Birdie wasn’t fond of spiders. The October weather was chilly and every spider in the neighbourhood seemed to be moving in.
“I won’t need to decorate for Halloween, there’s already enough webs all over the farmhouse!”
Her neighbour saw her distress. “Why not visit old Mab. She’ll have a solution.”
So Birdie did. Feeling inexplicably scared, she quickly raised her fist to knock.
The door swung open to reveal Mab, seated at her kitchen table, grinding herbs. “What be ye wantin’?” she asked, without looking up from her work.
Birdie didn’t dare cross the threshold. “Do you have anything to get rid of spiders? I’m over-run.”
“Spiders be good luck,” said Mab. “But you could try one of these.” She nodded towards her polecat. “Miss-Teeq here keeps the bugs and rodents down nicely.”
Miss-Teeq offered a polecat grin, marred only by the daddy long-legs wings poking through her teeth.
Birdie shuddered. “I don’t think so.”
Mab frowned, pursing her lips. “Hmm, yes. One moment, it be in the root cellar.”
Birdie waited with trepidation.
“Here we be,” said Mab, a little breathless. She handed Birdie an egg, took payment and shut the door in her face.
A while later Mab said absently, “I did remember to tell her to keep it cool, didn’t I? Ach, no matter.”
When Birdie got home, she placed the egg on her coffee table in front of the fire. To her delight the spiders decamped… to be pecked up in the yard by her chickens.
Next morning, she sat eating breakfast when the egg shuddered and wobbled and emitted a loud crack, breaking apart. Birdie peered closely… into the hypnotic gaze of a snake. Green, vaporous venom hissed, dripped and burned the table-top. Birdie’s limbs stiffened, her head spun. She felt very peculiar.
Her cockerel crowed from his perch outside, “Cock-a-doodle-doo.”
The snake froze, its scales flaked away before it crumbled to dust. Its hold over Birdie diminished.
Unsure what had happened, and more than a little miffed, she went to visit Mab.
“What d’ye expect,” groused Mab. “Ye need to take care around basilisks!”