The boy runs, but it is no use.
The thing knows his every step, his every thought, his every heartbeat...
This is how I die, he thinks.
His chest burns, his pulse pounds in his ears, his muscles scream...
This is how I die, he thinks.
There is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, thinks the boy- only a hideous web-strewn tunnel bored from razor-sharp volcanic rock, a hideous web-strewn tunnel littered with shapeless cocoons that once were boys like him.
This is so unfair.
Still he runs, because he can do nothing else.
To stop is to give up, and to give up...
...the boy shudders, and for a moment loses his concentration, and in that moment everything changes.
His plimsoll catches on something- a crack in the floor, one of those awful, awful cocoons, his other foot...
...and he plunges headlong into a mound of mouldering filth. It invades his nose, his eyes, his mouth...
...and in the seconds it takes to extricate himself the thing is upon him.
He hears it, rather than sees it- a hideous, chittering, skittering wall of sound that promises nothing but a slow and agonising death to all who hear it.
He feels it, rather than sees it- all bristling chitin and dripping poison.
He will not open his eyes- cannot open his eyes. If he is to die, he thinks, he shall not give Death the satisfaction of seeing he is afraid. If he is to die, he think, he shall-
The corridor is suddenly ablaze with light, so bright that even with his eyes screwed shut the boy can barely stand it.
"These are not your lands to hunt in."
The voice is deep and dark, and it fills the boy with hope.
"This boy is not yours- return to the shadows from whence you came."
The thing chitters, but only half-heartedly- the boy can tell it is thwarted as it skitters away back into the darkness of the tunnel.
Only when he is absolutely sure that the thing is gone does the boy allow himself to open his eyes, does he allow himself to breathe again.
The light has dimmed again, and as the boy slowly gets to his feet he wonders where it could have come from- his saviour carries no candle, no torch, no nothing.
The man carries but a simple staff in one hand, and wears but a simple black robe. The boy opens his mouth to comment, but the man silences him with a single gesture.
"You need not thank me; I merely protect the bounds of my realm as I am fated to."
Where once the voice brought hope, now it brings naught but despair- the voice of one doomed to an eternity of solitude, of servitude.
"Go, boy, and forget what you saw here..."
The boy nods mutely.
"...unless, of course, you should need to remember it."
The boy nods again...
...and sits up in bed, sweat dripping from him.
As always, she is there- the door to his room flings open and she is soft and warm and comforting, sweet-smelling and welcome as the dawn.
The bite on the boy's arm itches- it will do until the end of his days- but he no longer remembers the nightmare.
Caverns and cocoons are gone, replaced by curtains and carpets, forgotten and forsaken.
He will remember them one day.
He just will not know why...
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on the third of January 1892 in Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State (now Free State Province in South Africa) to Arthur Reuel Tolkien (1857–1896), an English bank manager, and his wife Mabel, née Suffield (1870–1904).
As a child, he was bitten by a large baboon spider in the garden...
... an event some think later echoed in his stories...
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.