Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Epic Slaying of the Serpent

The colossal snake slithered slowly, deliberately, forward, towards the cowering children. Nothing now stood between him and his helpless victims. He advanced in for the kill. Suddenly, a figure moved between the beast and his prey. A tall, lean man, moonlight glinting off his balding head, looked down at the snake with merciless eyes. “Not tonight,” a deep, monotone rumbled. Forked tongue flicking through the air, the now-hesitant serpent watched with his black, soulless eyes as the American drew his cheap, Taiwanese sword. The crescent moon’s dull orange light shimmered off the grade-C steel, throwing a blood-red reflection back into the snake's slitted eyes. There was no turning back now. He reared up, opening his mouth and extending his fangs. It was kill or be killed. How had it come to this?

Five minutes before this Homeric encounter, the snake had lain coiled in his dank den, brooding. He could feel the it. Tonight was the night. Finally those happy children at the PMS (Partnership Ministry Society) student’s hostel would pay. Pay for all their joy and happiness that was so unattainable to him. Learning at a great school, playing soccer and laughing after class; if he could not have that joy then no one would. He had seen them while he was hunting rats through the rice fields. Running between the palm trees in their school uniforms, playing marbles, older kids helping the younger ones; it was more than he could bear. He would share his pain with the world. This was beyond good and evil. This was about fear. This was about power. He would let nothing stop him from fulfilling his evil obsession.

With the sound of dead, rustling leaves, he extended his powerful coils, moving out of his hole and into the night. The cool night breeze barely slowed him. As he slithered toward the lights and laughter of the hostel he tasted a new scent on the air. The scent of someone other than the children and hostel workers. Someone… foreign. The smell of this new nationality gave him pause- it reminded him of something. A vague feeling of his antithesis, of an ideal long forgotten. Was it freedom? Perhaps justice? Could it be equality?

A shudder ran down his lusterless, scaly body. Such noble and altruistic ideals had no place in his foul heart. The serpent forced the thoughts from his pea-sized brain. This was no time for distractions.

He moved easily through the grass and under the bamboo fence, into the packed-dirt yard in front of the two story concrete dormitory. Krystal, a small boy, saw him first. With a blood curdling scream he took flight, dashing from the yard onto the porch. The others panicked as they followed Krystal’s terrified stare to the image of evil incarnate that seethed out of the long grass into what had been, only moments before, their care-free sanctuary. In ecstasy, the serpent paused, savoring the moment. It really was better to be feared than loved. Better to rule a hell than serve in heaven.

Reclining contentedly on a wooden sofa in the hostel keeper’s living room, Travis was quietly reading a newspaper when he heard the scream. Instantly his Nordic warrior blood was ignited. The fearsome Viking spirit, which has long lain dormant within him, was roused. Neural circuits switched over in a nanosecond from relaxed introspection to a heightened, nearly pre-cognizant, level of awareness as the adrenaline mainlined. He leapt from his seat and rushing toward the sounds of distress, grabbing the mystic blade (complete with bottle opener), which his host had shown him earlier, from beside the door as he went.

As he emerged, he saw the hideous aggregation of all things unholy gliding across the smooth dirt toward the quaking children. Swiftly, he moved forward and stepped in front of the serpent, drawing his blade. “Not tonight.”

Hissing, fangs extended, the snake surged forward. The cold steel blade swung in a swift, powerful arc through the night sky. It found its mark. Blood and sand shot forth as the earth shook. The serpent writhed in its death thralls, its malevolent head nearly cleaved from its convulsing body. The children’s cheers rose like a storm. Again, the blade traced its terrible arc and again it struck with awe-inspiring power and precision.

(If you look really closely you can see the snake in front of my feet)

Seeing the fiend’s head completely cleaved from its twitching corpse, the children’s joyous cries redoubled; their hostel was saved! Travis raised his mighty, sanguinary blade high above his head and let loose a triumphant bellow that would have made Aires himself shudder. He had slain the beast!

Drums and cameras were brought forth to celebrate and record the heroic feat. There was much dancing and merrymaking. The children laughed and sang ancient ballads as they heaped laurels and kisses upon the victorious warrior.

When Travis reached down and picked up all 30 enormous inches of the now headless snake's body, its scaly length slowly wound itself around his calloused fist. An ebbing embrace that seemed a final acceptance of the superior moral might that had ended his brief reign of terror. Unnoticed by the crowds of cheering onlookers, a single tear ran down Travis’s cheek, falling from his beard into the sand and mixing with the serpent’s blood. Freedom truly is not free, he thought. You’re welcome India.

(Not to be wasteful, we cooked and ate it afterwards)