By Erle Townsend

Jorogumo knew this would be his last day. The clan must have water to survive, and of all the clan, he was the most prepared in the ways of the Ritual. The hill had been dry for days, and Jorogumo was their last hope. He approached the hill and began to climb.

He wove among the identical trees that made up the forest covering the hill, occasionally looking upwards between their long, perfectly straight trunks. He was pleased that the light was still dim, as the Ritual was thought to work best when the sacrifice reached the top before full light appeared.

Jorogumo did not regret that he was the sacrifice. He felt honored that he was providing for the clan. He hoped his performance of the Ritual would be successful. That it would bring the god-giant, and the water that the clan needed. In his mind, he pictured the god-giant answering his summons, and giving his life for the good of the clan.

He had to scramble over and around many wiry tanglebushes beneath the trees as he climbed, and he knew this was another good omen for a successful Ritual. The bushes were old and dried out, and the Ritual would force the god-giant to replace them with new tanglebushes, damp and supple, full of water that would be easy for the clan to find when they foraged in the dark.

Jorogumo came to the top of the hill. He selected what he hoped was the tallest tree and began to climb. At the top, he looked around and saw that all the trees in the forest were the same height, and their tops perfectly reflected the shape of the hill beneath them. He looked off into the distance, but everything faded into a dim blur beyond the forest on the hill. The edge of the world was beyond the reach of his eyes.

He began the Ritual. Positioning himself atop the highest part of the tree, he reached upward and began to sway about. He turned slowly, facing in every direction while repeating the motions. No one knew how long it would take for the Ritual to work. No survivor had lived more than a few minutes after their broken body had been discovered, and their garbled last words were impossible to understand. All that was known was that the Ritual worked, and it cost the performer his life.

He continued swaying and turning, silently calling out to the god-giant with his mind. Time seemed to stand still as he repeated the endless motions. Suddenly the light changed, and a wind brushed over him. He knew the god-giant was near. As a brilliant light flooded over him, he reached as high as he could manage, swaying as far as he could and waving his arms wildly. He knew he had succeeded as he felt the hill lurch beneath him. The last thing he saw was something huge descending over him, blocking out the light with a crushing darkness.

Dave blearily woke up, cursing his alarm as he looked at the clock. Late again. He fumbled his way out of bed and into the bathroom, turning on the light and rubbing his face. He looked in the mirror at his unruly mop of hair and realized he didn’t have time for a shower today. He reached over and grabbed his hairbrush, ripping the tangled hair out from last time, and running it under the water to try to get his appearance under control. He didn’t notice the tiny spider.