Robocop saw movement from the corner of his eye. That was enough to set him on edge. He just knew what it was, he didn't have to look. Nor did he have the courage to look.
He hated spiders.
He remembered with shame the last time there was a spider in the house. That encounter had resulted in a smashed pint glass, a lot of screaming and an embarrassed apology to the nice policeman that the neighbours had called believing an aggravated burglary was taking place. His cheeks reddened at the memory.
The time before that was no less inept. Surely no one else would have such trouble with spiders. No one else would end up locked in the pantry in fear. No one else would use the lid of a tin of beans as a makeshift mirror to check under the door to see if the spider had gone.
No. It was a constant source of self-loathing. Robocop lived his life spider-encounter to spider-encounter, a series of un-noteworthy plateaus between agonising valleys of terror. This time, he had a plan. He decided that he just wouldn't look.
He concentrated instead on the TV show he was watching. It was a murder mystery set in Italy. Robocop loved watching murder mysteries, despite being totally awful at deducing who the murderer was. Add that one to the list of shame - his accusations would fly wildly at everyone from the investigating officer to the extras in the street scenes, all to no avail. On a number of occasions he had inexplicably suspected the victim of being the killer.
The TV detective had just discovered a spent shotgun cartridge and was performing forensic tests. It was all a bit far fetched - Robocop didn't know much about that sort of thing, but he was pretty sure you couldn't extract information about the relatives of the victim from the spray pattern of the cartridge's plastic housing. But then again, maybe they could. Technology was moving at such a pace these days. It was all Robocop could do to remember how to change his clock come Daylight Savings. He glanced over at the DVD slash VHS machine he'd bought himself one Christmas and still had yet to work out how to connect up. It mocked him lifelessly. One more failure for the list.
The detective show cut to the commercials. As an act of technological self-affirmation Robocop decided to make himself a coffee. A fancy coffee using that machine he'd been given by his neighbour Rosie when she'd been moved into the home. He'd only used it twice, but it was much easier to work out than the video. Slap in a disc of flavoured coffee, put some water in there, press the button and you're done. He knew this. He could work this. He'd show that pompous video.
Robocop stood and strode purposfully to the kitchen. He selected a particularly appropriate coffee disc from the selection that came with the machine (it was an Italian blend) and slapped it in, put some water in there and pressed the button; The machine beeped obediently. That made Robocop smile. He was in total control of this contraption. No unexpected messages on the LCD screen, no difficult settings to decipher. Just push the button for coffee. Beep. Done. Robocop nodded, imagining himself as a bank manager approving of a subordinate teller's decision to not allow a loan extension. He was the master of this coffee machine. He was king.
He returned to the living room, full of confidence. Raising the tiny coffee cup from it's saucer to his lips, he blew its contents cooler.
Something caught his eye, and he jumped with fright. The spider that he'd forgotten about had moved. It was now on the wall above Robocop's seat on the settee.
God, how he hated spiders. Who knows how long it had been there on the wall, behind his head, as he watched his detective show? He shivered as he imagined the spider crawling over his face.
Robocop realised that his hands were now empty, whereas before he had been holding things. He looked down at the floor, at the tiny coffee mug, cracked in two, and the puddle of fancy Italian coffee. He looked again at the spider. He sighed. First things first, mop up the coffee.
He grabbed a J-cloth and some stain remover from under the kitchen sink and did his best to clean up the mess. It looked, despite his efforts, like it was going to stain. Well, the carpet was old anyway. He took the pieces of the broken mug and binned them. From the cups and glasses cupboard Robocop searched for a suitable spider-jail. He took a pint glass, then considered the size of the spider, thought better of it and chose a plastic mixing bowl instead. He sifted through the pile of junk mail that he had yet to muster the enthusiasm to recycle and selected a sturdy A5 sized letter from a bank offering a loan. Robocop needed not of loans. Robocop returned to the living room.
The spider was gone.
Robocop should have been pleased, but he wasn't. He was petrified. The spider could be anywhere. Rooted to the spot, he glanced at the floor around the settee. No spider. He looked at the walls to each side of the room. Spider free. He looked up.
As the spider, which had been on the ceiling above his head, dropped down onto his face Robocop felt a wave of panic spread through his body. He released the bowl and junk mail, brought his hands alarmingly quickly up to his face and sort of 'bopped' the spider away. He noticed it fell near, and ran under, the settee.
It dawned on Robocop that he was loudly swearing. He stopped that at once. It was unbecoming of an officer. He was also crying a little. Just for a moment, he felt the overbearing embrace of his mother. He smelled her scent, felt her warmth, and heard her calming words. "Don't worry, little one," she said. "There there".
Robocop's memories of happier times were swept away as he came to his senses. He opened his eyes, and he was alone again. There was no one here to comfort him.
Right, thought Robocop. Time to get this done. He grabbed the torch he kept in the 'misc' drawer in the kitchen and got down on the floor, ready to hunt the beast. Torch on, he lowered his frame so as to see under the sofa. The plastic bowl was to hand; if anything happened he'd be ready.
Looking into the darkness beneath the sofa, Robocop felt that he wasn't actually ready yet. Regardless, he slowly swept the torch beam along the floor. He kept the hand near the bowl twitchy and ready for action, as the torch illuminated fluff, an old cream cracker and nothing. He continued sweeping the beam.
As the torch illuminated the spider, it ran directly at Robocop's unprotected face. Robocop froze, unable to even breathe. The spider mounted his cheek, scurried over his lips, dipped one leg inside his agape mouth, and cleared the gap from the topside of Robocop's face to the sofa. And with that, it was out of sight and touch.
Robocop realised with shame that he had wet himself.