Given the time I have spent upon this Earth -
years which seem to have passed as though subdued by setting amber—it is reasonable
to assume that I have grown used to the arcane nature of my dreams. They are empty things
for the most part; strange uninhabited landscapes conjured into being by my over-active
mind. Recently, however, I have found myself the recipient of the most peculiar dream,
a recurring nightmare in which the empty sanctity of my dream state is invaded. I have
thought of putting this particular dream to paper several times before now, but have found
the details somewhat intangible upon waking. This then, shall serve as my attempt to piece
together the various fragments of narrative which I have managed to retain, so that I might
better study the individual memories as a coherent whole. It must be stated here that I
seem to play no physical role in the events as they are set out below; rather, I am present
merely as an observer; a ghostly watcher who could neither affect nor be affected by the
incidents which took place before me. For this reason, as narrator, I must forego the familiarity
of human form, and speak as though I were as insubstantial as the very nature of
For all the
discordant efforts of the lone winds, the mournful melodies which seemed to carve erratic
patterns into the uncaring canvas of dust, it was a landscape grown unused to the tread
of living creatures. I somehow knew there to have been a great civilization present at
one time; a race of industrious creatures who had taken their world and molded it into
great works of architectural engineering, sculpting the pliant earth into entire cities
of steel and glass, but any physical traces of such a civilization had long since been
eroded from this world. Now, as I understood it, was a time after the cities of glass had
been returned to their formative state of sand, and the sands themselves had in turn been
eroded down into so much dust. Even the once great seas had withered and died, leaving
behind nothing more than a perpetual, desolate shoreline, awaiting the arrival of a tide
which would never materialize. There were no more stars left to shine their celestial light
high up in the night sky, nor even a day with which the darker hours could be more happily
contrasted with. Had the wind been capable of speech, it might have cried out in chill
despair for the lost memory of tree and leaf, for the forgotten sensations of waving
grass and roiling waters, but without a voice with which to speak, the wind merely howled
with a singular melancholy, the like of which had never been heard by mortal ear; my own
present dream state not withstanding.
When the creature
came, it appeared from out of the endless dust storm; a grossly misshapen silhouette advancing
with measured difficulty through the flat and barren wastelands. Being in possession of
the omnipotence which I’ve found comes often with dreaming, I felt an inexplicably
complete understanding of the creature before it had even fully resolved into full view.
Of consciousness, which is to say intelligence, I sensed that the creature was poorly served.
In essence, I intuited it to be a gestalt entity, comprised of an uncountable
number of feeble and inferior intellects. The component parts, which together formed the
dark bulk of the steadily approaching monstrosity, retained only enough autonomy sufficient
to ensure they could effectively serve their sole purpose in keeping the gargantuan frame
of the beast in motion. I knew those components to have been people once, the final remnants
of the lost civilization which had once dominated the world so utterly. Now, they were
so much muscle, and nothing more.
As the creature further approached my imagined position, I began
to better distinguish the individual bodies, each of which served as a single constituent
piece of the creature. What looked to have once been fingers and toes now intertwined
with the corresponding digits of the bodies immediately above and below, flesh and bone
meshed together by the combined forces of both time and gravity. With a wearisome effort,
the creature shuddered one leg—spindle thin when compared with its bloated body—up
into the choking air, before driving it’s needle point tip back down into the dead
earth below. Another leg followed, then another, and another. The ground seemed to quake
for untold miles around me, as the creature raised and lowered each of its eight legs in
For the poor unfortunates who found themselves positioned at the very tips of each
of those arachnid legs, pain must surely have been the totality of their sorry existence.
Their own legs had long since fused together, now tapering to spear-like points where once
there had been feet. While those situated in those points dwelt in constant, unending pain,
I knew the collective hive mind of the creature felt only one primary sensation, knew of
only one motivation with which to shape its continued existence.
And the spider’s hunger knew no bounds.
as it had been understood in the age of civilization, had been rendered meaningless when
faced with the harsh reality of a dead world, but in the sense of time which my presence
brought to the dreamland, I knew the spider to have been up and walking for millennia.
