A long time ago, when I started writing stories about giantesses and tiny men, there were a few of them that stayed with me. There’s Sophie the invisible giantess, or Steve the sniper, for example.
A more recent one is my little spider whisperer, a natural-born small man that thinks he can talk to Arthropoda and control spiders (…or can he?!). I decided to focus more attention on bringing him to life after I wrote this blog entry, and this post is part of that.
At first, I started listing facts about my character, but that got boring very quickly. Instead, I sent one of my Undersquid Inc. operatives to conduct an interview with the little fellow. Here’s what she found out.
Interview With The Spider Whisperer
I traveled a great distance that day. I’m not allowed to reveal how far, but it’s farther than anyone has ever gone before. As ordered, I opened a portal that took me from night to day, from an undisclosed location to a field of tall grass with clusters of yellow flowers that released a fresh perfume every time they bowed to the breeze. I was glad I’d chosen to wear a sleeveless dress and flat sandals. I stood in place for a moment, afraid to turn my head, and I wished I’d been allowed to bring a weapon, but my orders had been clear. I was to bring a fully charged recording device, and nothing else.
I scrounged up some courage and looked over my shoulder. I was immediately glad I did. There, just as my boss had described, was the tree. I turned and began to walk in its direction. As I wove my way past thigh-high masses of green and yellow, I wondered if there really was a small man living in the roots of the tree that looked taller the closer I got to it.
And wider. As wide as a large room, its roots like giant fingers digging into the ground in such an organized way I half expected them to lift away and brush me off, the tree trunk suddenly the arm of a behemoth too large to comprehend. My boss said nothing about trees coming to life in this land, but I was certain there was something sentient at play here. I almost felt that if my presence had not been welcome, something… someone would have made quick work of me.
Giant root hand or not, I had a job to do, so I reached the thickest loop of knotted wood, and made myself known with a simple hello. And I waited. And waited. And nothing happened. I waited some more and looked at my phone. The bright screen told me I wasn’t online, and I’d been waiting for five minutes.
I looked around my feet and thought I could sit on the soft, mossy ground. It crossed my mind to sit on the root, but something told me my ass would offend it, as nice an ass as it is. So I made an ex with my shins and lowered myself until I sat crosslegged, frozen waves of roots taller than my head.
“Hello,” I repeated. “My name is [CENSORED].”
Again, nothing. I was about to fire up Candy Crush when I caught movement near the base of the roots, where the largest one met its sister, a cleft in the bark that hid a tiny door. It moved as though hinged, and from its frame emerged the tiniest man I’d ever seen. He was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, and his legs were thick and spectacular.
“Wow,” I whispered, astonished. In response, he lifted one of his arms and waved at me. I laughed like an idiot then, the way I used to when I was a teenager and going to see boy bands with my friends. In the shadow of the tree, the little man blushed. I’m sure I was blushing as well, and I could have sworn the tree looked a bit redder.
“I’m s— sorry, I’m… acting so foolishly!” I tried to get it together, but not only was I looking at a man that could not have been taller than two inches, he was also the most beautiful creature I’d ever seen. “You’ll think I’m stupid! I’m just so… nervous. Please, forgive me.”
The little man stood there, next to the entrance to what I assume must be his home, and waited. He smiled and shrugged generously. Something in the way he did that made me think he was used to responses like mine. The notion of being another jerk driven by hormones did an excellent job of calming me down, and I straightened my back in a way that could have only been described as professional.
“I don’t mean to interrupt your day. I know I’m here unannounced. If you’d rather I return later, please tell me. My boss sent me to ask you a few questions, and—“
“Your boss?” His full lips moved, and I didn’t hear him but knew what he had just said because I had just said the word.
“I’m very sorry, but I can’t quite hear you. I know you said something, but you’re too… far from my ears. Would you mind coming a little closer?”
He was considering my words as he stood there, no taller than a blade of grass, on soil like a sea of pebbles interspersed with soft lichen. To my dismay, he turned around. I thought he’d go back in the tree and I’d not get a chance to talk to him, but all he did was stand there for a few seconds. I thought I saw his jawline move, as though he was saying something to someone inside, but then he faced me again and walked toward me.
And the way he walked, my goodness. So decisively, like a giant, as though nothing in the world would get in his way. He took infinitesimal steps that spanned worlds until he stood in front of my shins’ intersection. My mouth felt parched, yet I swallowed hard and blinked harder as I tried to gather my thoughts.
“Hi,” I said once more, probably removing any doubt about my utter lack of intelligence, but he was kind enough to return the greeting.
“Hello,” I heard him say, and his voice made my head explode. If I was pink before, I’m sure I turned crimson. All I wanted to do was ask him out, or in, or put a ring on him. Around him, more like it. I wanted to lift my dress and invite him to roll around on my burning skin for a while. But then I remembered my boss and her strict orders. And I looked at him.
