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(because this story may be confronting and is not suitable for children, it is not posted here. To obtain a copy, see the foot of this page)


The spiders are coming.  Hundreds of them.  Great hairy things with all those legs and rows of eyes like the headlights on the front of dune buggies.  Yesterday it was cockroaches and the day before that flies and before that slugs and earwigs and scorpions and beetles.

But today it’s spiders so it’s Tuesday.  They always come on Tuesday, the spiders.

They don’t believe me.  The nurses smile at me like I’m mad or something and doctors look at their watches while they hold my wrist and tell the nurses to give me more pills.

And the shrink sits and looks at me and asks me what spiders remind me of …


So begins a heart-rending account of a young woman stuck in a mental hospital and stuck in her own nightmares.  Her nightmares are a result of serial abuse by members of her family after her parents’ death.

She is terribly alone, left to deal with the daily onslaught of creatures – the professional staff seem able to do little to help her.  Yet there is a glimmer of hope at the end.

In awarding first prize to Daan Spijer, the judge said that the story affected him emotionally each of the five times he read it during the judging process.

‘Dead’ is a confronting story, using strong language and sexual imagery.  It is not for the squeamish and is not recommended for children.

(To read the whole story, send an email to the author)

This story won first prize (open short story) in the Boroondara Literary Awards, November 2007