Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Microstory 1743: Water Snake

I went hiking yesterday afternoon, in the jungle. It was only meant to last a few hours, but it ended up being an overnight affair when I ran into a sea serpent. I thought she might try to attack me, but instead, I led her back to the ocean, where she could swim and be happy. I might even call her my friend. I slept on the little beach that night, just out in the open, content that the experience turned into so much more than just getting a few extra steps for my fitness app. I’ve just woken up, and I’m hungry. I ate all of my snacks last night before my sandy slumber. I almost feel like I’m on a remote island, somewhere far from civilization, and have no choice but to figure out how to fish with my bare hands, or hunt rabbits with a flexible stick and some string. I can actually hear a truck driving on the mountain side above me, so I’m not too far from other people. My sea serpent and I just used the most direct route yesterday, so I take a few minutes to find the actual trail. I do not want to have to crawl through the vegetation again, even if it would possibly be quicker. It’s a struggle, walking down the path, the hunger growing worse by the second. Mother always says to pack twice as much as I think I’ll need. Father always said I’ll only ever need half, so don’t suffer the weight. I always split the difference, and go with my gut. Now my gut has turned against me, screaming across the abyss. I have to find something worth eating somewhere around here. I’m not liable to find a diner in the middle of nowhere. If I do see a diner, I’ll know the hunger overpowered me, and it’s nothing more than a manifestation of my desires, carried over to limbo from the living realm. Just when I think I can’t be too far from help, the trail ends. It just stops at the shore of a lake. Oh no, I am dead, but this isn’t limbo. I just went straight to hell. I could keep walking, or turn around, or learn to fly, but it wouldn’t matter. I’m never getting out of here, and I’m never getting food.

I stand there for a moment, ready to surrender to my fate, when a familiar sight appears before me. A snake slithers out of the water, and stops a meter away from my feet. He watches me carefully, but does not seem concerned. Like last time, I don’t move. The sea serpent never hurt me, but that doesn’t mean this one won’t. He looks a little more dangerous to me. Perhaps I should try to run this time. Before I can, he begins to slither off into the grass. I take that opportunity to walk in the other direction, but he quickly darts back, and gets in front of me. We regard each other a little more. When he’s satisfied with whatever he thinks he was accomplishing, he slithers away again. I try to leave once more, but he does not like that. He starts to circle me, and I know he’ll bite if I try to go in the wrong direction. Seeing no other choice then, I head in the direction he was going. This prompts him to stop circling, and slither beside me. After several more steps, I realize that he’s leading me somewhere. Is he that smart? Could he really know where the city is, and that I need to get there? Well, his saltwater cousin seemed to possess a shocking level of intelligence, so what do I know about what animals can really do? He keeps slithering next to me, but a little ahead, and I keep following him. If he ends up taking me to a giant Indiana Jones-style pit of hungry serpentine brethren, I guess I’ll just deal with it. Before too long, I see straight lines through the trees up ahead, suggesting some kind of man-made structure. The water snake leads me right into the clearing where I finally see where we are. My God, it is a diner.

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