It is, upon reflection, the legs that were the problem.
Certainly, my eyesight hasn't been strong enough for a long time to distinguish those loathsome features. That disturbing thorax, jointed into those long legs, casting a greater shadow than they have any right to. Yes, it must be the legs. I'm almost certain. It's in the name after all-Daddy Long Legs. Such a peculiarly affectionate title for such a twisted creature.
As a boy, when my eyes were stronger and my knowledge of the world less, I thought them demons. Nightmares come to drag me to some terrible shadowland. I would run, howling and shaking with fright, to beg my mother to take it away. It rather disgusted my father, a big bully of a man, whose definitions of manliness and fortitude were hard to reach for a grown man such as himself, let alone a young boy. He would sneak into my room at night, and release them, leaving me to wake up surrounded.
I'm sorry, but I need you to keep still. Here. Let's try this. Let me know if you feel any tingling.
In a sense, I suppose this shock treatment did have a positive effect. I first struck back at them on one of those hateful mornings, wrapping my hand in a sock to crush the life out of one crawling on my arm. Terrified of letting it touch my bare skin, I held it at a distance, watching those legs thrash in their death throes. I had fantasized about killing them before, but their unsettling speed always made such actions seem foolish and unlikely to succeed. An up close and personal action was unprecedented, and empowering.
After that, it wasn't long before I began hunting them, extinguishing those vile souls one by one. A pogrom starting in my back yard and working out into the forests. The sock was exchanged for a pair of gloves, which worked well enough for a time. It was on one of these excursions that I noticed it first. One of the freshly slain was moving-its leg twitching erratically. With a growing horror, I wondered if it was coming back to life. I panicked, the image of my former victims pursuing me like some fearsome legion flooding my mind. I fled the woods, hiding in my room. It was then that I determined that the gloves were not enough, my brain rationalizing the fact that a stronger impact must be needed. My father's heavy yellow handled claw hammer served this purpose well.
I'm afraid I will need you to pray quietly, in your head. You're rather distracting me. Quite rude.
Soon my excursions began anew, and at this point, now a young man of eighteen, I began to see them lurking on people. Nausea struck me as I saw them crawling along the arm of a bus driver in the street, as he went about his pre-set path, unperturbed by the small forms scaling him with those long legs. My vision went grey, as I realized one day, that the pastor in front of me had a pair of tiny legs edging over his clerical collar.
My mind boggled until it occurred to me that they must have realized I'd been hunting them and began to take precautionary measures. I had seen spectators, watching and muttering to themselves as I smashed carapace after carapace. At the time I thought them simply enjoying my good works, but in the light of this new revelation, I realized what they were. Sentries. An attempt to follow my patterns. Learn my strategies. Horrified. I fled home.
It was late that night when a solution occurred. Slowly crawling forward in my mind, ponderous and inevitable. If they were truly being used by these arachnids, then they were worse than dead. I had already learned well. Dealt with their masters. I had to handle the servants. It would be mercy. Freeing them. Letting them onward to whatever reward awaited them. Burdened with new purpose, I went out that very night.
You may be wondering why I am telling you all of this. You've seen me on the street, giving you a startled look. You see, though you may not know it…they have you too. Shhhhh. Shhhhhhh. Don't cry. It's not your fault. It's simply the facts. But you have no need to worry about my qualifications for the task of freeing you. It's been a long time since that bus driver. And I've since learned that a hammer will work just as well on a man as it does on monsters…