This is a bit of a longer story as well as being a way
for me to practice writing a… well, there’s no good way to put this. A torture scene.
I wanted to practice pulling a reader’s heart strings
and showing the depths of cruelty a character can reach. This was hard to edit
and coming back to this I hesitated. It amazed me how a writer can be scared to
read their own work. So if you are squeamish at all please consider avoiding
the true torture scene. It should be obvious when it’s about to begin.
This also involves terrible lies about good people and
may impact you a lot, but in the ending there is also a recovery scene so
please read it if you are depressed by anything in this story.
I hope as a reader you are not too impacted by the
words of the cruel people of the world. Know that you are cherished, loved and strong.
You don’t need the approval of others to do good deeds and you are NOT weak for
helping them at your own expense. In the darkest of nights light shines even
brighter. The darkness can never overcome the light, so don’t hide your light.
Let it brighten the world for those around you.
Now, if you are ready, let’s begin.
The choked cries of a capybara rang out in the early jungle
morning as Aspen the hypno-snake held it right at the edge of being swallowed.
All that could be seen of the tiny creature was its head just poking out of the
This was Aspen’s favorite part.
When his prey knew there was no escape and no hope yet
continued to plead for their life. Their last desperate cries muffled by his
mouth closing over them and sealing their fate. He could still feel the weak
struggles of the tiny fur ball all the way down his body slowly getting weaker
and weaker until it stopped altogether.
Aspen licked his lips. No interruptions this time.
His satisfaction momentarily soured by the memory of
the wolf cub that had escaped him, and even more recently his family’s complete
dismissal of his claim that Nassir was helping prey instead of hunting them.
Even if he was a cowardly snake, Nassir was still a
predator and that meant he ate prey like that foolish little wolf cub. Aspen
was just blaming others for his failure as a predator. At least, that’s what
Aspen just knew that if Nassir hadn’t helped that cub,
he would have recaptured it. He loved the fear in his prey’s eyes when they
were caught, and he had noticed that if he caught his prey and let them think
they got away, their fear was twice as strong when he recaptured them. They
already knew what was coming and feared him all the more for it.
Aspen smiled as he closed his eyes with a smile of
cruel satisfaction, imagining the fear that wolf cub would feel if he ever saw
He would first see Aspen’s dark crimson eyes then
slowly make out his black mouth as his red tongue flicked in and out. His eyes
would widen in fear as he followed the mottled navy blue and black body only
able to see it at all thanks to the thin blood red streaks along his back. Then
he would bring up the bright red tip of his tail which he used to lure
unsuspecting prey and beckon him with it.
He would obey of course as his fear dismissed all
other options other than pleading for his life. Then Aspen would let loose his
red and blue spirals to ensure the little wolf cub’s helplessness. He would
fall so quickly. They always did the second time, and he had never given any
prey the opportunity to have a third.
As he daydreamed Aspen heard a soft thud and felt a vibration
in his tree. He turned to see the only ‘friend’ he had. A female panther named Shamon.
She was not quite full grown yet but still too big and agile for Aspen to trouble
himself trying to catch. For some reason she enjoyed watching him play with his
prey, so she kept him company from time to time.
“You are late if you wanted to watch Shamon. I’ve
already eaten my prey for tonight,” Aspen hissed in a bored voice as he laid
his head down on the small lump in his coils.
“How unfortunate.” Shamon sighed.
“I certainly would have enjoyed the show, but that is
not why I have come to see you tonight,” She whispered in a secretive way.
Aspen looked at her with the snake equivalent of a
“There is a rumor that one of your kind is living next
to the man village.”
Aspen’s head raised at this news.
“Yes, and man has not tried to drive him out yet. He
must have done something for them to allow him so near to their village. Don’t
you think? It just seems wrong for a jungle creature to side with humans
doesn’t it? Why, if anyone were to find out, they might think hypno-snakes were
becoming easy prey,” Shamon finished with mock concern as she flexed her claws.
“It must be Nassir. That coward. He probably let
himself become some human’s pet just so he didn’t have to hunt for himself.”
Aspen grumbled to himself.
Then he looked up suspiciously at Shamon.
