Maurice sat in his basement. It was a strange place to sit, alone in his huge house. He could have been playing his viola in the music room or walking the dogs through hectares of perfectly manicured gardens, even roasting a duck in his brand newly renovated kitchen. But no. He was in the basement sitting on an upside down bucket, staring at a spider spinning its web in the doorway.
Twenty three years Maurice had lived in this house, in the first twenty two he barely came to this room, now he spent almost every minute here. It had started as a joke, a joke that grew into a project and spiralled into an obsession. Now his work was complete and he was afraid of how his life would change.
His life to this point had been one of luxury and success. He had been born into prestige, and built his empire so where he stood now made a mockery of his father’s pitiful fortune. But it had also been a life spent alone.
He looked at the spider, spinning its web, building its own empire, alone, just as he had. Would that spider be content with what it had, like he had never been able to be?
Maurice often felt like a spider, at once respected, feared, admired and abhorred by others. He had fed on their negative thoughts and words. When they scoffed at his wealth he built more, he made his life appear so great that no one could deny he had it better. He rubbed their face in the dirt then forced them to lick his boots clean. He had become the evil tyrant they accused him of being, even when he was an innocent boy.
But it was too much now, he’d retreated, like CFK to Xanadu. Hid away so he would no longer be hated, just scorned from afar. But even that had failed to content him.
He was an old man now. The absence of hate was a poor substitute for love. So he had retreated further, to his basement, just like the spider in the doorway, to build something just for him.
It had started as a joke, but as his work took shape he found himself ordering more and more expensive parts, had more and more accessories installed till his original design had grown out of control.
And now it was finished, ready to be turned on. If it worked as he planned he would never need to leave his house again. He could be content in his isolation, happy and no longer alone.
Maurice looked at the spider one last time. He knew why he was hesitant to flick the switch. He wasn’t ready to go down this path.
He stood up and left the basement as it was. Maybe one day he would finish what he started here, but first he would have one last try at life. Til then, Louisa could wait.