She was Doctor Danica Swift, field microbiologist, PhD, specialist in the scheme of modern lifeforms, domiciled and wild, and the environment for which they live.
Being a field microbiologist for a large pharmaceutical firm was not a task for the faint at heart. There was no course offered in Universities with text books that started with “Encyclopedia of All Things Undiscovered.”
So to be sent out into the deepest and darkest jungles of the world, where few humans dared to tread and to be able to recognize, understand and procure the unfounded and undiscovered was momunmental. Either in the form of natural miracle cures or untapped reserves of biological wonders, a field specialist had to dedicate their lives to learning all there is to know of all the things that were already found.
Everything most investigative researchers, scientist or doctors did not have the time or inclination to spend hours toiling through databases to match what they discovered to what was already documented.
So a field microbiologist’s memories were their greatest tools. The ability to recognize the nuances of difference, either in flora, animal or insect life to find that what has remained hidden to mankind until they came upon it.
No doctor wants to be the one to come forth from the jungle yelling in joy. ‘My God! You won’t believe it. I found penicillin.’ And a few seconds later, have to ask. ’What Scotsman? Alexander Fleming who? Nobel Laureate in 1928 for discovering what? Ah Crap.’
Such errors could destroy careers.
So Doctor Danica Swift had to be able to analyze, understand and determine in seconds, with all the life the earth had to offer, what was new and what was not, by comparison of all the fields she had studied and kept filed in her brain.
So in those seconds, as she stared around the chamber and the slumbering forms, a connection was made. And when she made it, she said the only thing that came to mind. “Holy sweet Mary mother of shit and assholes with a serious side of mother fucking fuckity-fuck-fuck-fuck and extra fuck-fuck.”
Even with the heavy breathing in the chamber, everything seemed to go even more silent as Hayden and Carlos both turned and stared wide-eyed at Danica.
“Who the Hell are you?” Hayden asked “And what did you do with Danica?” Even Hayden could not hide the total shock in his face, a look shared by Carlos.
Carlos and Hayden could see Danica’s face was ashen white, pale as though what blood she had in her cheeks had been drawn down to each of her lower extremities to warm her suddenly chilled looking form.
Danica did not answer right away, as her head snapped both left and right, looking high and low, checking and rechecking the cavern walls as though a second look could counter her original assessment. With each sweep of her lights, her view of what she had confirmed remained as originally derived.
Before Hayden could ask again, he remembered what Danica told them when they had been standing over the chamber door before this adventure began.
’Oh I swear. But trust me, when I do, there’ll be a very good reason for doing it.’
Danica had no time for humour. She knew she had to tell her friends before it was too late. “They’re not bears.”
Hayden replied. “Excuse me?”
Carlos felt his blood run cold.
Danica was already at zero degrees, her teeth chattering lightly whenever she paused for a breath. “They’re not bears.” She took a step back, her weapon fully drawn and in her hand. “They’re spiders. Big mother fucking spiders.”
Whatever sarcastic remark Hayden imagined had dissolved in his mind. He stared around the cave at the large slowly pulsing forms, sound asleep in their crevices, breathing deeply and heavily. His mouth opened and closed again. He looked closer, each time, his eyes squinting that much tighter, as though he could zoom in with supervision. After a good solid minute, he turned back to Danica in utter astonishment. “That’s not possible.” Saying it more for himself than for her as he could not, did not want to believe it. But then turning to give another freaked out look.
Before coming to South America, Hayden read some guides on creatures to look out for as a possible deterrent, but it was rudimentary review at best. Since this was Danica’s area of expertise, he would normally defer to her, but he was having serious reservations with her conclusion.
Carlos on the other hand was paralyzed by fear. He knew with all his heart and soul she was right. That and he knew damn well being trapped in a nest with these monsters, for seven days, thirty years shaved away from his mind was not impossible.
The trio had banded together, their flashlight beams piercing skyward into the upper ceiling of the chamber, their converging beams intensifying the glow to reach that much higher.
They could see it.
They could all see it.
Webbing. Sheets of it, long silky blankets of swishing silk draped over the sides, dangling from the middle with elongated white ropes running from edge to edge, crisscrossing and drooping down like tired ghosts too exhausted to scare, unaware just being there was frightening enough.
As Hayden’s scope of vision continued to move from crevice to opening, his blood was getting colder, slowing down like a river freezing in winter temperatures until he finally spoke. “But there are at least a hundred of these things in here. And this is only one small chamber of probably many.” Hayden was still refusing to voice Danica’s assertions aloud as though giving voice to it made it true. Plus he felt he had to argue it, if for no other reason, he was terrified beyond any stretch of the imagination. “Spiders are solitary creatures. They neither live nor hunt in packs.”
Danica gestured about the room. “Think about it. For one, this is obviously a species we’ve never seen. More importantly, remember the lake of boiling water with acidic qualities? They have nowhere to go. If they’ve been here for centuries, likely millennia in my estimates, possibly longer, they would have to adapt to one another. They’d have no choice. Chances are, like the tribe said, feeding on their own young when food was not readily available, but learning to live together if for no other reason than to survive.” She remembered a news article she read once. “A few years back, in Pakistan, flood waters drove millions of spiders into trees where they encased entire foliage’s in ten to fifteen foot balls of webbing filled with spiders. This was where they were forced to reside until the water levels dropped. Make no mistake, if they had to form a hive to exist and survive, they would do it.”
Hayden pointed with his hand, trying to keep the light beams away from the eye lines of the creatures, as though now concerned it could wake or stir them from their heavy slumber. “But they’re as big as dogs. Some are bigger. Spiders don’t grow that big!” He was speaking with hope in his tone.
Carlos was trying not to hyperventilate, but he was remembering. It was coming back. Not a lot, but seven days of darkness, legs running all over him, something constantly stabbing at him and being pumped with something both miraculous and horrifying.
Danica interjected. “Remember the Great White Shark. Millions of years ago, there were bigger ones, the Megladon Carcharodon, which based on scientific records, could have been near twenty times the size.”
“I’m not a math whiz, but these things are bigger than fucking ten to twenty times.” Hayden argued, swearing resumed in his language.
Danica snapped. “And what, you have God’s rule book of what can grow big and what can’t?”
Hayden grimaced, not liking when his own arguments were used against him.
Carlos gestured to them both, his face ashen. “Why don’t we take this away from here? I find arguing in a room full of giant sleeping spiders a bit on the nerve racking side.”
At this, they all agreed.
The trio turned in the direction Danica had fallen from and the men had chased her down.
Danica flashed her beam over the wall of four different caves. She stared at the rock floor surface which showed no scuffs, piles of dirt or trail validating which one of the four they had entered through. She looked to Carlos. “I don’t suppose you have a copy of the island’s cave system do you?”
Carlos looked up with a hint of desperation. “Sorry. If there’s a chamber for that, it hasn’t been discovered yet.”
Hayden spat from behind. “Great. Just great.” Followed by, “Fuck!”