by Sora Teramoto
Long, long ago, back when Life was still smiling at the Earth, spiders were like all other insect creatures. Though they had six efficient legs and two eyes composed of ommatidia, the spiders were dissatisfied: they wished to be special. Life, apologetic that an inhabitant was displeased, granted them a measure of intelligence instead of wings. Still, the spiders were dissatisfied; they were infuriated to lose such a precious unit of their body, especially for an intangible capability. Alas, Life acquiesced, bestowing them the power of regeneration. Through this, the spiders could create new limbs in a molt if severed. In exchange, they agreed to losing their antennae. Following this final compromise with the spiders, a somewhat irked Life sent them away. The spiders were irked further. They, almost spitefully, called Life back with an offer. The spiders proposed to sacrifice one of their three body segments in exchange for a unique means of better survival. Life declined. Despite the unwavering rejection, the spiders returned with another offer. In addition to losing a body segment, they proposed to sacrifice their strong eyesight for less-effective eyes without ommatidia. Exasperated with their determination, Life caved into their request in the end. The spiders would now possess two body segments: an abdomen and a cephalothorax. Rather than the compound eyes of an insect, they now had simpler ones. Life then presented them with the ability to weave webs with their silk, serving to assist the spiders in hunting for food. With this, the spiders finally took their leave. ////// I tut at the thought of my ancestors and sigh, straining to see in front of me. As I wander the plant I’m planning to set my web on, I carefully consider the potential traffic flow of insects. I follow my dragline to where I had first circled the plant and wait to catch the wind until there’s a sudden shift in the atmosphere. A shudder of vibrations resonates nearby. I freeze and hold my breath as something looms before me. It approaches slowly but is undoubtedly heading towards me. I stay stiff until I can finally see it, but release an exhale in relief. It was only another spider, slightly smaller than me. A stray wind rustles some trees in the distance and they shiver with dissonance as I turn to leave. I spin back around as the air abruptly tenses, and retreat just as the spider swings its long jaws. Fortunately, it misses. My legs hurry me away as fast as they can, feeling the space cut around me as the spider tries to attack again. I dodge, but a moment too late—its fangs head toward one of my legs. Instinctively, I detach the targeted limb. It rolls away, narrowly missing my hunter. As the predator is distracted by the runaway leg, I take cover behind a thicker patch of vegetation. I peer through the leaves to find it tracing my draglines, clearly on its way to my hiding place. Inhale, exhale. It draws closer. Reason finally cascades through my mind, and I curve a corner while hiding quietly. The spider pauses for a moment before proceeding into the foliage, seeming desperately determined. Its actions so far—powerful attacks without any focus or precision, fighting and chasing after a spider larger than itself—suggest that it’s a product of unfathomable hunger. I stare as it hurriedly scours the area. I can’t let myself be swayed. If I could offer it any food, I would, wouldn’t I? It’s only because the spider is seemingly preying on me that I won’t risk anything. As soon as it’s close enough, I sink my fangs into its abdomen to inject my venom. It struggles, swinging its own fangs despite being unable to stab me in my position behind it. It falls limp after a few moments. ///// Two of my siblings greet me back as I return home, dragging my leg behind me. Heavens, you look stunning. The asymmetry is such a deep artistic choice! It’s a shame I never realized you were the creative type until now, one notes. The other bursts into laughter, pauses to look at my legs again, and resumes convulsing in howls. I glare at them. I wouldn’t push it right now, after what I’ve experienced today. Now I’ll have to settle for measly critters as I wait for my leg to grow back. A sigh. It’s probably best you two make yourselves scarce before I’m hungry enough to start devouring my own kind. But– but– the convulsing spider attempts to gather enough air to breathe while snatching the appendage I’ve been holding. But your leg is right here! Hold still now, let me try it on. I start to protest. What use is there in trying it on? It’s not like my severed leg would attach to someone else’s body… but cease in incredulity when it, almost spitefully, fastens to my sibling’s cephalothorax. With the seamlessness of the final appearance, it’s as if my leg is trying to convince us that it had belonged there all along. ///// This is incredible. Revolutionary, I’d say! the seven-legged spider declares. But since we’re both uneven now, amputate one more leg on the other side and give it to me. We would both profit that way. I’d have an even amount of legs, and so would you. I’m met with a charming smile, and I stare at my sibling’s newly obtained limb. The rationality in me can't help but ponder how best to phrase the rejection. Besides, you’ll just regenerate both legs together in your next molt. And that should be coming up soon, right? It’ll be fine, I promise! Just trust me. I grimace and begin to refuse, only to be cut off instantly. Oh, you’ve always been so headstrong. Fine, I’ll go get you one of your favorite meals tonight, a snail. Go rest for a bit to prepare for your molt. In the meantime, I’ll gather everyone to protect you to make up for your physical disadvantage. How’s that? Grinning, I sever another leg. //// Eight dawns later, all of my limbs are safely back on me. I admire my fully shed exoskeleton until I sense some shudders of vibrations, announcing the approach of several creatures. I pivot to find the two siblings who had greeted me nine nights ago. Three spiders follow them, seeming slightly nervous. They draw closer. The eight-legged spider addresses me cheerfully. Good morning! Glad to see that you’re doing well. We just have a little offer. Hear us out, will you? What a relief. I draw closer. Because I have an offer for you too. ////// I eat the frogs and lizards slowly, savoring the served delicacy. It doesn’t matter how many legs I have right now; I’ll recover them in my next molt anyway. Losing my eyes is nothing compared to the ecstasy of consuming such a rare feast. And without doing any work at all! I’d do anything to live like this every day. A shudder of vibrations resonates nearby. Something is watching me. I smile, almost spitefully.
Sora Teramoto (grade 10)
My name is Sora Teramoto and I am in 10th grade. Outside of school, I spend most of my time dancing, which leaves me with little time to read or write. Therefore, you might find me reading a book on my phone during every class change. I tend to be very sporadic with my writing mindset, so you might occasionally catch me writing furiously during some classes (but please don’t tell my mother).
what is your main source of inspiration?
My main sources of inspiration stem from a variety of things, ranging from insects to video games. As a bug enthusiast, I enjoy sharing my knowledge and hopefully connecting with others through it, probably apparent in Gluttony and many of my other works. I am also a fan of role playing games, and I am certain they have influenced my writing, especially ones revolving around darker themes such as Omori, Lisa: The Painful, and Off.
do you write sporadically or regularly?
I am a very spontaneous writer, which is quite difficult as I might sudden get inspiration during odd hours. At these times I have to determine my priorities with whether I jot something down and miss whatever is happening, or risk forgetting the idea but pay attention to the present. The former rarely happens, however; I am a firm believer in that if I am unable to remember an idea I came up with, it wasn’t important or sensational enough. If I couldn’t recall something of my own, how could others?
what message do you hope to convey to the reader through your piece?
The main plot of Gluttony follows a spider who has amputated a leg when another spider realizes that the leg can attach to another body. The second spider takes advantage of this to gain more legs, in return feeding the “leg giver” with extravagant meals and protection. They will keep feeding and keeping that spider healthy to keep it molting to give them more legs. There is greed on both sides: on the spiders who want more legs and do anything to have the upper hand, and on the spiders who would sacrifice everything to live grandly, despite being crippled. By the end, the latter succumbs to its gluttony and gives up its non-regenerative eyes. The focus of the piece lies in moral grayness as the reader finds greed and happiness coexisting. Therefore, the story does not end with a perfect “happy” ending, but they all end happy anyway. Is that still true happiness?