The tangle of weeds and fallen branches along the river’s edge made the search effort even more difficult. Finally, he heard a small commotion a few hundred yards ahead, and started making his way towards it.
“What’ve we got?” he hollered, already feeling the adrenalin of hope slipping away.
A newly hired rookie officer stumbles out of the brush with a strip of cloth in his right hand which resembled the shirt that the child was wearing on the night of his disappearance, but that wasn't what attracted the attention of the captain.....it was the trickle of blood from a small wound that from about fifty feet away looked like a snakebite, but he couldn’t be sure of what had actually happened....
"What happened to you?” he asked, momentarily distracted. "And, for crissakes, the evidence goes into the bag."
The new cop didn't seem to hear the detective barking at him...He looked at the cloth, held it up towards him by way of explanation, whispered something unintelligible...and then fell forward, landing face down at the detective's feet. He looked down at the man, who didn't stir. The still-bleeding wound, at closer range, did indeed resemble the bite mark of a snake, two holes above, two holes below. He slowly raised his eyes, nodding to each member of the search team as it formed a haphazard circle around the scene. Letting out a big sigh, he loosened the top of his necktie and said "Gentlemen, here we go again."
It started in the spring down near Latham Lake. A snakebite and a description of a snake that wasn't indigenous to the area. And that no antivenin seemed to work on. The autopsy showed it attacked both the nervous system and the blood. Most venom is one or the other.
"Mace! You got your snakebite kit?" Daniels snapped at the man standing at the river's edge.
"Of course," Mace replied. "Why?"
Daniels felt the same way. The others hadn't been favorably affected by treatment of any kind. It was a done deal. Bit was dead.
"It might be some other kind of snake, rattler or copperhead. Let's try anyway," he said. Mace stepped up the bank, eyes darting at every clump of grass or drift debris as he stepped. He began the treatment but before he got to the point of applying suction, the rookie's breath rattled out of him in one last heave. His young brown eyes stared into the pines. Bit was dead.
"CUT! CUT!" Lott yelled. "Who the hell let a cat onto the set?"
"It's Sam's cat." one of the extras said and then, realizing he just sealed his own fate, slinked off to the shadows.
Lott growled and then sighed. "Will somebody PLEASE get that fricken cat out of here? And tell Sam I don't want to see NO MORE damn stray pets runnin' around! We have a SHOW to do people and NO ONE is going to sleep tonight until it's done. Is that understood?" He spoke to no one in particular, and was responded to by the same. "Alright then. Let's start from Camera three. Can we get a little more smoke in here please? Good. That's good. Okay. Places. Marker... and ... ACTION!"
Since you called action I guess it's back to the riverbank scene:
"Ok, let's surround that area of driftwood he came out of and see if we can spot what bit him, and what this piece of cloth came from," Detective Daniels said, pointing to the logjam at the river's edge. The men exchanged looks, clutched their guns and began to encircle the debris. Daniels moved into position to see the spot where he had first noticed the rookie making a commotion. He saw the blue cloth, and the bottom of a tennis shoe. The debris had buried the boy in the heavy runoff of yesterday's rains.
"You see what I see," Mace murmured. Daniels glanced at him and back at the blue. Finding the body was never easy, especially a kid. And now, the snake in the bargain.
"Ok," he said, "I think we need to confirm that the kid's in there, and try to get him out, and then set fire to this brush pile to try to burn the snake out. Who's a good shot?" he asked. "I want a man on either side of me to shoot anything that moves."
"Who's a good shot?... Are you kidding me? We're freakin cops - it's what we freakin do!" Mace fired off at Daniels before spitting over the dead rookie. Of course it was a stupid question, but Mace was out of line and he knew it. Granted they've had their disagreements but Mace never crossed the line between friendship and insubordination. Today was different, and things were about to get weird.
Daniels took his position between an irritated Mace on his right, and Jessica Fletcher. Who, as luck would have it, just happened to be picking berries at the approximate time and location of the rookie cop's death. Normally this would make anyone a prime suspect. But in Jessica's case it simply made you prompt and useful. Aware that he was one cop short of two, Daniels was grateful to find Jessica taking post on his left, and obliged her insatiable curiosity for murder by probing the unidentified victim with a stick.
