Crack

I twist myself form my position on the floor and scent the air of my cave. He is so close, I can feel his footsteps in the scales of my coiled tail. I peer into the glare, the sunlight that has reached my depth, by no will of my own. He is small, I can tell. I could easily wrap my tail around this one.

Crack!

Closer, now. He teases me. I slither back slightly, away from the light that has warmed my scales in my sleep. His boots crunch the old autumn leaves, left in my entrance for most of this mild winter. My heart pounds and my stomach starts to growl. It’s been too long, I feel, since my last meal.

Crack!

His shadow scrapes the wall, and I can see him at last. He is short, but not terribly so; I must have been that size not two sheddings ago. I watch as the light of his flashlight slays his shadow and flickers across the rocks on my floor. I slither away from him, and I take my position.

Crack!

His flashlight brushes past me, and I slither slowly as he walks deeper into my cavern. He is a brave one, but we are dancing around a dangerous circle, and he will soon learn his place in it.

Crack!

He turns around to leave and his flashlight settles upon my silver scales. I think for a moment that he might scream, rattling his fear across the impenetrable walls of my cave, but, alas, he does not. He steps backward, into the wall, against which I had previously been curled.

Crack!

He jumps. I suppose he realizes upon what he’s been treading. The bones of my prey, dry from winter, crack beneath his boots. I move closer. Surely he sees the predicament he has found himself in. I can smell the fear and rations on his breath. Has he been separated from a group? He smells of other men.

Crack!

He falls to the floor and scoots as close to the wall as he can. There is no way out, and his attempts will not save him. I draw my tail up and flick it by his face. I love the way his eyes water with terror. He whimpers as I slither closer to him, as I look straight into his bright blue eyes. He shakes his head as I press my wrists into his shoulders, wrapping my tail around his legs and waist.

Crack!

He cries out loud as his ankle snaps. I squeeze harder, as he tries to wrap his hands around my neck. I wrap my three, lithe fingers around his wrists and hold them against the wall. I move my tail upward, around his ribs, and squeeze gently, slowly. He sobs, letting his face fall into my shoulder. I press my face into the crook of his neck and lick him gently. Hard sobs wrack his body, and I know he knows what’s coming.

Crack!

He screams his last breath.

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