The following is a chapter from my archives:

Written ten years ago in May, this was the original piece I wrote in relation to Old Man Wood and the dreamspinners, which were then called - for some strange reason - Petira Spiders. It is unedited - a raw piece from the very start of my writing life when I was living in Yorkshire.

I remember loving this piece but, in the grand scheme of things, the chapter was gently shut out over time, exactly like, I suppose, Old Man Wood! 

The chapter is in its glorious original version below (just less than 2000 words). Please forgive the errors.

© James Erith

2007 - Unedited

Finding Eden: Archive Sample. May 2007

Chapter 2 - Petira Spiders



 ‘Keep breathing. Long deep breaths, keep breathing,’ he demanded of himself, his large frame perched precariously on a ledge a thousand feet above the massive stony gauge. The landscape barren and empty bar the strange shaped rocks and occasional cacti bristling out of the stone.

‘Maybe a gust of wind is all it would take to finish me off – a mere heart beat away.’ He thought.

He wondered about his predicament. Perhaps he should try and die – just to see, to find out once and for all if it was indeed true; that he was immortal. 

His brow glistening with sweat, he gently rose to a standing position – holding himself against the strong warm wind. His leather clothes flapped against his skin. He took stock of his position, just avoiding being blown over by a sharp gust of wind. This was the place he liked to come to yell, to scream at the world, to curse it and blame and damn it all. And recently it had been often visited. He looked down through his tear stained eyes trying to see the past the rock he was standing on.

‘The Garden of Eden will never return - it’s a bad dream – a living nightmare – and I have put up with this place for too long.’ He boomed into the empty space.

He looked high into the sky as if searching for answers. Nothing came.

‘So, this is it! A life trapped in eternity. IS ANYONE LISTENING TO ME!!’ he shouted his voice echoing around the massive canyon.

He looking down at the vast emptiness, catching the precipice that dropped quickly from the ledge of rock

‘How many animals have been driven to their ends here.’ He thought, ‘I too am just another animal; a tiny fragment of the world.’

Then he screamed with all his might. His face contorted with anger.

‘Why can’t I die, just like them… like anyone else?’

He leant forward his head throbbing in his large hands. He could hear his heart thudding against his chest.

Something deep inside was telling him to jump off. Finish it now. But the dreams, part of his nightmares had told him not to, and the voice in his head obeyed the dreams, because somewhere buried deep down he knew it was right. And as he wondered - as a tiny fragment of doubt entered his mind as it had done before –that maybe he had to wait. Bear the punishment of time, but for what? He had forgotten.

Suddenly he felt a slither of rock slip from under his foot. The rock started to crumble and flake. As he looked down he lost his balance, slipped and fell. A strong gust of wind took him. In less than a second he was plunging through the air to the bottom of the abyss.


When the young man awoke, the light was so intense that he instinctively brought his hands to his face. His body was racked with pain, as though it had been squeezed on every side by a vice.

‘Finally,’ he coughed, ‘finally, my life is over.’ He lay down on his back looking up at the grey sky. ‘And this…this must be the after-world?’

‘Not so,’ replied a strange voice. ‘Nothing could be further from the truth.’ It spoke from somewhere nearby.

There was period of silence while the man pulled himself together, his eyes adjusting to the dazzling light. Soon he realised he was covered in a cold, white substance.

‘What is this?’ he said, scooping up a handful seeing if the voice would answer him back

‘It is snow.’

‘Am I alive or dead…?

‘…Your heart beats. You are alive,’ replied the voice. But still the man could not see anything.

An empty stillness filled the snowfield. His eyes strained, searching for life.

‘I MUST be dead; I was on the ledge – I fell - no one can survive a fall like that.’

‘No one, but you. Surely by now you understand - you cannot died, Said the voice sounding less angry, its tone almost soothing,

‘That is, you will not die until you return to the Garden of Eden. That was the deal.’

‘Ah! The punishment! Rattlesocks! Torture more like…’

‘…it is worse for the girl.’ The voice cut in across him. ‘Her burden is far greater than yours. And she is all alone.’ 

‘She lives?’

‘In despair, yes. In darkness, yes. Blinded.’

‘Don’t talk in riddles. For all her bravery and belief, she cannot have survived this ordeal.’

He picked up a handful of snow bundled it together and threw it away violently. He couldn’t believe it - the girl – his girl, still alive. It would be miraculous.

‘No, there will never be a Garden of Eden again. All of…this, is futile’ He shouted at the bare desolate snowscape. ‘And look at me! A thousand years have passed and I have aged only a few years.’ His voice trailed off before he turned around asking the voice.

‘What more punishment can a man expect? HEY! ANSWER ME!’ he bellowed wildly

‘At least show yourself.’

‘It would be wise not to,’ said the spider cautiously, ‘but I will answer your questions.’

