When she awoke, Alas found herself nose to snout with a big, fat pig.
An ugly creature whose wrinkled skin hung over its eyes, whiskers on its chin and drool
dangling from its lower lip as it stupidly chewed the apple cores that littered the cart that
Alas found herself in. Before she could blink the sleep from her eyes, another apple core
flew from somewhere near the front of the cart, landing squarely on Alas’ head. Wresting
with the blanket of hay, she flailed madly trying to get to her feet.
“Hey there are people in this pig pile” she shouted. “watch were you are throwing those
“Oh, you are awake. Finally.” came a familiar silky voice.
Alas recognized her as the angry gypsy from the night before. Her hand reached to her
throat and she froze, shocked. Then, that horrible nightmare hadn’t been a nightmare at
all, she thought to herself.
Tracing her fingers across the jeweled choker, she asked in a far off voice, “where am I?”
“in a pig pile,” for the first time, Alas heard joy in the gypsy’s voice.
Alas made a face, “well, where are we going?” the gypsy didn’t answer. As if Alas wasn’t
even there, she began to hum to herself. Giving up, Alas sunk back into the heap of straw
where she had awoken. The pig, whom Alas had dubbed, Oinkers, was a cuddler. The two
spent their day being jostled in the back of the cart. Together, they ignored the gypsy and
in turn she ignored them.
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Raising itself, the snake stopped within an inch of Alas’ face. She could see two long fangs
glinting as it’s tongue brushed against her chin and cheeks, smelling her. Alas kept still,
trying not to let a tremble of dread show as the serpent’s body landed heavily on her
forearm. Snakes were not slimy and slippery creatures as Alas had thought but were dry,
warm and muscular. Hands clenched tightly at her sides, muscles spasming, knuckles
white. Any moment, the creature could decide to sink its fangs into her, inject its deadly
venom, and Alastair would be dead. A lot of horrible things had happened in her short life,
she had been left alone and defenseless very young. After everything she had managed to
survive, Alas didn’t want to die, but couldn’t help but wonder if the venom would hurt or
perhaps she would simply fall asleep and never wake up. By now, the snake was coiling
about her arm, reaching the upper part of her shoulder. She felt every muscle of the
creature as it curiously wrapped itself around her. the cool scales felt strange and good
against her skin.
So intent on the snake, Alas had forgotten about the old woman who sat watching with her
coal black eyes sparkling. With a large silver needle in hand, she stabbed in Alas’
direction, causing her to jerk back in surprise. Instantly there was chaos as the viper slid
around Alas’ throat, squeezing violently. In response, Alas threw her body to the wood
floor boards, her hands scratching at the snake’s scales. Instinct flooded her body, turning
Alas into a senseless beast, desperate for survival. Her body bucked and bent as she used
every muscle in an attempt to remove the creature from around her neck. The snaked
hissed, its jaws opened wide and then sank its fangs into the delicate flesh of Alas’ throat.
This was how she was to die? Alas thought, before she could accomplish anything she had
set out to do?
Excruciating pain burned through her as the venom hit her blood stream. The poison
created visions in her mind. Alastair thought she saw a bright light glowing from the
snake’s tail as it rattled in front her. It was a fantastic blue, filling up the snake, like
pouring water in a glass.Light pressed itself into every dark crevice of the room. Laughter
of the old woman danced through her head. Alas was surrounded by many faces, old and
young, hidden in the smoke. They peered at her curiously, not saying a word. Spots began
to fill the room, red, yellow, black. they danced like beautiful flowers as the room spun
faster and faster. The pain was gone now. She pressed her hand to her throat and there
was no snake, only a silver choker with large stones resting cool against her skin.
If dieing was this beautiful of a dream, Alas wonder what the after life would be like. The
room spun so fast now that Alas fell back, slamming her head hard against the floor. the
last thing she saw was the old woman with the many faces dancing around her, fading into
the mists, her throaty laughter eerily bouncing throughout Alas’ subconscious.
To be continued….
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Alas could feel the beating of her heart thrum through her body as she struggled to
maintain a calm demeanor.
Alastair had always been uncommonly good with animals. When otters played in the
shallows near her home, they swam up to her. She would play games with them, as if one
of their own. The other village children would try to join in too, only to receive bites and
hisses from the wild creatures. Somewhere along the line, they had associated Alas with
the wild creatures she had kept for company, shunning her from their normal child
games. Alas hadn’t minded much, she much preferred running with the deer at the edge
of the forest, singing with the birds and pretending they were telling her tales of far off
places, and greeting the horses as they came into town with soft velvety nose kisses. If she
lacked for human companionship, she had many relatives that worked and lived in the
village. Mostly, she found company with an old sea witch who lived above her bait shop.
