On the Traincontest image small
Annetta Ribken

He looks like a normal person, but I know he's not. A black cap covers his black hair, and he wears black sunglasses and a black turtleneck sweater. The hair on his face is black.

I see him staring at me, the lenses over his eyes making him look like a spider.

Trying not to overtly stare, out of the corner of my eye I think I see hairy, bristly legs sprout from his cheeks. I look at him through slitted eyes, and see silky strands trailing from his dark beard towards his sleeping prey.

He sees me. He sees me and he smiles, sharp teeth glistening. I close my eyes tightly. The train rocks back and forth and my stomach rocks with it.

I hear a soft, sucking sound and my stomach clenches. I want to peek, but I don't dare. If I stay still, and mind my own business, maybe he'll be satiated.

They're all around us, you know. On buses, trains, on planes. If you look at them directly, you won't see them. They're pretty slick that way. Out of the corner of your eye. . . that's the only way to catch them. You sure don't want to be sitting next to one. They get. . . hungry.

Not all of them are spiders. Once, on a bus, I saw a grandmotherly looking lady with soft white hair and a pillbox hat. She looked nice, but she was really an aphid. Another time I jumped in a cab and there was a beautiful woman with long red hair and painted nails. I knew she was a Praying Mantis and I jumped right back out of that cab.

know other people see them too, but no one admits it. My therapist says the medication I'm on should make me unpalatable, maybe even poison to them.

So, I keep my eyes to myself. Except for peeking out of the corners. I keep a can of Raid in my bag just in case.

He's still staring at me, but the legs are gone now and his prey sleeps quietly.

I suppose someday they'll be everywhere, but I'm not going to be bug food if I can help it. I've got a nice stockpile of my medication, and if one of those things ever decides to take a bite of me, it'll be in for a big surprise.

Watch. Out of the corner of your eyes. That's the secret.