"Poke... Stab... Flip!” each of them choosing a word to describe what they were witnessing. Then ending on a single word shared by three: “No!”
As the blue victim turned on its back, Mace pulled his Cigarette lighter out of his pocket. He was proud of it because if you turned it upside down, the show girl on the side would become naked. He pulled out a cigarette, and lit it. That wasn't who they were looking for after all. The Giant Habu (believed extinct) had slithered away down a giant hole, a huge lump midway down its enormous body. The hole was big enough for a skinny man to follow, but none of them did.
"Heather Faulkner", Jessica said almost questioning her own identification. "She was the girl from the University" She added, throwing the stick to the side, and putting on a set of disposable plastic gloves.
It was Heather, Daniels thought, in fact he knew. She was almost family. She was a little person, and was easily mistaken for a child. Daniels turned to the cruiser and called for two ambulances.....
As the body had rolled a length of leathery, checkered skin glided in the space beneath and disappeared in the brush pile. "Did you see that?!" Daniels shouted.
"Yes, I'm afraid I did," Jessica muttered. "That's a giant Habu. They're supposed to be extinct. I've seen their skins preserved in Olmec burials. We've got one at the University."
"A what?" Mace said. "Big-assed snake!"
"A giant Habu," Jessica repeated. "But that thing had to have a much bigger mouth than what bit that cop. We're in deep do-do here fellas. This thing is faster than a speeding bullet. I couldn't even get a shot off."
"Me neither," Mace mumbled.
"Set that pile on fire!" Daniels said. Mace picked up a bit of cardboard in the drift pile with the end of his rifle, let it fall back, and picked it up from another angle, eyeing the wood around it. He held it up with the rifle and took it in hand. Slinging his rifle he dug in the bib of his overalls and came out with a lighter and set the cardboard afire. "Put it in the pile there at the upwind side Mace," Daniels gestured, "so the wind will carry the flame across. Everybody back up and keep your eyes open. If that big son of bitch comes out of there..."
"Put out that fire!" shouted a voice from above. Everyone turned to the eastern ridge, where a mountain of a man, wearing jeans and a "Greenpeace" t-shirt, stalked towards the small brushfire. He stomped on the flames, easily extinguishing them with his huge boots. "This is protected land. No hunting, no fishing, and no fires," he fairly growled.
Daniels stared at the intruder. "Who the hell are you?"
"I'm McCabe, and this is my mountain. I want you people out of here, NOW."
"We're not going anywhere just yet, McCabe. For one thing, we've got a missing kid, and for another thing, there's a killer snake on the loose that we've got to -"
"Don't say kill, don't even think it," warned McCabe. "I'll get the snake." He went back into the brush, rustled around, poked a few holes, and in less than 3 minutes had made his way to where the body lay. "What the hell?!" he shouted. "Did you know there's a body here?"
"Yes," Daniels said, "and I decided it was too dangerous to try to remove it. Did you see how big..."
"So you were just gonna burn it?" McCabe growled, incredulous. "The least you could do is get her out first." He bent and cradled the stiff corpse in his arms, turned and stepped out of the brush, and his eyes jerked open wide! The body rolled off his arms and fell with a sickening thump! McCabe looked at his big forearm. There among the freckles Daniels saw the same bite pattern as the rookie's. It was obvious to all. Everyone took a leap backward! Guns snapped to the ready! Suddenly the snake came out of the girl's shirt front! Mace aimed and fired! The snake writhed in unrelieved agony. Jessica fired again, and the snake's vigor was much reduced. It ceased to writhe but it continued moving. All eyes were on it. Then they heard McCabe gurgle and fall, first on one knee, then on, face forward. He huffed like a bear, lying there, twitching, struggling like the snake but, like the snake, getting no relief.
"Set the fire Mace!" Daniels ordered. "It's getting dark. I don't want to be out here with the big one in the dark.
