The snow spiders only come into season once every ten years, but this year is the spring of their breeding. How can we tell? you ask. Child, I will tell you: By the impatient knocking the females make with their chitin-tipped feet in their damp wooden hollows; by the rustle of sand along the banks of the river, as the bull spiders wake from their slumber deep underground to search for a mate; by the chorus of squeals and squawks made by the jackdaws, taken mid-flight by the air-borne hatchlings; by the smell of blood and rot in the air. The Whistling Oaks will soon be covered in a thick gauze of webbing – picture, if you can, a bundle of candyfloss forty feet tall – bulging here and there with large and pulsating clusters of eggs. The moment of hatching is said to be a startling sight, although I have yet to see it. Now run back to the house at the edge of the woods, and board the windows good and tight: they’re busiest after dark.
Since I have been living in the house at the edge of the woods, I have been haunted by the strangest dreams. It is always the same place: a coastal landscape, jagged black rocks thrusting from a heaving sea. The shore is awash with the oily seminal effluent of blind albino leviathans, whose colossal bloated bodies, rotting at their extremities and smattered with a millennial crusting of limpets and algae, pebble the ocean's deeps. Beyond the beach is the forest: ancient and spiderous blood-oaks weeping their sticky crimson sap, the only sustenance for the malformed monkeys who live among their highest branches, too hideous to consider showing their faces on the forest floor. The sky is permanently lit with lightning, its roof of roiling cloud a mixture of pestilential browns and blacks, cut with sickly ribbons of over-ripe peach. I have tried, upon waking, to render these visions in a language appropriate to the immensity of what I have seen, but I constantly fail, reduced to tics of punctuation, a forest of hyphens and ampersands and asterisks mocking the fissures in my eloquence. My only comfort resides in the journals of the occupant who came before me: they clearly faced the same problems of interpretation, as their journals – dozens upon dozens, shelves upon shelves – are black with the same abortive, nonsensical efforts as mine.