“Now why would You care to tell me about this? I thought
the escapades of cubs and prey was beneath you.”
Shamon smiled innocently.
“Oh, I’m just concerned that a proud jungle creature such
as you could be given a bad reputation. I would hate for our relationship to
end so soon. After all, I can’t be associating myself with a relative of the human’s
pet.” She sighed sadly, before a sly smile tugged at the corners of her mouth.
“And perhaps I want to see you constricting a snake in
your coils instead of just the occasional capybara. I’m sure it would be quite
entertaining… for both of us,” She purred suggestively as she leaned in close
to Aspen’s head.
“And perhaps you’d like to be constricted in my coils
as well.” Aspen hissed in annoyance as his tail darted forward. Shamon nimbly
leapt out of the way and onto a nearby branch.
“Perhaps some other time Aspen. If you do want to teach
your foolish brother a lesson in how a proper predator behaves, then you’ll
find him near the pool just outside the man village. Oh, and please let me know
when you are going. I’d still like to watch,” Shamon called, turning to saunter
“Why wait? I’ve been wanting to teach Nassir a lesson
for a while now. But remember Shamon, if you ever try to lure me into a trap, you’ll
be the next prey I eat.” Aspen hissed threateningly. Then he slowly uncoiled
from his tree and began slithering from tree to tree towards the man village.
“Of course,” Shamon purred as she leapt gracefully to
the ground and back up into the next tree to follow him.
Unknown to Aspen and Shamon, there was one other creature
who had been listening in on their conversation. A hypno-snake named Ramir.
He had come to calm Aspen down after loosing his prey,
and maybe ask where he had seen Nassir. But now he was shivering in fear for
his foolishly empathetic brother.
Everyone in their family knew how cruel and sadistic
Aspen could be, and both he and Nassir were only about half his size. If Aspen
got Nassir in his coils there would be no escape for him.
Ramir knew he had to warn Nassir, but he doubted he
could get there before Aspen since he didn’t know the way to the man village
from here. He watched as his older brother glided through the trees with such
speed and ease that it seemed like he was swimming thought the jungle canopy.
With that Ramir came to the conclusion that his only
option was to follow them and hope he and Nassir together would be enough to
fight off Aspen. Or rather, inconvenience him enough to make it not worth the
trouble for him. Taking a deep breath Ramir slithered after Aspen.
Aspen moved through the trees even more easily than
the ground. He could feel as each limb flexed under his weight and pushed him
forward. Nassir was going to pay for helping his meal escape and staining the
reputation of hypno-snakes.
He had often wondered what it would be like to crush
another snake in his coils, but never had the opportunity. Now he would be sure
to enjoy every squeal, every plea for help and cry for mercy. The feeling of
straining muscles and bones pushed to the breaking point and beyond.
He wasn’t sure if he was going to kill that sorry
excuse for a snake, but he didn’t really care if he died or not. It wasn’t like
anyone would miss him anyway. That’s when his forked tongue picked up a smell
he wasn’t expecting.
“Hmm. Perhaps there is someone who will miss that
coward,” He chuckled to himself.
“How unfortunate for him that the wind has blown in my
favor for once. Hm, hm. That gives me an idea. Why risk trying to hunt Nassir
so close to the man village when I can simple have him come to me? For a snake
to sympathetic for his own good, he won’t be able to resist saving someone.”
Aspen smiled evilly.
“Especially if that someone is his own brother.”
Ramir was starting to pant as he struggled to keep
Aspen’s tail in sight. The sun’s rays had only just started to brighten the
forest canopy. Normally, he would just follow him by scent, but the wind was
blowing in the same direction as he was moving and carrying Aspen’s scent away.
He had to keep Aspen’s tail in sight or he might loose
him. For a moment Aspen’s tail hesitated before continuing its path.
Ramir groaned. He had hoped Aspen was stopping to rest
for a while. A few minutes later the tail started speeding up. Aspen poured all
he had into slithering which meant he easily missed the pair of blood red eyes
watching him from above. Aspen fell on Ramir like lightning and had him completely
coiled in only a few seconds.