"There may be other small ones," Jessica said. "You see, according to Olmec myth, or what we thought was myth, the Giant Habu gives birth to live young. They live in a colony until they get too large to live together." Mace set the fire anew. The group resumed their positions, more wary than ever. Soon a crackling blaze lit the night. By the light of the flames, their eyes scanned the brush, guns at the ready. Jessica did what she would to make McCabe more comfortable, though she knew her efforts were futile. Daniels took a moment to glance up at the bridge, where the squad car held the child's parents, who were still clinging to the possibility of just another false alarm. Suddenly, their vision was obscured by an uncharacteristic and sudden downpour; within moments, the rain doused the flames, leaving a trail of smoke in its wake.
"Maybe we can smoke 'em out!?" one of the men further back shouted.
Heather turned thru the thick smoke, calmly stating, "That would make sense, normally, but in this case the rain appears to have other plans. Then again, what do I know, I'm just a dead girl...! That's right a stinkin' little Lazarus!", Heather laughed, in a colicky sorta way. "Now, I'm not sure what's going on. But, I do remember being poked from behind... It was a pretty big stick! Then being dragged by my hair... Ouch! That's gotta hurt... Right? And someone should remember doing that! HELLO, IT'S A HUMAN HEAD!!!!! What's wrong with you people? What's wrong with me...? Anybody? Mace? Jessica? ... Mrs. Fletcher...?"
Beg as she would... there would be no friend at the other end of it. No affirmations, no goodbyes. Heather would simply succumb, becoming one with her mud, once AGAIN!!!
Ironically, on the other side of the burn pile things were coming alive.
"Damn this ridge! And damn you sky!", Jessica squalled, as anyone would in a wet woolen sweater. "I'm tired of waiting! Mace, hand over those Police Issued Overalls you got goin' on! Leave the badge I need 'em now! Daniels, bring that bucket a berries to the pathetic couple waiting in the squad car. It ain't no lost kid, not even close, but 11 hours alone in the backseat of any car is time enough to make a back up and they're probably hungry. Mace, drop a couple cigs in the bucket just for kicks." Jessica was handing out orders like she owned the war. Half Cranked on adrenalin and slightly high from the burn fumes Jessica removed and neatly folded her skirt before howling in every direction; "I'll show you wait-backs what girly-girls are made of! Someone grab my support hose I'm goin' down”. Heedless of the sodden, smoky debris of leaves, underbrush, and bodies, Jessica waded into the middle of the muck, determined to find the Giant Habu. Opening her purse, she rummaged around until she found a ziplock bag of gumdrops. She dropped them, one by one, leaving a trail back to the waiting crowd.
"You don't really think that a snake that eats PEOPLE is going to come out for..." Daniels stopped in mid-sentence as the Giant Habu, gobbling up gumdrop after gumdrop, slithered towards them. All but Jessica ran to safety. The reptile seemed to know that she was responsible for the treats, and wanted more.
"That's a good viper," Jessica cooed, then with all her might drew back and smacked it with her Italian leather handbag. It wasn't the purse so much as the contents that knocked the snake out. Besides her non-childproof prescription bottle of estrogen, and a plastic rain bonnet, there was also a rubber chicken, the latest Harry Potter book, a half-pound of walnuts, a heavy glass ashtray purchased at a yard-sale on the way up the hill, some sugarless gum, the earring she couldn't find the mate for, and a 38 caliber pistol.
"Now what do we do?" Daniels asked.
Jessica, being the smallest of the group started to crawl into the burrow with her Italian handbag, and Mace's overalls. (Mace on the other hand wasn't enjoying the fact that he was stripped down to sponge bob square pants boxers, and a flannel shirt.) Daniels let the Family of the missing child go back to town. There was a problem here that was bigger than the disappearance. He figured he could hitch a ride with Mace and Jessica, or even worse drive the dead rookie’s car back.
They called for the Zoologist as soon as they knew they had a snake problem. The death of a cop turned this into a state problem; they were showing up in droves.
