody would want them getting into the electronics and lurking in corners. Because, well; spaceships would be clean, there would be no dust, no corners for them to leap out on you from.

You can probably imagine my shock when I arrived at the space station in orbit around Saturn, went into what was to become the Oort Cloud Café and saw cobwebs everywhere. It bought it all back, I felt hot and sick. All this way and I had been wrong.

“Look…, space spiders,” I said, pointing.

“What’s that,” mumbled Cy, who seemed more interested in the beer taps. “Oh, spiders, they won’t hurt you, a bit of light dusting and that’ll solve things.”

“I didn’t think there’d be any, spiders in space, With all the quarantine rules and that.”

He laughed, “of course, you don’t like them, Maisie used to tease you about it.” The mention of her name bought back memories of my other hate, not Maisie but my ex-boyfriend Trevor and all his scheming.

I mean, how could the love of my life convince my best friend that we’d split up, just so he could get some horizontal sympathy action with her? Not to mention getting caught in the middle of it, in the bed we shared, by me! Talk about destroying your self-esteem. That was another part of the reason we were here.

“Mind you, there’re a lot of cobwebs, considering this place has only been shut a few weeks,” Cy added. “Maybe the spiders grow really big in space?” He wasn’t helping, I looked around, half expecting to see one as large as me emerge from a dark corner.

“You’re cleaning them,” I said, “I have to go and fumigate my cabin.”

“Don’t be daft, they won’t hurt you, haven’t you seen one, close up, they’re furry and…,”

I didn’t want to hear the rest.

For all his faults, the cobwebs were gone next time I plucked up the courage to look. I didn’t even have to mention it again. Bless him.

I tried to put space spiders out of my mind. That lasted until I had my tour of the station and saw the farm. Talking about the ecosystem that Derek and his team had created out here made me realise that spiders were a necessary part of it, they ate aphids and other nasties for one thing. In fact, Derek said that they were one of the more useful creatures to have around.

As Derek was handsome and available, I decided that a change of approach where spiders were concerned would be a good idea. I made myself stand still when I saw one, without reaching for anything solid to thwack it. I even let one run up my arm without vomiting and left a few cobwebs alone when I saw that they had caught some unidentified flying beasts.

It was hard at first but I stuck with it. As I told myself, I was doing it for the good of the station, not just to get in with Derek, although that was a nice side effect. I was pretty sure that he wouldn’t be half as impressed with me if he knew I was a spider killer.

Cy must have noticed that I had stopped whingeing about spiders in the café. He even caught me rescuing one that was about to fall into the sink.

“So you’re alright with spiders now?” he said.

“Don’t push it,” I said, “Derek says that…”

He rolled his eyes, “Derek says,” he mocked, “that’s alright then, gotta keep onside with Derek?” He made that last bit into a question. Was it that obvious that I fancied Derek? I thought that I was being subtle.

“No,” I protested, “well yes…, but he’s right, they won’t hurt me and…,” I stopped as I realised that I was getting louder, that Cy was laughing.

“You’re protesting too much,” he said. “Derek’s good for you, Andi. He’s got you polishing your hormones again, he’s helped you get over what Trevor and Maisie did to you.”

Clearly, I was that obvious.

When I got my scooper pilot license, Cy presented me with a gift.

“What’s this for?” I asked him, as I tore at the paper.

“Something to decorate your scooper with,” he said with a smirk. “I thought you could hang it off the mirror. It might make you feel at home when your whizzing about doing whatever it is you do out there.”

Blow me, it was a big black plastic spider, on a long spring. I could just imagine its motion when I was doing acrobatics and trying to catch rocks. Talk about health and safety, it could easily have my eye out.

“Thanks,” I said. Cy spotted my lack of enthusiasm.

“Cost me a fortune getting it shipped up from Mars,” he grumbled, “I thought you could call it Derek.”

Andorra Pett’s adventures begin in The Oort Cloud Café.

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8 Responses

  1. Steven Smith

    Fantastic piece! I always enjoy new Andorra Pett!

    • Richard Dee

      Thanks, Steven, Andorra is such a rich source of material.

    • Richard Dee

      Thanks. I prefer it when my food keeps still! 🙂

  2. P.J. MacLayne

    I have a character similar to Andorra – scared of spiders because his ‘friends’ used to throw them at him when he was young.

    • Richard Dee

      Julie W*****, Collaton St Mary Primary School, 1962-69. I knew it would come in handy.

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