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.