Daniels walked back to the smoldering spot where Jessica had disappeared and called for her, when all of a sudden he heard the whup-whup of a helicopter. They all watched as the chopper landed, the door opened and a stunningly beautiful red-head came out. Daniels paled, then made a smoker's gesture to Mace, who handed him a Marlboro and his showgirl lighter. Daniels lit up, shaking a little, and slipped the lighter into his back pocket. He'd rather face the snake than the most famous herpetologist in the US and Canada, the Belgium-born Aurelie Renaud. Aurelie made her way over to Daniels. Removing her sunglasses, and placing them in a snakeskin covered case, she said, "It ssseemsss that you had sssome excitement up here, Sssam. I came to asssissst."
Daniels, although as usual in awe over Aurelie's beauty, was just as repulsed by her snake-like demeanor. He quickly pointed to where the bodies were now laid out under a tarp. Aurelie wriggled over, and removed the protective covering. She briefly examined Heather, McCabe, and the rookie cop, Bit. "Sssam, you have a problem here. This offissser wasss bitten, yesss, but that'sss not what killed him. Come here and sssee..."
All of the people gathered in to see what Aurelie was pointing out. Daniels put out his smoke in the palm of his hand. (looks like he picked the wrong week to both quit smoking and quit torturing himself) he started to grind his teeth as Aurelie spoke again.
"Sssseeemsss like sssssomeone hasss a sssssssupply of poisssson dartssss. No matter though, thisssss ssssnake " she pointed to the dead snake on the ground "would have killed him in lessss than five minutessss" she brushed past Daniels and he sensed a strange pheromone comming off her. He was aroused, and she knew he was. He was putting off his own scent. She started talking to what appeared to be the senior member of the State Police; at least he was the oldest looking.
Mace, now in a trench coat making him look amusingly like a flasher was kneeling at the entrance of the snake hole. Jessica was coming out and she had something. There was always chemistry between them, but it was showing now... he helped her up, and pulled her to him...
Uh-uh, son, Not here not now. Her eyes made that very clear.
"We need to find out if any of these snake have been milked and if there is antivenin available" Mace said, but it lacked any conviction..........He knew that if the snake wasn't a native to the area, then only a major university, or medical center would know about the antivenin, or have access to it.
Aurelie turned and gave a look and a smile that effectively smashed all hope of that possibility.
"Aww, well, anyone else got any bright ideas?"
Daniels slipped out of his haze, "She is playing with me...” he thought. I can't get within 15 feet of her, and I am doing whatever she wants", he lit another one of Mace's cigarettes. "Well I just have to stay away from her then".
The State guys were crawling all over the place, some of them were forming around Aurelie, like she was in a fight with herself... they were obeying as long as they were in her cloud of sexual scent. Jessica started for her Patrol truck. She stopped, made a disgusted face, and said "it smells like sex out here". Mace (not having the keen sense of smell due to his smoking habit) sniffed the air, and said “I’d like to be smelling what you are", and walked behind her to her truck.
All of the state police were now formed around Aurelie and they seemed to move mechanically. Daniels couldn't hear what she was saying but he didn't like the power she held on them. None of the state police were female, so he didn't know if this power was extended beyond the XY chromosome, but by the look on Jessica's face, it did not.
All of the sudden...
"Help! ", Jessica belched, before throwing her body heavy against the open truck door and twice along the edge of a stump, her eyes remaining wide and fixed in Mace's general direction. Then with both hands held tight around her throat she finally erupts with a roar and what appears to be more than a liter of black fluid and a partially digested thistle. Mace rushes to her side, wipes her mouth and his own.
"That was freakin' hot!", Mace coos at Mrs. Fletcher's convulsing body. "Seeing you in my overalls with your woolen sweater all shrunk up above your waist, I thought Damn! The Mrs. be lookin' all rabid sheep an' stuff. Then, the more I watched, the more I thought you was One Eye from TLC. It was so... I don't know... But, it got me singing that song, 'Don't go chasing waterfalls... Do, be, la, da...' Hey, you wanna see me dan... ?", Mace stops in half motion.
