Companeros  by Roger Ley

Giving it food had been a mistake, it was a mangy, cringing, skinny animal, and who would think that a dog would eat pasta anyway. It started to follow her on the trail, disappearing for a few hours and then returning and dogging her footsteps. After a couple of days, she started calling it Pedro. She didn’t need its company, this trek through the Iguazu National Park was supposed to help her come to terms with the divorce. That her husband had found a younger partner was humiliating enough, that he was of the same gender made it worse but losing both a husband and a competent handyman at the same time was unbearable. House repairs, gardening, car maintenance, Maurice could turn his hand to anything, she would never find his like again.

She decided to make camp, the sun set quickly in the tropics and here came the canine scrounger. As soon as she’d dropped her pack and started heating water it was sitting waiting, tongue lolling. She poured hot water over the pesto, couscous and dried vegetables and left it with a lid on while she threw out her pop tent, unrolled her sleeping bag, then sat down to her ‘feast.’ It tasted okay, the Tabasco sauce helped, she was hoping to lose a few pounds anyway, the dog seemed to enjoy it when she scraped the last few spoonsful onto the ground. It never came near her, never sought affection. Just as well, scabby looking thing, probably had ringworm and God alone knew what else.

The dog sloped off into the jungle brush as it did at any sign of trouble, other trekkers, odd animals, even large birds. Fucking tail tucker. Although, she had to admit, cowardice and the ability to eat a varied diet were both useful survival skills.

She stripped off her clothes, peed a few steps from the tent, sponge washed and climbed into the sack. She heard the dog barking about a hundred yards away. She sat up and shouted loudly for it to, ‘Shut up or fuck off.’ Feeling better for her primal scream, she lay back, relaxed and drifted gently as the light faded and the temperature dropped.

Suddenly she was awake. It was dark, pitch black, and there was something in the sleeping bag with her. Something heavy, something smooth. A snake, a big one, almost certainly a constrictor, it was slowly sliding over and under her, wrapping its coils around her, it had already pinned her arms to her sides.

It stopped. She daren’t move as it pushed its head through the top opening. The laced top opening that she had loosely sealed to keep the heat in. They lay like lovers, she felt its gentle intermittent breath on her face and barely dared to breath herself.

She shifted slightly, the snake tensed and gripped her. She stopped and lay still. It wasn’t hungry then, just liked the warmth. Its head lay close to her ear now and she could hear its breathing.

She thought about screaming and unconsciously began to fill her lungs. The snake gripped her again, tighter this time, she could only shallow breath. She felt its muscular smoothness on her back and thighs. There was no point in screaming, there might not be another trekker for miles. She decided to pray, it would be a diversion, and she had to stay calm. Picturing the rosary, she prayed to the Virgin, telling the beads in her imagination. Slowly time passed, the sun came up, the day began to warm and the snake slid soundlessly away. It was momentarily hampered in its exit from the bag by a noticeable bulge about half way down its length, its last meal, the meal that had saved her life. She lay quietly for a few minutes then forced herself to get up and break camp. She muscled into her pack and set off, just two solitary days until she reached the Iguazu Falls and the end of the journey.

Roger Ley

Banner Image: Pixabay.com

23 thoughts on “Companeros  by Roger Ley

    • It might have wanted to keep her in place because she was a source of heat even if it wasn’t hungry. Or it might have just been thinking about eating her later and finally decided not to.

      Like

      • That’s a spooky thought isn’t it – maybe you were on the menu if he was in the mood for savoury!! Perhaps she felt a bit grisly – this has certainly given us food for thought – hehehe – See what I did there – food for thought !!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. ‘She shifted slightly, the snake tensed and gripped her. She stopped and lay still. It wasn’t hungry then, just liked the warmth. Its head lay close to her ear now and she could hear its breathing.’

    Not sure whether they cuddle you if they don’t want to hoover you up to be honest – Must Google that and find out. I don’t think it was actually constricting was it but rather tensed when she moved.

    I have found this ‘1) Snakes kill slowly, via constriction
    FALSE. Snakes’ belly scales are so sensitive they can sense their prey’s heartbeat. They focus their most powerful coils on this spot and stop the heart from beating at all. This effectively freezes the victim’s blood in its veins, resulting in a quick, fairly painless death. It is only in cases where the serpent does not get a good enough grip on its prey that it will resort to constriction, i.e., if the prey is biting the snake, the snake will usually subdue the head by constricting around the neck as effectively as it can. This method is much slower and is usually considered a back-up plan.

    2) Snakes lay out flat next to people to measure them to see if they are capable of being eaten.
    FALSE. Snakes have no sense of measurement. They are not rulers. They do not know how long they are versus how tall or long anything else is. Snakes’ eyes are often bigger than their mouths and some snakes will kill prey that is entirely too large for them to eat. On the other hand, some snakes will refuse to kill anything larger than a certain size, for fear of being bitten.’

    ###

    You have opened up an interesting discussion and I do hope that someone who is knowledgeable on this will chip in here. I did, while searching, read that a snake head can still bite up to 36 hours after it has been cut off and until such time it should be treated as a ‘small angry snake’ Now that gave me pause for thought – Thanks for that Doug!!!!!

    Like

  2. This was really great. At first, I was hoping it was a dream or that she had confused a snake with the dog.
    “She thought about screaming and unconsciously began to fill her lungs. The snake gripped her again, tighter this time, she could only shallow breath.” I feel like this could reflect how she is struggling and recovering from her divorce. I’m glad she got to finish her trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you all for your interest, I feel that we all know a lot more about snakes now. It was very interesting to see the various interpretations that people put on the snake in the story, nothing biblical though. I have some other dark flash fiction on my website rogerleywrites.blogspot.co.uk please feel free to read it and leave comments.

    Like

  4. Hi Roger,
    You really did get some comments on this one.
    You mentioned there not being any biblical comment. I didn’t think Eve divorced Adam as they were living in some sort of civil partnership before she was tempted by the serpent with a pint of cider and some clothes. (As was my understanding!)
    What I really did enjoy was this was open to the metaphor junkies, the deep thinkers, the theologians or just the folks who enjoy a story that gives you a helluva image to finish on!
    I’m really interested to see what else you can come up with.
    All the very best my friend.
    Hugh

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.