The Hatchery

In Fiction on August 17, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Friday is upon us again, and here I am Fictioneering – with what I’d consider one of my creepier attempts.

The photo comes courtesy of Lura Helms, but the prompt, as always, comes from Madison Woods. Give it a read and let me know what you think!

The Hatchery


A fissure opened in the stump and Cole stepped closer. The trees had died months ago, but somehow they’d kept growing – not up, but out, tumid trunks swelling in the blackened soil.


Now the forest was full of pregnant trees, thick boles hung with knots, limbs splayed.


The fissure grew wide, and a long leg, bone white and ragged, reached from the darkness, groping for purchase on the swollen stump. The dead leaves rattled as a fat body turned beneath, scraping  inside the trunk before thrusting another leg into the light.

Cole stepped back.

Snap, snap, snap.

All across the forest, the spiders were hatching their shells.


You know the drill: Leave your comments and criticism (and, hopefully, links to your stories) in the section below, and click on the little blue guy for even more great stories! For more of my stories, check out my fiction section.

  1. yes, I’d agree. Creepy. But delightfully so. Seems like there could be more to this story….

  2. Pregnant trees giving birth to spiders – this was really a stroke of genius. Very graphically described. Well done.

  3. Lovely vocab, especially “thick boles hung with knots, limbs splayed.” Punctuated with the snaps, this story really has great pace – you can feel the pressure. Great idea, well executed.

  4. Terrifying! You had me at the image of dead swelling tree trunks. The use of sound – snap, snap, snap – makes the visual description even more unbearably vivid. Good job!

  5. I agree that the “snaps” were well used. The story–yucky and scary in just the right way.

  6. I didn’t see spiders at first, but when you mentioned them, everything snapped into place. Very creepy.

  7. Like “tumid trunks [tumid: new word for me] swelling in the blackened soil”–novel take on the image.

    • Thanks! I wondered about that one because it’s almost redundant the way I’ve written it, but hopefully it comes across as “they’re already swollen and they’re swelling more.” Glad you stopped by to read

  8. Hi Brian,
    Very creepy response to a tough challenge this week. Spiders are up there pretty high on the fear and panic index. I liked the way you organized the piece, and used description to keep the suspense going. Proud to be right next to you in the same row and hoping some of your creativity will rub off!

    • Thanks Ron – we tend to be close on the list most weeks, it seems, and from the looks of things, you have creativity to spare. Thanks for reading!

  9. Yikes! Creepy and spooky. I hate spiders. Now they’re hatching. Remind me not to go near that forest. I’m #30 on the list.

  10. Brian – you build a jagged suspense with commanding imagery and a relentless pace (impressive in such a short passage).

    However, the last line ruins it all for me. It’s flat, in both its revelation and even in the shape of the words (read it out loud in contrast to the first sentence).

    I’d rather an ending that comes back to Cole and the ominous moment you’ve created with the three snaps – how can you make the reader feel like Cole does in that moment?

    • You’re right – it does end on a sort of summary feel. I want to open it up to give the sense that all the trees are hatching these things and that Cole’s right in the middle of it, but without breaking the flow. I’ll think on that!

    • Oops. I should have read all the other comments before making mine below. Katrina gets the credit! 🙂

  11. I agree with a lot of the comments above. Very different, quite interesting, and there seems like there could, definitely, be more to the story.

  12. You captured me with your imagery. No picture was needed. Great stuff.

  13. Loving this story. I’d like to see a longer version.

  14. I liked the pacing, Brian. Who’d a thunk spiders would have come out of those trunks?

  15. Very well done. Your choice of words is excellent. “Limbs splayed” definitely conjures up birth. Every descriptive word you used was well chosen. I would have needed a thesaurus near by to do as well. I know the words, just never really use them. Excellent and creepy.

  16. I really like (well, maybe not!) the identification I feel with “Now the forest was full of pregnant trees, thick boles hung with knots, limbs splayed.” The last line hits a wrong note for me, though: “hatching their shells”–isn’t it FROM their shells? or cracking their shells, or something like that?

    Wonderfully creepy!

  17. That was so scary, creepy. I want to read what else happens after they hatch. I only want to read that though around 10 AM when I’m not about to go to sleep or something. I hate spiders. Great story. Thanks for commenting on my blog.

  18. Well, Brian, you had me wondering which way to run! You pulled off creepy really well, I love the pacing of the snaps and the suspense you build from not telling us what will emerge at the end. In a way, spiders are one of the less-scary alternatives I was envisaging, but I get the feeling these are no ordinary spiders!!
    Tiny concrit, among all the amazing phrases you packed in (too many to choose from, but other commenters have always highlighted some of my favourites) “hatching their shells” was the weakest, I thought. It kind of gave me the impression of something happening to the shells from the outside, rather than “hatching from their shells” which would have felt more like the impetus came from within. By way of suggestions (and you’ll have something better than any of these, I’m sure), either “emerging from their shells” or better still, “hatching with intent / at last”.

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