All the good fishermen who came into town went to the sea witches house for the best
The sea witch had taught her all about the animals of the land and sea, shared their
secrets and wisdom with the young Alastair. A snake, however, Alas had only heard about
in fairy tales. They didn’t come so far north,it was too cold for them. The sea witch had
referred to them as the creatures that guarded the unknown.
Long moments passed. Alas knew that a wild animal rarely attacked without provocation,
but this didn’t seem like a normal animal. Its scales were white, like the diamonds on the
outside of the case with speckles of green and red around its collar. Its eyes though, were
the strangest blue, it struck Alastair as looking unnatural.
The serpent blinked, beginning to twist and turn. As it uncoiled, its gaze never left her
own. Its hood, had fanned out, showing off markings that looked strangely like large eyes.
Her heart fluttered as heat began to crawl up her neck. Some kind of intense
connection was forming and true to the myth of the snake, the reason remained a mystery
to her. The only question she could think of was, would she be alive long enough to find
Through the drenched air, an outline began to unfold itself. Its shoulders drew back, its
spine straightened. A ghostly profile rose from the smoke, directing its attention toward
the room’s invader. Unable to stop from walking forward, Alas felt as if her will was lost to
She came face to face with “grandmother”. The old lady had milky blue windows for eyes,
a huge porous nose that drooped and a body that appeared so decrepit and weak as she
sucked on a long hose and released its contents into the air around them.
The old gypsy sat nearly motionless as its sightless eyes drifted lazily, staring over Alas’s
shoulder. Her long stretched earlobes wobbled as she cocked her head in silence. It was a
moment before her grating voice assaulted the silence, “Sit down Alastair Sowelu Perth”
Alas did more than sit; she fell to the ground in shock. How could this gypsy know who she
was? No one had addressed her by her full name since she had been a child. Even if she
was not blind the old gypsy would not have been able to see Alas and couldn’t have
recognized her since Alas had never met a gypsy before today. It must be gypsy magic.
“that’s right,” rasped the old gypsy, “I know who you are. I’ve waited twenty five years for
this day, longer that you have been alive by the looks of you,” a crooked sneaky smile
made its way across her face; showing off her lack of teeth and numerous laugh lines that
etched her face, “to tell the truth, I was beginning to think you would not show yourself,
that perhaps the path you were meant to take had been broken.”
“The path?” Alas echoed dumbly. It was all she could think of to say, hypnotized as she
was by that front tooth that Alas was sure would fall from the old gypsy’s gums any
moment. However, it only swayed with each breath.
The old gypsy continued her explanation, “the path, if broken is hard to find again.
Somehow yours was broken but it must have been a very strong path if you still found you
way here. If this path had truly been broken, the balance of this world could have changed;
possibly for the worst.” the gypsy cackled as if she had told some great joke that Alas
should have gotten. Alas wasn’t sure what the gypsy meant.
Alas let the words soak in as she tried to make sense of it, “what does this have to do with
The cone’s eyes seemed to sharpen and stare right at Alas, staring somewhere past just
her face. It felt as if a gaping hole had been bored into her head. Coldness swam through
Alas’ veins, the chilling grip shook her spine.
The old gypsy leaned forward, her breath smelling of mint, lavender and sweet tobacco,
“exactly” then rolled back on her pillows laughing hysterically. Every hair on the back of
Alas’ neck stood up, tingling. This old gypsy was seriously dangerous, she could feel it.
The old gypsy reached behind her massive stack of pillows and took out a hand carved
chest. Alas made note of the diamonds and rubies that laid in the intricate border, amazed
by their beauty. What really caught her attention though were not the priceless gems but
the fact that the border seemed to be moving, almost slithering, as if it were alive. In fat,
as Alas stared, she realized it was a depiction of a snake. The rubies and diamonds
represented the skin, but there were only two large sapphires that she suspected were
eyes. The delicate hand painted silver outline shimmered with every movement, making
the snake look alive. Alas was entranced. She didn’t realize she had been reaching her
hand out to stroke the beautiful gems until the old gypsy grabbed Alas’ wrist with
The old gypsy held her firmly, “the snake” her words were slow and careful, “has always
been a protector of my people and to anyone who shows no fear of it”
Her voice seemed stern, as if a warning. Then she let go of Alas’ wrist and lay back
amongst her pillows. Although startled by the old gypsy’s behavior, Alas only nodded and
looked back at the chest in anticipation. Her heart beat rapidly, she wanted to open it so
bad but something in her made her wait for the old gypsy to let her continue.
After a long silence the gypsy sighed, releasing more of her smoke into the air, “smart
lass, ” she gave a toothless grin, “you will do nicely”. Then she waved her hand to signal
Alas could go ahead.
Alas’ head felt foggy but she still felt the excitement as she threw open the lid. She was
only a bit surprised to find a living snake curled up and waiting. It was a viper, a very
deadly snake. It looked up, eyeing the human who had disturbed its slumber. Not braking
eyes contact, Alas froze, not wanting to startle it any more.