Meeting The Serpent


The sea stretched out before me, a deep blue-black. It was calm and almost dark, but also almost bright, like a smoldering in the sky. The sun had just set. (I hadn’t been near the ocean in years, and there was no memory of actually getting here. Details I didn’t notice just yet.)

A wind blew through my hair, and through the scattered clumps of grass. “The shores of my subconscious…” I liked saying that line. I liked thinking of my mind as an ocean; within my soul are depths as vast as the sea. If I can perceive an ocean, I can perceive my mind as an ocean—“And explore it,” I murmured.

I smiled, and breathed. Then, my eyes snapped out of their reverie and into focus: something had disturbed the waters, a few miles from where I stood. On my tiptoes, I searched with eager eyes—could it be a whale? I fell back on my heels, and my smile fell slack… Whatever it was, emerging, it was much larger than a whale. When the shape then climbed even higher into the air, I knew it couldn’t even be a creature of this world.

It was some kind of serpent, beginning to twist now in the air. Some unknown length of it dwelt still beneath the surface. I could only stare, my mind shocked into stillness. The fact of what I was seeing challenged everything I knew of my world. The creature, twisting still in the air, unfurled legs from around its leviathan body. The legs were spined, almost like a centipede’s. “Way bigger than any dinosaur,” I whispered to myself. “Only the ocean could conceal something like this.”

Beneath my feet there began a rumbling, and the ocean began to churn, as more of the monsters broke the surface.

Faster than I could conceive, they flew through the air towards me.

Every moment of perception was now dear-bought, with these serpents dancing furiously through the air around me. They stirred the weather into fierce winds. They felled trees with glancing blows that did nothing to stop their impossible dancing. I knew now the raw creature-fear of some small rodent who finds itself surrounded by predators… Although, wound through the terror was this thread of breathless joy, as I stood slack-jawed in the middle of some ritual no human had ever experienced.

It took my mind a moment to register that the dance had stopped. One of the leviathans had drawn itself up to me, and had lowered its face to look into mine.

It was huge, but not quite frightening. Completely alien, but still, almost familiar. Almost humanoid was the shape of its face… but no mouth, and no nostrils. Still, it seemed to breathe, and its deep, black eyes gazed calmly into mine. It was aware of me—not in passing, as some animal registers the presence of a human—but as one soul recognizes another.

Something flickered there, in the silence between our eyes. We knew each other then, in some way impossible to verbalize.

Later, I knew this place and these creatures must have been real, if not exactly real here, in the world we know. There is nothing I can say to really prove their existence, but neither could I deny the mark left on my soul from that meeting: I had met an equal. I would remember, and we would meet again.

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Howl was born in the wastes north of Hithlum, where only beasts and witches dare roam. He was raised by two old hags, Tabby and Wiles, who had an unhealthy fascination towards the literary arts. Howl now resides in a well-furnished cave off South Rim Trail, complete with an old iBook and Wi-Fi.