Revenge is a Dish Best Served Looking Innocent
Author's Note: To start with, Worm belongs to Wildbow.
For those unfamiliar with it, its a web serial novel (Now finished and totaling over 1.5 million words) taking place in a universe where superheroes and supervillians fly around. Its a much more realistic take on super powers then the Marvel or DC universes, and as a result a much grimmer world. Very enthralling read, and I highly recommend it.
The main character is Taylor.
The following story will contain spoilers for those who have never read it, up through the first few segments.
The flute was dropped on my desk like so much trash, but it was so much more to me. “Mom’s flute…” The words involuntarily escaped me in a whisper, but it was enough for them to hear and start grinning. I hadn’t wanted to say anything, to give the bullies more ammunition, but the sight of it like that…
It had disappeared a week ago; I had thought it would be safe to bring it to school just once. My mother had always played one particular song to me whenever I was sick or sad; but no matter how I tried to play it I always soured the notes. Without the social standing or spare money for a tutor, the music teacher had been my only chance at finding out what I was doing wrong.
She had asked I bring her the flute so she could see if something was wrong with it, rather than my playing. I doubted it; my mother had always kept it pristine; so I was likely the cause. It was only supposed to be for one day…but it disappeared.
I knew who was responsible, I practically begged them to give it back, but all they did was laugh. Now here it was, stained and tarnished beyond almost any recognition. The engraving my father had secretly added on their first anniversary was just barely visible through the layer of what I was sure was dog poop.
“I’m sorry Taylor, when you said your flute went missing we looked all over for it. Thankfully the janitor looked in the garbage for us.” Emma smirked as the flute rocked slightly on the table. I could feel the maggots squirming around inside it.
“Why don’t you try and play it?” chimed in Madison. “Show us it still works. I’d hate to think all the hard work we did was for nothing.” I knew her double meaning, and it was the final straw.
I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the flute as it sat there, something dark and nasty dripping from the end; but I didn’t need to look up to know Sophia would be lurking around behind the other two. They could insult me, destroy my clothes and steal my homework. But this was beyond all that. I tried to draw the memory of my mom as she played the flute, but I couldn’t do it now, not without seeing the ruined flute, filth staining my mother’s lips as she played, the notes as sour as my own attempts. It was tainted now, and every memory with it.
The three left a minute later with a final “Hope you enjoy it Taylor!” after they realized I wasn’t going to be saying anything to them. It would have been so easy to go Carrie on them right then and there. Within my range were at least three wasps nests, several thousand ants, a large number of spiders, dozens of flies and roaches, and countless other bugs. It would be more than enough to deal with three high school girls, to drown them in a living carpet of chitin and wings.
A fly trapped and buzzing against the window began to stir towards them, but I caught myself, my hands clutching the desk as I tried to rein in the hate. My mother had always told me I was special, that I would do amazing things…and I would prove her right. When I destroyed them for desecrating her memory I wouldn’t be caught, and I could finally work towards that bright future I told my mom I’d have…
With a sigh I relaxed my hands and my control, letting the fly go back to its futile attempts to leave. Lunch was just starting, but I wasn’t going to be staying around here for it. No teacher would care if I left, and if I wanted my revenge I’d have to plan.
As I left the school, cradling the ruined flute as gently as a baby, heedless of the slime and grit, I was preparing the necessary excuses in my head for if the school finally decided to care.
My dad knew the flute had vanished, I couldn’t, hadn’t kept that from him. And telling him I had skipped out to go to the library to try and find out how to fix it would be the perfect excuse. It might even be true at some point. That would help with some of the guilt I could already feel in the corners of my mind for the lies I’d be telling him. Pushing his buttons like that…it was close to a line I didn’t want to cross.
As I left the school behind me, I made a vow to myself that the lie wouldn’t stay one. “I will fix this.”
When I triggered after the locker, I’d spent hours researching all the native species in the area. But it was all generic information; I never looked deeper into habitats, diet, behaviors, or mating unless something caught my eye. What did I need facts like that for when I could tell them what to do and they’d obey without hesitation, even if it went against instinct?
But now that was exactly what I needed, for I had to go beyond mere control and into camouflage.
It took another three weeks of solid effort for things to start to pay off. I had managed to successfully see through the eyes of a single fly. The knock on the head Sophia had given me earlier in gym, with an accompanying “Oh, sorry Taylor, I thought you were faster than that!” had probably helped.
Now my plan could advance to the next stage, and the true surveillance could begin.
The supplies took even longer to find. Did you know most brown recluses actually aren’t? Laymen, and even professionals like exterminators commonly misidentify them with harmless varieties of spiders, and it’s extremely difficult to find them outside of their natural habitat, which is a rather long distance away from Brockton Bay.
But I managed to find three. I had to go with my Dad to an out of town Union meeting, thankfully one to the south, but in the end I had three healthy specimens, one male and two females. Still, I don’t know what amazed me more, that I actually found some or that I didn’t find dozens. All my research said that they tended to absolutely infest structures, and most of the time the residents didn’t even know it. I guess the three were flukes, brought up here during a move and spread far enough apart they couldn’t find others to breed with.
My chance came at Spring Break. “It’s the best birthday gift ever! Papa already arranged for us to fly out Friday night. Two days of travel, and five whole days of floating around the Bahamas in style.” Madison had been taking great joy in boasting about her birthday gift to anyone who would listen, but especially so around me. It was her way of rubbing in that her family had money to burn and mine didn’t. Of course it was exactly what I needed to hear. The time she planned to get home had been a little more difficult to get, but there were advantages to having a fly on the wall, and the notes she had scribbled to my other two tormentors had been enough for a rough timeframe.
