Annabelle had just situated herself somewhat comfortably behind Matt on the horse when Ol’ Jack reared. Annabelle clung to Matt, but the horse reared again, and she slid off the back landing on the dirt road.
"Are you all right?" shouted Tobin above the frightened cries of Ol’ Jack.
Annabelle looked up from the ground to see Matt jump from the horse. He backed up and tripped over Annabelle.
"Ouch. Matt, what?"
His eyes were wide with fear and his mouth contorted. He continued trying to crab crawl backwards. The horse continued whinnying in fear. Annabelle followed Matt's horrified gaze and yelled.
The thing had a long, slender, black body with a yellow stripe racing down its back. Fine hairs graced all eight of its spindly legs. It snapped its pincers only once knowing it need not threaten so obviously.
"What is that?" said Tobin.
"Big frickin' spider," Annabelle said finding her feet. "Matt, get up. Get up!"
Her friend lay there helplessly trembling.
The spider the size of a small dog skittered closer to Matt.
"Matt, get up. It's coming closer," Annabelle said slapping and yanking at the shoulders of Matt's jacket.
A fine hairy leg reached out to caress Matt's calf. His face froze with an unreleased scream.
The air throbbed with a familiar voice. "Tell me the story, Matt Smith. What's the matter?" said the witchy woman, her voice rich and thick like caramel. "Don't like my pet?"
The spider crept closer. Too many eyes shined at Matt.
Annabelle ran into the dining room of Georg's Song and grabbed a chair. She had to break through a company of spectators to get back outside. Many villagers stood looking in wonder at the sky as the vixen's voice continued pulsing in the air.
Annabelle swung the chair at the spider, which squealed at contact. A leg crumpled in pain. A second blow with the chair had the large spider rolling into the street. Annabelle closed her eyes and thrashed at the creature with the chair until she could no longer hear its squeaking cry or the crunching of its fine body. She looked down. The sight of the mangled body, one leg twitching, made her skin crawl. She dropped the chair.
The witch gave a throaty chuckle.
"This is not the end,” she said.
Annabelle reached under Matt’s arms.
Once to his feet, Matt blew out the scream that had frozen in his throat. He flung his limbs – arms and legs – in an erratic dance, swiping his arms to rid himself of the creeps. "Well – I – never. Ugh!" He stopped by the now calmed horse.
"Are you okay?" Tobin said.
"Better now, thanks." Matt mounted the horse. When he reached down to help Annabelle up behind him, he rolled his eyes.
She was giggling.
"What?" he half shouted.
"You just had your butt saved by a girl." She laughed harder. "You weanie."
Haughtily Matt said, "I don't like spiders. Now get up here, Smith."
Tobin gave Annabelle a leg up before hopping on his own horse.
"Nancy boy," Annabelle continued her ribbing.
"That was a big spider."
Tobin snorted at the two and led the way leaving the still twitching arachnid behind.