Part 1: Angela
Angela sat on the couch in her living room, dressed only in her nightgown and slippers, TV remote in hand. She twirled her curly, light brown hair with her finger as she watched the latest episode of The Voice. Right in the middle of one contestant’s tone-deaf rendition of Queen’s We are the Champions, the broadcast cut to the local news station.
On screen, the anchorman adjusted his tie nervously and said. “We interrupt your regularly scheduled program with an urgent announcement...”
“The hell?!” Angela said, putting the remote on the arm of the couch and sitting up.
“We’ve received word tonight of a series of strange and disturbing abductions,” the anchorman continued, “all around the city, some kind of spider-like machines are attacking women, wrapping them in plastic cocoons, and absconding with them.”
“You’ve got to be shitting me,” Angela snorted, “is this someone’s idea of a bad joke?”
“No one knows yet who’s behind these abductions or where these ‘Arachno-Bots’, as they’re being called, came from.” The anchorman wiped a bead of sweat from his forehead with a tissue. “Authorities are advising women to stay in their homes and lock their doors. It may be necessary to declare martial law and mobilize National Guard units against these mysterious machines.”
Angela heard a noise outside her house and turned off the television. Brushing aside the curtains and glancing out her window, her eyes widened with shock. It hadn’t been a joke after all; there was an army of them on her front lawn and all over the neighborhood! Each of them was as big as a subcompact car, painted a matte black, walked on eight hydraulically-powered legs, and had a head with eight red eye lights and an array of sensors. Several of these Arachno-Bots were already carrying off cocooned women on their backs, wrapped head-to-toe in a white plastic that resembled the pallet wrap used in warehouses. Each cocoon had a breathing tube where the captive’s mouth would logically be. One of the ones not so encumbered turned and started moving towards her front door!
Angela turned and instinctively ran for her kitchen. She rifled through her cutlery drawer for something to use as a weapon, but none of the knives in the drawer looked like it would do any good against the kind of armor those mechanical monstrosities had. She found herself wishing she hadn’t recently broken up with her boyfriend, Mark. Sure, her friends considered him a kook, but he and that arsenal of guns he so treasured might have come in handy right about now.
There was a loud pounding on the front door accompanied by the sound of the metal hinges and other door hardware starting to give way. One of those things was trying to get into the house! She ran out to the garage, looking around desperately for something she could use to fend it off. The best she could find was a rusty sledgehammer among some old tools Mark had left behind when he moved out last week. She glanced up at the hatch in the garage ceiling, and the attic ladder. She thought, If that damned thing wants to get me so bad, make it work for it.
Even carrying the sledgehammer in one hand, she practically flew up the ladder and into the attic at the sound of cracking wood and the loud crash as the front door fell to the living room floor. It was in the house now! She quickly closed the attic hatch and hit the light switch. She needed something heavy to move over it as a barricade. Judging by all the noises she could hear below, the Arachno-Bot was already tearing the house apart looking for her. She scanned all the cobweb- and dust-covered junk that was up there with her; the old China cabinet, her grandmother's old Singer sewing machine, and a vast assortment of cardboard boxes and old luggage. She could only guess at how strong those machines were, but hopefully the combined weight of two or more of those items would slow the mechanized monster that invaded her home long enough for her to come up with an escape plan of some kind.
Setting the sledgehammer down over by the boxes, she got behind the China cabinet and pushed it to the hatch with all the strength she could muster. She moved the sewing machine over with it and then piled as many of the old trunks and suitcases as she could on top of them. Other than the garage hatch she had just sealed off, the only other ways in or out of the attic were the roof access hatch over by the chimney and a window that overlooked the backyard. The window was too small for her to squeeze through, so the roof hatch was it, if it came to that.
Sitting down on a box by where she put down her only weapon, she listened carefully for any more sounds out of the mechanical intruder downstairs. It was eerily quiet down there. She didn't enjoy thinking about what damage it was doing to her home, or what it would do to her insurance premiums when it was all over. She'd left her iPhone downstairs in the bedroom, so there was no way to call for help, or even keep herself occupied with a game of Candy Crush. Then the pounding started again and the objects she barricaded the hatch with shook. She jumped to her feet and grabbed the sledgehammer.
Damnit, she thought. It knows where I am now!
Soon the Arachno-Bot was doing more than just pounding on the hatch, the floor all around it was getting ready to buckle. There was no choice, it was time to get out of there. She ran to the second ladder, climbing up to the roof hatch.
She was on the roof next to the chimney. Most of the other Arachno-Bots had, thankfully, taken their prisoners and left the area. Aside from that really persistent intruder who had been bashing it's way through her home to get at her, there were just two more one street over to the north. One was in someone's backyard, smashing in a set of sliding glass doors into that house as a tiny Chihuahua in a pink collar barked and growled at it. The other was across the street, attempting to break into a two story McMansion via the stained glass and dark oak front doors.
How the hell am I going to get down from here? Angela wondered. Jumping down from the roof of a house, even one only a single story tall, was a great way to get badly injured; it didn't matter if you tried to land in something soft. But what was the alternative? Other than letting that thing have her?
She didn't have much longer to weigh her options as a massive, hydraulically-powered limb burst through the shingles and, not long after, her pursuer climbed out of the large hole and onto the roof! It glared at her with its eight red eyes and advanced menacingly towards her. It was a small wonder the house didn't completely collapse from all the damage the bizarre contraption had done.
Angela took as strong a stance as she could on the roof's slope and readied the sledgehammer, resolved to take her best swing at the metal monster's head as soon as it was in range. But to her dismay, the Arachno-Bot deftly caught the hammer with its front legs and yanked it out of her hands. There she was, disarmed and cornered by the giant spider-like robot with no escape that didn't entail the risk of broken bones or worse. She was backed up against the bricks of the chimney as it came closer and seized her.
As it grappled with her, a hypodermic needle extended out of the head and plunged itself into her thigh. Her body went numb and her limbs no longer obeyed her brain's commands to move. The Arachno-Bot raised up on four of its legs as the others moved Angela into position beneath its chassis. She was helpless but to watch wide-eyed as a hatch opened and an arm bearing a thick roll of the white plastic extended out. She could see the machine had seven additional rolls onboard as reserves. As the Arachno-Bot's limbs spun her dizzyingly, the plastic wrapped around her in a single layer from her feet to her shoulders. There was a brief pause as a second, smaller arm placed a breathing tube in her mouth and secured it with medical tape.
As the spinning and wrapping resumed, Angela passed out long before the machine finished wrapping her in a grand total of ten head-to-toe layers of plastic. When it was finished with her, it placed her on its back and automatic restraints strapped her down tight. The Arachno-Bot climbed down from the house with its captive and joined the other two as they were leaving with their own captures.