There was something in his eyes that told me he was testing me. Something knowing. If I tried anything, I’d probably be like so many other people in this place. I’d probably disappoint him, and I’d never get answers to my questions. I told my hormones to go to hell, and I recovered the thread of our conversation.
“My boss, yes. She’s writing stories about you, and would like to make known some things about you; some facts. If I cross the line with any of the questions, please let me know. I’m here to gather information, and nothing else.”
The small man looked puzzled.
“This boss of yours writes stories about me? Why? I’m no one special. I’m just… me.”
“She thinks you’re special. She wants people in the place where I’m from to know about you.”
“Hmm. Yeah, now I understand what she meant when she said you’re not from here. Very well, ask me anything.”
“Never mind. What would you like to know?”
I looked at the phone in my hand, and back at the little man.
“Do you mind if I record our conversation?”
Again, that adorable puzzled look.
“I don’t, but I don’t see how you’re going to record my voice with that device of yours when I’m down on the ground, so far from it.”
“Ah, yes, I was about to… Could I ask you to climb into my hand, so I can hold you as close to the microphone as I can?”
He hesitated for a second, and then gave me a nod accompanied by a smile that made me wonder if he could not feel the rush of heat between my legs. It was cool in the shadow of the tree, but I was roasting. My hand trembled as I set it on the ground. When he touched my skin, I almost screamed, and as he moved hand over knee to the center of my palm, I nearly lost it. I forced myself to have a couple of very sad thoughts that would remove the idea of sexually assaulting this small gentleman.
The tactic worked long enough for me to bring him close to my phone. I asked him to press the mic button on the screen, which started the recording. I then spit out the first question.
“What’s your name?”
“My name is _____.”
“_____… what a nice name. Does it mean anything?”
“All names mean something.”
Once again I felt foolish as I held him in my hand, but I was determined to conduct this interview as I brought the least possible amount of shame to my boss, who wouldn’t have hesitated or questioned herself in the same circumstances.
“Are there more people like you here?”
“People ‘like me’?”
I had failed again at being clever. Great. This was going well.
“I mean, small like you.”
“Most people are your size. There are some of us left, but I’m not sure how many. Everywhere I travel I try to find some of my kind, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen one of us. There was a time people your size were rather cruel to those like me.”
I felt shocked. To imagine someone wanting to hurt this precious little man was… it made me feel extremely protective. Above us, the leaves whispered in some wind language I didn’t understand. Distracted, I checked the recording app on my phone and it was operating as expected. If my boss wanted to decipher tree language, she would have a sampling of it. A sapling of it, I joked to myself, and immediately felt regret for finding humor in this situation.
“That’s horrifying. I can’t imagine a world where such things happen.”
“Can’t you? Nothing like that ever happens where you live?”
Again, I felt everything coming out of my mouth was moronic drivel, but ___ was looking at me with such hope in his eyes, genuinely interested in the possibility of a peaceful world.
“Actually, terrible things happen in my world too. There’s a lot of hatred and death. I can now imagine what your kind has gone through, and I’m grateful you’re still here.”
“Where were you born?”
His eyes widened at my question, and I thought I caught a flash of green from them. I almost jerked my palm closer but resisted the temptation. Badly, as it turned out, because my head bent lower, closer to him, and I didn’t even notice until my nose was a couple of inches away from his body. One of his eyes was green, and the other one was light brown.
He might have merely arched an eyebrow at my proximity, but when I saw his brown hair flow to the rhythm of my breath, I pulled back instantly. “Please forgive me! I feel like I do something that requires an apology every few minutes. I couldn’t help but notice your eyes are two different colors.”
“That’s true. That wasn’t always the case. I noticed a change in my left eye after I was given a home among the roots of Tree.”
“Have you had it checked out?”
“What do you mean?”
“Have you seen the eye doctor about it?”
This time he gave me a narrow look, the first suspicious one I’ve gotten from him. I felt my heart tug and I wondered why the boss had sent me. I was exhibiting atrocious behavior, and I never noticed it until it was too late.
“I could tell you that we don’t go to doctors; that we don’t have any; that we’re incapable of learning science. The truth is that doctors your size aren’t equipped to examine us, and even if they were, we’d never trust them. There’s nothing wrong with my eye… and I don’t know where I was born. The place doesn’t exist anymore.”
“I didn’t know. But I should have.” I almost apologized again and decided to save all my sorries until after the interview was over. He smiled and said nothing.
“How did you learn to communicate with spiders?”
“I bit a radioactive one when I was little.”
“Of course not! It’s something I’ve always been able to do, and it’s not just spiders; it’s all invertebrates… all I’ve met, that is. Spiders are a little different.”
“How are spiders different?”
“They… listen to me. They don’t only communicate, but appear to be persuaded to do as I ask.”
