• Vol. 08
  • Chapter 07

Saved by a Serpent

She needed a way across. The storm had torn the towering pines from the bank and tossed them onto the old wooden bridge, splintering the planks and shredding the rope strung between them. A damp sweat of rain still clung to the broad leaves of shrubs, too squat and low to be noticed by the hurricane. The water level was high – higher than she had seen it before. The surface bubbled and roared impatiently, racing strips of green and brown along its angry course. A rustle behind spun her round. A figure in white-stained red approached. She saw as it drew nearer the stains were a pattern of serpents coiling around the limbs of the figure.
‘You seek a way to cross?’ she heard. She looked intently at the figure. Its head was hooded and hidden.
‘Why, yes,’ she replied.
‘Is your need urgent?’ She considered the question.
‘It is,’ she replied.
‘Give me your cloak and I will provide you a way.’
‘My cloak?’ She felt the thick fabric of the cloak. It had provided warmth and protection from what she knew to be a cruel world. With her cloak she could hide, avoid attention and escape the taunts and jeers others were often ready to hurl at her. But her need to cross was urgent.
‘Well?’ asked the figure.
‘Yes. Yes, I will give you my cloak. But how can you help me cross?’
As the figure extended a gloved hand, a serpent slowly uncoiled from the arm of the red fabric. The serpent slithered smoothly down the bank and as it entered the water it swelled and grew.
‘There. My serpent will carry you across. Now give me your cloak.’
She did as she was bid, flinching at the expectation of a gasp of horror when the figure saw her uncovered form – her scars and livid skin, her deformed limbs.


Saved by a Serpent

‘Now go,’ was all he said.
She climbed onto the serpent’s back, amazed at the warmth of its scaly skin. As she rode across the thundering water, feeling the fresh clear wind on her face and body, and the cold splash of water on her legs and feet, for the first time in many years she felt free.