This story is not my typical comedy, funny, children’s type story. It’s a little more serious. I just say that in the very beginning to give you a heads up.
At the end I will give some interesting background as to where the inspiration for this story came from. The story is completely fictional but there are some facts about scientific discoveries I ran with while writing.
If you can not stand spiders but you interested in some health facts that inspired this story go to the very bottom under, “EXTRAS”, and just read that.
Although a few of the details used in this story are scientific facts, some are theories and other parts are completely fictional. This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or businesses in practice, are purely coincidental. The views expressed here are my own, as are whatever factual errors exist in the text.
This story or parts thereof may not be reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise – without prior written permission of the publisher.
“Bite To The Bone” -a short story about a scientist who discovers that mixing spider webs with tiny glass beads create some new material used to grow and repair human bones.
BITE TO THE BONE
Steve was sitting in the dark movie theater when he felt a prick to the back his neck. He let out a little, “Yelp!” His girlfriend, Jill, slapped his thigh. He raised his hand to touch the painful area, “Something bit me!”, he tried to whisper. He began to moan. His girlfriend tried once again to get him to hush. Steve became weak and broke out into a cold sweat, “I’m really sick.”, he was still trying to keep his voice down. “What?”, she replied. “No, no, really. I am sick I got…”, he grabbed her hand and she felt his clammy skin. Are you okay?”, she began to become more aware of him and forget about the movie. “No.”, is the only word he could get out. “Let’s get out of here Steve!”, she escorted him out of the theater. 72 hours later Steve died.
6 days earlier-
“We have the test results Dr. Monroe.”, Steve the youngest lab assistant said as he handed the doctor some report papers. “Did you come to a conclusion with the microscopic fusion?” “Yes sir.” Steve could read the headlines now, MONROE AND HIS ASSISTANTS FINE CURE FOR BONE MARROW COMPLICATIONS”
The young Doctor Monroe spoken into a handheld tape recorder, “Possible finalization of phase one specimen P762.536. Studies show the fusion of ground-up glass (Silica) .45277 grain mixture with silk webbing material from lab insect 774.337, A.K.A. what we are calling the gray black spider, we confirm, according to our controlled environment study, that synthetic bone is formed as a result of fusing the above said materials.” The doctor turn the tape off then gave his assistance specific directions, “Okay, seal that experimental study and soon we can move onto the next phase, breeding. Do not do anything or set anything in place until we get the approval of the board. I also want to check a few things to find out why and how only this spider produces the right material. Keep them all seperated, all of them.” Steve questioned, “All of them, even the same species?” Dr. Monroe verified, “Yes. All of them. All species and all males and all females. We don’t fully know their breeding habits and time or length of gestation. We’ll have to calculate how long until they mate, give birth and are then able to reproduce again. This is a rare spider from a part of the world with a considerable low population. We have a lot more to learn. We’ve got to get busy now before we let them get busy.”
Dr. Monroe met with the financial board and fellow scientists two days later. He shared his findings with them and the questions began to fire at him like a AK47 assault rifle. “Can we replace human bone with the new synthetic bone?” A fast, “Yes.”, was all Dr. Monroe spit out. The questions continued, “Is it a bone clone?” The doctor chuckle, “Ha…ha…Bone clone…haha, it’s synthetic bone, a combination of ground up glass called silica along with the spider’s silk from this particular spider’s webbing. Actual original human bone is not used in creating it so, no. It is not a bone clone, but I like the sound of that. Let me also say that, we’re not sure how the spider produced the correct amount of material needed for the mixture to make or fabricate healthy bones but we’ve confirmed that it does. Only this one species of spiders produces the silk needed.” The next question was the one the doctor was waiting for and could not wait to answer, “So, Doctor Monroe, is it possible to replace bone that is overtaken by cancer?” “YES, Yes haha!”, he laughed vigorously. He couldn’t contain it any longer as he explained further, “Not only that but, we can take on spinal issues. A patient who has their backbone destroyed, those who experience paralysis, we can completely rebuild their vietabra. There may be other