He sat in his office in a leather chair, smoked a thick cigar
and read a newspaper. He was well fed and made a satisfied impression
since he had just put the latest hot item on the market: rubber
critters; spiders, snakes, insects, lizards and so on, all made
of rubber. His name was Alex Wilson, was the president of this
company, had no competition and made good money. He called for
his secretary, Pit Brown, through the intercom: "Hey, Pit,
why don't you call the factory and tell them that they should
manufacture a rubber spider that moves. It is understood that
it should be as realistic as possible. Who knows how long this
business is booming," he added. "Okay, Alex," Pit
ended. Afterwards Alex Wilson browsed through the lists of his
inventions in various price categories:
Carnival: Delivered 750 units, Backordered 300 units
Department store: Delivered 900 units, Backordered 200 units per week
A few more lines followed, then:
Total revenue: $6,800
Happily he petted the soft snake on his overcrowded desk.
Eddie Brown, the son of Pit Brown, a secretary at 'Alex Wilson',
had the afternoon off school and just arrived on his bicycle at
the department store that was a few blocks away from his home.
His peers had made him jealous with their rubber animals and now
he wanted to own one too. He stepped through the air-conditioned
entrance of the department store. Everywhere there were posters
advertising the rubber monsters. Therefore the shelves with them
were not hard to find. All kinds of critter with all kinds of
effects in all kinds of price ranges were available.
He decided on a rubber spider that could be put in motion by a
small, attached air pump. It would be great fun to scare his Mom
who had an almost allergic reaction to spiders. He paid and drove
In his room his painted the eyes of his purchase with neon paint
and made the rest even more life-like. What fun this was going
to be. He spent the rest of the afternoon trying out his monster.
Many an old man or woman could be frightened with it. That was
the important thing after all.
A small correction was necessary: Eddie made the tube from the
air pump to the spider longer.
When it got dark he snuck to the basement. He knew exactly that
his Mom checked if the cellar door was closed before going to
The eyes of the spider shimmered ghostly in the dark basement.
Suddenly they were hit by a beam of light that was caused by the
opening of the cellar door. His Mom was coming. She turned on
the shallow light. There was a spider web on the lamp. She got
goosebumps because she got frightened by the slightest hint of
Mrs. Brown climbed down the stairs and Eddie pressed himself into
his hiding place. Only a thin tube extended out from the closet.
His Mom came and stared at the rubber spider in disgust. She was
grossed out and stood still. She wanted to overcome her fear of
spiders for a long time and forced herself to continue on. Then
suddenly the rubber spider leaped towards Mrs. Brown. She saw
a movement in the corner of her eyes and turned around. A black
spider with greenish glowing eyes jumped at her. She dropped with
a loud scream. She didn't move and her eyes were dull and distorted.
Eddie snuck out of his hiding place. He was congratulated himself
to the successful prank and wanted to go to his room with his
spider of rubber but he got the feeling that he had to look after
his Mom. Who could know of her fatal fear of spiders?
"Hey, Ma, wake up. It's me. That was just a prank."
She didn't move and he touched her cheek. "Ma, what's the
matter? Ma!" He shook her. He got cold water and poured it
on her face but she wouldn't move. Then he felt for her pulse
but didn't notice any. "Ma, damn, wake up! Ma? You're not
dead, are you?" "Pa! Come here, please?" "What's
the matter?" Pit Brown asked, standing at the top of the
stairs. As he saw his wife motionless on the floor he ran down
the stairs and kneeled next to her, hitting the air pump of the
spider which immediately performed a jump. "What is this
all about?" Pit asked Eddie and threw the spider away. He
knew those things well. "What happened to Ma? Did she fall?"
Eddie didn't know how to respond. "Oh my god! Get a doctor,
quick!" he said concerned. Eddie rushed to the phone and
dialed the number.
All the doctor could do was confirm the death by heart attack.
His guilt almost killed Eddie and Pit was shattered. "I think
Pa knows how Ma died," Eddie thought.
If Eddie had read the paper lately, he could have read that a
survey and report of a renowned psychologist had yielded the result
that spiders were considered some of the most scary animals in
recent months. They could cause anything from hysteria to heart
attacks, in rare cases even death. The source of the hysteria
was still undiscovered. Surely, Alex Wilson must have read that
After a week Pit Brown was over a big chunk of his pain and reported
back to work. Right away he went for the office of the director
and slammed the death notice and two related newspaper articles
on the desk. "Here! I hold you responsible! You knew of the
spider hysteria and you had those spiders made anyway! You - I...!"
"Why anyway? I would say 'just because'. Plus, I am not interested
in your private affairs," Alex Wilson jeered calmly. "I
am resigning!" "That's your problem."
The new secretary, Dan Hauser, a serious professional, unlike
Pit according to Alex, brought the latest newspaper to Mr. Wilson.
An article on the second page said that the fear of spiders was
declining but a new snake hysteria was rampant. The hysteria was
unbelievable. One would have to expect deaths. That was the crucial
part of the message. Alex depressed the intercom button and called
for his secretary: "Oh, Mr. Hauser, please get in touch with
the factory real quick. Have them manufacture a rubber snake.
Consider that it should be as realistic as possible and can be
made to move."
Already four days later the teenagers flocked to the department
stores en masse to buy the new rubber snakes with spring mechanisms.
Who knew, maybe they could scare their Moms or some other people
Copyright © October 1980, Wasty, What's That Terrible Thing!?
German title: Kinderspielzeug
Reading time: approx. 5 1/2 minutes
Last updated February 12, 2001 by Martin Mathis, e-mail lastbandit.com