Estimated reading time — 10 minutes
“Did you see that?”
“There’s an animal in the lake,”
I took off my sunglasses and sat up, looking at where she pointed at to see small ripples breaking the water’s calm surface.
“What did it look like?” I asked Rosalba.
“It looked like a crocodile’s head,”
“It must have been a sturgeon,”
“It was just floating there, still as can be,”
I stared at the spot she had pointed at for a moment, thinking, that was odd, before turning to her with a slight smile.
“Maybe it was a lake monster,”
“Real funny,” she murmured as she wrapped her arms around herself.
“Are you spooked?”
“A little. It just looked so damn odd. It really looked like a crocodile’s-There! Look!”
I turned my head to see a slick, tannish, hump break the water thirty meters from the raft before sinking. It reappeared again in seconds coming towards the raft before sinking again. I stood up and looked down at the dark water.
“Holy fuck!” I exclaimed as tannish skin moved just below the surface.
It looked as thick as a log pole and the word serpent came to mind as I moved to the other end of the raft to catch view of it for how many seconds before it disappeared.
“What is it?! What did you see?!”
I was in too much awe to speak as my heart raced in my chest. I looked around for a moment, seeing if it popped up anywhere else, before finally finding a semblance of words.
“It…it looked like a monster,” I said, bluntly.
She made a face and opened her mouth to say something but stopped midway and stared at me.
“Monster?” She said, quietly.
I looked around quickly before addressing her.
“I don’t know how else to describe it other then the word serpent. It’s definitely not a sturgeon,”
“You should get away from the edge,” She said, holding out her arms.
I moved away and embraced her as I looked around and spotted a wake, forty meters away. I watched it, intently, zoning out what she was saying, causing her to look.
“Hey,” She said, grabbing ahold of my face and forcing me to look at her,” Let’s go,”
“But isn’t this exciting?” I smiled,” We could be the first ones to witness-,”
“Yes! If not that, an entirely undiscovered species. It could be the last of it’s kind!”
“What if it’s dangerous? You remember that car in the lot? We haven’t seen any sign of anyone since we’ve been here. What if it preys on people?”
My smile started to fade as I looked into her concerned grey eyes. I thought back to the aged, tannish, skin I saw and her words from earlier.
“You’re right,” I said, as I grabbed ahold of her hand and went to the edge.
I looked around before easing into the water with her, not wanting to jump and draw it’s attention, as we started to make our way to the shore. We only made it fourteen feet before a coil of tannish flesh floated to the surface ahead of us. I bumped into it, unable to control my momentum. It felt exactly like the underbelly of a salmon and it was warm. I cried out as I back stroked away from it only to bump into Rosalba. I snapped my head to her before looking at what she was staring at. It was only for the briefest moment as it’s head descended back into the water, but the eyes, it’s jet black eyes were burned into my brain. Because the raft was close by, I shouted at her to swim for it. The mound of flesh in front of us moved closer towards us as Rosalba screamed.
I felt it’s flesh move around my legs and disappear as Rosalba was dragged through the water straight toward the raft. She grabbed and held onto it desperately as I furiously dashed towards it. I again felt the sickeningly smooth flesh as I neared the raft. For a few terrifying seconds, I think the thing is going to wrap around me in a coil as it curves past me. It’s open mouth breaks the surface and snaps down onto my left arm. There’s a pain that feels as though I stuck it into a fire. It’s widened, almost excited, jet black eyes meet my terrified cobalt blue eyes and then it snapped my arm away below the elbow.
I screamed into the sky as a gout of blood splashed against my face. I flail so helplessly in the mix of water and blood, before I feel something grazing against me. I went absolutely rigid, thinking it was the monster, before I looked at Rosalba’s pale, terrified face, grimacing. She’s reaching out to me. I gained a moment of clarity as I gripped the edge of the raft and pulled and struggled onto the raft, before finally achieving it. I collapse against the wooden boards to see nothing past Rosalba’s thighs but a trail of blood. Her stumps didn’t look ragged but as though they were cut off instead of a savage bite. I stared at them, panting, as the feeling of pain began to ebb away. I watched the blood leaking out from her only trickle before within maybe twenty seconds, stop entirely.
My voice came out stricken and hoarse.
