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Sundry Apocrypha by Huinare

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Melkor, with the aide of the creature Ungoliant, seeks to bring ruin upon Two Trees Spider Farms and the rogue spider farmer Fëanáro in one fell swoop.

This story responded to a B2MeM 2015 prompt by Zopyrus asking for a "spider farm AU" as recently seen on Tumblr. 

Melkor balefully regarded the shiny new placard–Formenos Spider Ranch–gracing the door which had but lately been shut in his face. Then he marched off purposefully. Only once did he look back, filling his voice with the dark and formless terror of the Void so that the pigeons and drunken vagrants trembled to hear it, to declaim, “You call this a spider ranch? One room opening onto the alley? More like spider shithole, amirite? Good luck getting any business here, Fëanáro!”

Not that he would mind if the rogue spider breeder lured some spider enthusiasts away from Valar, Inc. and its flagship business, Two Trees Spider Farms; to the contrary, that would please Melkor well, for it was his wish that all Valar enterprises should fail.

It was Melkor’s other wish that he should possess for his own the three egg sacs which Fëanáro jealously tended within the cinder block walls of Formenos Spider Shithole, er, Ranch. Fëanáro had recently set up on his own on the north side of town, taking three Silmarachnis lucida egg sacs with him, after Valar’s board of directors concluded that his internship at Two Trees needs must be terminated following an “incident” with his half-brother Nolofinwë in the parking lot. Fëanáro asserted that the egg sacs were his by right, for he had through his own deep wisdom found them inside an overturned wheelbarrow out back his family’s garage; yet not all believed these words, for S. lucida was an endangered species not native to that part of the world and also three egg sacs had disappeared from Two Trees at around the same time. However, none could deny that it was only during Fëanáro’s internship that Two Trees had ever gotten S. lucida to mate at all (and not for lack of trying; they were Exoskeletal Resources Unlimited [ERU]’s best mail-order customer), and so the egg sac ownership situation remained ambiguous and fraught.

As he hopped on his red moped and drove away, Melkor’s glower receded and he began chuckling sinisterly to himself. They had all done him an ill turn, but now a new plot of vengeance was already forming in his profound and very active imagination. Valar, Inc. had not cut him in following a disagreement over what to listen to on the radio during the road trip over which the corporation had been conceived. Nor could Melkor order his own starter spiders from ERU, as he lacked the funds to obtain the costly certification training and exotic spider license on his own. Thus was it that he had been left, in disgrace, to open a mall front pet store. And now even this self-styled spider rancher had shut the door in his face! Well, they would all pay soon enough. Oh, yes, they would pay, with their tears, and also with other stuff.

- - - - - - - -

Fëanáro sat on the wobbly office chair with its missing wheel, gazing into the terrarium at the three egg sacs. Though Formenos Spider Ranch contained many eight-legged wonders, it was these egg sacs which consumed the thought and passion of Fëanáro. Long would he gaze upon them, transfixed, dumb to all else around him, envisioning the spidery life which grew and developed within them. He revolved scenarios in his mind, estimated how many baby Silmarachnis lucida would emerge from each sac, envisioned how they might explore their terrarium and how much income and prestige they would garner him in the spider enthusiast community.

“Son,” Finwë’s voice came more insistently at his side. Fëanáro wrenched himself out of his reverie and regarded with bloodshot eyes his father, who had trundled across the room on the other office chair (the one with all the wheels and the backrest that caused persistent back pain) and now sat beside him.

“Certain I am that Melkor had designs on my egg sacs,” Fëanáro remarked for the fifth time that evening.

“Come away from it for a bit. You are exhausting yourself. Have a mango,” Finwë suggested, proffering one.

“I hate mangos, and I’m fine,” Fëanáro prickled.




“NO. I–the hell you carrying watermelons around for now?–I do not want any fruit, father!” Fëanáro arose and began to pace in vexation. “I am weary of fruit, so abidingly weary. You, on the other hand, seem to miss it. Are you sure you’d not be happier returning? This is not your fight, and Two Trees has no quarrel with you. Go back to their parking lot, resume your rightful place as head of the family fruit stand, and leave me to my work.”

