To welcome everyone back after the holiday period, to thank all who have kindly pledged support to Saving Grace and to encourage more support and word-spreading, I offer you this, a 1000 word, orginal horror story I penned early one morning this week.
Keep up the good work, my friends!
The Herpetologist – A Nightmare
He knew the moment that it started that he wouldn’t be able to stop it. There used to be a word for what he was now experiencing that purported to come from a North American tribal term. Svaha, to set in motion a train of events, the outcome of which you know but have no control over.
Like taking aim with a bow and releasing the arrow only to realise at the very moment of letting go that the target you have chosen is a friend and not an enemy. Like closing the front door as you leave the house and realising the keys are inside, just as the catch clicks shut.
He knew the moment he stepped out of the shower and felt his foot start to slip, that he had forgotten to replace the dirty bathmat, now on a quick wash in the machine, with a clean one.
He knew, as his soapy, slippery sole gained speed across the tiled floor, as his hands clutched frantically at the air smashing the mirror above the basin, as his head accelerated towards the corner of the white Victorian basin, with the authentic period taps he had spent so long choosing and so much money buying, that it was going to be bad.
He watched it happen as time moved like treacle. Saw the blood spatter from his flailing cut hand, speckling the pristine wall and floor, saw the bright, white china move ever faster towards his head.
He felt the odd sense of his body being in freefall and heard the curiously pain free 'crack' as his skull caught the basin’s corner with the full weight of his body behind it.
He saw the torrent of deep red new blood fall before him, gushing from above his forehead as he crumpled to the floor and he watched with fascination as it pooled around his immobile head, admiring its sticky progress along the fresh white lines of grouting.
As it puddled viscously across the tiles, he remembered Victor. He tried to remember if he had fed him that morning as he’d planned, then realised he hadn’t. A month without food. Victor would be hungry. Snakes were like that.
He was aware the he was still conscious and thought it odd. Shouldn’t he have blacked out? Shouldn’t he feel pain by now? He tried to call out, more for something to do than in any real hope of summoning help. Nothing came from his mouth. He tried to move, felt his brain sending the right signals, but none of his muscles responded. So he lay there, stationary, in exactly the same position that he had landed. He could move his eyes, nothing else.
He couldn’t feel whether the floor was cool or warm but looked across it, intrigued by this unusual perspective on his home. He could see where the surgical white floor tiles ended and the dark wooden floorboards of the bedroom began. Through the open doorway he could see under part of his bed, freshly vacuumed that morning, dust free and pristine. He could make out Victor’s head, swaying from side to side as he tasted the air from his favourite hiding place and the interesting new scents it carried.
He knew what would happen next and he felt the panic rise from deep within. He wanted to scream. He wanted to vomit. But his body remained unresponsive.
He watched as Victor warily made his way towards the bathroom, alert for threats, his body rippling as he propelled himself across the wood. From this angle he looked even bigger than usual. He must be twenty years old now, he thought, and beautiful. His head the size of a small ham, all 12 feet, all 300 pounds of him, pure muscle and designed for survival.
Burmese pythons had always been his favourite and Victor had been his pride and joy since he’d rescued him. He’d been just three foot long then and skinny, for a python, but careful nurturing had made him a fine, healthy specimen, worthy of a zoo, which was where he’d meant to send him until he realised that he couldn’t part with him.
He knew that in the United States, amateur python owners would dump snakes that had outgrown them. They’d become a pest, turning feral, hunting and eating deer, dogs and pigs. In one recorded case even a whole alligator in the Florida Everglades. He couldn’t understand how anyone could do that to them. They were such amazing creatures, such an incredible product of evolution.
Someone had once knocked at his house and explained that he wanted to buy Victor to skin him, his beautiful mottled brown hide and his telegraph pole girth making him worth a small fortune in the leather trade. He’d told the man exactly what he could do with his money and slammed the door in his face.
If only he’d closed the bathroom door this morning, he thought. His could feel his eyes widen with fear now as he watched Victor’s head move across the tiles towards him, tongue flicking the air. He could almost see the beautiful reptile’s muscles quivering with anticipation as he scented the blood.
He knew what would happen. He knew that Victor would find a place to bite him, locking his sharp, rear-facing teeth into his flesh to gain purchase and then wrapping coil after coil of his taut body around him, constricting the breath out of him, suffocating him in a final embrace.
He also knew what would come after he had breathed his last. That Victor would position himself, relax the ligaments in his jaw and then move his mouth over his own bleeding head as his pet slowly swallowed him whole before returning under his own bed to digest him. He felt the bite when it came, painless but firm, then shortly after it an increasing tightness in his chest.
As his body struggled for one last breath he looked into Victor’s eyes and wondered if weeks or maybe even months from now, anyone would work out what had happened to him.
Copyright Paul Blezard 2013
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