Justine & Jerks

“I don’t care how many of you there are,” Erica glared at the tallest thug; he was obviously in charge of the shakedown. “Things are different on this Earth, you can have everything you need. You don’t need money, you don’t need to fall into old habits,” she said. She hoped she could lecture herself out of the situation. The tall thug shook his head.

“I know we don’t need to, but it’s fun just the same,” he grinned. “So pay up or-,”

“Or what?” a voice asked behind him. The group of henchmen turned and found a teenage girl about 17. She had short purple air and wore a long black leather duster. Each thug in the group turned pale and nervous almost instantly upon seeing the girl.

“N-n-nothing,” the leader said. “Just showing our new friend that things are different here. She doesn’t need to worry about thugs bothering her, there’s enough of everything to go around.” The teenager smiled as a furry brown tarantula descended from the ceiling and landed on the thug’s head. The spider’s abdomen alone was the size of a basketball; the thug didn’t dare move.

“That’s very nice of you, Paulie,” the girl said. “I’ll take over her tour from here though. You should go make yourself useful to someone else, okay?” The giant spider leaped off his head and landed on the girl’s shoulders, she reached up and tickled its head.

“Yeah, sure. No problem J.J.,” The thug signaled the rest of his group with a wave of his arm and they all walked away leaving Erica alone with J.J.

“Sorry about them,” J.J. said. “They work for the guards” Erica’s eyes widened with surprise.

“Thanks for the help, uh, J.J.,” Erica tested the name out hoping she didn’t come across as rude. Now that they started a conversation Erica realized the giant tarantula was nowhere to be seen. She last saw it on J.J.’s shoulder but didn’t see where it went after that.

“Why are the guards giving me a hard time? Do you work for Sharp Development too?” Erica asked. J.J. surprised her with a grin.

“Not at all,” she said. Erica noticed a brown, furry tarantula tattoo around the base of J.J.’s neck that wasn’t there the first time she showed up. “I was supposed to be lunch, like you, but I managed to talk myself out of that. And now I hang around here to help others avoid being lunch too,” she said.

“What do you mean lunch? Lunch for what?”

“Your favorite number is 33. As soon as you gave the guard that answer, it informed a whole bunch of people. Dana Sharp has a pet that most people don’t know about. A pet spider that eats people like you and me.”

“Because my favorite number is 33??” Erica asked. J.J. shook her head.

“Your favorite number is 33 because of what you are. Unique soul #33, La Arana – the spider. We can control spiders,” J.J. said. At her words, her black coat disintegrated into thousands of tiny balls with legs. The swarm crawled around her body before forming a leather duster again.

“Spiders get stronger if they eat other spiders, which is why you were marked as lunch. Normally, the thugs are supposed to give you a hard time until the guards come and rescue you. If you come with me I’ll teach you how to use your abilities. If you don’t, I advise you not to let the guards get you alone.”