The Amazing Person-Spider

The Amazing Person-Spider’s origin story is as unlikely as any other superhero’s: a spider was bitten by a radioactive person. More specifically, a spider—laying low with a few of its buddies, in a bin of tortilla chips at a Tex-Mex eatery—suddenly found itself trapped in a particularly viscous order of fiery Tejano pulled-pork nachos, a local delicacy. And in this vulnerable position it suffered the ravenous bite of a person, one previously exposed to toxic levels of radiation. (He had used a cell phone for upward of five years.)

We meet our hero as it flees the scene, extra-picante chipotle guacamole still clinging to its seven and a half legs: a spider imbued with the powers of a person. A Person-Spider. Amazingly.

This augmented creature could do everything that a person could do, and not more. It could make scrambled eggs; it could make small talk. It could remember birthdays, drive a stick shift, do the Sudoku, more or less iron a shirt, and convert carbon emissions into fungible financial instruments.

It got the hiccups. It dreamed. It had an internal list of favorite guitar solos, and it knew most of the state capitals, though it erroneously believed Alabama’s capital to be Birmingham, and it spelled Louisiana with two “N”s.

Physically speaking, it didn’t gain much—most observers agree that the Amazing Person-Spider would have been better off just retaining its existing proficiencies. In its unaltered, pre-bitten state, the spider could lift an object several times its own weight; in contrast, the source person only did bicep curls a few times before fucking up his shoulder, so that was out. Ditto dash speed, martial arts, and being able to dunk. The source person did, however, once bowl a two hundred and fifteen, and this was reflected in the Amazing Person-Spider’s skill set.

To clarify, upon gaining its new, exhilarating abilities, the Amazing Person-Spider didn’t use them to fight crime, per se. This was largely owing to the monstrous vacuum of morality in the natural world, most especially in the environs commonly populated by spiders—woodlands, underbrush, the face of a sleeping infant.

However, in the event that the Amazing Person-Spider witnessed one of nature’s manifold horrors—a small creature being noisily devoured by its mother, or what have you—it would assume a troubled expression, indicating compassion and concern with its glistening mandibles and grid of bulbous eyes. In that way, it was exceedingly human.

As with any entertaining mutation, it was only a matter of time till Hollywood came knocking. The studio heads know what people want, and in this case it was Oscar Isaac wearing foam legs and puking up web filament for five features. The box-office returns were staggering, opening the door to an expanded Amazing Person-Spider universe, and it wasn’t long before the Internet freaks were frothing over who would win in a fight between the AP-S and its archfoe, Shoe-Man. It was a runaway hit, and the bubble, like all bubbles, would never, ever burst.

Of course, the Amazing Person-Spider never saw a cent. A bad lawyer, crappy contracts, a lack of hands—it was a story as old as Tinseltown itself. And matters weren’t helped by our hero’s rapidly diminishing mental faculties.

You see, a spider’s brain is the size of a poppy seed—imbuing a human’s consciousness into that itsy-bitsy apparatus is like jamming a football stadium through a keyhole. So, after the Amazing Person-Spider was granted all the gifts and curses of human awareness, it didn’t take long for its personhood to burn out. Anxiety, joy, and lovelorn regrets slipping away, its synaptic tangles pruned branch by branch. All except for a lingering, elemental mote of understanding—the formerly personified spider was pursued, till the end of its days, by one insistent, repeating thought: “I am, I am, I am, I am.” ♦

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