Ramir cried out in terror, not sure what had grabbed
him, but after a few seconds of struggling Aspen’s face appeared before him. As
soon as he saw who it was Ramir stopped struggling.
For one thing he knew there was no chance he could
possibly escape, and for another he knew that trying to resist would only make
Aspen want to hold onto him more.
“Well, well little brother. I am very curious to know
why you are following me. Though I suppose it doesn’t really matter. I just had
a wonderful idea and you’re going to help me with it. Whether you like it or
not,” Aspen hissed with a sadistic smile.
“Wait! Please, Aspen. Nassir is our brother. Don’t
hurt him. I’m sure he’ll apologise and make up for whatever he’s done wrong.” Ramir
pleaded desperately. However, this only made Aspen smile wider.
“Good. If you already know what’s going on it saves me
the trouble of explaining it to you. And don’t try to lecture me about us being
brothers or I’ll give you the same treatment Nassir’s about to get!” Aspen
Ramir’s eyes widened in fear, and he shrank back as
much as he could in the coils surrounding him. He couldn’t help but imagine all
the terrible things Aspen might do to his gentle brother.
“Oh, act like a predator. If you can’t stand to watch
his punishment, I’ll choke you until you are unconscious.” Aspen hissed in
“Don’t worry little snake. I’ll watch for you.”
Shamon’s voice came from above as she leapt down to a nearby branch.
“The man village is not too far away from here. Why
don’t I invite Nassir to meet you here? Then you can punish him without man
getting in your way,” She offered.
Aspen considered it for a moment.
“Very well. Go fetch that failure for me. And tell him
that I’ll be entertaining Ramir in my coils until he arrives!” He hissed.
Shamon nodded and leapt back into the trees.
“Now, why don’t we get a bit more comfortable?” Aspen hissed
in Ramir’s ear.
Then he slowly and painfully moved Ramir into a better
position so that most of his body was free to set his trap while keeping Ramir
bound tightly. He made sure to keep a coil around Ramir’s snout and neck to
keep him from talking while they waited for Nassir to arrive.
Nassir had just woken up and was swimming in the small
lake at the base of his tree as the morning sun shone through the leaves. He
sighed in contentment as he floated in the crisp and clear water.
“Someone seems to be enjoying themselves” A voice
purred. Nassir flipped around quickly to see a panther in the trees above
looking down at him with a sly expression.
“So? Can’t a serpent enjoy a swim occasionally?”
Nassir replied in an annoyed tone. Truthfully, he was embarrassed that someone
had caught him with his guard down. He had to admit that living in relative
ease and safety near the man village had dulled his senses a bit.
“Hmmm. I suppose so. But you really should stay away
from here if you know what’s good for you. True jungle creatures shouldn’t
mingle with humans.” She said with a hint of disgust.
This annoyed Nassir a lot more than he thought it
would. As if Amaya was somehow a lesser creature just because she lived in the
“Regardless…” Shamon continued. “I’d hurry south of
here if I were you. Aspen wants you to meet him there.”
“And what if I don’t want to meet him right now?”
Nassir shot back. On the surface her was just annoyed but deep down he was
nervous about what his cruel brother could possibly want with him. Then his
worst fears were confirmed as Shamon shrugged.
“I suppose that’s up to you, but I should mention that
he has another young snake in his coils. I believe he said his name was Ramir?
Anyways, Aspen said that he was going to entertain that little snake in his
coils while he waited for your arrival.”
Nassir felt like his chest had seized up. Aspen had
Ramir?! Ramir was one of the few snakes who he’d gotten along with. They had
become good friends as well as brothers.
“You should probably hurry up.” Shamon called over her
shoulder. “I’m not sure Ramir is going to enjoy Aspen’s ‘entertainment,’ but I
will.” She laughed as she bounded back into the jungle.
Nassir hissed angrily after her but didn’t give chase
quite yet. He left his lake and curled up on the path nearby to dry and warm
himself. He knew that if Aspen wanted to meet him and he was threatening Ramir
to lure him in, he’d have to be ready for a fight. He needed to be warm so he
could move as fast as he could.
As he warmed himself Amaya came down the path from the
“Good morning Nassir!” She called with a cheery grin.
“Did you go for a swim?”