Finwë shook his regal head slowly but decisively, such that none should venture to gainsay him. “I stand by my eldest son. Nectarine?”

- - - - - - - -

In the gloom of the unlighted pet store after hours, the last dank glow of a cloud-obscured sunset battering feebly at the windows, Melkor approached her slyly. “Hello, Ungoliant.”

The creature, hunkered in its cage, turned a beady eye upon him with little love. “Fuck you.”

“And your profit on’t is you know how to curse, eh?” grumbled Melkor. “Listen, I have a proposition for you.”

“Sod off.”

“Good heavens,” he sighed, subduing his impatience. He opened the mason jar he held and picked up one of the long-legged cellar spiders within. “Are you hungry, Ungoliant?”

“YES,” the creature affirmed harshly, adding as a quieter afterthought, “Dillweed.”

“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that. You like the spiders Uncle Melkor’s raised you on, do you not?”

Ungoliant bobbed her head.

“And who else shall feed you spiders do you think? That’s right, no one. Only me. Thus, if Ungoliant wishes to not starve, and also, in due time, to enjoy a spider feast of unrivaled bounty, Ungoliant shall do Melkor’s will.”

Melkor smiled slowly as the creature glared, fidgeted, considered its options, and at last assented, “‘kay.”

“Excellent.” Melkor passed the spider through the bars, and Ungoliant snapped it up eagerly. He then passed a battered binder through. Someone had written ‘Aulë’s Welding 101 lesson plans’ on it, and someone else had crossed that off and written ‘Top secret plot bwahaha’ on it. “Study this, learn it by heart. ‘Tis the locations of the surveillance cameras at Two Trees Spider Farms, as well as the code to deactivate the security alarm. Apparently it never occurred to Tulkas that someone with binoculars might be sitting in a tree some morning watching him punch the code in. Unwary and complacent fools, the lot of them.”

Melkor chuckled sinisterly again. Outside, the last of the daylight ducked behind the outlet mall across the way and the shop was plunged into darkness.

- - - - - - - -

Námo started awake as Vairë nudged him. He stifled a yawn. Cleaning spider enclosures by day and taking pre-law classes by night was starting to get to him. Why must he attend this farcical occasion? Manwë and Varda, as the company chairs, surely possessed the will and might to make nice with Fëanáro on their own without having to drag the fourteen-strong board of Valar Inc. out to dinner with Finwë’s sizeable family.

Frankly, it was ridiculous that Two Trees was so caught up in the fates of a family who kept a fruit stand in the parking lot. True, Fëanáro had scored an internship at the spider farm which probably paid a good deal less than laboring at the fruit stand had, but the rumor that the half-brother was also seeking an internship had simply been false. Nonetheless, it had caused Fëanáro to draw a knife on Nolofinwë in the parking lot. Long weeks had it been before it dawned upon a Valar staff meeting that Melkor, in his jealous spite, had sown said rumor in order to incite conflict, enmity, and drama. Now Varda and Manwë, troubled by the business which Fëanáro might siphon off them once the Silmarachnis lucida babies emerged from their egg sacs, sought to reconcile over dinner and Ikea gift cards. Fëanáro seemed to be playing along in order to receive free stuff, yet his father Finwë had refused to make the journey to Olive Garden, sending in his stead an email message conveying that he willed not to come forth from Formenos Spider Ranch until such time as his eldest son was offered full-time employment at Two Trees.

Námo sighed and took another sip of his drink.

“Thou hast touched not thy fajita salad,” Vairë murmured pointedly. “In fact, the only thing thou hast touched is three glasses of crappy house white zin, and thou hast got class in an hour.”

“Thou speakest wisely, my reverend spouse.” Námo reflected upon the situation. “What I need is some coffee to go with this wine.” Vairë sighed and shrugged. Awaiting the reappearance of their server, Námo’s profound mind returned to the matter of what his ouija board had told him just before they’d left for dinner.

