“Suddenly, I hear a loud grunt, and I realize that the fight has started. The centaur is sprinting in Hunter’s direction, weapon first. But Hunter pulls out his sword and holds him off, the metal glinting in the sunlight as their weapons meet.”
I step forward, my eight ugly legs carrying me closer and closer to the centaur. He can’t see me yet, and I know I don’t have time to worry about dying, but I can’t help but fear the large weapon the horse-man is holding. He could easily slice me in half with that thing. I glance over at Hunter, looking for the same nervousness in his eyes. Instead, I see confidence— way more than anyone should ever have in a situation like this. I don’t particularly like the man— all he wants is power— but he’s my only hope. You see, he promised me that if I helped him take over this castle, he would do everything he could to turn me from a spider into a human. And that’s all that I’ve ever wanted. The question is, will he still help me once he has what he wants?
I guess there’s only one way to find out, I think, moving my focus back onto the centaur. He and Hunter are facing off in the middle of a field just outside a large castle that seems to be slowly falling apart. There are a few trees around the edges of the area, including the one I’m hiding behind. But it’s really not that nice. I wonder why Hunter wants it. I don’t think it has anything to do with the centaur. As far as I know, he’s just a guard…
Focus, Pablo, I think, forcing myself to run over our plan in my head. Once Hunter’s staring battle with the centaur is over, they’ll begin to fight, with Hunter mostly on the defensive. But the minute the centaur thinks he is winning, I’ll come from behind and hit him over the head with a rock. Or something like that. I shiver at the realization that within a few minutes, I will have murdered someone. But being human is worth it, I remind myself.
I would do anything to be human— to be respected, accepted, loved. As a spider, no one ever dares to come within five feet of me, and people only ever talk to me if they wish to ridicule me, to send me deeper into a hole of loneliness. Or if they want something from me, like Hunter does.
Suddenly, I hear a loud grunt, and I realize that the fight has started. The centaur is sprinting in Hunter’s direction, weapon first. But Hunter pulls out his sword and holds him off, the metal glinting in the sunlight as their weapons meet. The centaur swings his weapon at Hunter again, but he blocks the attack. Next, he tries to hit Hunter’s head, but he ducks just in time. The next attempt slices through the sleeve of Hunter’s jacket, but he is left otherwise unharmed, so he decides to attack, but misses, and the centaur takes the opportunity to strike. His weapon nicks Hunter’s leg, who jumps out of the way to avoid major injury.
They have been fighting like this for a few minutes when I notice that Hunter is steadily moving backward on the bright green grass and that the centaur’s swipes are moving closer and closer to his body. I know this is where I come in, but for some reason I can’t get my feet to move.
Something has me cemented in place— fear, maybe— and I can’t seem to do anything but stand and watch uselessly as the centaur creates a deep, bloody, gash in Hunter’s chest. The human collapses onto the ground, and all my hopes collapse with him. And it’s all my fault. I guess there was no way around it— I was destined to kill someone today.
Trying not to look at the bloody corpse on the ground, I slowly move from my hiding spot. What should I do now? Should I approach the centaur? Should I just leave? But before I can decide, my eyes lock with the centaur’s frightened ones. I don’t know why, but as he slowly starts to back away, I call out to him.
“What are you?” he asks, clearly trying to keep his voice steady. I feel something in my stomach sink upon hearing his question, but I can’t really blame him. Giant spiders are pretty uncommon.
“I’m Pablo,” I say. I see him look around nervously, so I continue. “I’m not here to hurt you, I just need help.” He looks surprised, and a little relieved, but I can tell he’s still on edge.
“What do you want?”
I pause for a moment. “To be human.”
His mouth opens and closes a few times before he speaks. “I’m sorry… what?”
“You see, I was supposed to help that man” —I look over at Hunter— “kill you. He said that if I did, he would do everything in his power to turn me into a human. But I couldn’t do it, as you can tell,” I explain, slightly embarrassed.
“The man’s a liar,” he states. Interested, I snap my gaze over to meet his.
“You know him?”
“No, no, of course not,” he says, but I can tell he’s trying to cover something up, because he’s talking a little faster than normal and won’t look me in the eye. “He just… um, doesn’t seem like the type of man to be honest, if you know what I mean.”
I’m really curious now, but I don’t show it.
“I’m Gus, by the way,” the centaur informs me.
“Okay, uh, nice to meet you,” I say, feeling slightly awkward. What now? I don’t have anywhere to go— my entire future was riding on this plan. “So, bye, I guess.”
I slowly walk away, feeling hopeless and alone. But I mean, what did I expect? I just told the guy that I came here to kill him, why would he help me?
“Wait— didn’t you say you needed help?” Gus asks, and I turn back to face him. He clears his throat. “I mean, do you have some sort of back-up plan?”
“Not exactly,” I say, not wanting to get myself in any more trouble. “But you really don’t—”
He cuts me off. “Well, maybe I can help you.”