Nassir nodded. “Yes, I did, but now I have to go.”
“Why?” Amaya asked, a bit disappointed.
“One of my brothers wants to meet me south of the
village.” Nassir began.
“That’s great! Could I meet him too?” Amaya
“NO!” Nassir shouted before controlling himself.
“No. He is probably the last snake you’d ever want to
meet. I’m sure your father told you about Kaa, but Aspen is much worse. Right now,
he’s probably torturing one of my other brothers for his own amusement. He’s
much stronger and a more skilled hunter than me, but I’m going to stop him,” He
“Please don’t go Nassir. I don’t want you to get
hurt.” Amaya sniffled as she hugged her snake friend.
“I have to. Now go back to the village and tell Mowgli
what I told you. It might not be safe out here for a while. Please don’t worry
about me. Aspen may be a cruel hypno-snake, but we are still brothers. I doubt
he will kill me. Just have some food ready for me when I get back, ok?”
In that moment he considered using his hypnosis on
her. Not only to help calm her, but to ensure that she wouldn’t try to follow
him. In the end though he simply squeezed her hand a bit and slithered away.
Mowgli would keep her from following him, he thought.
As Nassir slithered through the jungle he tried to
prepare himself as much as he could. He knew that Aspen would be waiting for
him, and trying to convince him to let Ramir go was a hopeless endeavor. There
were only two options he could think of that might allow them both to survive.
One was trying to fight Aspen, but that was unlikely
to work if Ramir was already secure in his coils. The second would be to submit
to whatever punishment Aspen had in store and hope that in didn’t result in his
death. Aspen enjoyed when his prey struggled so he would likely loose interest
if Nassir didn’t fight back. Then again, he might also want Nassir to fight
back since it would be more entertaining for him.
Trying to free Ramir was also an option since Aspen
probably wouldn’t bother going through the effort of recapturing him once he
had Nassir. In the end the best idea would be to fight back and try to free
Ramir before giving in and letting Aspen have his fun. Hopefully he would be
satisfied with that and leave them alone.
“Say now. What do we have here?” Aspen’s mocking voice
called from somewhere ahead. Nassir couldn’t see him yet, but Aspen must have
smelled him coming.
“Is that a hypno-snake I smell? No. I don’t smell a
predator or even a true jungle creature. Just a human’s worm with no pride at
all.” Aspen continued, his voice dripping with sarcasm and contempt.
Nassir could see his scales hanging from one of the
trees ahead. It took him a moment to realise that there was a bundle of coils
at the tree’s base and Ramir’s colors were mixed in with them. He searched for
Ramir’s head and found it nearly covered in Aspen’s scales.
“How nice of you to join us.” Shamon’s voice surprised
Nassir. He glanced over to see her lounging in the branches of a nearby tree.
“I am here older brother. Now, why did you want to
meet me.” Nassir called. Aspen was strung out all throughout the trees, but
Nassir couldn’t see his head anywhere.
“You have been giving hypno-snakes a bad reputation
little worm.” Aspen hissed as he dropped down from the tree where Ramir was
coiled. “And you helped my prey escape me after I let him go only so I could
hunt him down again.” Aspen hissed in annoyance.
He must have been talking about Onchu. Nassir could
barely hold back a smile at the memory of Aspen’s face as he got smacked by
“You lost that wolf because you didn’t listen to Kaa
when he warned us not to use trees where fruit could fall on us.” Nassir shot
Shamon failed to suppress a giggle at the implication.
Aspen hissed angrily at both of them.
“And I was going to recapture him if you hadn’t
interfered. You made me miss out on playing with my prey. So now I’m going to
play with you instead.” Aspen smiled as his coils flexed causing Ramir to groan
“If you want me, then let Ramir go. He didn’t do
anything to you.” Nassir hissed as he prepared to launch himself at Aspen. He
could see the coil trap that awaited him closing in.
“Why have just one of you when I can have both!” Aspen
laughed as he sprang his trap. Nassir lunged forward just in time.
“That’sssss not happening!” He cried as he landed at
the base of the tree and quickly pulled as many coils as he could off Ramir.