“Do you think it’s working?” intoned Vairë out of the side of her mouth, her spider-shaped silver pendant watch ticking loudly enough to be audible even in the sea of chatter and clinking flatware.

Námo eyed Fëanáro at the other end of the table, who was by all appearances engrossed in the photos which Nolofinwë was showing forth on his smartphone. Yet it did not elude Námo’s keen glance that Fëanáro was absently stabbing his fork into his chicken alfredo.

“No, I don’t believe it’s quite working,” answered Námo, and a cold dread came over him as he considered still the ouija board’s cryptic message. What could be its import?

Fëanáro’s voice, peevish now, broke into his meditations; the rogue spider farmer had raised his face from the digital photos of Nolofinwë’s kayaking trip and trained his bright eyes on the manager. “What you do mean, can’t have it in here? That is my son’s service dog.”

The manager favored the chihuahua sitting in Tyelkormo’s lap with a skeptical look.

Tyelkormo agreed, “Yes, that’s right, he’s my service dog, he helps me with my, um…” The chihuahua erupted in a shrill yapping directed at the manager. “Sush, Huan!”

Sorely tried not stop his ears with his fingers, Námo gazed into his wine glass, revolving the unsettling and mysterious missive of his ouija board:

Don’t let’s everyone go to Olive Garden and leave the spider farm unguarded tonight, that would be a really bad idea.

What on earth could it mean?

- - - - - - - -

Melkor ducked behind the fruit stand where it loomed, dark and closed up for the night like some ruinous attempt at garnering a liveable wage, and opened the cat carrier. “Proceed even as we have planned, capiche?”

“Capiche,” Ungoliant echoed, perhaps a little mockingly, and hopped out of the enclosure. While Melkor looked on with his binoculars, she flew across the parking lot and around the building, toppling the not-altogether-top-of-the-line security cameras from their fixtures. Melkor smiled, a fell light kindled in his eyes, as the cameras crashed and shattered. Then he strode across the lot, his movements animated with such cruel purpose that even a racoon plodding through the space illumined by the street light hastened out of his path grasping the remains of a Hot Pocket in its jaws.

Gaining the side door of the small building, Melkor smashed its window with the cat carrier.

‘BouEEP. BouEEP,’ hollered the alarm. Ungoliant flew inside, a rustling flurry of dark wings, and deactivated it in haste before it sent an alert to the authorities. Melkor reached in to unlock the door and enter in on the hall, whereupon Ungoliant alighted on his shoulder.

“Spiders,” croaked Ungoliant.

“Spiders indeed,” murmured Melkor, shutting the door behind him and proceeding to the back room, where shelves upon shelves of terrariums housed the eight-legged bread and butter of Valar, Inc. He switched on the light and breathed in deeply, feeling nearly high on his own power to dispense with the spiders howsoever he pleased, alone here with none to stay his hand.

“Eat as many as you may while this building is still safe,” directed Melkor, and, so saying, began sweeping his arms along the shelves, sending terrariums crashing to the floor. Spiders fled in all directions, large and small, slender and bulbous, web-spinners and crevice-lurkers, plain and brightly adorned. Crowing in obscene delight, Ungoliant set to work, hopping and pecking among the glass shards, that which had issued from the long labors of Valar vanishing down her gullet.

Melkor laughed, the desire of his dark heart to bring ruin to Two Trees fulfilled at last, and drew then from his cat carrier a gas can. Spilling its contents judiciously about the room, he set the place ablaze and ran from the building, still laughing. In passing, he splashed the fruit stand and threw a lit match on it. The wooden structure caught quickly, joining Two Trees Spider Farms in a smaller blaze.

When he paused where his moped was parked a block hence, to look back and smile upon the devastation he had wrought, Ungoliant caught him up. She settled on one of the handlebars and fixed him with a greedy glare, almost frightening in its intensity. “Hey. Asshat. Still hungry.”