"Enough already!", Jessica begs with a gargle in her voice. "I'm still twitching, damn it! My throat's sore... and I just administered CPR -- ON MYSELF! So! Please! Please! No dancing. ...I love you too."
Jessica may have survived her near death eruption but there's a more daft demon that brews within her, sending her hormone levels climbing off the charts, engorging her breasts and bloating her ankles and neck. Now, sweating from every part that folds, and unable to speak at all, she gestures for paper and pen, and receives a breath mint and an oak leaf. Unimpressed, Jessica simply stares at the offerings as though she'd been struck in the head. Then, with the quick of a cat, Jessica retrieves Mace's lighter from Daniels back pocket, drops to her knees, and begins dragging it through the mud. Forwards, backwards and sideways, until something resembling male and female genitalia appears.
"Look!”, Daniels hollers back to the crowd nearly inches away. "I think she's drawing a map."
Jessica rolls her eyes and faints...
"Yessss, I believe you are right" hisses Aurelie, her approaching saunter followed by the thumping of an army... a State Police ARMY. They were all well within her cloud of control. Daniels reaches in his pockets, and retrieves two cigarette butts, and stuffs them in his nose. Mace follows suit, after he lifts Jessica into the truck ever so gently.
"That Isssss a map." she repeated baring her cleavage to Daniels, "that isss where you will find the ssssssecret." She licked Daniels’ face, her tongue was serpent like, and he had never been so aroused and disgusted at the same time. Tonight he would have to hurt himself. Hurt himself real good. He reached out to touch her breasts that were being shoved in his face. She turns away, and the Army of State cops follows her to the snake hole... she climbs in without a second thought, and the army of cops all stand outside the hole as if guarding the hope diamond.
Aurelie wriggled through the rocky opening. She sipped the fetid smell into her nostrils, enjoyed the rush of sensory stimuli. 'It's a male,' she thought. 'Where's the female?' She drew the night vision goggles from her pack and put them on. She adjusted her headlamp so it provided just enough for the goggles to give a clear image. The passage ran amongst loose rocks. She was able to rise up onto hands and knees, and crabwalk downward. The river water lay amongst the stones at the lowermost point of the passage. Then she could see the broader opening where the stones led into the mouth of a limestone cave. Could it be sitting there, just inside, awaiting this noisy intruder? Aurelie inched forward, ducking her head low, high, left, right, looking for the telltale heat, any part of the beast. Daniel's description of the size intrigued her. A male that large couldn't survive this climate. Someone had released it from captivity where it had outgrown their ability to care for it, a reptile lover, like herself, but a damned terrorist. But where the hell did they get it in the first place. 'I'd kill to have...' she thought, and didn't finish. Soon she was within the mouth of the cave. It went further, rising back into the hillside. She was able to stand up. Slowly she crept forward, looking, listening, smelling. The air moved in from behind her. Somewhere ahead there must be openings to the surface again. It may have moved up and out to find its next meal. She crept forward. Suddenly she saw them! A small ball, writhing slowly upon one another. She easily made out five heads and knew there must be twice that many, all the size of the dead one. A breeding ball! They were breeding. The timing was right. The heat had been consistently high for the whole of July and now into mid-August. She pulled the bag from her pack, drew out her immobilizing rod. 'Thisss issss insssane!' she thought. She moved toward them, held the bag open. She was paralyzed. It may have been mere seconds, but she felt it and imagined herself running back up and out to those waiting above. Then she gently rolled the ball into the opening of the bag, lifted the edge with the rod, and drew it shut! 'All of them?' she wondered. The goggles showed no sign of any other living thing. 'Now what?' she wondered. 'Back out to sssssecure this treasure, or on to see that mighty male, somewhere ahead?'
Almost in answer to her question, they felt a huge rumbling beneath their feet. It was an earthquake, a big one, but before it registered (ha ha) it was too late. A huge cavernous almost female opening appeared and swallowed the whole lot of them -- flora, fauna and folks alike.
