For some reason spiders loved Tertullia’s mouth. It was like the elephant graveyard of eight-legged bloodsuckers. At least once a week — usually more — she’d wake up, gagging slightly, and know another one had crawled down her throat in search of some abstract concept of gnosis. Those weren’t the bad ones. Oh, they were unpleasant, sure, and she’d lie there shivering with disgust for ten or fifteen minutes before dropping off to sleep again, but all in all they weren’t so bad.

Worse was clicking her jaws together after a yawn and feeling something crunch between them, or finding some slender black limb caught in her bicuspid in the morning like a pubic hair of the damned.

Worst of all were the nights when she’d wake up to find the bug only half-swallowed, four legs waving defiance and four legs wrapped tenaciously around the florid punching bag of her uvula, stout furry body insistent against the back of her tongue. She wouldn’t get back to sleep after that, whether she managed to spit it out or not, just sat in bed with her face buried in the close heat of her knees until dawn, screaming near-soundlessly for hours.