When stripped down to the most basic of needs, this obscene parody of Humanity had formed
itself into the perfect creature with which to stalk the world, hunting all living things
into the abyss of extinction; all down to its desperate quest to satiate it’s abhorrent
appetite. Over the course of its wanderings, which I understood to have taken in the
entirety of the globe, the spider had devoured every kind of living creature; tasting of
the flesh from the largest cattle, all the way down to the most insignificant of insect
life. Every last one of the spider’s victims had been consumed whilst still alive,
so that each of the animals had understood the true nature of the horror which lay ahead
of them, as they were fed into the slavering abyss of foetid teeth which served as the
the spider would ingest something rotten, some fell creature whose flesh proved anathema
to even the cast iron stomachs of the gestalt beast. These poisoned scraps would be vomited
back out of the spider in great black chunks of acidic darkness; something which always
proved to be an entirely joyous occasion for the spider, as it allowed for the hunks of
dead meat to be consumed a second, third, or sometimes even a fourth time. Eventually,
the meat would be persuaded to stay down.
by the vagaries of dreaming, I was able to discern the inevitable sequence of events which
this mockery of evolution had caused. In due time, all animal life in the world had been
consumed by the spider, so that no living creature, save the monstrosity itself, could
now lay claim to stir upon either land or sea. Still slaved to its insatiable hunger, the
spider learned to adapt its diet towards the plant life, leading to its carving of many
ravenous paths through the great forests of the world. The tallest and mightiest of oaks
shattered beneath the creatures advance, spearing splinters of wood, arrow-like, into the
ground. Eventually, once all the trees had, in turn, been consumed, the spider returned
for those splinters, which were inexorably followed by the still budding shoots which sought
to regrow the fallen forests.
Finally, there was nothing left. Nothing but the lonesome winds, the cracked, dead
earth, and the intangible mountains of dust. Yet, still, the spider wandered across the
crusted scab of the world, seeking, without success, a fresh source of food with which
to feed its hunger. Periodically, the spider would open wide it’s repulsive mouth,
allowing for clouds of dust to enter the yawning chasm, but the dust had little effect
on the creatures’ ferocious appetite.
a sufficient passage of time - a period which I felt to have surely extended into years
- the hive mind of the spider began to accept that it had, indeed, devoured all the life
from the world, that it had bled it’s homeland dry like an over eager leech. Hungrily,
it raised its congealed mass of eyes up towards the sky, as though it might have plucked
the stars down from out of the night, like burning apples from a blackened tree. Alas,
the stars had already been extinguished, though whether through age or through fear of
the spider’s noisome maw, I could not tell.
in a world so distant from the normalcy of waking life, and within a creature so far removed
from anything known to mankind, despair followed keenly in the wake of hunger. The spider
became frantic, assaulted by the new and previously unknown sensation of panic. Its enormous
legs thundered wildly up and down, snapping some of the component bodies into compound
angles. In desperation, it drove its head, jack hammer-like, through the scab like shell
of the earth, bursting sections of its gelatinous eyes in the process. A deep rumbling
sound, emanating from beneath my dreamer’s feet, was all I required to be sure that
the spider had turned it’s hunger upon the very earth itself.
this newly discovered taste for earth and silt, there was no stopping the spider. Steadily,
though still retaining the manic anger with which it had first broken through the crust
of the land, the creature set about its ultimate task; the devouring of the entire world.
Time turned to fluid as I watched, until the spider, with no thought for its own future,
finally ate its way to the very end of the world.
now, seemed suspended within a void of Stygian darkness, just as the spider clung, upside
down, to the final piece of earth evident in the never-ending nullity of this existence.
With a dreadful inevitability, that too was consumed, so that the spider began to plunge
into a bottomless chasm of nothingness. I seemed to follow in its fall, though my dream
self-possessed an almost avian grace, which the ungainly spider could not hope to imitate.
All eight of the spider’s legs twitched repulsively as it tumbled end over end, as
though it were combing the darkness. A sickening sight in and of itself, I took this to
be the mindless constituents of the creature reaching out for a surface on which to anchor
the greater whole of the gestalt, but I was quite, revoltingly wrong.
For as the spider continued on its never-ending
descent, it stretched its own legs up towards its mouth, and began to chew.
On each of the occasions I have been unfortunate enough to have
to suffer through this dream, I have awoken with a frightful start, my heart pounding as
though it were myself, and not the monstrous spider, who were falling down into that endless
night. A temporary wave of confusion seems always to follow the dream state, a period of
unreality in which I am incapable of discerning which was the greater hunger, the colony
of the spider, or the total abyss into which it fell. This quickly passes, as reality reasserts
it’s dominion over my brain, while the memories of the dream soon begin to fade.
an hour of my waking, I force the dream aside, remaining ignorant of the dream’s
meaning, if it should possess any. Following that, all that remains for me to close out
the dream, is to immediately appease my own burgeoning hunger.
Hailing from the oft-contested northern realm of Northumberland,
England, T.N. Allan is now resident in the Scottish Borders, having studied creative
writing at Edinburgh University from 2012–2013. Recent publications include flash
fiction published online by 365 Tomorrows,
and The Flash Fiction Press, while
poetry has appeared in print, published by the Horror Writers
Association, and Cemetery