Sound is a Vibration

By Lucy Zhang

When I crushed a spider against my leg in the shower, I heard it scream. The scream continued when I lifted my palm, stained with blue-black hemolymph and bits of detached, twiggy legs. The water flushed off the spider’s innards and my dead skin cells that I had scratched away until my fingernails left pink lines trailing along my thigh, but the sound continued to echo in my head, a petrifying screech like that of a metal fork dragged across glass.

I twisted the faucet shut until the water dripping from my wet hair turned cold and the breeze slipping through an open window covered my body in goosebumps. The spider should have long vanished into sewage, but now its screech reverberated within my head with such ferocity that I bent over, hitting my head against the mirror along the bathroom door, gripping the door handle with my left hand and a towel around me with my right, leaving a trail of wet footprints along the vinyl floor. I limped to the bedroom, as though standing would make it easier for the sound to travel down my spinal cord, translated into pain.

image0-2I tossed the towel onto the floor and lifted a leg through the opening of my underwear when I noticed a black dot on my inner thigh. Like it sensed eyes had fallen onto it, the dot began to grow. It was unmistakable. A full-grown spider sat on my leg, pulling silk from its fourth leg and drawing a radial network of threads, from leg to arm, to nose, to foot, to finger–the staking of territory, the first planar line. It began to spin its web, one segment at a time, spiraling inward and I watched concentric circles emerge until rings of sticky silk immobilized my limbs.

The spider climbed the silk until it reached my neck. I wondered how much energy it invested, how much protein it depleted to create its solipsistic web. If I were to move, to twitch my finger or bend my leg or blink an eye, I imagined the spider’s threads rendering motion as vibration–I’d listen to it scream, it’d listen to me shiver.

Lucy Zhang is a writer masquerading around as a software engineer. She watches anime and sleeps in on weekends like a normal human being. Her work has appeared in various publications including After Alexei, Digging Through The Fat and Bending Genres. She can be found at or on Twitter (@Dango_Ramen).

Art by Lesley C. Weston (Digital)

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