Today, an epic battle was waged between myself and my first brush with Australia’s insane wildlife; namely, I had my first encounter with a spider known as the Huntsman spider. If the freaky name isn’t enough, here’s a close-up of the beast thanks to Wikipedia:
There I am, waking up in the morning, minding my own business, having a nice little text chat with my mom about her trip to Philadelphia, when I glance over to a dark splotch on the wall that encroached on my peripheral vision. The sight that beheld me was something like this (maybe only SLIGHTLY exaggerated by my perception and severe arachnophobia):
I then quickly went through the following stages:
I saw the spider, fully splayed out on my wall next the window he must have come through (though it was shut and there was a screen on it). But I didn’t believe it was real – there was just no way a creature of that size possessing that many legs and eyes exists in reality. Someone must be playing a cruel joke on me. This all went through my head in about five seconds until I realized that I lived all by myself and no one else has keys to my place, so this was, indeed, a real spider. All four f*cking inches of it. After this finally sank in I jumped out of bed, scrambled into my bathroom, slammed the door shut, and stood on top of my toilet. Well, “jumping” is probably too generous of a word to describe how I got out of bed. More like leapt directly from a prone position to a standing position outside my bedroom door, which is about 3 ½ feet away.
2.) Slow Acceptance
As I cowered on the top of my toilet saying things like, “Holy sh*t, no f*cking way, this is not real, this is not happening, what the f*ck??” I managed to take a couple of deep breaths and get my synapses to start firing again. I realized that time was ticking away, and I needed to actually get out of my pajamas and go to work at some point today. Since it appeared that the dragon-spider hadn’t chased me into the bathroom, I tentatively got down off the toilet. Then slowly opened the door, making sure I surveyed every inch of space before setting foot on the carpet in the hallway. Then turned and looked back through my bedroom door. There he was, just nonchalantly taking up a saucer-sized space on my wall, with 2 ½ inch long freaky, hairy legs. Summoning all the courage I possess in my soul, I stepped into my room and got as close as I would dare so I could study the creature, waffling between utter disbelief, panic, and sheer terror. I tried to get some pictures of it, but the closest I could get would allow me to only capture this:
I scuttled back into the bathroom and shut the door again, then went about Googling things like “crazy monster death spiders native to Australia,” which didn’t return very awesome or comforting results. I soon found a site that let me look at several photos to determine which species had invaded my home, and I discovered that my nemesis was called the Huntsman spider – the largest spider in the whole freaking country. But fortunately not venomous – not that this made me feel much better. I was told that they tend not to bite humans unless mishandled (I’m sorry, who would dare to actually handle one of these things?), that they eat bugs, and are very common across the country. Fabulous.
4.) Seeking Camaraderie
As I had previously stated, one of the shitty things about living solo is that there is no one to kill the bugs. Welp, I never realized how badly I’d miss that until this very moment. I was entirely on my own and my brain was still reeling too much to come up with a proper plan of action. Instead of squealing, “kill it, kill it” to a roommate or boyfriend, I was flying solo into this battle. So to get some moral support, I sent a text to a couple of my girlfriends in the complete panic. Their form of support was sending me this:
I have great friends.
So I texted one of my Aussie friends, thinking he would be able to confirm my classification of the opponent and maybe give me some battle tips. I sent him the photo and he confirmed my scientific diagnosis of Huntsman spider, while also commenting that he was a good size. No sh*t, Sherlock. His first suggestion? “Oh just pop a jar over it and take it outside! But be quick mate, they are really fast and sometimes they jump.” What. The. F*ck. This was slowly evolving into my worst nightmare. I calmly explained that I couldn’t even get within two feet of it before I knew that the sonofabitch JUMPED, and now the prospect of re-entering my room was slim to none. After he realized there was no chance for mercy on my enemy, he suggested finding the biggest broom I had and smashing him, or else I’d have to go out into the street to find someone to help. While I didn’t like the idea of the proximity that the broom plan required, it was better than leaving the house dressed in my battle gear (read: my pajamas and the only pair of shoes I owned that were outside of my bedroom at the time):
No one was supposed to see me like this! Gah.