The day she left I casually strolled down her street, disguise in place. It’s amazing how easy to blend in it is when you’re wearing a trendy set of running clothes, stylish sun glasses, and have a set of headphones in your ears. Of course my headphones weren’t actually plugged into anything, the glasses were knock offs from Wal-Mart, and the clothes had come from the thrift store, but appearances are everything, and these gave me more anonymity then a full face mask would have.
Tonight was a meandering walk which gave me plenty of time to direct my passengers through the cracks and crevices leading into Madison’s house. I loitered at a bus stop just barely in the range of my powers, pretending to be waiting for the bus. With the dark sunglasses, no one could tell I had my eyes closed as the scouts buzzed through Madison’s house.
I needed to make sure nothing major had changed since I first infiltrated it, like a new pet or maybe a maid. Of course I doubt she would have let the opportunity to brag slip by, but there was always a chance, and I had sworn to myself no innocents would be caught in my revenge.
Everything looked the same, even if there were more clothes lying everywhere, a side effect of the packing. Her room was still perfect, a raised bed near her closet, shoes tucked under the edges. Reaching out with my power I ordered some of the crickets from her basement to move up into her house proper, and set them to eating and breeding in her closet. Everything had to look perfect for what I had planned, and every good cover story needs a solid base.
The next night I was back, one more anonymous jogger. This time I carried several special passengers in my small fanny pack. Stopping in front of her house I pulled out a water bottle, then bent to tie my shoe, giving the spiders the perfect opportunity to scurry out. The babies were just barely big enough for me to order around, but I needed them for the plan to work. They disappeared out of sight into the grass of the yard.
Flies would come pick them up after I had left, otherwise it would take them forever to work their way through the yard to the house.
By the time I had reached the bus stop my troops were safely squirreled away and already setting up their nest.
Each day after that I added to my story. Candy wrappers dragged from other parts of the house, parts of an egg sack hidden in the webbing, old webs in the closets and crawl spaces of the houses, a discarded exoskeleton or two, everything became part of the web I was weaving. Even my runs changed, I started adding laps as the week progressed so when Madison came home I would be there and no one would think anything of it.
When the day finally came all the actors were in their places. Crickets were hidden silently in her closet and under the bed, while the spiders, well, they were in the bed itself, right under her pillow and in the crack between the frame and the mattress. It was that same crack which led straight down to under her bed where the webs were hidden. And Madison, she was acting just as I had planned, the extra laps I had planned wouldn’t be necessary, though I’d do them for image’s sake.
Tired from the long trip, she collapsed onto the bed; I could feel the vibrations through dozens of legs. Like their name, recluses don’t often bite, preferring to run, and even when they do it’s usually a dry bite, with no venom actually introduced. But trapped, like say between sheets and a human, then they’ll bite.
Of course those gory photos you find when googling the spider? They’re the exception, the very, very rare case where something happens and the poison gets a strong enough boost to do some damage. Usually from some idiot trying out a home remedy on the wound and ending up creating the very infection they fear.
But, under my control, the spiders bit, and they bit hard. There were still dry bites of course, I had to sell the fiction, but for everyone one of those there was at least one good bite, on her nose, her cheek, her ear. There wasn’t any pain at first, everything I read said there wouldn’t be, it took hours for the bite to properly develop. Most people wouldn’t notice the pinpricks of the fangs right away either, but the sheer number of them let her know exactly what was happening. Her panicked thrashing brought a sick sense of glee to my heart, and I ordered my soldiers to flee. They’d go to ground under the bed, and into their natural cover of cracks and crevices, sacrifices for when the exterminators came. As much as I would have loved for them to keep biting , I needed the story to play true, and Madison’s family had the money to pay for an expert who might not instantly believe all the rumors, myths, and stereotypes about a recluse attack; even if such people were rare outside the south. I was already counting on those rumors to shield some of my actions, and I didn’t want to depend on them more than necessary.
I was gone before the emergency crews arrived, finishing my normal circuit and taking the bus home.
She wasn’t at school the next day, or for the rest of the week. I knew exactly what she was going through. It was called systemic loxoscelism, a type of blood poisoning due to the fact brown recluse venom is a hemotoxin that breaks down blood cells.
Flu like symptoms and a skin rash was the common effects, and then internal bleeding could result. Even without that, as it wasn’t a common reaction, she’d be getting thick blister like lesions all over her face, with purple discolorations spreading around them. And with how I’d made sure she was bitten I knew her whole face would be purple or scabby. It was so tempting to go and see my handy work. All I’d have to do was go to a teacher and say a few choice phrases. ‘She’s such a close friend, we talk every day!’ Her own machinations against me meant any teacher wouldn’t be able to argue with that.
The hospital might not even need that to let me in as long as I could get her room number, which would be easy enough. But that would be risky, and I was risking nothing. A fly on the wall would be so much easier. I’d have to settle for waiting to see her in person when the wounds finally scarred enough to let her go. Until then I had two more people to deliver justice to. One would have to wait until closer to fall, that’s when yellow jacket season began and so many nasty accidents could happen when you’re raking a yard.
Well, here’s my take on a revenge fic. After all, if I went through what Taylor did I wouldn’t be nearly as nice to those three. It’s been a long time since I read the original work, but with current time commitments I can’t sit down to start over and catch up, so I went off memory. As such, some things might be slightly off.
I needed a good trigger for her, and I figured the flute would be best. When we lose loved ones, items like gifts or pictures and the memories associated with them are what we use to remember them and help deal with the loss. On the other side of the coin, loosing those items can have a huge impact on the recovery process. I went through something similar when I thought I had lost my granddad’s special tie pin.
I tried to capture her since of planning and detail she has in the stores, while throwing in some of the ethical concerns she has, such as worrying about innocent casualties.