The Incredible Shrinking Man - By Richard Matheson

Chapter One
"He stared at the window. Why'd it have to rain? he thought. Oh, why'd it? Why couldn't it be sunny so the pretty girl could lie outside in her bathing suit and he could stare at her and lust in secret, sick vicariousness."

Chapter One

It was the beginning.

First he thought it was a tidal wave. Then he saw that the sky and ocean were visible through it and it was a curtain of spray rushing at the boat.

He'd been sunbathing on top of the cabin. It was just coincidence that he pushed up on his elbow and saw it coming.

"Marty!" he yelled. There was no answer. He scuttled across the hot wood and slid down the deck.

"Hey, Marty!"

The spray didn't look menacing, but for some reason he wanted to avoid it. He ran around the cabin, wincing at the hot planks underfoot. It would be a race.

Which he lost. One moment he was in sunlight. The next he was being soaked by the warm, glittering spray.

Then it was past. He stood there watching it sweep across the water, sun-glowing drops of it covering him. Suddenly he twitched and looked down. There was a curious tingling on his skin. He grabbed for a towel and dried himself. It wasn't so much pain as a pleasant stinging, like that of lotion on newly shaven cheeks.

Then he was dry and the feeling was almost gone. He went below and woke up his brother and told him about the curtain of spray that had run across the boat.
Chapter Two
The spider rushed at him across the shadowed sands, scrabbling wildly on its stalk like legs. Its body was a giant, glossy egg that trembled blackly as it charged across the windless mounds, its wake a score of sand-trickling scratches.

Paralysis locked the man. He saw the poisonous glitter of the spider eyes. He watched it scramble across a log like stick, body mounted high on its motion-blurred legs, as high as the man's shoulders. Behind him, suddenly, the steel encased flame flared into life with a thunder that shook the air. It jarred the man loose. With a sucking gasp, he spun around and ran, the damp sand crunching beneath his racing sandals.

He fled through lakes of light and into darkness again, his face a mask of terror. Beams of sunlight speared across his panic-driven path, cold shadows enveloped it. Behind, the giant spider scoured sand in its pursuit.

Suddenly the man slipped. A cry tore back his lips. He skidded to a knee, then pitched forward onto outstretched palms. He felt the cold sands shaking with the vibration of the roaring flame. He pushed himself up desperately, palms flaking sand, and started running again.

Fleeing, he glanced back across his shoulder and saw that the spider was gaining on him, its pulsing egg of a body perched on running legs-an egg whose yolk swam with killing poisons. He raced on, breathless, terror in his veins.

Suddenly the cliff edge was before him, shearing off abruptly to a gray, perpendicular face. He raced along the edge, not looking down into the vast canyon below. The giant spider scuttled after him, the sound of its running a delicate scraping on the stone. It was closer still. The man dashed between two giant cans that loomed like tanks above him. He threaded, racing, in between the silent bulks of all the clustered cans, past green and red and yellow sides all caked with livid smears. The spider had to climb above them, unable to move its swollen body rapidly enough between them. It slithered up the side of one, then sped across their metal tops, bridging the gaps between them with sudden, jerking hops.

As the man started out into the open again, he heard a scratching sound above. Recoiling and jerking back his head, he saw the spider just about to leap on him, two legs slipping down a metal side, the rest clutching at the top.

With a terrified gasp, the man dived again into the space between the giant cans, half running, half stumbling back along the winding route. Behind him, the spider drew itself back up to the top and, backing around in a twitching semicircle, started after him again.

The move gained seconds for the man, lunging out into the shadow-swept sands again, he raced around the great stone pillar and through another stack of tanlike structures. The spider leaped down on the sand and scurried in pursuit.

The great orange mass loomed over the man now as he headed once Copyright 2016 - 2024