Colin Hoult writes Time Out an exclusive horror story
Master of macabre character comedy Colin Hoult pens Time Out a truly terrifying tale
What is real horror you ask, my friend? Real horror is all around us. It is right here as we sit and talk by the fire. We have spent so very long, you and I, seeking out the dirty corners of the world. Poring over tales of terror and words of woe. Devouring horror upon horror, racking up countless deaths and maimings from the page and the screen. But real horror is right here in this very room.
You failed to notice it while you were blabbering on about your dreary ideas for a new horror story. Something about a possession, was it? Something about a demon? I'll admit I wasn't really listening. I was enraptured with the sound of the real horror show going on in the corner there.
Can you hear that buzzing? In the corner of the room? No, don't get up. Sit still and listen. There. It's a fly. A bluebottle, I think. He's caught himself in a spider's web. Can you see him? Poor fly. Only an instant ago he was happily buzzing around; bashing against lights, spreading his diseases on our cheese, making raucous punk rock with his wings. Only a young fly too. Brimming with arrogance, he thought himself immortal. He didn't understand there are spiders in this world. He never suspected that at any moment he'd find himself trapped in a sticky prison, the bars glued to his very limbs so that the more he pulled away, the more he was stuck, and if he pulled away too much he might just pull those limbs right off.
Perhaps he's lucky. Perhaps there is no spider there. Perhaps it is an old, uninhabited web and the worst scenario is he'll pull his guts out trying to escape and die… relatively quickly.
Ah. No. Here comes the spider. Can you see him? Creeping out from his lair? What? Can you not strain your head enough to see? Are you having difficulties? Then I shall describe it for you. The spider has started to encase the fly in his webbing. Wrapped tight, like a mummy, turned over and over again. Almost lovingly at first. The fly cannot move and is becoming a little claustrophobic, I shouldn't wonder! But at least he is warm and cosy. Are you warm enough, my friend? Would you like me to turn the fire up a little?
Ah, now the spider has the fly just how he wants him. He bares his awesome fangs. Do you know what happens when a spider eats a fly, my friend? It really isn't very pleasant. It doesn't just chomp on its body. It doesn't slit its throat and carry the carcass back to the larder. Oh no, that would be far too quick and easy. It pumps a powerful fluid into its victim's body. A poison so potent it slowly, so slowly, melts away the fly's innards, turning them into a molten goo for the spider to suck back up like a chocolate milkshake. Slurp! Oh, pardon me for laughing, the thought makes me a little giddy, you see?
Oh, you seem a little pale my friend. Are you not well? You look like you may have a fever. Do you feel bad about the fly? 'But should we not save him?' you ask. 'It still has hope, ambition, dreams.' 'Please!' the fly cries out to us. 'Please save me! I have so much still to give! I am a very ambitious fly! I hope to marry and have many maggot children! There is no end to what I might achieve!'
Perhaps we should save him. But he is only a dirty fly, is he not? And the spider has to eat, doesn't he? If we did save him, what would it matter? There would still be other flies in the same predicament, as there has been ever since there were spiders and flies. Right now, thousands are probably facing the same fate all over the world. Millions even, screaming for help! You cannot stop the horror show my friend. It is all around us. And it never stops! No, don't you try to get up, it'll only make things worse.
Oh, that burning sensation in your belly? You had better get used to it. It'll last quite a while. No, you can't scream, of course you can't. The poison has entirely paralysed your muscles. I slipped it into your wine while you were gassing on. You'll find you can't move at all. But you can feel. Oh yes, you can feel! You feel more than you've ever felt your whole life!
But don't be sad, my friend. If it wasn't you it would be someone else. It's happening to people all over the world, this sort of thing. Lots of people are like you right now, taking their first step into the real horror show. Finding out their happy life of buzzing around and bashing into things was always just a thread away from turning into something really quite nasty. So, don't feel so bad about it, my friend. This sort of thing has been happening right since the beginning. Ever since there were spiders and flies. It's only natural. And remember; the spider must eat…