Ramir was able to free most of his body but the coils
around his head and neck clamped down making it impossible to breathe. Aspen
smiled in amusement at Nassir’s attempt to free his brother.
Suddenly Aspen released the coils holding Ramir in
place and instead used them to wrap around Nassir. Suddenly freed Ramir bolted
away from them as fast as he could. But just as he was about to get out of
Aspen’s reach Shamon pounced.
Nassir was now locked in Aspen’s coils and could do
nothing but watch as she pinned his head to the ground before grabbing him by
the throat. His already deprived lungs couldn’t suck it air and he quickly
began losing consciousness. His eyes began emitting hazy colors as his mind faded.
His mouth gulped for air while his body twitched ineffectively. Shamon smiled
down at him before loosening her grip just enough for him to take in a few
“Oh, don’t fall asleep just yet. The fun is only just
starting. Why don’t we watch together? I know you didn’t want to, and your eyes
look so pretty when you are about to loose consciousness, so I’ll tell you
what. If you don’t want to watch anymore, I’ll choke you again until you fall
asleep. But until then let’s watch your brother’s punishment together.” She said
happily as she leapt into a tree with Ramir’s head in tow. The rest of his body
hung limply below.
“I think it’s about time we got started Nassir. Try to
entertain me for as long as you can little worm.” Aspen hissed with sadistic
Except for a few coils holding him in the tree, Aspen
had his entire length wound around Nassir. He could manipulate every inch of
Nassir’s body easily.
First, he squeezed Nassir until he cried out in pain.
His cry quickly became a wheeze as his lungs were cut off. For the second time
in his short life Nassir was being crushed by another snake. The first being the
queen of snakes whom he had foolishly insulted by accident.
Last time the pain had been dulled by the trance she
had put him in, but this time he felt every joint in his body grind together as
he gasped for air. If this was what prey felt like in Aspen’s coils, then he
sincerely wished his brother would starve before he ever caught another.
Then Aspen moved the crushing pressure in waves down
Nassir’s body. Having each part given brief respite only to be crushed again
was somehow even worse than all of it at once. At least now he could breath
periodically. Then suddenly Aspen bent him backwards. One of the few directions
hypno-snakes couldn’t bend easily. Nassir tried to turn so his body could bend
like it was supposed to, but Aspen’s coils kept him firmly in place. Aspen’s
head lowered into view. The sight of his cruel smile made Nassir want to
“Oh, good. I’d have been even more disappointed if
that was all it took to break you.” Aspen hissed in a mockingly satisfied tone
before continuing his torture. He never used the same method twice and all the
while he whispered insults and lies in Nassir’s ear.
“You are worthless and weak. You are no predator. No
one would care if you disappeared. None of your family did. You are no true
hypno-snake. You can’t even kill prey. Even those who pretend to like you don’t
really believe you can do anything. You know it’s true. No one will save you
because you have no one. You are all alone. Despair and die little worm. At
least by becoming my meal you will have done something to make up for your
Nassir tried to shut him out, but his words slithered
into his mind like the cruel serpent they came from and called up all his own
self doubt and fears. Was he truly a worthless predator? Did no one really care
about him? He truly was an insult to true hypno-snakes. No one really believed
His despair grew along with his pain and after only a
few minutes Nassir was desperate for an escape. Something else, anything else
was preferable to this. Then Aspen bent Nassir back again, so that his head
looked up into the canopy, and leaned over him once more. Aspen looked down on
his brother as if judging some fruit for its ripeness. Then smiled as if
satisfied and leaned in so his head was next to Nassir’s ear.
“I think I’m just about done with you.” He whispered.
Nassir knew it was a trick, but he couldn’t help feeling hopeful that it was
“Just one last game to play.” Aspen hissed as he
slowly retreated. When his face came into view Nassir realised what he had
meant. Aspen’s eyes had become pulsing waves of red and blue. Nassir knew that
those eyes meant he was about to experience the full brunt of Aspen’s cruel and
sadistic nature, but he couldn’t look away. His body and mind were so desperate
to escape the pain that his eyes pulled in spirals with every wave. At first
the pain lessoned as his mind lost touch with his body.
