Wedding Night Feast
by Mario Acevedo

Saturday night.


It was time to feed.

Number 27 placed its forelegs against the stone wall and spread the tarsal claws at the end of its feet to secure footing between the stones. Dense tuffs of hair covered the claws, allowing them to act like fleshy pads that wedged into the gaps. Number 27 began to climb. It reached the ledge and waited.

Number 27 touched its short ventral hairs against the wall to feel the vibrations within the cave. The splashing and rumbling of water trembled through the stones. One of its prey occupied itself in the water chamber. Where was the other?

Number 27's front tarsal claws clasped the bars along the ledge. A sharp middle barb extended between each pair of claws and locked around a bar. Number 27 pulled its bulk up to peek into the nesting cave of its prey.

As expected, there were two prey. The male rested on the mating platform, and because of the splashing in the water chamber, the female must be completing her cleansing ritual.

Number 27 relaxed its legs to let air circulate through the slit valves along its front femurs and tibias. The first scents were the pungent odors of the fermented grain and sweetened juices the prey enjoyed drinking. The second layer of smells belonged to flowers, a perfumed scent the prey also enjoyed. And the final layer carried the delectable aroma of succulent warm-blooded flesh.

Number 27 twitched its jaws to prime its fangs with poison that paralyzed its prey and dissolved the organs and muscles for siphoning. Its thorax flexed to circulate abdominal fluid from the midgut into the sucking stomach. The maxillae behind the fangs opened and closed to lubricate the serrated edges that chewed a hole through the prey's skin and bone. The wound would be a channel for Number 27's mouth to draw out the lumpy soup of rendered tissue.

Allyson patted her body dry. She folded the damp towel over the hanger bar and stepped close to the vanity to dry her hair.

Finally, married and alone with Paul. The last few weeks had been a blur of expectations and worries. Allyson fretted that Paul would find out the truth about her. As she ran the blow dryer and brushed her hair, she wondered how she should feel.

Allyson thought she heard a noise, a thump from the bedroom. She turned off the blow dryer and listened. Nothing.

She turned the blow dryer back on and looked at herself in the mirror. She stared into her eyes and decided that she felt ... happy.

Why shouldn't she be? Paul was a great catch. Allyson gave a chagrined chuckle. Only a man as big and healthy as Paul could satisfy tonight's appetite.

Was devour too strong a word?

This cabin was a perfect refuge for what she had in mind. They had the most secluded of the luxurious Alpine cottages nestled in the forest. A couple of hours from the city and relatives. What a lucky find. The cabin had a huge bedroom with a king-size bed and a hardwood floor. This bathroom was gorgeous: hand-blown glass basins, custom brass fixtures, and beveled glass everywhere. The view from the balcony was worth triple what they were paying. At these rates, how could the owners afford to make a profit?

Allyson put the dryer aside and rubbed lotion on her hands and arms. To marry Paul she had to deceive him. Anyway, soon he'd discover the real Allyson and after tonight, it wouldn't make a difference.

She draped herself with a white diaphanous gown. No point in fussing with lingerie tonight. Let's get straight to the goodies.

Allyson turned the lights off and opened the bathroom door. The dim blue light of the night sky fell as a rectangle from the balcony doors, across the floor, and to the bed. The bedcovers lay in a jumbled pile and spilled off the mattress. Vodka, some sodas, glass tumblers, and wine in an ice bucket sat on the nightstand on Paul's side of the bed.

Where was Paul?

Was he playing games? She tipped her head to see if he hid on her side of the bed. No. She crouched to peer under the bed, a tight squeeze for a guy Paul's size. Again, no.

The room had no closet, only an armoire and there was no way Paul could hide in there.



Had he left? If so, why? Where?

Allyson clasped the top of her gown and started for the cabin door.

This wasn't funny. Talk about a mood kill.

She looked back to the bed and noticed a trail of strange markings along the wall next to the armoire. In the darkness she couldn't tell what they were so she changed directions to switch on the lamp by the nightstand. She winced at the splash of bright light.

Deep gouges marked the plaster, symmetrical patterns of wedge-shaped holes in overlapping arcs with a seven-foot span between the outermost holes. The gouges started at the floor, ran up the wall, and continued to the vaulted ceiling.

Allyson's gaze followed the markings along the ceiling and stopped when she saw the dark shape above her.

