Jeremy sat at the bottom of the bath and felt lonely. He knew exactly how he’d ended up here but he didn’t think there was any way for him to get back out. He’d tried scrambling up the side, but his legs wouldn’t grip. He’d tried using web to hoist himself up, but his web wouldn’t stick. He’d even tried jumping, but there wasn’t anything to grab hold of. His legs just slipped away on the sides.
If only he hadn’t fallen down here, he thought, then things would be so much easier. He should have just walked around it, taken the long way, instead of assuming that this would be a short cut. Now he was down here with the plug hole and a featureless plain of white. There was a chain hanging by the taps which he had tried to jump for, but it was just out of reach. He’d tried for ages, but he’d got tired and each jump had started been lower than the last.
And now he was stuck here permanently. Until somebody found him and got rid of him by turning on the taps or squashing him with something. He’d seen what happened to spiders when they got wet. Their legs weren’t built for it and the flapped around at the mercy of the water, being dragged wherever it was going. In his present situation, that would take him right down the plughole.
Of course, he’d heard stories of survivors, spiders that had been offered a piece of paper and a glass which, if they scurried into it, would take them out of the bath and back to somewhere they could survive. He didn’t believe those stories though. They were wishful thinking. Or something to give hope to any spider that did find themselves in a bath. Little comfort if you didn’t believe the tales, really.
He had resigned himself to his fate. He hadn’t wanted to, but there didn’t seem to be much else to do except wait for the inevitable to come. He felt that he should be doing everything he could to escape, but the problem with that was that he already had. It hadn’t taken him very long; there weren’t many options.
He went to explore the drain again. There was a slow and steady drip of water from the tap which was splashing just next to the plug hole, snaking its way towards it and then dribbling down. He dipped a leg in it and then recoiled in horror. All the hairs on his leg were stuck down and he could barely move it.
He remembered when he’d last heard a tale about somebody escaping from a bath. It had been him and two other spiders, one older, one younger. The older one kept claiming that he’d been lifted out of the bath by a benefactor.
“With a piece of paper and a glass,” he had said, “they just herded me onto it and took me outside and let me go. Sure, I was scared at first, but once I saw outdoors I knew that I’d been saved. I’d seen other spiders end up in baths and get washed straight down the drain.
“It was horrible. Absolutely horrible. I’ve even seen some squished, and that I just don’t understand at all. Why squish them? Why sully yourself with that when you’ve got a tap right there?” he’d tapped his front legs at this point in what, for a spider, was a shrug, “senseless. It was senseless.”
“Bullshit,” said the younger spider, “nobody comes along with a piece of paper and a glass to carry you away from your troubles. You’ve got to make your own way out. Climb out of the bath yourself. And if you can’t do that then you’re fucked.”
The older spider tapped his front legs again, “not how I recall it.”
“Your story is a lie. You get yourself out of a bath or you’re fucked. Know how I did it? With a towel. I got a towel down with me in there and I climbed up it and out I went. Soon as the door opened I was out and away! Flying down the stairs and out into the garden. That’s how you save yourself. Use your smarts and your strength and get out,” he bobbed his body up and down in a nod.
“Tell me, youngster,” said the older spider, “how’d that towel get in the bath?”
This time the younger spider tapped his front legs. “Who knows?”
“Well, I doubt our friend would have to worry about anything like that. Big lad like him’ll take care of himself, I’m sure.”
“Huh,” said the younger spider, “if he’s got brains like I have, maybe.”
The spider who was now stuck in the bath hadn’t cared much what either of them said. He’d listened, sure, and he’d remembered the conversation, but neither of them had given him any useful advice. He was reliant entirely on outside circumstances so there was no use worrying about it.
He walked back to the end of the bath and waited whilst his leg dried. He shook it occasionally but it didn’t seem to make much difference. It would sort itself out eventually, he decided, and crouched down, waiting for something to change, for somebody to walk in.
Finally, he heard the door open. Footsteps approached the bath and he saw a shadow appear on the wall above him. He could hear the swish of a dressing gown as somebody came closer. They appeared above him but were facing the wrong way. He pressed himself against the bottom of the bath and they crossed to the other end, near the taps. They leant down, and reached for the taps.
This is it, thought the spider, here comes the water. Then, he saw his chance. He suddenly realised that there was a way out of this if he used his strength and his smarts.
He ran forwards and leapt, reaching up with his long, front legs and wrapping them around the person’s neck. He pulled himself up on their face and smothered them.