âAARRGGHH!!!! GETITOFF! GETITOFF! GETITOFFMEEEE!!!!â Josh looked up from his book. He saw his twin brother running around in circles by the hedge. He was wearing nothing but swimming trunks and a look of panic. Actually, thatâs not true. He was also wearing a spider. âDONâT just sit there!â squeaked Danny. He whirled around. âGet it OFF!â Josh sighed. He put his book down on the grass. It was amazing, he thought, that the spider could possibly hang on while his brother was thrashing about so wildly. It was a garden spider and quite large. Probably female. It had run up Dannyâs arm when he went to pick up his water pistol. Then it had scampered over his shoulder. Josh knew this because of the kind of dance his brother had just done across the grass. A sort of backward shimmy, with gasps of horror. Followed by wildly flapping arms and then the whirling as his unwelcome passenger legged it down his shoulder blade. âYou could win the Under Nines Dancing Championship,â Josh said. He dodged under a flailing arm to scoop up the dizzy spider. It was now hanging onto the waistband of Dannyâs trunks. âVery funny!â squealed Danny. âHave you got it? Is it gone?!â âYes, calm down. Look! Sheâs a beauty!â Josh cupped the spider in his hands. He held it out for Danny to see. It was nut brown with mottled yellow patterns on its back. âNOOO! Get it away from me!â âBut look! Sheâs got these amazing feet that can hook on to stuff while sheâs hanging upside down andââ âJust STOP talking about the S-P-I-D-E-R!â growled Danny. He shuddered and refused to look. Josh gently dropped it behind the shed.
âSheâll be back over by the hedge again in no time,â said Josh. This didnât comfort his twin much. âAlong with all the others. Youâre never more than a few feet away from a spider, you know.â âNot one more word aboutâ¦thoseâ¦ things !â Josh pushed his hands into his shorts pockets and grinned. âMandibles,â he muttered, quietly. He didnât think Danny would know what this word was. Heâd read only yesterday that mandibles were what spiders used for eating. Not teeth exactly. Just sort of munchy parts on their faces. Danny hated anything creepy-crawly. For twins, he and Josh were very different. Josh was fascinated by small creatures and bugs. He had tons of wildlife books. He used to bring woodlice, snails, and beetles into the house. But Jenny, their older sister, found earwigs in her hair dryer. Then Danny screamed loud enough to wake the dead after stepping into his brotherâs box of centipedes when he got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. So Mom said Josh could only look at bugs and stuff outside. It was probably just as well. If Jenny didnât squash them flat with a sandal, Mom would suck them up in the vacuum cleaner. Or Piddle would eat them. Piddle, their scruffy little terrier (named after a habit he had when he got overexcited), liked nothing more than to munch up a spider if he spotted one sauntering by.
âHow can you like those things?â Danny asked. He pulled his shorts and T-shirt on over his swimming trunks. Heâd soured on the wading pool. Too many dead flies in it. âEwww! I wish there werenât any insects in the world!â âOne, spiders arenât insectsâtheyâre arachnids,â said Josh. He climbed up the jungle gym. âAnd two, if there were no insects in the world, we would all die out. The human race depends on them.â âYou freaky little bug geek!â muttered Danny. âLucky for you that I do like them!â added Josh. âOr weâd both be screaming and wiggling all over the garden right now.â Danny ignored him. He checked his spiky fair hair with a shiver just in case another spider had dropped in.