Gentle Terror: A Short Story

(While I did write this story, I can’t take credit for the idea. Markus Zusak, my favorite author, told me on Twitter one day that he had had a dream just like the one the narrator of this story has. So thank you, Markus Zusak, for sharing your idea, and letting me make something with it.)


I shot up in bed and found myself surrounded by my own sweat. I’d heard something, I knew I had, I just didn’t know what it was. That fact, along with the midnight darkness that surrounded me, terrified me. I glanced over at my wife, sleeping peacefully. It was obvious that she hadn’t heard whatever it was I had.
All was silent for about an hour as I tried to persuade myself that maybe, just maybe, I had imagined it all. That fantasy crumbled suddenly when, tearing through the dark, a soft, ominous hiss reached my ears. My heart shoved itself up my throat as it began to pound loudly. Now I knew exactly what I had heard. Oh my…it’s a snake! There’s a snake in my room! My mind raced as my arm reached out to turn on the lamp on the nightstand.
Fresh hysteria was imbedded into my heart when l actually laid eyes on it. It was a pure black rope of shiny scales, lying motionless at the foot of the bed, as if awaiting it’s moment to strike. Two bright, beady, eyes peered up at me. My mind screamed at me from all directions, telling me to get out of there, protect my wife, call the police. Anything. Somewhere in all the jumble, a whisper calmly told me not to panic, black snakes are not unkind. But, as soon as it spoke up, a thousand voices shouted back at it to shut up, because there was a freaking snake in my bed.
I closed my eyes, trying to quiet this chaos, wishing it would all just go away and let me sleep. Slowly, I cracked my eyes open…to find everything as it had been. Well, mostly as it had been. My mind remained a hurricane of thoughts, but, slowly, it died down to a peaceful breeze of just two thoughts: Black snakes are not unkind. Things aren’t always as they appear.


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