Before you can leap into the river, a change in the lighting of the water catches your eyes, causing you to pause. You squint, trying to get a better look at whatever has your fur standing on end. Instinct has your nerves tingling like pins and needles. Suddenly, you leap backwards. Your body reacted before you even realized that something huge was emerging from the river. Now, glaring against the spray of freshwater, you hold your breath and examine the figure now looming above you.
A giant serpent, a boa constrictor with a head as wide as your shoulders and a body easily the girth of yours balled up on itself, towers out from the river’s depths. The smell coming off of its scales reminds you of cut grass after it has molded in the sun after soaking in rainwater through the night, that mixed with the fishy smell of the river water and something rather pungent. You only now realize that there are downsides to your heightened senses. You can tell this beast has no fear of you. It is a predator. Your knees quake as the fear that you are the snake’s dinner consumes you.
A long, purple, forked tongue slides out between the boa’s scaled lips. You understand, to your horror, that the thing is smelling you. You are sure you reek of fear and you feel your tail tuck down between your hind legs. Your eyes timidly scale from the monster’s head, down its long neck, and you begin to haphazardly guess just how far down the river its body must travel. Then, you hear the peel of saliva as it parts its jaws and your eyes fixate on the boa’s snout again. Your body tenses, expecting a strike.
“Yooooou are tresssssssspassing,” the snake hisses. Its body sways hypnotically as it slithers forward, stopping just before the receding of the bank.
You blink, taken aback by the ability of the giant to communicate in such a way. Of course, nothing up to this point should have led to that surprise, but for some reason you simply hadn’t considered the option of the serpent talking to you. However, the fact that it is speaking to you gives you hope. Perhaps you can reason with it.
"I'm just trying to cross the river," you explain. You shuffle from paw to paw nervously and your tail remains tucked beneath you.
"Oooonly for a tassssssk," the serpent hisses. It cocks its head and its eye gazes at you and you tremble.
"What sort of task?" You would be willing to do most anything to keep it from harming you, but if it will allow you passage then all the better. You have already endured taunting and chores. Surely you can handle another.
"There isssss a pooond deeper in the foresssst to the easssst. Travel along the rivvver and depart ssssouth to find it. Within isss a fisssh of the finessst tasste. Bring me sssuch a fisssh and I ssshall allow you passsssage."
You nod eagerly. You look to the east and even beyond the trees you can see a thinning of foliage. Perhaps there is where the pond rests. "How shall I catch it?"
The serpent only gazes at you. You feel tension through your entire body.
"Nevermind! I'll figure it out." With that you shuffle back and hightail it toward the pond.
It is indeed close and you realize the serpent cannot leave the river. That would be important if anything happened. You think, very briefly, of ditching your promise and running away into the distance, away from the giant snake and its deadly coil. Guilt tugs at your stomach for even considering such a thing. You swallow the ache and fear and remind yourself that, besides honor, there would be little point in running away. You need across the river and pleasing the snake is the only way to accomplish that.
You see the pond in a small circle of brush and step closer. The waters are a bit murky, but you can still see shimmering golden fish scales highlight the creatures as they swim. They seem quick and you nervously bite your lower lip. You know the only way to catch one is with your hands--rather your paws--but you don't know if you can do it.
You sit close to the edge and lift your paw up high and bring it down into the water. Splashes go everywhere as your limb makes contact with the liquid.
Written by on 05 April 2019
The end (for now)