“We’ve signed the whole family up for an exclusive nature hike in Elmcroft Nature Reserve!” replied Joyce excitedly.

“Thanks for signing us up. I can’t wait!” Charlie loved everything about nature (except the spiders).

However, Charlie should have known before that there would be a catch. When he decided to search for more information about Elmcroft Nature Reserve on the Internet, a statement popped up on the screen: Elmcroft Nature Reserve- protecting rare insects and arachnids since 1977! He felt a sick feeling in his stomach as he had arachnophobia, the fear of spiders, for as long as he could remember.

Charlie ran outside to confront his sisters. “The nature reserve we’re going to was set up to protect spiders!” he yelled, his arms flailing wildly. “I’m definitely not going with you now!”

“You can’t back out now!” replied Brenda, folding her arms and shaking her head. “Everything’s already been planned and arranged.”

Knowing that his sisters had already decided for him, Charlie signed and trudged into his room reluctantly to pack his bags. The family left the house soon after that.

Stepping along the dirt path that led into Elmcroft Nature Reserve, Charlie trailed behind his parents and sisters, who were chattering away excitedly.

Almost immediately, a small spider scuttled across the path. Charlie jumped and let out a small shriek while the other tour members looked at his quizzically. Meanwhile, Brenda gave him a look that he knew meant, “Don’t make such a fool of yourself!” Still considerably shaken up, Charlie followed the others along the path.

Very soon, the tour members arrived at their picnic spot. Charlie shared a picnic blanket with his family members, who were flipping through a guidebook of spiders that Charlie’s father had brought. They were attempting to identify all of the spiders they’d seen earlier. Charlie heard snippets of their voices, “No, not that one…” “It’s definitely this one…”

“Wouldn’t you like to join us, Charlie?” his mother asked. Charlie shook his head, munching on his sandwich. Any more mention of spiders was bound to make him sick.

Just then, Charlie noticed that everyone was staring at him. He then felt an itch on his cheek. As he reached over to scratch it, it dawned upon him that there was something on his face that was causing the itch and that it had eight long, wiggly legs. “A spider!” he thought in a panic.

The spider seemed almost as large as a dinner plate. It was covered all over with hair. Charlie shuddered at the repulsive thing. He tried to stay as still as he could, hoping that the spider wouldn’t think that he was dangerous and attack.

Meanwhile, Charlie remembered that he had read a book about a group of superheroes who could send telepathic messages to animals and people. He decided to try out this idea. He screwed his eyes shut and thought fervently, “Go away, spider… go away…”

Cold sweat poured down his face and his arms began to ache- he could not stay still for much longer.

Finally, the spider turned around and crawled off into the grass. Charlie exhaled. Suddenly, spiders did not seem so scary after all.

Charlie enjoyed the rest of the tour and chatted happily with his family. He even spotted the same species of large spider that had jumped on him crawling up a tree, another spider with it. He spent a long time watching them with fascination, something that he would never have done in the past. Grinning, Joyce said, “Looks like we didn’t come here for nothing after all!” Hearing this, Charlie’s heart swelled with pride.

From that experience onwards, Charlie realised that spiders were in fact fascinating and that most of them were harmless as long as he did not hurt them. Also, he wondered if he could discover more about telepathic messages and how they could help him face his other fears.