He could feel all his fear and pain building up in the
back of his mind. Aspen laughed evilly and his eyes widened expectantly, but
just before Aspen commanded Nassir to feel all the fear and pain in his life
all at once, something cut him off.
The pain and pressure around Nassir’s body and mind
vanished as Nassir fell to the ground. The release of all that pressure in a
single moment was too much for Nassir’s mind to handle.
He was unconscious before he hit the ground.
Ramir had been watching the everything through a haze
of confusion and pain. He had tried to abandon Nassir the moment he was free,
and the more his mind recovered from lack of air, the more he was crushed by
guilt. He couldn’t even find the strength to fight back against the panther
that was now forcing him to watch his brother’s torment.
He remembered her offer to make it so he didn’t have
to watch, but he couldn’t bring himself to take it. It was all his fault Nassir
was stuck like this and he didn’t deserve to escape into unconsciousness. His
eyes were so blurry with tears it was hard to make out what was happening. He
glanced up at his captor to see her expression and felt disgusted. She was
actually staring with a longing smile at the grotesque scene before them. Her
expression was almost lewd with the ecstasy she seemed to experience watching
How could she and Aspen enjoy this?! Nassir was the
nicest brother ever. Too nice even. No other snake would share his prey with
Ramir when he couldn’t hunt his own. His survival instinct was practically
Yet Ramir wished Aspen had picked on any snake other
than him. He looked back at Aspen to see him lean down and whisper something to
Nassir before activating his spirals. Ramir tried to call out, but his throat
could barely make a raspy cough.
Aspen started laughing as Nassir’s eyes began emitting
the same colors as his. Then Ramir noticed movement out of the corner of his
eye. Something was storming towards Aspen but both he and Shamon were too
focused on Nassir to notice.
Amaya’s small fist slammed into Aspen’s snout as hard
as she could.
It was a lesser known fact that hypno-snakes had
sensitive noses due to the organ that gave them their hypnosis powers. Aspen
was no different. The same blow anywhere on his body would have done little
more than irritate the cruel python but the surprise and pain in his nose sent
“Stay away from my friend!” Amaya cried.
Both Ramir and Shamon were frozen in shock that such a
tiny and frail human would dare punch a massive snake like Aspen. The first
thing Ramir thought was that even she had more courage than him. Then, how she
was just as foolishly brave as Nassir. And lastly, how he doubted she would
leave this clearing alive.
Aspen quickly recovered from his initial shock and
hissed furiously at his attacker. Then he realised who his attacker was, and he
almost laughed at how ridiculous it was that a little girl had attacked him. Then
he leaned into Amaya’s face his hypnosis going full bore.
“You must be even more stupid than Nassir little cub.
Now just- argh!” Aspen was cut off as Amaya punched him in the nose again.
“Go away you big mean snake!” Amaya cried as she
stomped on the tip of Aspen’s tail which was laying nearby. Another painful
Now thoroughly enraged Aspen lunged at Amaya with a
furious hiss. Amaya barely dodged the first strike. In his rage Aspen lunged strait
at her again and again. Amaya ducked and rolled just in time, but now Aspen had
collected himself and narrowed his eyes at her. He wouldn’t miss again.
Then out of nowhere a burning pain engulfed the right
side of his face. Crying out in agony Aspen retreated into his tree.
Suddenly a man pack burst out of the bushes whooping
and yelling. Aspen hissed at them in fury, but he was smart enough not to try
his luck against so many at once. With another hiss of frustration Aspen turned
and fled deeper into the jungle.
Shamon dropped Ramir and fled as soon as the man pack
burst into the clearing. Ramir was barely able to keep his head from slamming
into the ground, and as he laid there, he saw Aspen hiss at the human pack
before fleeing deeper into the jungle.
Something seemed off about him though. His left eye
had a bright red scar across it from just above his nose to the back of his
head. Ramir could hardly believe it. Aspen had lost an eye!
For most hypno-snakes the loss of an eye meant they
couldn’t hunt properly and might even die of starvation, but Ramir couldn’t imagine
Aspen having much difficulty surviving, even if he lost both eyes. He was much
to strong and smart for that.
