I'VE ALWAYS BEEN FASONATED BY spideis. I used to collect them when I was younger. I'd spend hours rooting through the dusty old shed at the bottom of our garden, hunting the cobwebs for lurking eight-legged predatois. When I found one, Td bring it in and let it loose in my bedroom.
It used to drive my mom crazy!
Usually, the spider would slip away after no more than a day or two, never to be seen again, but sometimes they hm^ around longer. I had one who made a cobweb above my bed and stood guard for almost a month. Going to sleep, I used to imagine the spider creeping down, crawling into my mouth, sliding down my throat, and laying loads of eggs in my belly. The baby spider? would hatch after a while and eat me alive, from the inside out
I loved being scared when I was little.
When I was nine, my mom and dad gave me a small tarantula It wasnt poisonous orveiy big, but it was the greatest gift Td ever received. I played with that spider almost eveiy waking hour of the day. Gave it all soils of treats: flies and cockroaches and tiny woims. Spoiled it rotten.
Then, one day, I did something stupid. I'd been watching a cartoon in which one of the characters was sucked up by a vacuum cleaner. No haim came to him. He squeezed out of the bag, dusty and dirty and mad as hell. It was vety funny.
So funny, I tried it myself. With the tarantula
Needless to say, things didnt happen quite like they did in the cartoon. Hie spider was ripped to pieces. I cried a lot, but it was too late for teats. My pet was dead, it was my fault, and there was nothing I could do about it
My parents practically hollered the roof down when they found out what I'd done the tarantula had cost quite a lot of money. TTiey said I was inesponsi We, and from that day on they never again let me have a pet, not even an ordinaiy garden spider.
I started with that tale from the past for two reasons. One will become obvious as this book unfolds. The other reason is:
Ifas is a true story.
I don't expect you to believe me I wouldn't believe it myself if I hadn't lived it but it is. Eveiythii^ I describe in this book happened, just as I tell it
The thing about real life is, when you do something stupid, it nomially costs you. In books, the heroes can make as many mistakes as they like. It doesnt matter what they do, because eveiything wotks out in the end. TTiey 11 beat the bad guys and put things right and eveiythii^ ends up cool.
hi teal life, vacuum cleanets kill spiders. If you cross a busy road without looking, you get whacked by a car. If you fall out of a tree, you break some bones.
Real life's nasty. It's cruel. It doesnt care about heroes and happy endings and the way things should be. In real life, bad things happen. People die. Fights are lost Evil often wins.
I just wanted to make that clear before I began.
One more thing: my name isnt really Dairen Shan. Eveiything's tme in this book, except for names. IVe had to charge them because... well, by the time you get to the end, youll understand.
I havent used any real names, not mine, my sisters, my friends, or teachers. Nobody's. I'm not even going to tell you the name of my town or country. I dont dare.
Anyway, that's enough of an introduction. If you're ready, let's begin. If this were a made-up story, it would begin at night, with a storm blowing and owls hootirg and rattling noises under the bed But this is a real stoiy, so I have to begin where it really started.
It started in a toilet