There was nothing but the sound of water rippling. I raised myself on my elbow before laying on my side to see her passed out against the boards with her arms hanging off into the water. I looked at my stump to see my arm was taken off with the same precision and that it wasn’t bleeding anymore. It felt as though it was still there as I dumbly moved it around without a sensation of pain. I was almost lost in a daze from seeing what the inside of my arm looked like; I almost forgot where I was, if it wasn’t for the sight of Rosalba. I moved closer to her, to grab her, and saw the thing’s head floating below the surface by her left hand. It’s tongue flicking in and out of the crimson tainted water.
It did look like a crocodile but there was something wrong in the spaces where it’s ears would be. It looked like sheathes but I didn’t care as I wrapped an arm around her and pulled her away with effort until we were in the center of the raft. As she laid in my lap, I brushed away wet strands of dark brown hair across her face. She had been awake, I had thought otherwise because her eyes were little more than slits, but I could see her grey blue eyes looking at me. Her lips began to move but nothing more than a silent whisper came out. I didn’t need to hear it as she repeated it.
Yes, I thought but didn’t say as I looked up to see it’s head simply floating above the water, watching us. I stared back at it, intently, before it closed it’s eyes. When it opened them, the pure soul engulfing blackness was gone and replaced with the fiercest yellow eyes. They were a bold color reminiscent of the way fire swirled and just as scintillating. I couldn’t look away from it’s gaze as it’s head rose two feet above the water. It held my eyes for an untold amount of time before the corner of it’s lips began to curve upward, exposing it’s perfectly formed teeth, neither triangular or serrated as a predator’s would be; While the center of it’s lips stayed shut. I stared dumbly at this posture before a sharp, cold, knife of terror penetrated my heart in realization that it was smiling at me. But the fear was a fleeting moment as another emotion started to burn in my chest.
My head started to feel light and I could feel something happening with my eyes as the terrible visage of it started to blur as though it were moving at a pace too great to register. I closed my eyes and had to let go of Rosalba as I rubbed at them. When I opened them the world was clear again as I caught the serpent’s head sinking into the depths of the lake.
And just as it did, Rosalba had sat up by herself.
“Daniel, I feel strange,” She said without so much as a hint of a tremor in her voice.
I only gazed at the back of her head before she moved to face me.
Her pupils had swallowed her grey eyes whole, and judging from her stare, it must have happened to me too.
“What did it do to us, Daniel?”
“It must be venomous,” I said too calmly.
Whatever it was, it was extremely fast acting in dulling almost every sensation I had. There was no pain, no stomach turning fear at that thought, no fear at all. Just a strange warmth of emotion burning in my chest.
Rosalba experimentally moved her stumps without a single drop of blood leaking out. I looked at my own stump and moved it around with the same effect. Then I touched the inside of my arm. No pain.
I looked into her changed eyes.
“Are we going to die?”
“Maybe,” I said.
We only looked at each other for a moment before drawing close and hugging each other tight.
“I don’t want to walk into His Kingdom without you. I don’t want to do it without you, baby,”
“I’ll be there with you, at your side,” I said.
“Do you promise?”
“I can’t…I can’t feel anything Daniel. I don’t even feel scared,”
“I know, Rosalba. I know. I love you with all my heart, babe,”
“I love you even more,”
She buried her face against my neck and I watched as a tannish hump broke the water inches away from the raft. I had to look away from it so I closed my eyes for a moment before looking into the cloudless sky overhead. So many memories came rushing back to me as time passed. So many people went by; Their faces losing their meaning into the numbing void we had become. It was almost as though it had already killed us and then I realized it had in the most important way; Depriving us of any emotion or sensation, depriving us of our humanity.
We hadn’t said anything more as we stared out at our impending doom, occasionally breaking the surface so often; Whether it was a mound of aged flesh or it’s head as it’s ferocious fiery eyes watched us intently. Sometime when the night approached, the tip of it’s tail broke the surface near us and landed on one corner of the raft. It moved around as though it were a sentient being itself deprived of it’s eyes as it blindly felt around before sinking back into the water. For some reason, seeing that act had induced a chain of thoughts that can be summed up with the word, apanthropinization. It was nothing like some dray beast and it had an intelligence that was greater then man’s, considering.
