Thursday, May 6, 2010

Great Openings #3

"Where he walked, the trees had all dried up and died, a long time before. Cooper took big strides, the scuffed-up workboots he'd been given crunching through the dusty top layer of leaves. Underneath, the ground had stayed wet, the older leaves rotting into a damp pulp knitted with twigs. He'd been told, and believed, that spiders lived under the leaves, big brown and grey tarantulas come up out of the dry riverbeds. A plank shelf in one of the farm's sheds held a row of rust-lidded Mason jars, each one's glass clouded over with silk, a dead thing curled up in the nest of its own legs at the bottom. Old Man Vandervelde's son Bonnie had caught them when he was a kid and had left them there, a little collection arranged beside the papery snakeskins nailed to the wood, curling like unspooled flypapers, with little clicking rattles at the ends. The snakes supposedly crawled around under the leaf muck, too. And rats -- Cooper had spotted the paired sparks of their eyes before, the rats watching as he passed by, then scurrying back to their warrens in the orange trees' roots. This goddamn place -- Cooper felt his boot slide from beneath him, and barely caught himself from falling. Nothing but a bad idea...."

--In the Land of the Dead by K. W. Jeter