Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Snake


Her mind was a simple device yet one honed sharp for hunting. Her tongue flicked out and gathered molecules from the air, retrieved them, and her brain processed the scents. The morning dew was heavy with smells, there was pollen, there was dust, there was a hundred other smells that told her everything she needed to know about where she was, and what else was there. There was a new garden, and the tilled earth meant young plants, and that meant a rodent would come to feed. She knew there was a female with young nearby, but she had not yet been able, or willing, to track the scent down.  A week ago a cotton rat and blundered into her strike range and she had not felt the urge to feed again until now. She glided to a stop in the shadows of the underbrush and did what she did best; wait.
            The smell of disease on the rodent was crystal clear. It was an elderly creature, and its time on this earth would be limited even with her venom, but she knew nothing of this. The rodent’s body heat gave a clear target, the strike was perfect. She injected a full dose of venom and felt the rodent’s body recoil internally from the death it would bring, but it was far too late. She recovered from the strike, checked the air for the scent of danger and then did what she did best; wait.
            She had no clock, no mechanism as to how long it took, but in her eighth year of life she knew how long was long enough, and her tongue shipped the air for a trail, and found one. Slowly, and methodically, she followed the dying rodent, and never knew of the shotgun blast that tore her head off.
“Damn! That’s a monster there!” the man said. “Glad I killed the damn thing before it killed one of us.
“Now if only we could keep the rats out of the garden,” his companion said. “,for they are eating us out of house and home.”

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