complications for them regarding nerve damage but from an orthopedic stand point we have high hopes to not only provide better bones for hip & knee replacements but possibly help paraplegic or quadriplegics. Those subject to weak bones or even death caused from complications in human bone substance, such as bone cancer, their lives could be saved. We could even provide better prosthetics for amputees. The human body will not react adversely to this new material. It is as close to human bone as possible, not matalic or plastic.” He leaned back in his chair and took a deep breath. The people at the table in front of him all smiled. One of them broke the brief silence, “Money well spent!” Another said, “You did it Dr. Monroe!” He corrected him, “We did it.” He nodded to his staff. They all laughed with confidence and gave a sigh of relief. One of the other scientists on the board spoke up next, “Now we’re ready to proceed with Phase 2!” Dr. Monroe raised a hand slowing them down, “Who, whoa… wait. I do have a concern. We’d like to move into phase two , however, upon my better judgement my fellow scientists and I fear that if we breed the gray black spiders in captivity we could end up with an overpopulation of them. In the wild they are able to distance themselves but in captivity they may not have the capability to show restraint.” One board member said, “You think they won’t breed?” Dr. Monroe said, “No, they may breed to much, too often. Also, the evidence of their bite is inconclusive. Unless we contain the spider and keep them in captivity they could very well overrun the population of the entire world.” “Aren’t you being a little over-dramatic doctor Monroe?”, one of the board members questioned. Rather than letting doctor Monroe answer what was directed to him one of the board members, who was a doctor of medicine, replied, “There are no risks! The gray black spider breeds in the wild regularly and there’s no evidence of danger to their bite that we know of.” “Well, then let’s proceed!” suggested yet another board member. Doctor Monroe stepped in again, “Wait, seriously. I don’t think we should rush into this. We don’t know all the ramifications are repercussions. I’d like to get a specialists opinion. A few more tests have to be done.” One of the fat pompous men slammed his fist on the table and insisted, “NO, NO MORE TESTING! YOU ARE A SPECIALIST! LET’S GET ON WITH THIS!” Dr. Monroe shook his head, “I mean a specialist in the field of spiders. Ladies and Gentlemen, we just don’t know enough about this spider. Yes its web is useful and can be used to literally create miracles but if we don’t observe the specimen and allow controlled breeding at a slow pace we may very well mess up an entire ecosystem and lose what balance we have. I suggest you allow me to contact an arachnologists, one who studies spiders and other arachnids. At the very least we should only work with the few that we have but don’t rush into urgently force breeding them until we know more.” It was as if the doctor hadn’t even spoken. What he said fell on deaf ears. The board president stood, “It’s decided then. Let’s proceed.” Then he looked and gestured toward doctor Monroe and finished with, “Under the controled environment and supervision of Dr. Monroe and his team. Meeting adjourned.” Even before a single man left the room, unknown to everyone there, a few of the scientist’s students had already took it upon themselves to begin the breeding process. Steve had convinced Jill, another one of Dr. Monroe’s assistants and Steve’s girlfriend, to be a little overzealous. They had put two grey black spiders in one container, rather than keeping them seperated as their instructor told them to. They had no idea how quickly they reproduced when in a contained area.
That night Dr. Monroe contacted Ann McEntire, a personal friend who had dedicated her life to Arachnology, the study of spiders. She was very active in the scientific community that studies spiders and related animals such as scorpions, and pseudoscorpions, collectively called arachnids. He knew she would be very familiar with the spider Dr. Monroe was using. She opened several windows on her computer screen, a few books and even some term papers she had written that were published in various medical and scientific journals as she spoke, “I will try to carry on a conversation with you without going off subject old friend…” Dr. Monroe lightly agrued, “I’m still younger than you.” Ann smiled, “Not by much, besides I look better.” Monroe agreed to that then promised, “I’ll take you out for dinner on a personal level soon. For now I have got to find out more about the personal life and habits of this spider.” She continued, “The grey black spider you are working with is actually called… wait, let me send you a picture…” She shot the photo through cyberspace to her friend.
