Spiders, Centipedes, & Holes
By Cat Rambo
Illustration by Akura Pare
If the spiders run faster than centipedes then black holes will turn white. The black holes, now white, may swallow both centipedes and spiders. Holes of any sort have little patience with insects. Holes of any sort have little patience with anything. They are rapacious entities, eager to swallow other things and make them into something else.
This is, in fact, why the spiders are running, in order to escape the holes. They don’t have to run faster than the holes — just the centipedes. No one is quite sure why the centipedes are running or how they feel about any of this. Centipedes are morose and solitary creatures, and their thoughts on getting from Point B to Point A is anyone’s guess.
We do know this. Centipedes form letters as they writhe along in their journeys. Not all the letters of the alphabet, of course, but the curvy ones — C’s and S’s and sometimes the awkward contortion of a W. They spell words full of O’s and U’s but they cannot manage A’s and E’s. And so the language they write in (who they are writing to is unknown as well) is one full of those vowels, and sibilants, a soft whisper of s ending almost every word. What they say is enigmatic: directions for assembling five-legged tables or the names of chicken-chasing dogs.
The spiders think such linguistic efforts are common, lacking grace. They point out that language has been borrowed from humans, and that to return it, changed, altered, surgically manipulated is rude, like returning a neighbor’s lawnmower after having painted it blue or removing the blades. You don’t give something back after you’ve changed it. You give the people something new, and the spiders are pretty sure the centipedes are holding back, that they could be producing something of value to humanity, rather than meaningless, unassembled fragments that, like a glow in the dark kaleidoscope, form patterns dependent on proximity and angles.
The holes have no such concerns, no worries about ethics or etiquette. They just want to swallow something, and it doesn’t matter what, whether it’s a centipede or spider, or ball of pale blue glass dropped by some insect in its flight. What souvenirs can the holes collect and destroy? What meaning will be lost forever, before it can even be deciphered, before it has even been transcribed, changed from an accident of motion into meaning, into something from nothing, an alchemy that doesn’t care whether the writer is insect or accident of something much like a hole, devoid of meaning, yet meaningfully empty.