Melkor had been hoping to ditch her, for he needed her no longer. Yet as he pulled out of the alley and onto a major thoroughfare, he affected friendship still, for he now deemed speed to be more crucial than stealth to the next phase of his vengeance, and he desired to lose no time in arguing with a mynah bird. Thus he said unto Ungoliant, “And for thy services, which have been indispensable, there shall be greater reward still. Another trove of spiders awaits us at Formenos, where thou mayest consume whichever pleaseth thee most and at thy leisure.”

- - - - - - - -

The Taniquetil neighborhood Olive Garden was situated near the summit of a hill, and thus it was that the flames a mile down the street could easily be espied from the southward-facing windows. Indis had spent much time in a booth by the window along with Arafinwë and Eärwen, attempting to ignore the stink eye which her stepson Fëanáro occasionally gave her from the main table. In this endeavor, she affected often a great interest in what lay outside the window, and so it was that she discovered the flames first.

“Is not that where Finwë’s fruit stand is?” she wondered with concern, glad Fëanáro could not hear her. His bitterness over his mother’s leaving to assume a major role at a mattress startup caused him to bristle any time Indis attempted to have a thing to do with the family fruit stand.

Arafinwë stood up and squinted. “The very place. The fruit stand and the spider farm are both in flames!”

“WHAT,” Fëanáro and Manwë snarled in unison, rushing to the window. Manwë, who could see farther than any other when Varda was beside him, dragged her with him by the lapel of her cobalt blue blazer. “I see Melkor two streets down,” Manwë disclosed, “heading north on a moped, attended by that vile unadoptable creature from his pet shop.”

And Varda, who could hear more keenly than all others when Manwë was at her side, dug her nails into his arm until it bled and added, “I hear him laughing, and the sound is as poison.”

“Now all is made clear,” lamented Námo, the only one who had not flocked to the window, dispensing with the last of his wine in one deep draught and availing himself presently of the rest of Nessa’s cider.

“Heading north,” murmured Indis, then started as one struck with lightning. She grabbed her mobile phone and frantically stabbed a few buttons. “Finwë! Finwë, pick up, pick up…”

- - - - - - - -

Finwë was sitting outside the door of Formenos Spider Ranch on an overturned milk crate, attempting to feed slices of mango to a stray cat. “Come now, it’s good for you.”

The cat sneezed and flicked one flea-bitten ear.

“Lots of yummy vitamins…” Finwë coaxed. He discerned the muffled noise of his cellphone ringing inside. “Surely it is the Valar people once again seeking to ply me with free gift cards. I have not the time nor the heart for their speech. I say let it ring.”

This dismissal was his final, fateful utterance. Barely had he closed his mouth before a moped careened into the alley and halted with a screech. Melkor leapt from it, brandishing a cat carrier, and flew at Finwë with a manic shout, all his teeth glinting as he grinned, “Your fruit stand is in ashes, old man!”

Finwë had but an instant for alarm and bewilderment before the cat carrier connected with his skull at an improbable velocity.

- - - - - - - -

Melkor stood in the doorway of Formenos, once again inhaling deeply as he gloried in his own power. His eye uncovered at once that which he sought, a terrarium in the far corner upon his right. He said nothing of this to Ungoliant, but began on the left side of the room, flipping the mesh tops off the terrariums and haphazardly dumping their contents over a ten gallon Ziploc bag. The majority of the spiders landed on the floor rather than in the bag, yet this troubled not Melkor, for these specimens were of but little value to him beside the three which he so fervently sought. The floor seemed as a thing alive with shifting legs and small round abdomens. Melkor strode across it, heedless of those which trundled onto his boot and up his calf. Seeing Ungoliant distracted–for she was gorging herself on the scurrying bounty, staggering now with her own bloated gut–,he carefully removed the Silmarachnis lucida egg sacs from their terrarium, and placed them in a tiny velveteen-lined cardboard jewelry case salvaged for this purpose. This he retained discreetly in one hand.

He was making to exit the room and leave Ungoliant behind when the sirens commenced to wail. Once again, the foul mynah, seeming to understand that the noise signaled pursuit, flew to perch on the handlebar of the moped. Melkor suppressed a sigh, stepped over Finwë’s prone corpse, and shot off again along a side street, now bearing northeast.

