Jakub inherited everything from his father. His dark eyes and stubby fingers. The little house in Stare Mesto, with the front room that his father had turned into a restaurant. Even the recipes that kept the place popular enough that Jakub could hire another cook and a girl to wait tables.
He’d inherited the gold-filled fusee pocketwatch that his father had carried throughout Europe while he collected those recipes. And he’d inherited the curse that came with it.
Every fall, as the chill retreated in a welcome respite to all but him, Jakub hid in his rooms, lips cracked and torn by a thousand arachnid legs, screams muffled by a thousand swollen abdomens, jaws stretched wide to let them pass.
Babi Leto. Those weeks in September when the days were warmer than the calendar should have allowed. Those weeks when Jakub locked the watch in a steel-strapped trunk, and locked that trunk in the restaurant’s storeroom, and prayed it would help.
The weeks when spiders crawled out his mouth.