Ada sat at the kitchen table, the library book propped open on her recipe book stand. She'd been surprised her son had dropped such an odd how-to manual through her letterbox instead of her usual mystery and crime thriller but it was obviously something he wanted her to try.
She went back three pages of Roberts’ Treatise on Animated Figures and adjusted her glasses. The title had led her to believe the book was about cartoons, but once she'd struggled through the Latin she realised just how far wrong she'd been, and conversely, just how right.
The plasticine figure on the table was barely more than two balls of plasticine for the head and body and sausages for the limbs (with the addition of cat hair for some reason – she hadn't had a cat for years). With a pin she transcribed the twelve symbols from the book into the figure, glad for once that her mother had insisted she learn embroidery. The tiny stitches were a good primer for the microscopic runic script. Finally she made an incision in the top of the figure's crude head with a steak knife breathed a sigh of relief.
“Your turn now, lovely.” She turned to the house spider she'd caught in the outside privy. “I'm not sure you're going to enjoy this bit.” She turned the pages again and upturned the jar, reading through the incantation one more time to fix the phrasing in her head. It never turned out well to mispronounce a spell.
The words dribbled from her tongue, feeling dark and oily as they slithered into the world. The air felt charged, like a summer night before a thunderstorm. Quickly, she lifted the glass and crushed the spider.
Was something supposed to happen?
Ada examined the figure. All the lettering had faded, leaving only the gash she'd made with the knife. She smoothed it over with her finger and stood, reaching for a paper towel to wipe up the mess that used to be a spider.
When she turned back her plasticine man was eating it.