He may have been an arrogant and cruel snake but his
skills as a hunter and predator were the greatest out of all their siblings. It
might be an inconvenience for him, but he’d survive. Ramir just hoped they
wouldn’t see him again for a very long time.
Before he could think about the matter any further, he
noticed an adult man coming towards him. Ramir immediately remembered what Kaa
had told them about those in the man village eating and skinning any jungle
creature they came across. He tried to slither away but his body still wasn’t
working right, and the adult man was fast. He grabbed Ramir by the tail and
dragged him towards the rest of the pack. Ramir tried desperately to escape but
the man quickly grabbed his head and dragged his body back to the pack.
Hopelessness crashed over him yet again but as he was
being dragged, he noticed the limp form of Nassir laying on the jungle floor. Beside
him sat the girl cub who had first attacked Aspen, and an adult man that
watched over them both. The adult man noticed Ramir and waved at the one who
was dragging him. For some reason the man let him go, but this time Ramir
wasn’t going to run away. He would protect Nassir. Then the other man who was
standing by Nassir spoke in the language of jungle creatures.
“Who are you snake and why are you here?” He growled.
His voice reminded Ramir of a pack of angry wolves he had once met and made him
flinch. But he wasn’t about to cower like prey.
“My name is Ramir. I am here because I failed to help
my brother Nassir, but if you want to hurt him I-”
“You are Nassir’s brother?” The young girl cub
Ramir nodded. The girl’s face brightened.
“He’s not a bad snake daddy. I remember Nassir said he
had a nice brother named Ramir that he went on adventures with,” She said
looking up at her father who sighed in exasperation.
“Remember Amaya, not all snakes who seem friendly are
nice. Most of them just want to hypnotise you and eat you.” He cautioned.
“I know daddy but this one is nice,” Amaya replied. With
another sigh her father walked away to join the other adult men searching the
Ramir was about to ask how this girl cub knew Nassir,
but Nassir started to move and groaned as he regained consciousness. Ramir
rushed to his side to watch him wake alongside Amaya
Nassir groaned as he woke. Everything was dark, fuzzy
and hurt. It felt like waking from a nightmare into a dark world after falling
out of a tree and rolling down a rocky cliff.
He heard voices but nothing was making sense. Words
bounced around inside his head and it hurt to think. Slowly his mind cleared,
and he grimaced as he realised just how much pain he was actually in.
He heard the voices again. This time he recognised
them. One was his brother Ramir and the other was Amaya. Oh, how he wished he
could curl up in her lap right now so the pain would go away. Then he realised
it was strange to be hearing both of them. His curiosity helped him focus on
what they were saying.
“…got the life squeezed out of him. I still haven’t
recovered from that. We should just let him rest for now.” That was Ramir’s
“Oh, ok.” That was definitely Amaya. She sounded sad
for some reason. Then Nassir noticed something warm and soft that had been
resting on his belly disappear. Was she leaving?
“No…don…don’t go…please.” Nassir whispered. His voice
was raspy and hurt but he was much more afraid of being alone than the pain.
“Nassir!” Amaya exclaimed in a relieved whisper. She
cupped his head in her hands and lifted him slightly. The movement made him
“Be careful girl cub.” Ramir cautioned.
“Right sorry.” Amaya apologised. Nassir couldn’t help
but smile even if it hurt.
Then he sighed as he relaxed. For some reason the
warmth of Amaya’s hands seemed to dull the pain. It felt good to know someone
cared about him. In his mind’s eye he saw a light enter his world of
loneliness, pain and fear showing him the way out, but Aspen’s lies had left a
lingering fear and broken trust which made it hard to fully accept such an offer
of love, kindness and comfort.
He didn’t think he deserved it, but after a few
moments he desperately leaned into it even as he feared betrayal. But this time
there was no change, no trick, no cruel game.
In that moment his broken trust, his heart and his
mind began to heal. He was able to truly rest for what felt like the first time
in an eternity. Much later in his life Nassir realised, though he never
admitted it, that the lingering lies, hopelessness and fear left by Aspen had gone
deep into his mind due to his hypnosis, and if no one had been there to pull
him out of his despair, he could have easily given up on life and died.