“So you can control spiders.”
He said nothing, but his face split into a delightfully impish smile, teeth like grains of white sand in two perfect rows. I kept talking to hide the fact that I had fainted.
“How much do you weigh?”
“Probably next to nothing. Do I seem very light to you?”
“Yes. I wish I could weigh you with my phone, but I can’t access the app that allows me to do that.”
“How about you just tell me how light I feel in your hand?”
“Hey, we have that word here too. I’m not sure of context here…”
“It— I’m—I mean—Sorry, I’m flustered.” Lo and behold, my hands had started shaking, and the little guy was struggling to keep his balance. “My hands are tired from holding the same position. Do you mind standing on my knee?”
“I think that’s a good idea!”
I moved my unsteady hand until it docked at my knee joint, where he disembarked in one graceful leap. I felt the whisper of his body when his feet touched my skin, but my heart pounded as though I was trying to outrun a giant. I swallowed my pulse back into my chest and kept at it.
“Do you have a girlfriend?”
“Not at the moment. I mentioned I haven’t been able to find anyone my height for quite some time. It’s really hard to meet women right now. Maybe I’m just too far from the secret wardens, but I can only venture a certain distance every day, and I don’t want to leave Tree.”
I know I blushed again.
“Well. Right. Women. Little wo—I meant someone a little taller maybe?”
“Oh.” It was his turn to blush. “Yeah, there’s a bit of that sometimes, but… look at me! I’m a little squirt to ladies like you, and after they have their fun, they invariable nudge me out the door. Imagine if any of them actually wanted to date me. What would their parents say?”
“They should say, ‘Thank you for dating our stupid daughter. She couldn’t do any better!’”
He gave me another dazzling smile, and I’m positive I was drooling. Still, my lips kept on flapping.
“Where did you receive your education?”
His smile faltered, and I saw his chest rise and drop when he sighed. I’d made him sad. I cursed myself.
“At home. Underground, with my friends. It lasted a few years until the attack, and then I was on my own. The rest of what I know, I taught myself or persuaded someone to train me.”
“Do you have any weapons?”
At that, he said absolutely nothing. If that was a poker face, I’d play poker for the rest of my life.
“Have you ever killed anyone?”
The green in his eye seemed to sparkle just a bit brighter as he stared at me in silence. My brain tried to read the recipe to cook for ALARM, but my heart fluttered as I smiled. I realized I was holding my phone so tightly, my fingertips had begun to turn blue. I eased off my grip, and wished with all my heart I could grip his little body instead. I didn’t. I’m not a rapist.
“What do you like to eat?”
“I love mushrooms. I grow them on Tree. Occasionally my friends catch the odd bird for me, and I’ll roast it over a spitfire. I love dandelion greens and honey-and-milk clusters.”
“That sounds delicious. I love sugar cookies. I wish I’d brought you one now.”
“I like cookies too. I can’t bake any, but sometimes ladies send me off with a treat, like a reward for good behavior. They are hard to carry on my back, but last for a long time in my larder.”
Ladies. How much did this little guy get around, anyway? Given his looks, a lot. And often. He could have had me with a crook of his tiny finger. Even now, with every bit of embarrassment and female redundancy I felt, I’d have happily said yes to him. Several times. Shame made me compensate.
“So, I’m sure you’re not perfect. You are flawed, just like anyone else. What are some of your worst imperfections, of which you must have many?”
“Oh… well… yes. I’m… not. Sometimes I’m not a nice guy.”
“Say more things like that.”
“I’m… lazy, and lack self-control—”
“That’s really bad.”
“Yes, it is. I have a very bad temper and have made very bad decisions in the past.”
“Those are bad things, really bad.”
“Sorry. I’m just… agreeing with you. No one’s perfect, no matter how gorgeous they are. Even if they seem perfect, I mean.”
“Right.” He shrugged, and I almost proposed, right then and there. I listened to myself say it, in my head. ___, marry me. I love you, and I’ll take care of you forever. I only want penis exclusivity, and your two inches every night. And that you herd all spiders out of my home… our home, every night for as long as we both shall fuck—.
“What do you do for a living?”
“How do you survive? Buy things? Support yourself?”
“Ah, I understand. I’m well known as a ‘spider whisperer’. Homeowners contact me when they suffer from any sort of infestation, but I specialize in spiders. I can’t get the other guys to leave. It’s a good living.”
“How do you control the spiders?”
Again, that curtain of silence, as though I hadn’t said a single thing. It was either leaving or raping him… so I left. I took a photo of him and a friend that emerged from the tree, and I thanked him very much and placed his sexy body on the ground. I think I was touching myself as I walked back to the portal. My boss was very happy with what I recorded, but I can’t stop thinking about him. I’ll never see him again, and I can’t get him out of my mind.