Dr. Monroe jumped back as the massive image appeared on his screen. He confirmed, “YEP! THA…THAT’S IT!” Ann gave him the scientific name for which the doctor had assigned a specific scientific subject numbers to (774.337) and simplified even further by calling it the ‘grey and black one’. Ann shared her expertise, “Technically it is called Menemerus Bivittatus, the grey wall jumper.” Monroe shivered. He was use to working with them but they were always behind a glass and there was never more than one at a time. They never put two of anything together. He had taught his students and assistants that joining even two could complicate their study because one may eat the other or they may reproduce and the original specimen may change after giving birth. He listened to everything Ann had to say as she enhanced what little he knew in this particular area, “The Gray Wall Jumper is a hunting spider that does not spin a web for prey capture. However, they do use silk for drag lines and constructing egg sacs and retreats. It was actually heading down the road of extinction, much like the honey bee. They are able to reproduced quickly but in nature they were spread out geographically. We are not sure how they traveled but it is a good thing they did because they could have taken over a small island if they remained in one contained area.” Dr. Monroe said, “That is my concern. Tell me more.” Ann continued, “This is fascinating. It only takes these little guys’, or girls’, just 1 day between having their eggs fertilized and then birthed, hatching the very next day!” Monroe expressed his amazement, “OH MY!” Ann was gushing with excitement, “You think that is amazing? The newborns are ready to mate and conceive just two days after they are born.” Monroe had to question her facts, “The offspring, the babies, are ready to do it at 2 days old?” Ann smiled, “Not only do it but can get pregnant!” Dr. Monroe thought about the scientists who studied and observed this whole process and tediously took notes. Just when he thought it couldn’t get any more extraordinary he asked for Ann to confirm something, “So, then those babies give birth to babies in just… one day?!” Ann replied, “YEP!” The doctor asked, “How many can they have at one time?” Ann asked him to guess. Monroe didn’t feel like they needed to rush the conversation so he played along in the guessing game and said, “I had a cat that gave birth to a liter of 4.” Ann laughed, “HA ha, Mittens. I remember her. No, think more along the lines of a hamster or…your lab rats.” Monroe said, “Oh my word, 14 to 16 at a time?” “More.”, Ann quizzed him. Dr. Monroe shot higher, “20?!” Ann asked him if he was sitting down and ready for the answer then said, “30 to 50!” “AT ONCE?!” Monroe was floored. “YEP!”, Ann proceeded to share the information that was gathered about this species, “You won’t have any trouble breeding them, especially in a small controlled environment. To be honest, their extinction may not have been a bad thing. They were primarily found in unpopulated or very low populated areas of the world. Their bite is deadly. Just 72 hours after they have injected their poison the victim dies.” Dr. Monroe shared with Ann how they have determined that this is the only spider they have found who’s silk has the right properties needed to make the new bone marrow. He also shared how he was glad he had not given his assistants the green light to start breeding them. Ann added, “It is hard to indicate the males from the females but that is not even necessary.” Monroe said, “What? Why? Don’t tell me they can have same sex relations and still reproduce!” Ann clarified, “They are asexual. If you put two males together one of them has the ability to change its sex and become a female, thus being ready, abel and willing to become… a mommy.” “WHAT?!” Ann spoke calmly, “You know there are species that are able to do that! Well, think of it this way, you’ll have plenty of them to make the webbing you need to mass produce those synthetic bones. Your going to make a fortune.” The doctor thought to himself, “Yeah, but at what price.” He thanked Ann again for her time and for sharing her research then said, “Yeah, these little guys & girls will produce a lot of helpful silk but it sounds like they will be producing too much if we are not careful.”