Nassir slept for a full day after that and was even
allowed to stay in the man village until he was healed. Ramir decided to wait
for his brother to recover so he could apologise to him. He stayed nearby and
Amaya visited him whenever she could.
Ramir refused the snacks she brought and never let her
close enough to touch him, but they did talk. Ramir was impressed by the
foolish bravery Amaya possessed, but he hated the way she treated him as an
equal when she was clearly weaker than he was.
She seemed to have little respect for jungle
creatures, unlike her father. Mowgli visited Ramir a few times as well. Mostly
just to make sure he didn’t harm Amaya and to confirm Nassir wouldn’t either.
Ramir got the sense that he knew the ways of the jungle and respected them,
though he never realised who he truly was.
Then came the day when Nassir finally left the man
village. Amaya came with him to meet Ramir and they spoke under the tree Ramir
had been living in while he waited.
“Hello Nassir! How are you feeling?” Ramir asked as he
lowered himself to greet them.
“Hello Ramir. I feel terrible but I’m recovering.”
“Hi Ramir!” Amaya said cheerfully. Ramir nodded to her
before turning back to Nassir.
“Listen, Nassir. I’m sorry for running away. I was afraid
and acted like prey. I should have helped you fight.” He apologised. Nassir
“Don’t worry about it Ramir. Aspen would have just
captured us both anyway so I’m glad you got away from that at least. If you
want to make up for it all you have to do is help me as much as you can next
time. I mean, if I can do it, I know you can.” He joked.
“Oh, and please don’t eat any humans you come across
either.” He added.
“Yeah, next time.” Ramir muttered. “Don’t worry about
me eating humans either. At least not cubs. If Amaya is anything to go by I
doubt they’d taste good at all.”
“That’s mean. I bet I taste sweeter than anyone else.”
Amaya pouted before breaking into a smile.
“So, what are you going to do now?” Nassir asked..
“Please stay.” Amaya pleaded. “We can all play
together, and I’ll even bring you treats.” She offered. Ramir cringed at the
idea. He was a fierce jungle predator. He didn’t play around and eat treats.
That was for lazy bears and monkey kings. And maybe soft empathetic
“I’ll go back to the hunting grounds. Aspen won’t try
to get revenge on me there. You should stay close to the man village for the
same reason Nassir.”
Nassir nodded but Amaya was confused.
“But I thought we beat the big mean snake,” she said.
Worry creeping into her voice.
“We hurt him, and he ran away for now, but that only
made him hate us more. He will probably want revenge but this time he’ll be
much more careful.” Ramir warned.
“But as long as we stay near the man village he won’t
come after us. He is patient, cunning and intelligent. He won’t fight those he
cannot easily crush. He’ll wait for us to leave the man village or give him
even the slightest opening. Then he’ll strike. So, we should be safe so long as
we are cautious.” Nassir reassured her. Ramir nodded.
“Yes, well. I’d better get going. I’ve stayed here too
long already waiting to apologise.” He said as he uncoiled from his tree.
“Please come back to play some time,” Amaya waved.
“It was good to see you again Ramir,” Nassir said sincerely.
“You as well Nassir,” Ramir replied as he slithered
back into the jungle.
After escaping the man pack, Aspen had fled to one of
the many trees he had selected to live in. Once there he had fallen asleep from the exhaustion
of staying awake all day and playing with two snakes before slithering for his
He woke late that night when the moon was high above
the jungle. He hissed at the pain in his left eye and tried to open it, but his
vision stayed dark. He quickly realised that his eye was open but not seeing.
He left it closed and half hissed half yelled at the sky in anger.
Man had taken his eye from him! He remembered the puny
one that had dared strike him. Did all men have no survival instinct? Perhaps
that’s why they sided with Nassir. He was more like them than a snake anyway. Helping
others and looking at prey with such compassion.
It made Aspen sick.
Yet both of them had stolen something from him. How DARE
they try to be anything more than the prey they were. He was the greatest
predator of his generation. Nassir and his human friends needed to learn their
Next time he wouldn’t play around and let his guard
down. He’d wait until they were alone. Far from any help or interrupting fruit.
Then they’d be his.
No prey escaped Aspen twice.