Note: This photo was taken AFTER the battle was complete and my room was safe from invaders.
I finally resolved to go to the back patio and grab the biggest broom out there (thank you landlord for leaving them behind), but as I started out the bathroom door and glanced into my room, I saw that my adversary had scuttled at lightning speed halfway across the wall and down to the baseboard. He halted when he saw my bright pink sweatpants emerge from the bathroom. Face off.
I dashed to the slider door, threw it open, grabbed a broom, and ran back to the doorway before the enemy could advance any further. He hadn’t moved, so I took a deep breath, stepped forward, wound up, and tried to whale him as hard and accurately as I could while simultaneously waiting for him to spring jump into my face. I barely grazed him, and he scuttled for the safe cover of the space between my open door and the wall while I desperately tried to wind up and crack him again. Except that this time the broom head opted to fall off instead of squishing him, and he cowered into the corner of the wall behind my open door. I raced back to the patio knowing I could waste no time and grabbed the second broom, and dashed back to finish my offensive. Instead of winding up and smacking like I’d had the opportunity to do when he was on the open wall, I was forced to stab at him with the stiff bristles of the broom while yelling out my loudest banshee cry at the top of my lungs. Also keep in mind that yelling, shouting, screaming, swearing, and squealing was a constant throughout this whole process. I’m actually really surprised nobody called the cops. Anyway, I pulled the broom back from the wall to see if my stab had hit it’s mark, and the wall was bare. Not sure if the dragon-spider had found a way to hide in the jacket that was hanging on the back of my door, I skittered back out of my room and dropped the broom a safe foot away from me, and out fell his crumpled corpse.
My whole body was shaking, I was panting from fear and exertion from slapping cleaning tools against my walls and screaming like a little girl, but I had faced the evil dragon spider and won. I turned away for a second to do an air fist-pump, and when I turned back around I saw the crumpled body starting to unfurl itself. Screaming bloody murder, I grabbed the discarded broom and started repeatedly beating the creature into the carpet over and over and over again until my brain started once again working and he’d lost a couple of limbs. When I was once again capable of cognizant thought, I swept him onto the biggest bag I could find in my house, folded it over, and gingerly threw it out onto the patio, slamming and locking the sliding glass door behind me. Victory was mine.
Despite my victory, I was now overly jumpy as I went about preparing myself for work; every piece of lint was a baby Huntsmen, every time my clothing brushed my body it was a spider crawling onto me so it could launch itself into my face and avenge the death of its comrade, reaching into my closet for a tank took Herculean effort as I was certain there was another Huntsmen just waiting to jump onto my hand. I hastily went about the rest of my preparation and rushed for the bus as soon as I could. I’m still wondering how I’m going to be able to re-enter my apartment and fall asleep tonight. Definitely only after an expensive trip to the hardware store to stock up on every single kind of spider killer and repellent possible.
And of course, being a lover of all things nature, after enough distance and time I started to feel a little bit bad for the dragon-spider. I mean, really, he didn’t launch himself into my face or try to spew venom at me in any sort of counter-attack. He only ran away and tried to make his massive body as small as possible to avoid my onslaught with the brooms. I’m sure he didn’t intentionally squeeze his way through whatever hole he did to make his way into my apartment – he likely made a wrong turn on his way back to his dragon-spider lair and wound up in a neurotic single girl’s bedroom who tragically has an irrational fear of spiders. I’m not saying I would have done any differently, but I do wish that the dragon-spider had found his way into my neighbor’s apartment so I wasn’t forced to valiantly defend my castle.
I walked into my office and over to the desk of my friend who had talked me through much of the process and said, “One way ticket to the United States, please.” After recounting my story a few times to my coworkers, I was given a new nickname.
Like I said, I have great friends.