The next morning upon returning to the lab doctor Monroe opened the thick steel door and was horrified by what he saw. The entire room was overtaken completely with cobwebs. They were so thick he could barely see through them. He looked down and there, tangled in the web near the door was Steve, the young student who thought he would make history by breeding them prematurely. He was mumbling. He was alive but rendered helpless. Dr. Monroe reach down to help free him. He tried to rip the webbing from his mouth but it would not tare. All he could do is stretch it. Once his mouth was freed Steve shouted, “WATCH OUT! THEY COME AT YOU FROM THE SIDES!” Dr. Monroe witnessed what Steve said firsthand but insisted, “I got to get you free!” “NO DOCTOR MONROE I BROUGHT THIS ON!” The doctor ignored Steve’s crying. He didn’t want to increase the young man’s panic with the information Ann had shared but knew if he didn’t push back the webbing the spiders could very well be planting their eggs. He used his feet while tugging on Steve’s arms, shoulders than upper body. He paid no mind to the spiders approaching him on both sides. Doctor Monroe stood and finish pulling Steve out and under his legs. Steve jumped to his feet and reach for the doctor. The spiders reached his legs. One was crawling up the center while the other two raised to their back legs on each side. Monroe thought about their nickname, wall pumpers, as they shot across and around his legs. They were trading places and quickly surrounding him while binding him from his legs up. Steve yelled, “NO!” His impulse was to jump back as the spider’s worked meticulously, intricately and with extreme precision. If Steve had not instinctively jumped back he would have have risked being bit and caught up in their web again. Jill, another student and Steve’s girlfriend, enter the room. She screamed immediately. She couldn’t find any words except to shrill, “AGHH!” Her mentor, the doctor, was now in cased completely by the spiderweb. Steve tackled Jill to the ground, away from danger. There was nothing they could do but watch as the gray black spiders reached the doctor’s head. They crawled all over his face, not spinning anymore webs than what was needed to hold him still. A third larger one made its way up the front center of doctor Monroe’s body. The other two seem to be trolling around his face waiting for a command on what to do next. Jill asked, “Do they bite?” Steve said, “They didn’t bite me. I didn’t feel a thing.” Doctor Monroe had no choice but to remain completely still. He closed his eyes, wrinkled his forehead, and was sweating profusely as the larger one came right up the center of his face. When it reached the very top of the doctor’s head it spread out flat. The center of its body touched his head and her legs spread out on each side. She raised up and down on his head as if she was trying to suck out his brains or maybe even lay an egg. She turned to each side as if dismissing the other two. They followed her as she moved back down and away from the body. The side spiders slit the webs they wove as they descended, freeing doctor Monroe. Once free he stepped back and stammered to the lab door. Steve and Jill trying to gather themselves, “Did…did you see that?”, Steve asked rhetorically. The doctor’s came out with, “No, I didn’t see anything.” Jill said, “How can you joke during a time like this?” The doctor answered, “Because I’m still alive!” “They didn’t want to bite you or… eat you!”, noted Steve. The doctor took it a step further, “They didn’t even want to keep me!” Steve’s face became pale, “Is, is tha…that what they were da…doing to me?” “I think so! Nesting grounds, or maybe they only eat or keep young fresh meat not old men.” Dr. Monroe wasn’t much older but he felt that way because of his years of experience. Jill asked, “Can they get out of here, the lab I mean?” The doctor answered, “Not if we secure them correctly. They can’t get out of here unless…unless they already have.” Jill scoffed, “WhAWHAT?” Steve asked, “You think some got out?” The doctor could only shrug his shoulders with uncertainty of how to answer that question. The three of them worked for hours catching them, putting them away in individual containers this time before leaving; however, unknown to them some were still incubating. Dr. Monroe shared the knowledge Ann shared with him about how these spiders were asexual so it was inevitable that they would reproduce no matter if there were just two of either sex together. He also informed his assistants about the speed of their birthing being faster than any other animal or insect he had ever heard of. Doctor Monroe’s worst nightmare and prediction was actually coming true. As they worked Dr. Monroe assured them, as well as himself, that this would all be worth their efforts. He reminded them, “These are the only spiders that produce the needed compound to form bones used to replace amputees limbs, actual new bones to replace cancerous bones as well as broken legs, arms, ribs.” Dr. Monroe repeated what he knew in an attempt to squash what they didn’t about this whole project. He continued with, “So, as unruly as they can be it’s important we don’t kill any of these spiders.” Monroe also secretivly hoped that no humans would be killed in the process.
That night was when Steve was bit in the theater. The spiders didn’t bite Steve in the lab but used him as a mode of transportation by laying their eggs so that their species could escape.
