THE SNAKE

TIMOTHY TUCKER

Darkness blew through the tall grass on the prairie. It pumped quietly through the veins of the young Native warrior sitting cross legged in the night and seemed to congeal in his soul.

Flying Crow stared through the lonely flames of the makeshift fire, the glow casting twisted, distorted shadows across his ashened pale moon face. He poked the fire with an arrow, the only sound the crackling of burning brush and his horses faint, cool breathing next to him. Once the arrow head was lit he used it to light up his crude peyote bowl. Flying Crow inhaled deeply, the smoke rushing straight to his head and elevating his spirit.

Long ago, before the timbers were cut from the forest, before houses were quarried from the stones, the land was pristine. Then, like some great plague from a far distant land they came, blue eyed and paled skinned, the white bastards. And in their wake they had brought with them a terribly great evil, a harbinger of bad omens and death.

The snake.

With eyes like fire, its breath a white smoke, the snake slithered across the dark lands. It vomited fourth sulfur and thunder and hate and seemed to kindle the very earth in its wake. Cattle trembled at its approach, women birthed fourth blood at the very sight of it and the snake's fury was so immense entire mountains crumbled back to dust. It crawled from nowhere, vanishing through mist as sinuous as a shadow.

And so on this night time itself bled into the darkness, swallowing up the years and hours and minutes until there was nothing but the infinite country and the lone warrior and the impending doom. The very ground began to first vibrate, then quake at the arrival of the beast. The midnight air was soon shattered by a piercing shriek that sounded like screaming souls as the snake slithered closer, closer, its baleful yellow glare spurting over a hill, darkness folding into darkness and flowed over the hill into the valley.

Flying Crow mounted his horse and spurred towards the valley.

I shall cut it off and blind it with my bow. Thought Flying Crow. After I slay this terrible beast they will make legends of my deed and no man, Native or white, shall never forget the spirit of Flying Crow!

In that instant the snake rounded the hill. Its monstrous golden eye enveloped him, casting his pale face and dark body in red glints. With a hideous wailing hiss and grinding rush it launched itself forward!

Flying Crow unleashed a savage battle cry and untorqued an arrow straight at its serpentine eye. The arrow struck, bounced off like a snapped twig and Flying Crow's war cry turned into a pitiful yelp as the snake crushed him, horse and all, and ground them into mulch underneath.

The snake wailed and spewed great soft plumes of blinding smoke as it continued its unholy slither across the land.

"Did you see 'em?" Cried the white man. "I told you he was right there!"

"Yeah, it was one of them Injuns! By God Sam, we hit the bastard!"

"You gonna stop?"

"Don't like to stop in these here lands, this is Injun country."

"But we hit some-one."

"Gave 'em plenty of whistle but the damn redskin wouldn't budge."

A ferocious steam blast cut through the fog.

"We'll make Boston by sun up. More coal, eh Tom."

The night train shook the very earth. In fire and fury they hurled over the valley, trailing smoke and steam in the shocked air moments after it had departed forever.

THE END