A black creature, a spider the size of a rottweiler, clung upside down from the ceiling. Legs as big as tree branches splayed from a segmented torso. Before the creature hung a long bag of silky material conforming to the shape of a man. A pair of naked human feet, pale as plucked fowl, dangled from one end of the bag. The spider pivoted its pumpkin-size head away from the bag toward Allyson. Light reflected across the shiny eyes that dotted the hairy face. The two central eyes, as big around as fists, swiveled to focus their inert gaze on Allyson.

Shock ran down Allyson's spine to her limbs, like ice water pouring through her arteries. Her body heat contracted to her chest, fueling the panic which made her heartbeat race into a snare drum staccato.

The spider exposed more of its head. Two large jaws swiveled apart, revealing matching fangs the size of meat hooks. A black hole appeared between the fangs, framed by a second set of serrated jaws.

Allyson's mind sputtered in confusion. That was Paul cocooned against the ceiling. That was a giant spider feeding from him. That creature was looking at her. She was next.

A gooey, white ball oozed from between the spider's jaws.

Her brain fired the command. Run.

Allyson's lungs heaved with breath, and her legs tensed to spring away.

The white ball splattered on Allyson's face. The goo splashed into her eyes, mouth, and nostrils. Allyson tried to scream but the cold, slimy mass filled her mouth and smothered her. Blinded by the goo and retching uncontrollably, she fell to her knees and tore at the mass in panic, but the mass congealed instantly, covering her face in hardened gum.

Vomit filled her mouth. A scream echoed in her head, unable to escape. Her lungs bellowed, pumping for air that wouldn't come.

The mass tugged at her head. Allyson felt her neck stretch upwards and she realized this creature was pulling her off the floor. As her body stretched from her neck, the pain made Allyson feel as though her head was about to snap off.

She grabbed what seemed like a sticky rope connected to the mass. Her fingers became glued to the strands. Allyson's feet scrambled against the floor in a frenzied dance until she was aloft and then she whipped her legs through the air.

A pair of hairy, firm pads seized her upper arms and bent them down. When the two sharp points touched the back of Allyson's neck, she stopped squirming. Allyson relaxed. In this moment of clarity, she knew what was about to happen.

Monday morning.

Toby Johansen pulled the radio from his belt. "Maintenance, get a crew to cabin 5A." The newlyweds Paul and Allyson were goners. "Let's not waste time. We got another set of reservations for tomorrow night."

Toby's Jeep sat outside the porch. A steel cage on a trailer was hitched to the Jeep. Earl waited beside the trailer, an assault rifle in his hands.

Toby clasped the sparker to his front. He only had to show the device to remind Number 27 of the pain he could inflict if she didn't behave herself and get into the cage. The embedded electrode would shock her into submission.

Toby waved at Earl and then cracked open the cabin door. "Number 27? Did you eat well? Is your tummy happy?"

The odor of putrefying flesh blasted him. He grimaced in disgust. Toby expected to see regurgitated remains, like piles of rotted jerky, litter the cabin. But the floor looked clean. A solitary silky hammock hung from the ceiling. It contained only one bony and desiccated form, not two.

Toby rested his thumb on the safety catch of the sparker. He should hear the footfalls of eight feet rapping softly against the floor but none did.

Toby clicked the safety catch. "A pregnant girl like you is in no condition to give me trouble."

He pushed the door fully open.

Shards of broken carapace, like the rind of a hairy watermelon, lay strewn about the bed.

Toby felt the breath leave his chest.

Allyson crouched on the mattress, bent legs tucked against a grotesque naked belly swollen to the size of an oil drum. She licked the strands of mangled tissue stuck to the long barbs of her immense praying mantis arms. Bits of torn flesh clung to her chin and neck.

Terror and nausea welled up Toby's throat. His guts weakened and he fought to keep from wetting his pants.

Allyson wiped the gore from her face with a swipe of her left claw. "Number 27? She was delicious. As was what she left of Paul."

Allyson stretched one leg off the mattress. Her foot clutched the floor with talons that knifed into the wood. "And guess what? You're next."

Mario Acevedo is a former army officer who lives in Colorado. His debut novel, The Nymphos of Rocky Flats, puts a fresh and humorous twist on the traditional vampire tale.

Note: The author, Mario Acevedo, retains all rights to this story.