Now, just 72 hours from the point of Steve being bit, Jill was sitting by his side as he laid dying in his own bed. Steven and Jill knew what was causing Steve’s death, the bite of that gray and black spider. They dare not go to the General Hospital in fear that they would cause a worldwide panic. They felt personal responsible for the whole thing because they breed them without their bosses permission and prior approval. Doctor Monroe was working with Ann trying different serums to heal this young college student. He forgave Steve for jumping the gun, after all, they were also friends. He remembered when Steve attempted to pull him out of the spider’s trap and clutches, risking his own life. Although Dr. Monroe and Ann were the best scientists in their field who could possibly find a cure and in spite of them trying almost 24 hours to save Steve they came up with nothing. Exasperated, they finally left Jill and Steve alone. As Dr. Monroe walked Ann to her car out front she expressed, “I feel so bad for the young man. I know this is no time to make personal plans but don’t forget you still owe me dinner.” Monroe was glad she was trying to lighten up the mood and assured her, “I wouldn’t miss dinner with you for…almost anything.” She nodded in understanding. Then he said, “Except, maybe the end of the world.” He wept and they held each other. Ann then assured him, “We’ll figure all this out. It is not too late.” “But, it is too late for Steve.” They embraced again and tried to comfort one another. Jill was by Steve as he was taking his last few breaths but before he died he saw Jill’s eyes get big. She wasn’t looking at Steve but at his shoulder the same side he had been bitten on. It was a gray and black spider crawling out of Steve. It crawled up and over him. Everything appeared to be moving in slow motion. It was as if the spider looked Jill in the eye. All at once two spiders leaped at Jill from the sides. She screamed and tried to dodge the insects but no human reflex was fast enough. The spiders began to spew their web around Jill’s ankles. Steve watched helpless as the two spun around the opposite way of each other. After securing her legs they moved quickly up to her arms. This attack was just like what Steve and Dr. Monroe encountered. Steve spoke to Jill the best he could, “Honey, they don’t bit.” She said, “They bit you!” He reminded her, “Not during this part.” She quivered, “But we don’t know Steve. Are they just laying eggs in me right now or what?” He begged her to try to calm herself and not make and sudden movements. Soon she couldn’t move, she was completely immobilized by their web. “Don’t scream.”, said Steve as Jill tried telling herself the same thing. The third spider crawled up Jill’s body from her toe, to her thighs, to her abdomen, to her breast and it stopped there. Jill was rendered helpless wrapped like a mummy. Her heart raced. Steve watched as the spider flattened itself on Jill’s chest exactly like it did on Doctor Monroe’s head. He and Jill were thankful it wasn’t on her face. After a few seconds the spider gave its direction to the other two and they began to descend from Jill, once again splitting the tight cocoon of webbing that held her captive. Just as fast as they appeared they disappeared and Jill was free. Steve felt victorious. Now Jill knew what it meant to have a near-death experience. As Jill took her first sigh of relief Steve took his last breath. Dr. Monroe finally re-entered the house then Steve’s room just as Jill’s body slumped over Steve. Monroe’s words were a blur to her, “He’s finally set free from the pain and anguish.” Jill snapped out of her grief long enough to yell a warning to the doctor, “THEY ARE HERE!” He didn’t care. His heart and mind were focused on Jill’s life and Steve’s premature death. After they felt like they properly grieved over Steve they quickly became the hunters now, as they searched the room for the spiders. Jill explained how it came out of Steve. Dr. Monroe suggested, “Perhaps they’ve gone back in him. We will have to monitor his body and check with the morgue. Jill, you shower extra good.” She said, “I’ll do more than shower! I’ll share my whole head!” He wanted to tell her she didn’t need to go to that extreme but he honestly didn’t know.
“New research by Tufts University bioengineers show that spider silk combined with tiny glass beads called silica creates a new material that could one day be used in growing and repairing human bones.”
“The Park” – a short story about 3 boys who sneak into an abandoned amusement park and discover that it has a mind of its own.
Online publication of “The Park”: https://tombeetlebailey.wordpress.com/2017/06/28/the-park-editing/
“Fair Science” – a short story of a weird, crazy but brilliant scientist who invites three children into his mansion and his mind.
Online publication of “Fair Science”: https://tombeetlebailey.wordpress.com/2017/06/23/the-story-fair-science/
YouTube playlist of stories being read: My stories: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnjQOVtw61eiFv27rv2rhA3-8U8EyDXya
For a list of other stories (some serious, others just fun) go to: https://tombeetlebailey.wordpress.com/stories-poems-and-art/
THANKS FOR READING.
GOD BLESS YOU AND YOU, BLESS GOD, Beetle
This story or parts thereof may not be reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise – without prior written permission of the publisher.
This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or businesses in practice, are purely coincidental. The views expressed here are my own, as are whatever factual errors exist in the text.