This is a rather odd short story about a boy who likes snakes
Snakes. Tom had always had an obsession with snakes. He liked the way they slithered and slid, he liked the way they twisted and twirled as they meandered along the grass. The reason for this obsession was Dennis. Dennis had had a Burmese Python that was kept in a glass tank on the table in the upstairs hallway – both were in a ‘Youth Hostel for the Parentally Challenged’, the staff had even adapted the YMCA song to fit – and Tom was fascinated by this creature. He would steal the step used to reach the loft, place it in front of the tank and sit and stare at it for hours on end. He was hypnotised by how it coiled convexly, he admired the way it never concerned itself with anything other than its own business. Mrs Bishop – the lady who ran the hostel – had named it Sally the Snake. How intimidating. This was so it would seem “friendlier and not as frightening”, which was a load of bollocks as far as Tom was concerned.
It had been a birthday present from an aunt or uncle or someone of Dennis’ that he had received a few years ago so he was very protective of it, a present of any sort was something to treasure and one from a relative was even more precious. Tom didn’t have family. They had abandoned him. He knew his mother had named him before she left but that was it, that was all he knew about his parents. No one had come to collect him yet. So here he was 15 years later and waiting for the months to pass until he could leave this dump behind and never return.
Anyway, back to this snake.
As Dennis was so protective of his bloody python, he wouldn’t let anyone hold it, he wouldn’t let anyone feed it and he wouldn’t let anyone anywhere near it without his permission. Tom wouldn’t have been surprised if he discovered that Dennis had put a security lock on the tank that was linked to a little red light in his room which flashed every time someone lifted the hole-filled lid. The only exception he would make to his ‘no touch rule’ was when it was someone’s birthday, and he would lift Sally out of her/his cage (just because the python had a girl’s name, didn’t mean they knew it was female) then drape it around his neck and let the birthday boy or girl stroke it. It was another reason for Tom to look forward to his next birthday. It couldn’t come soon enough.
After about 15 weeks, 3 days and 9 hours (Tom was that obsessed with this snake), he finally decided that he had had enough. Tom knew that Dennis knew he loved Sally, and Tom also knew that because Dennis knew he loved Sally, Dennis would suddenly forget his tradition of birthday snake-time and in doing so; Dennis would anger and annoy Tom, which both of them knew. What Dennis didn’t know was that Tom had a plan. This plan would involve a remote controlled mouse, a few mirrors, a portrait of Sally and a piece of crafty footwork on Tom’s behalf.
Dennis was giving Sally her night-time feed of mouse, which was in fact the remote-controlled one that Tom had planted earlier, who was now hiding behind the bathroom door with the rest of his props in tow. When Tom moved the joystick, the mouse sprung to life and wriggled away. Dennis yelped and ran after it. Tom leapt into action. First, he threw open the top of the already-unlatched-cage and put the python around his neck. Next, he placed the mirrors and picture carefully into place so it looked as though the snake still lingered there and returned the lid to its original position, he then took off back into his room, still carrying the snake. Finally, he killed the power to the mouse and watched while Dennis didn’t notice that a thing had changed since he ran after the fake mouse.
Tom sat down on his bed and sighed. He was alone with the snake at last. It wasn’t until the late hours of the night that Tom became nervous. What should he do now? He couldn’t put it back into the cage because it was Mrs Bishop’s turn to patrol the corridors, who would certainly notice Tom with a bloody great snake around his neck. He couldn’t keep it with him because it might slither away and attack someone. Tom knew of its feeding habits, he had done some research on the thing after a few days of it arriving. It could also unhinge its jaw and swallow something as large as a baby goat! Tom thought of the small 5 year-old Amy in a room sharing the same floor as his and shuddered.
The only thing he could do was keep it with him until morning, putting it back in the time of limbo between the night patrol ending and the babies crying for their morning feed. It was decided. In fact, he was quite pleased he got a little longer with the thing, after all, what would a few more hours hurt? If only he knew.
Dennis got up a little earlier this morning. He was worried about Sally. She hadn’t eaten her mouse last night as she usually did and it was bothering him. She normally took it straight from his hand but she didn’t even seem to notice his – or the mouse’s – existence which was very odd. What if she didn’t trust him anymore? What could he do to regain her trust? He settled upon spending more time with her and handling her more too.
When he reached her cage, he could tell there was something wrong. She hadn’t moved all night, not even an inch! Fearing her death, he threw open the lid and reached in to get her. He felt nothing but a hard, smooth surface and finally discovered they were mirrors. She had been stolen. It could only be one person; Tom. Tom had been pining for that snake the moment she arrived and it was pathetic. Dennis had had enough; he would confront the bastard and claim his property. Angrily, he stormed off to Tom’s room. He was going to be unforgiving, even if it was his birthday. The Bastard!
He pushed open the door and there was a few seconds pause before his screams ripped through the YHPC. Everybody ran to the source of the noise to find Dennis in shock. He could not take his eyes off the body of Tom Benson; strangled by a Burmese Python called Sally, still draped around his neck, hissing innocently.