Daniels had begun to drive Jessica's truck back down towards town. He felt a strange vibration and the truck started acting crazy. He picked up the radio microphone and called to Mace in the rookie's car. "Do you feel that" he asked with complete disregard for radio etiquette.
"Yep", came the quick response. "Earthquake" quickly followed.
Jessica was coming to in the bed of the truck. Just as the ground started rumbling, rocks were falling of higher cliffs, and land slides were occurring behind them. The air still smelled of sex, she had blackberry paste all over her sweater. She was still wearing Mace's overalls. The Quake was not normal; it seemed to be shaking in waves. She looked off the horizon, to where the riverbank should be, and saw something bouncing in the distance. It was huge, and seemed to be getting bigger....wait, no... it was getting CLOSER!!! She banged on the back window... "Speed up!! We have company"
Daniels, surprised by the raps on the window, looked out his rear view mirror to see Jessica freaking out about something, which was unusual Jessica never freaked out about anything. He looked over his shoulder, and saw what was freaking her out...A giant snake big enough to swallow a car, was following behind them... chasing them.
Jessica knew what the snake was after... it was right here in her Italian leather purse....
"Open the window! The WINDOW! DANIELS, OPEN IT....!" Jessica tries but he never hears a word. Frustrated... Jessica struggles to remain calm in the face of stupidity, and only because she has no choice. Still unable to speak, and flooding from the saliva she cannot spit, Jessica fakes a smile and she points. Aiming her steady index finger toward the closed window latch, she points at it. Then, attempting from a different angle, she points close by. Point, point, point. Switching fingers now and again but pointing just the same, eventually tapping into the spirit of Helen Keller, the greatest hand hero that ever was. Jessica finds her target still closed, close and waiting behind Daniels right shoulder, so she points at it.
When suddenly, as if by chance, Daniels takes notice and rewards her efforts by pressing a rubber chicken against the glass, and only two feet shy of where her finger rests.
"...yes.", Jessica shakes her head no.
If you give them the tools, you give them a chance. ngb
Joined: Aug 2007 Posts: 66PogoDog
Joined: Aug 2007
... in review 2007:
I wouldn't say "The Bridge" is any one person's best writing, but it will forever remain no one's worst. It's quirky with heart and sincerely peculiar, something that is likely to divide JPF'ers equally down the middle. Sending the loosely available plotline ducking for cover.
Having no clear direction, everything written or implied pretty much goes over-the-top then hangs there. Even the dialogue, though believable, feels affected if not cohersed considering the circumstances. As for the Bridge itself, it plays a surprisingly small role being upstaged by a river bed ridge with an elusive hole. Yet it works. Why? Exploitation and tobacco product placement.
Lavishly conceived and polluted by a terrific cast of characters, "The Bridge" is worth reading if only to say, "I did it in a day!".
I am drawn to your quirky sense of humor....you simply MUST come spend more time over on Lyrics Forum 3.
p.s. let me take this opportunity to commend you on your whole Helen Keller sequence. Outstanding. Though I was trying to think of some puppeteer who might have surpassed her in manual skills, I think you made the right choice. The dramatic juxtaposition of such an Americana icon with the tawdry elements of our story is creative writing at its best.
i would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who contributed to this masterpiece...i am so happy to see that you all enjoyed yourselves! i am working on a new challenge as we speak...i hope to have it up in a few days and it may be a little different so...get ready! also if you get a chance, and would like to participate, there is another group story going on on this board. its post name is Group Participation...it looks like it will be a good one...so i hope this is finding you all well and thank you all again for joining in...
If you give them the tools, you give them a chance. ngb
That was from a song I wrote on my birthday. See Ms. Beth started a song challenge and I'd been joking with the three musketeers about their misfortune when the idea of lowering the bar was suggested. That made me think of the limbo and when I googled the word---the first thing I found was an inflatable limbo stick (kids parties---no kidding). So, in my giddy party spirit, I got a little silly (no alcohol required) and wrote one that I've since removed in order not to lead anyone like you (sweet innocent child) astray. Hope you'll forgive me.