- - - - - - - -

The board of Valar, Inc., along with the family of Finwë, held a candlelight vigil in the parking lot. Some of the folk from Vanya Hair Salon, which occupied the other side of Two Trees’ building and had been spared its own immolation by the fire department’s hasty arrival, stood with them. The quenched ruins of the spider farm and the fruit stand sent continuous dying belches of smoke up into the star-flecked sky.

Many wept, especially Nienna who frequently dabbed the corners of her eyes with a grey silk handkerchief. Others sought to understand where they had erred and how they might have averted this doom.

“Had there been more trust between my family and Valar, we may in our unity have perceived Melkor’s wiles from afar, rather than allowing a fog of doubt and division to blind us to his purposes as surely he intended,” said Arafinwë. Indis, her face drawn and tearstained, stood leaning on Eärwen’s arm and nodded.

Yet Fëanáro’s resentment was kindled the more, for he deemed that he may have prevented his father’s death, had he not gone forth to Olive Garden at the behest of Valar. He leapt atop the hood of his rusty three-door Chevrolet Chevette and addressed the gathering, his speech inflamed with anger and grief, “The board members of Valar, Inc. speak as though they are strangers to Melkor and his brand of thought and action. Yet know you not that he was once even as they are–that the only reason he is not one of them now is because they had a disagreement about music? Furthermore, they have but lately prevailed upon me to give them my Silmarachnis lucida egg sacs, those eggs sacs which came into being only through my dedicated research and countless hours of unpaid overtime, before we all learnt that the egg sacs were stolen while my father’s body was still warm.”

“We asked no more of you than that you help to replenish those exotic and costly Silmarachnis specimens which were consumed in the fire,” spake Oromë. “With the income generated by those baby spiders, Two Trees may yet have been able to rebuild and to provide a place for your family’s fruit stand to resume operation.”

But Fëanáro was wroth and would brook no discussion. “Ask your ERU for more spiders! Do not tell me to render unto you mine own work after you have discontinued my internship and indirectly caused the death of my father!” He leapt up to stand on the roof of the Chevette, the candlelight rendering his face a stark mask of light and shadow, and to his kin spake he thus: “Our dark foe hath skipped town, and I say we follow him. I say we hunt him, and reclaim from him these precious egg sacs, and woe betide any who seek to hinder our progress or stay our hand! Between us we possess not adequate vehicle space to transport us all, yet Teler Classic Volkswagon Bus Dealership lies a mere three blocks hence. We have only to avail ourselves of a few VW buses, and follow the enemy northward before his trail grows cold. Who now will stand with me and swear alongside me a most terrible and inadvisable oath?”

Huan the chihuahua whined and growled in his master’s arms, and the board of Valar, Inc. wept or shook their heads as Fëanáro’s seven sons sprang atop the roof of the Chevette and swore along with him an oath most fell and binding…

- - - - - - - -

Melkor, two counties northeast and perceiving as yet no pursuit, pulled over to rest at an unlit urban park. He betook him to a bench beside a silent fountain and there reclined him for just a short nap.

Something light, but with tiny clawed toes, thumped down upon his chest. Melkor opened his eyes to see Ungoliant staring at him, mere inches from his face, with an almost preternatural hunger.

“More,” rasped Ungoliant in her unsettling monotone.

“You’ve already had dozens at Two Trees, and more still at Formenos. You have even cleaned out the ten-gallon Ziploc bag, which I’d intended to use in my own startup spider farm and which you relentlessly demanded of me,” yawned Melkor, determined that he must not by word or deed reveal his uneasiness. “None left is there for you to eat, Ungoliant. Thou hast served me well, and feasted better, and now thou art free. Go wheresoever thou wilt, and leave me to my nice nap.”

“Uncle Melkor say,” spake the creature, choosing its words with all the care and art which its petty mind could muster, “Ungoliant eats whichever pleases most.”

