snakes - quotes and descriptions to inspire creative writing
In the darkness under the crumbling brick house lay the eggs. Without any detectable noise the shells were pushed from the inside until they cracked and oozed clear liquid. No-one witnessed the birth of the black mamba snakes, already two feet in length. The newborn snakes yawned, showing their black mouths and fangs, every one with enough poison to kill a dozen of the sleeping people above. Each body, a smooth column of armoured muscle, slithered into the charcoal light that preceded the dawn. Pale bellies gliding over the parched soil and stone, dark backs to the fading stars.
Green forest light strikes Rory's face, still with a smirk left over from his previous smart remark to Tom. He turns to swat an insect. In that moment of distraction a king cobra rises from the undergrowth before him, spreading his ribs to make his regal hood. From the earthy floor to his head, he stands six feet tall with another twelve disappearing behind him. Other than the cream of his lower jaw that extends a small way down his gullet, he is khaki like a soldier's uniform. The snake's gaze is fixed on Rory, a dark tongue flitting into the air every few seconds, tasting the fear, the cologne, the sweat. In that head the size of a hand like thin fangs, ready to inject a fatal amount of venom deep into their muscles.
The burmese python had less movement than the sawgrass around it. Stone-like, steel eyes embedded in an otherwise unbroken sheath scales, he watched. The serpent had long forgotten life as a pet; in the many years that had passed in his swampy home he had grown to almost sixteen feet long. His silky smooth skin had finally lost its bulge, two weeks of digesting was over and he was ready for another meal. The early light was still soft on his mottled skin of brown and cream and the air on his tongue had the taste of something he wasn't accustomed to. In the near silence, he slinked his way onward toward the scent. Venom-less though he was, this predator was armed with hooked teeth to latch onto his prey and a body of pure muscle to constrict and choke.
The constrictor basked on the branch. Life for a snake in these parts was a slow affair. His serpent brain had no concept of boredom and time was an irrelevance. His joy was to feel the suns rays upon the dark scales of his back, warming his cold blood to a more pleasurable temperature. Meals were best large, his skin stretching to accommodate them, digesting over days not hours. With any close noise he would tilt his large skull, watching, unblinking with reptilian eyes.
A rattling sound sound fills the previously silent air. My eyes fall to the rattlesnake and my surroundings vanish from my mind. In that moment there is no past or future. Every capacity of my brain is focused on the reptile before me. Against the dry soil the sandy markings guard it from the casual eye, but I can see each scale burned on my retina. Steel green eyes take in my form, selecting possible places to bite; forked tongue savours my scent. His body is a frozen coil in the hot sun, but how soon this statue can become something too fast to dodge. The rattle, so pale in the strong light, continues to vibrate. I can see why it works; my primitive brain is torn between keeping focus on the tail or the head. Finally my legs agree to move, slowly, retreating...
We come to an abrupt stop, powdered mud spiralling upwards from our boots. Ahead lies a basking snake, a tiger snake, its body flattened to take in maximum heat. She's young, barely three feet in length and the kind of olive green and cream colour my mother likes to decorate with so much. This is one pretty package of venom we don't want to disturb. So we tiptoe backwards as silently as Santa on Christmas Eve, our hearts in our mouths and stomachs churned.
The water has no blue tinge, it's green all the way. Nothing even a few inches down can be seen from the top, but for now it's irrelevant. There is a movement on the surface, golden with flashes of brown, a water boa is headed this way. She swims, wave-like across the still surface, faster than I could ever swim away. Though my instincts urge me to run, I choose to remain still. These yellow anacondas eat the fish and carrion. All I can do is sit tight and pray she has better things to do than take on a human.
For twenty years the snake lived in the South American swamp. Since her birth she had grown passed those that sought her as prey all those years ago. In these autumn years she was a living ancestor, her kin thriving in the cool waters around her. They called her grandmother, but in truth she was a far more distant relative to most.
The brown coils of the snake curled tightly underneath itself. Its tongue flicked in and out as it watched her with beady, abyss-like eyes.
The slithering snake worked its way across the tall grass on its slimy, yet smooth, stomach, using its incredibly powerful stomach muscles to propel it along, while never turning its beady eyes away from the prey it was advancing towards.
"I wish I could tell you what kind of snake it was, but all my memory will serve me is those cold reptilian eyes. There are nights even my dreams are vivid images of the serpents flattened head, the forked tongue taking in the flavour of the air. A gust of wind blows fine dirt into my eyes just as it did that day and still I dare not blink. The snake coils her body upwards, her head level with my own. Then I wake, cold sweat over my skin. But on that day, when we were inched apart, I am told she lunged and bit. I owe my life to the medics, to the anti-venom. To this day I can't go near snakes, even the mention of them turns me funny."
The snakes of that region were nothing to be trifled with. Almost every one of them packed enough venom to drop as many men as were foolish enough to get close. There were some that revered them, some phobic. For most it was a matter of having a healthy respect and letting the snakes do their thing.
Lying over the hot rocks were snakes of every kind. This was no natural arena. They lay so thickly in places that their skins made a living tapestry, never the same from one moment to the next. And the noise. All Kia could hear was hissing.
Illogical as it is, the boa constrictors freeze me up worse than the vipers. If the choice was suffocation or venom I'd take the latter. Though it's safe to say that snakes in general aren't my thing. The mind of a snake is so far removed from anything mammalian. The reptile's survival doesn't depend on motherhood, on caring, nurturing. All that stays in that scaled head is the demand of the primitive brain: survive, kill, hunt, breed. Others love them, I know. But snakes can't love back; love was never part of their survival requirements.
"Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?" Isn't that what Indie says? That Harrison Ford line is all that echoes around my head as I see the darkened floor move just like it did in that movie. Even as the sultry heat drys my lungs and powders the dirt at my feet, my blood runs cold, pupils dilated. Light still streams through the stone doorway behind me, open as it has been for centuries.
To the touch the snake is silky. Tristan runs his hands up and down like he does with his cat at home expecting roughness when he rubs toward the head. Instead it is more similar to stroking glass, but softer. "Oooh!" he says and the snake turns toward him, forked tongue shooting in and out. Tristan stops, gazing in the same way he'd take in the night sky. "Round," he squeaks, "round eyes!" After a few seconds more the serpent coils away from him to examine another child...