It’s dark. I’m stumbling around. I know I’m dreaming, but I have no control here. I try to jump to the various “staging” areas of my dreamscapes, but I’m stuck fast. There is an up and a down, a semblance of gravity that holds me to the unseen ground. But there are no compass points, no directions. There is only Here (where I am), and There (where I am not). Here is a small space, so dark, I can barely see myself. There, is much larger, and I am frightened by what could be over There.
I misplace a step and twist my right ankle. I crumple into a heap to keep from falling hard against the ground. I feel no broken bones, no bleeding gashes, but I know I’m not going to be able to walk any further. I attempt to shift form into something more habituated to the dark, but I’m stuck fast as plain human me.
I grumble about the dream circumstances. If only I had a helper, I think. Then I remember, the snake familiar I had won over a few years ago. It doesn’t always accompany me when traveling the different dreamscapes. Perhaps, I could call on it. When the snake spirit is with me, it resides in my right shoulder. I’ve been contemplating getting a snake tattoo on that shoulder because of it.
I speak its name, but hear nothing in response. I turn my awareness to my shoulder, but it is not there. I make a mental note to remind myself, once I woke up, to research if there is more I need to do for my snake spirit familiar.
The time spent sitting still on the ground has given my ankle time to heal somewhat. I stand up to test how much it will bear, and quickly find out I didn’t spend enough time. I fall over and land roughly on my butt. “Dammit!” I hear my word suddenly echo from something large near me. Something hidden in the darkness.
I know I’m dreaming. But no amount of will is restoring my twisted ankle. I scramble backwards away from the hidden lurker. The sounds of my movement echo off the unseen mass. Enough for me to infer that it is very large, and convex curved in shape.
As I move back, the mass moves as well. I can hear it sliding across the ground. The sound tells my ears the lurking thing is massive in length, and considerable in width. Every creature from Lovecraft’s imagination is now prancing in mine as I wonder what monster is about to devour me this time.
The thing is moving faster than I can scramble, so I stop my futile movement and wait for it to come. I see a shadow, darker than the darkness around me looming over me. I hear of millions of smooth things sliding across the ground. I brace myself for it to fall on me.
Suddenly, light. It hurts my eyes at first. I block my face instinctively from the onslaught of the brilliant white light. As I do, I hear a deep-throated hiss. The sound freezes me in place, my mammalian instinct overriding my sentience. I am overcome with horrendous fear as I recognize the hissing as commensurate with a very large reptile. A very, very, large reptile.
The light remains, casting a hard shadow behind me. As my eyes adjust to the light, I keep my arm before my eyes out of fear. Slowly, I move my arm to peek under it. On the ground before me, just past my feet, I see the body of a snake. Forcing my fear down, I study the little of the reptile I have allowed myself to see. I note it is easily four feet in width. Not girth. The snake’s body was four feet wide.
As I study the little bit of the animal I’ve allowed myself to see, I suddenly understand where the light is coming from. The snake’s body is glowing. The scales appear like polished silver with faint tints of yellow and amber. I can only see the tint because my eyes have fully adjusted to the light. The snake, I realize, is rearing. Occasionally, I hear another round of hissing. The sound rumbles my bones, and it is all I can do to override the mammalian instinct to get the fuck away from the large fucking snake.
Slowly, I lower my arm. But I continue keeping my eyes focused on the ground. I brace myself on my arms and slowly start to look up. The snake is towering over me, mouth open and fangs fully forward. The triangular shape of the head is very apparent. This is a poisonous snake. It is rearing, but has no hood. And while the fangs are fully extended, there is no glistening of venom on the tips. The fangs are dry. It hisses again at me. I swallow my fear, and manage to hold my voice.
“Good day to you, great Snake. My, what large fangs you have. Strong and true. Forgive my fixation with them, but just one can impale and kill me. So I might be distracted by something that can cause great bodily harm.” The snake hisses, a little louder than before, then closes its mouth. It is still reared up and towering over me. Even if I was standing, the snake would be higher than my head. “Please forgive my curiosity, good Snake, but studying you helps me get over my fear of you. Do you mind?” My voice lost the shakiness of fear as I spoke. The snake turned to the left and paused, then turned to the right and paused. I had the sensation that it was enjoying my examination, and was showing off its markings.
“Of all the snakes I’ve met, bright Snake, I have never met one that glowed with its own light. You don’t have a hood, so you’re not a cobra. But the shape of your head tells me you are a poisonous snake. I can’t quite read your markings though, so please forgive me if I am slighting you by not knowing what you are.” The snake opens its mouth and hisses quite forcibly. My right shoulder suddenly aches in response. Before I can react the snake lunges forward.
Despite its impossible length and girth, the snake quickly coils around me in large loops. It lifts me off the ground and forms a bowl like shape with its body. When it stopped moving, I found myself in the bottom of the “bowl”, my body resting solely on the snake’s coils. Opposite of my face, I see the snake’s tail tucked loosely between the coil. Rattles. Looking again at the yellow and amber markings, I realize I am resting on a rattlesnake.
It lays its head near my right hand. Its tongue flicks out and touches my right shoulder. Again, my right shoulder aches. But not from pain, but from an absence. I feel there is something missing from my body. I lift my right hand, and the snake gently pushes its head into my palm. I look again at the markings, peering closely, mentally substituting darker colors for the illuminated amber tones.
When I start laughing, the snake moves its head to my right shoulder and gently rests it there, touching me. I look over and call it by the name I gave my snake spirit familiar. It nudges my head in response. As I rub the gargantuan head, I tease it for scaring me. “Do I want to know what you’ve been up to all this time? What have you been hunting that gave you the ability to emit light?” I continue stroking the snakes’ scales. Each scale is the size of my palm. “Never mind. I’m glad to see you again. I was worried that the encounter with Ravenwoman had forced you away.”
The snake shifted its coils, raising some and lowering others. I was now completely enveloped by the snake’s body, as if I was a egg, warmly incubated by the mythic size snake. I was no longer afraid. I knew who this was. My snake familiar had grown up, it would seem. It kept its head next to mine, resting very lightly on my right shoulder. As I continued to stroke the silvery amber scales, I did not notice when I fell into a deeper sleep.