“And you have had them all.” Melkor kept his right hand closed firmly about the tiny box with the three egg sacs, as he had since leaving Formenos Spider Ranch. “And frankly, Ungoliant, you’ve overindulged already.”

As if in answer, Ungoliant stiffened uncomfortably for a moment, shivered a bit, and a sizeable greenish-white glob dropped from under her tail and onto Melkor’s shirt. Wonderful. Not only had he worn his best black shirt to the evening’s evildoing, he had somehow managed not to wear anything with pockets; thus was there no place on his now shitstained person, other than his hand, in which to conceal the small box.

Ungoliant leaned in nearer to his face, her beak looking especially sharp from this close up. “In your hand. Ungoliant wants.”

“What I hold in hand is not a spider. It would not interest you, nor did I promise you aught save for spiders.”


But Melkor was loath to open his hand to Ungoliant, lest she interpret spider egg sacs as falling under the terms of their deal and snap the precious things up. “Nay, it is of no interest nor concern to thee, and this one thing I reserve unto myself,” he hissed painfully, curling his lip in disgust as another watery yet clumpy shit landed beside the first one.

“No interest? No interest? Then show! Motherfucker!” shrieked Ungoliant, laying into his clenched hand with her beak.

Wincing, Melkor leapt off the bench, endeavoring to shake off the attacker, but he tripped over his feet and fell into the side of the fountain. His left arm crunched against the marble which gleamed pale in the night, and he cried out in pain and curled around the arm, yet his hand remained steadfastly clenched about the box with its future Silmarachnis. The corners of the box jabbed into his palm, and the terrible mynah, filled with vengeance, stabbed relentlessly at his hand with beak and claws. Melkor sought again to rise, and again fell back against the fountain’s edge. This time it was his right leg which crunched, and still Ungoliant did not cease her attack.

He screamed, a sound most terrible–at which all other creatures in the park fell silent, save for a passing local indie musical artist who immediately whipped forth an iPhone and swiped to the sound recording app. “I can totally sample this awesome scream on my new EP [Track: ‘How I Screamed That Day’ | Artist: Daeron | Album: Lammoth (EP)],” decided the local indie musical artist before vanishing into the night. And still Melkor screamed; he reached for the phone clipped to his collar, dialed one of his local connections, and screamed.

“All right, all right,” the drowsy voice of Gothmog mumbled on the other end of the line. “There in ten minutes.”

By the time the founder of Valarauka Cohousing arrived, Melkor had sprained an ankle, broken a clavicle, and been pecked from head to toe. Gothmog swore in consternation, cast about for the source of this trouble, and perceived a smallish bird pecking still at the tightly curled hand of Melkor.

“The fuck? Away, creature, lest I go mediaeval on thine ass with my flamethrower,” said Gothmog.

Ungoliant shrieked balefully, “Cocksucker!“ and winged away into the dark, nevermore to be seen in those parts.

Gothmog knelt beside Melkor. “What has happened?”

“Fled Valinor County,” gasped Melkor, laboriously opening bleary eyes to peer upon Gothmog. He smiled wryly. “Never again may I sow deceit among them, for they know me now. Deeds cruel and obscene have I committed, regarding which I will presently enlighten you. The creature hath wounded me sorely, yet it is no great loss.” Slowly, almost gently, he opened his hand. Gothmog winced at the depressions the corners of the small box had left in his palm. “Here,” whispered Melkor, eyes alight with his triumph and seeming now to forget his recent anguish, “here indeed rests the greatest fruit of my vengeance. Behold, the future Silmarachnis lucida!”

And then Melkor oped wide the tiny box, but he found not the three egg sacs; rather, hundreds of baby S. lucida, perfect miniature facsimiles of the adult spider with its colorful iridescent abdomen, poured forth, onto his hands and face and shit-sullied chest. He laughed and laughed in a timbre most wicked, oblivious to the racking pain each chuckle blasted through his body, at the same time endeavoring to shoo the spiders back into the box.

“This–this is the foundation upon which I shall seal my vengeance and build my fortune! What thinkest thou of the name Iron Hell Arachnid Emporium?”

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