...Continued from Pt. VI
After his long journey to Metropolis and with the assistance of the wizard king, the boy still felt no more prepared to defeat his evil mother, the spider queen, than he had before he left. Standing in front of his childhood home, which had now grown to twice its size with the giant entanglement of webs that his mother's servants had constructed, the boy wondered how he could ever hope to even enter the place, much less defeat his mother. Still, he told himself, he had beaten the petrifying monster, and the dragon in Metropolis. If he were ever going to be able to reclaim his home, he was as prepared now as he ever would be.
Summoning his greatest courage, the boy locked his legs and proclaimed to the house, "Mother, I have returned! I have gone to the ends of the earth, I have defeated the dragon, and now I will defeat you!"
A huge, booming voice came sounding in response, seemingly from the sky and the ground at the same time. "Foolish child!" the voice said. "I am far too powerful for you to defeat me now! You are weak, as you always have been. You are cowardly, like you always have been. And you lack the fortitude of mind, like you always have. Now go away and die somewhere."
"Mother, please. I don't want to hurt you, but you have become something awful. I will reclaim my home despite you. This is a warning. Release your spiders now and remove your webs, or I will not hesitate to destroy you."
"Ha ha ha!" the spider queen laughed. "Do your worst, little boy. There is nothing you can do to stop me."
"Aren't you lonely, mother? Don't you miss my brothers, and my father? Don't you miss my company?" the boy asked.
"No!" the voice screeched, as dark clouds began to swirl and gather above the house. "I have my spiders now, who are loyal and would never leave me."
"But you forced us to leave! You chased my father and brothers away!"
"Fool! I didn't chase them away..." the voice cackled, as the spider queen revealed herself on the roof of the webbed house. "I captured them! I have eaten your father, boy! And your brothers are next!" she cried. The boy then saw his brothers, encased in thick, translucent masses of web, hanging in the upper windows of the house. "Feast, my little spiders, feast!" the queen roared, as millions of tiny spiders climbed all over the cocoons that the boy's brothers were trapped in.
"I'll give you one last chance, mother!" the boy cried, still remembering the days of his youth, before she had gone mad when she was tender and loving.
"You'll DIE!" the queen shouted before she disappeared into the house again. And then hundreds of medium-sized spiders began to pour from the door of the house like it was a corpses mouth.
The boy was seized by a brief fear, which he shook off. He raised his hands to the sky and began a horrible wail, one that grew so loud as to drown out the thunder and lightning now exploding all around him. A tornado of crows appeared, and then swooped down at the boy's beckoning to destroy the army of spiders spewing forth from the house. They picked and swarmed and attacked the spiders, who were helpless to stop the thousands and thousands of crows. Soon, the way to the house was clear, and the crows carried the boy through and into it.
The house smelled horrible, and the boy was entangled into its webs with every step. He climbed through the wreckage of his childhood, over the toys he and his brothers had played with, over the bookshelf where he had spent so many rainy days. Through the kitchen where he had spent so many cold mornings, up the staircase he had decorated for the holidays with this grandparents.
At the top of the stairs were three rooms. In the first, he saw the crib he had stayed in as a baby. It was now filled with spider eggs. In the second room, he saw his brothers, being prepared for eating. And then in the room his parents had shared he saw the spider queen, her hairy limbs working frantically to control the millions of spiders doing her biddings.
"I warned you that you would die, and still you are foolish enough to enter my web!" the queen screeched.
"Free my brothers, now, or it will be the end of you," the boy warned.
The spider queen crawled with her disgusting legs over towards the boy. He saw in her bulging eyes his own reflection, which made him doubt himself for only the slightest second. That second was all the queen needed, though, and the boy was overtaken. Soon, he too was in a cocoon, suffocated, watching the spider queen through the translucent webs, completely powerless to stop her.
The boy thought he had failed. Certainly this was the end, he though. Hopefully, he mused, his death would at least be painless. He closed his eyes and tried to clear his mind of thinking. His fear was magically replaced, however, by the image he had hallucinated as a boy, that of the beautiful woman in white at the end of his bed who promised him everything was going to be okay. And her words gave him such peace that he was even able to breathe again. He began to hum softly the song he had taught the trees outside the dragon's cave, which hypnotized the spider queen's minions.
"No!" she cried. "What are you all doing?!"
Slowly, then faster and faster, the spiders began running from the house. Great trails of the fleeing spiders stretched out from the house like the arms of an octopus, until soon the house was empty of all but the spider queen and her son's cocoons. The boy realized he could push through the webs effortlessly now, which he did, unfurling himself from their hold with ease.
"Please!" the spider queen cried. "Please, don't kill me son!"
The boy stopped just short of smashing the spider queen. He looked at her disgusting form and was still able to pity her, despite her actions.
"I won't, mother. If you promise to leave here and go far away, and to never take anyone else hostage ever again," the boy said.
"I...," the spider queen began, as she started to shake. "I needed you to hate... to hate me!" she cried, as beams of light began to shoot through her face and her hairy body. "You were supposed to HATE ME!" she shrieked, as her body grew to twice its size and then exploded in a huge burst of blinding white light. When the light had gone and her wailing had stopped, the boy found himself returned to his home as it had been. Gone now were the multitudinous webs, gone was the spider queen. In her place stood the boy's mother, returned to her true form.
"Mother!" the boy cried.
"Son...," she said, confused. "What happened?"
"You were transformed, mother," the boy told her.
"Are you okay? Are your brothers okay?" she asked.
"We are," the boy's brothers said in unison, as they entered her bedroom. "What happened?" they asked their younger brother.
The boy didn't want them to feel ashamed, or for his mother to feel guilty, and so he never told them what had happened. He was just happy to have his family back.
There was one last surprise, though. As the family went about fixing the house, putting things back where they belonged, the boy's father appeared from the basement. The father ran to the boy's mother and held her close, and the two were never again parted by distance or arguing.
It all seemed like a dream when the boy thought back on the wild journey he had taken. But when the crows would encircle him and carry him off on wild adventures, he knew it had been real, and that he was now a conquerer of himself and his fears, a master of the world.