‘All right,’ he said, his voice quaking with anger. ‘If I cannot die, how am I to survive? If I cannot tell when the Garden of Eden will be re-born then I am lost….’

‘…it will return one day. The opportunity will present itself. There is always hope…’

‘…WHEN. When will this happen?’ The young man again searched wildly around him looking for the voice.

‘Who are you?’

‘I am a Petira Spider. I am your Petira Spider.’

‘Of course, I have heard of Petira Spiders by reputation although no Petira Spider has ever been seen’ said the man carefully, ‘but you are probably some invisible mechanical spider trickery left over from Cush...’

‘…Invisible yes, but nothing sinister like that, young man,’ said the spider kindly. ‘Petira Spiders originate from The Garden of Eden, just as you do, and we administer dreams to living thing.’

‘What are you talking about, strange creature.’

‘How do you think your dreams happen? All living things dream, you know. Animals, trees and insects - dream. It is just that it’s hard for anyone who has dreamt to recognise that different ‘things’ share this ability. Trees couldn’t possibly conceive that humans dream and vice-versa.  We collect spider webs from all of the worlds and turn them into fine powders. These are dreaming powders.’

He paused trying to think how he could explain the complex workings of the Petira spiders.

‘We do not judge or alter what makes each dream unique although we understand the requirements of each living thing we are assigned to. In most cases, the dreams filter through to the subconscious and react in whichever way the ‘Being’ decides. But the dreams from the Garden of Eden make things happen. They are the moments when life evolves, the ‘Eureka’ moments if you want. And it applies to all living things because they dream; the trees, the plants, the birds, the worms. Petira spiders make their dreams. And they have all evolved. Those species that have failed have done so because they failed to react to their dreams.’

‘There is no such thing!’ He grasped his head with his hands and shook it yelling ‘GET OUT OF MY HEAD! A voice is in my head. This is madness.’

‘…if you do not believe me?’ said the voice quietly. ‘Then turn around.’

Slowly the young man turned.

If slipping off the ledge had been frightening, then nothing compared to the sight he found.

For hovering in mid air was the Petira spider.

The size of a football, it was blood red with an electrical current active in its middle followed with a vile looking black and grey striped abdomen. It had eight hairy long black legs with strange claws and three clear blue eyes, like the sky on a hot summers day.

The young man choked with fear. He shook, terrified.

‘My name is Angelix.’ The spider said, gauging the abhorrent reaction of the man.

‘Yes. You should fear me. I am the one who plays with your life. I bring you back every time you attempt to die. And I give you the dreams that haunt your every sleeping hour.

‘But you have a purpose. You are the link to the re-birth of the Garden of Eden. What you have failed to grasp is that there is no time limit. That was what was agreed. NO TIME LIMIT!’ the spider spat out the words.

 ‘As one of the architects of the Great Closing of Eden you should know these things. I am appalled that you appear to have forgotten it all already.’ The spider moved closer to the man. ‘Pitiful self-sorrow consumes you.’

Angelix dipped a couple of her legs into the middle of her electric middle before raising itself up.

‘Let me remind you of your task. You need to understand this and never forget.’

‘What…what do I have to do?’ stammered the man.

‘Stop your idling self indulgent ramblings and start a family.’

‘Start a family? But it would not be right. I cannot die … it would be intolerable cruelty.’

‘Not any more. You must bare children. That opportunity is now.’ 

The spider spoke clearly but quietly.

‘You may outlive generation after generation but you must nurture an heir from every family you are with. There will always be at least one. It may be many years, perhaps even thousands of years from now until the garden reveals its secrets to be opened up once again - if indeed the worlds are still with us. Mother Nature will decide that.

‘When this happens only the true heirs of Eden will be able to re-enter. They will be your offspring. They must find the books that unlock the riddles you yourself have put in place and then find the Key to re-start the Garden of Eden.’

‘But how will I know?’

‘It will not be you who has the dream. But you must be there to assist.’ The spider looked hard at the young man.

‘There is a special dream. It comes from a dream sequence so complex that it can only rarely be performed. It is called the Tripodean Dream. This dream offers the clues of not only how to enter the Garden of Eden but how to get out. It is the knowledge for the only way to find the clues and to survive.’

‘How do you know this?’ queried the man.

The spider sighed,

‘I am dying. My last right as a Petira Spider is to take a dream of our own making to see what will happen. I have foreseen the future.’

A silence fell between them. A chill wind blew sprinkling some snow-dust over his lap. A storm was on its way. The young man shivered.

‘Although it is not clear who will prevail, there is hope. But the hope only exists if you are there to guide. It is down to you.’

‘Remember this,’ Angelix continued, ‘the Tripodean dream is the greatest of all dreams. It is the gateway to paradise,’ he paused, ‘but it is also the trapdoor to hell.’

And with these words the spider vanished.