A paralyzing fear of spiders is not entirely irrational. Some spiders can kill you in a matter of minutes, and some actually have predatory instincts, meaning that they are capable of *attacking you* as opposed to simply defending themselves.

Suffice to say, I very nearly caused myself injury falling out of my chair when one of my eight-legged adversaries simply *landed* on my desk out of nowhere. Not large, but startling. I knew a species existed that jumped, and those in my opinion are of the uglier persuasion. Jumping spiders have spiky hair that might poke you if you try to pick it up. Also, their four sets of eyes are more expressive than other species. You really get the feeling that they're staring right at you, as I was positive this one did. And with its suspicious and scrutinizing laser vision, how could I assure that it wouldn't come any closer?

All of my energy had to be summoned upon finally rising and going for the aerosol of poison in the next room. The little jumper didn't move, and never saw the spray coming. It convulsed, tried to skitter away on its flailing legs, and ended up taking a spectacular death tumble off my desk. I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it just a bit.

As per my spider-killing ritual, I scooped it up in some toilet paper and flushed it. I happened to glance at the floor on my way out and *bloody hell, another jumping spider!* With superhuman speed, I lunged at the nearest projectile-a box of Kleenex-and brought it down on the unwelcome critter; gravity and momentum aiding me both.

I was on the floor, breathing a bit hard, gritting my teeth. That had been a really unpleasant scare, especially since I'd never seen more than one intruder at a time in my apartment. The toilet hadn't even stopped running from my last flush, so I had to wait a few seconds. I executed a paranoid once-over of the bathroom before returning to my computer with the Kleenex box.

Nothing more happened and I was able to relax. Indulging in a video, I hardly noticed the tiny shadow creeping into my field of vision from above. Its front legs approached the lit screen and caused in me a manic flailing of hands. Eventually, the target was neutralized, leaving an ugly brown smudge on the monitor. I sighed and wiped it off with my tissue arsenal, banishing my actions from my mind: those of squishing a damned big spider with only my bare hands. I shuddered.

I couldn't return to the video. I knew that I was now going to have to turn the whole bloody apartment upside down to make sure no other eight-legged nasties were waiting to ambush me. I sprayed all the corners in the place with poison and even moved furniture. I checked all the nooks and crannies I hadn't seen in a while. Someone watching might think I was some sort of obsessive-compulsive robot, built for one purpose only.

It took an hour, but when I was finally satisfied there were no more spiders in my vicinity, I sat down at the desk again. Absently, I rubbed at the remnants of my latest kill on the monitor. When its twin landed on my hand and sank its fangs into the skin, I remembered too late I had forgotten to check the ceiling. My healthy hand gripped the spray can and let the little bastard have it.

As the bite began swelling, two more wolf spiders hurried down the ceiling straight at me. I leaped up and sprayed them, too, but I was starting to sway a bit. I felt them crawling over my bare feet and up the legs of my pants, and I knew I was bested. I fell backward onto my bed, kicking at the sides of the mattress-maybe I could take a few down with me. They were already swarming the sheets, though, over my hands and arms. I'd never seen so many at one time: the big brown ones and some jumping spiders coming in from outside somewhere. They had indeed been lying in wait to get me.

Just before the poison took the last of my life, a shadow blackened my window. It might have been a hallucination, those two thick sharp legs the size of hockey sticks, but I'm pretty sure I heard the glass shatter.