But that was nothing new at this point, as Rosalba and I looked up at the stars starting to appear in the sky. Rosalba smiled at that sight before she met my eyes. I cupped her cheek and smiled back at her before kissing her forehead, then her eyes, and then finally her lips. Even as a terrible bout of fatigue began to set in, we had made that moment ours and nothing could have taken that away.
Eventually, sometime in the night when the moon was highest in the sky, I acquiesced to the fatigue. The invisible hooks in my eyes had succeeded and with that, I fell into another world.
In what felt like a dream, I saw the serpent floating along in the water in a sea of small skiffs. They were blurred but I could still make out that they were ancient and they were strung with decorations. The people in the skiffs closest to the creature were reaching out and touching it’s bright skin. The sight of the serpent was as clear as ever and I could see striations and patterns on it as though it were created by something other then God. And maybe it was as I saw the purpose of the sheathes on it’s head. It was to conceal it’s impossibly forked horns. The people on the skiffs had makeshift horns on their heads too and were wearing the same colors of clothing like on the serpent. It had that same smile on it’s face that it had shown me as it licked at the outstretched hands before opening it’s mouth and biting down two of them at once. The people affected didn’t cry out in pain but almost a mellifluous sound of pleasure as it let go of them, their hands intact but for the bite marks. Then it did it to the next pair of outstretched hands.
I understood the vision perfectly. The serpent was as ancient as time itself. It thrived in the seas as the apex predator while humanity rose and fell, rose and fell through civilizations made and destroyed. Eventually it was found and man learned of the power it had, learned that it was a gate way into the world beyond our own; It’s existence was living proof of that. They worshiped it and the most loyal were gifted with the elixir of it’s poison. The poison had transformed them from mere mortal to a being not dominated by emotion or pain or severance of the flesh and it’s limitations. But even more than that, they believed that they truly ascended when it feasted on them for it would also devour their souls and they would live on forever in it’s flesh.
I slowly opened my eyes to the dawning sky and the first thing I notice is that Rosalba is not in my lap. I looked down to see my legs and half the raft in the water. I immediately snapped my head to the strangled, choking sound next to me to that the serpent had swallowed her all the way up to just below her shoulders. It’s eyes were jet black and looked excited and so that’s where I jabbed my thumb into. It made a muffled sound that almost sounded like ‘mmfff’ before it slipped back off into the water with a splash, the raft rushed up and stabilized after a few rocks. I forced myself to look back at Rosalba.
There was nothing below a quarter of her shoulders. She was just a head with a neck but she was blinking rapidly.
“Rosalba!” I cried out as I knelt down by what was left of her.
“Daniel,” She said, so calmly and clearly.
I only stared at her changed eyes, unable to think of anything at all, unable to do anything at all, as her severed head only talked on as though we were back home and safe in our bedroom.
“Daniel say something. Please,”
“I love you so much,” I said, without thinking.
My voice barely more than a whisper.
“I love you even more, baby,” She said back as she smiled so dauntingly.
I placed my hand on her warm cheek.
“You are…you are the best thing to ever happen to me, Rosalba,”
“So are you, Daniel. Am I missing my body?”
“Don’t let me live like this, Daniel,” She said with that same smile.
“You’re right…you were always right. Wait for me in the Kingdom,”
“I will, Daniel,”
I stared into those once beautiful eyes as tears slid down her cheeks and onto my hand. I looked up at the water before picking her up by her hair and going to the edge. I let her face sink below the surface and held her there as I intently watched out for the serpent, before looking down and seeing the bubbles had stopped. I lifted her head to see she had begun her journey. I placed her head in the center of the raft for the feeble hope that it won’t finish her off as I stand and look at the water churning fifty meters to the raft.
It’s horns are the first things to break the surface before it’s followed by it’s head and then it’s very long neck. It’s ferocious fiery eyes lock onto mine.
“Human flesh,” It’s voice drifts out from it’s mouth in a wail.
I stared at those demonic eyes, almost mesmerized by the sight of it in awe. But I remember what it did to me, what it did to Rosalba, and bare my teeth before running to the other side of the raft and diving into the water. The movement is jerky without my other arm but I get a rhythm and hurry as fast I can through the water. I hear a great splash behind me but don’t look back as I side lined through the water.
The shore coming within distance.
Credit : Ardentpurpose
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