Jessica Ponti's

Serpent's Song

There I was, in the bathtub. I was still clothed, and there was no water in the peach colored basin. I guess most people would find it odd to be laying in the bathtub for no reason. Oh well, I’m not most people.

I sat there, looking at the rust tears that spilled from the hot and cold handles. Drops of ice cold water fell from the faucet onto the toe of my black pair of Converse sneakers. My jeans were the same color, and melted into my ebony sweater. Colorful, isn’t it? I should have been a fashion designer. I didn’t know why I was in the bathtub. All I knew was I was very angry at a certain someone. That someone was Dr. Sierra. He was Rory’s physician. Rory was a diabetic, and my best friend. She was in the hospital, being treated for her disease. Executioner Sierra gave her the wrong dosage of insulin, and Rory went into shock. She died that night.

Of course, Rory’s parents tried to sue this freak with a degree, but because of some legal mumbo-jumbo, he got off the hook. Yesterday, he walked out that courthouse a free man. My friend will never walk again, but I could be wrong. Maybe she walks with angels.

I was so angry, and I can’t begin to describe the depth or the darkness of that rage. My parents told me to grieve, and then move on. They offered to spend the night in my apartment, but I whisked them out the door. I’m twenty one, and I can take care of myself. Or so I thought.

That’s how I wound up in the bathtub. In my hand, I held my brother’s Smith and Wesson. It was a great gun, warm and heavy in my hand. I won’t deny the fact that I had murder on my mind, but I didn’t know how far my rage would go in the course of that fateful night.

At the end of my tub, a rattler was coiled around the faucet. It was four feet long, and a pair of red eyes stood out against his black body. His forked tongue flicked at me, a blue blur that you would miss if you blinked. This didn’t seem unusual to me. There were snakes all over this area, and the only thing I knew about snakes was that they eat mice and they don’t have eyelids. I glanced at it. He winked at me.

That caught my attention. Since when do snakes wink? I stared at him, and he returned the look, unafraid. I didn’t like his eyes. They seemed full of knowledge, as if the serpent had witnessed the history of the world. Those eyes revealed that he got a real kick out of the gory parts.

"Well?" the snake hissed.

Okay, a snake was talking to me. A bizarre thought popped into my head, as most thoughts do when you’re terrified. I must be in a bad episode of the Twilight Zone.

"Well?" the serpent asked. He was more insistent this time. I decided to answer his question. What harm could it do? "Well what?" I asked. I wasn’t surprised that my voice cracked.

"You know you want to. I can see the thought swirling in your mind, dark and thick. Vengeance is written in your heart, and time cannot erase the word." He flicked his tongue at me.

"I have no idea what your talking about," I told him. Boy, I was lying through my teeth. The rattler’s throaty cackle bounced off the tiled walls. His laugh reminded me of the distant pealing of funeral bells. I think he purposely broke out into hysterics for ten minutes just so it would be branded into my memory.

"You have no idea what I’m talking about? My dear Gabriel, you are fully aware of what I’m referring to. You want our good doctor’s knees shot. You want him to have his heart removed while he’s still fully conscious. You want his head blown away and for no one to show up at his funeral."

I clutched the gun closer to my chest as he slithered down from the faucet and hissed in my ear, "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. It’s right there in the Bible. I suggest you follow the passage."

"Kill the doctor?" I whispered. Those red eyes lingered in mine. "How? How can I kill him? That goes against God. It’s not what Rory would have wanted."

"God?" the serpent exclaimed, and reared up, as if to strike. He glared at me. "How can you believe in God? What kind of God would allow some demon to kill an innocent woman? What kind of God would allow that beast to roam unchained, thanks to a loophole in our society?"

Tears grew into sobs. My sobs grew louder and louder. My wounds were being slit open again, and fresh, raw pain seeped into every pore. I willed him to stop but he just kept going.

"Mostly," he said, "What kind of God allow someone to feel so much pain due to the loss of a beloved one?"

"Do you know who I want to kill?" I asked him, cold tears dripping down my face and my teeth bared. "I want to kill you."

The rattler slithered back to the faucet, and wrapped himself around the handles again. "I highly doubt that. I know that Rory wished for her death to be avenged. You must make the wrong things right. If an innocent dies, the guilty must follow. You must speak for the one who cannot speak for herself." "Just stop it!" I shouted. My heart was ripped in two, open and bleeding.

I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to kill this evil creature, who was probably the Devil himself. Yet, what he was saying was partly true. My friend was dead, and he was alive. I gritted my teeth, and my closed eyes failed to keep my tears at bay.

"Kill it," he demanded, "Kill the source of your pain." I looked at him, and he seemed to know what I was about to do. He was pleased.

The next moments were a blur, and, some how, I wound up at Dr. Sierra’s door in the dead of night. The serpent was with me, and I knocked on his door with the butt of the gun. He opened the door, groggily with sleep. His dark hair stood up in fifty different directions, and a blue bathrobe was falling off of his shoulder. He woke up pretty fast when he saw my gun aimed at his skull.

" Do it Gabriel! Do it!" The snake screamed. He swiftly glided through the doorway and coiled around Dr. Sierra’s ankle. The man’s eyes were wide and brimming with fear. The red eyes of that reptile held mine.

I had been fighting with myself about which one was to die. I doubt I would have been able to decide without a little help. I closed my eyes, and I’m sure that Rory came back for just a moment. That moment was long enough for her to guide the muzzle of my gun at the being marked for death, the one that was the source of my pain.

"Good versus evil," she whispered to me. I knew she was right. With my eyes still closed, I pulled the trigger.