First it stung the old woman, whose face turned green and she fell to the ground, paralyzed and foaming at the mouth like the Wicklows. The old men leapt up from their game tables, but the tarantula stung them, too. It hopped from victim to victim, evading every attempt to snatch or squash it.
Instantly, pandemonium broke loose among the Marjorami populace, spreading through the crowd like an infection. They trampled over one another, desperate to get out of the tarantula’s path. Tables splintered, tea-glasses shattered, and children screeched. Panicked mules overturned their carts, while mothers stuffed their infants into baskets for safety. Some hid in barrels, others under tarps, but the tarantula was ruthless and cunning in its hunt. No one was safe.
Waldo tried his best to push his way through the stampeding crowd, swinging his butterfly net at every opportunity. It was no use—the creature was too fast, and flew too high. “I’ve got to be more clever,” he thought to himself. He looked around him for what materials he might be able to use to construct something ingenious, and the gears of his mind churned quickly, processing possibilities.
Finally, he had it.
Elbowing through the screaming crowd, Waldo came to a discarded bicycle and stripped it of its chain. He then cracked open a large clock which a merchant had dropped during the panic and extracted from within several gears, cogs, and a very large spring. Gathering up a fisherman’s line, he sliced off the oversized hook at the end and spooled the bicycle chain through its eye. He made use of the tools he always carried in his pockets—various wrenches and pliers and clamps—to re-assemble the bits and pieces inside an oversized boot, inventing for himself something quite practical: a spring-powered grappling hook.
Dozens of people now lay sprawled in the thoroughfare, green-faced and paralyzed, and the cruel creature began working its way up the side of the stone spire, far out of reach. It stung passers-by on the catwalks, onlookers on balconies, even an old woman who simply leaned out of her window to bring in the wash.
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