The beast's tongue licks me, tasting me. It purrs, obviously enjoying the taste of my skin. I let it all go, accepting it. This is final.

It takes me a moment to realize they aren't going after me. The one on top leaps off the heap and chirps at its partner. That one rises and listens. They growl and chirp, speaking in that strange language. Then they look down at their feet.

I feel it, too. The earth is quietly shaking. Earthquake? Something is moving. Rumbling. I hear what they hear now, scales dragging along dirt and rocks, beneath us. It's silent, and I wouldn't have noticed if the Jacks hadn't alerted me.

The vibrations get stronger, as if it's right beneath us. I hold my breath. Did the Jacks forget about me? Is there something more dangerous than them beneath us? Are they frightened?

One screams, the ground beneath it caves in, and a serpent, jaws open flashing hundreds of pearl white teeth, taking the Jack into its mouth. Bones crunch, screaming, blood, and the serpent swallows the broken Jack's body whole. It slithers out of the ground. All I can see is the shiny copper belly.

I thought Rex was massive, I thought Sparky was a giant. But this thing makes Rex look like a baby alligator and Sparky is no more than a parakeet. Above, it raises its head like a cobra, blocking the sun. Scales like metal, iron and copper plates, shining and flashing. Its head alone is the size of a truck.

It gazes down at the remaining Jack. The stupid thing hisses, fighting back, not even trying to run. The serpent doesn't play. It strikes down, and in a moment the Jack is no more than a mouthfull of meat.

The serpent flicks its tongue. I don't breathe. It doesn't even look my way. It lays its head back on the ground and slithers away. A hundred feet a scales slides by, and then, it's gone. Silence fills the air again.

The End

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