At Night

At Night

A Story by QuiteOllie

A cross between a short story and prose about strange people and strange nature.


            The earth at the foot of the hill was black like molten tar in the moonlight. I poked it with my trainer, uneasy and reluctant to wait for much longer. She had said she would be there soon. Eventually, after a few more pokes at the unfamiliar mud and checking my phone more times than necessary just so I didn't look too out of place, I recognised the silhouette of Carrie walking purposefully towards me on the cobbles. She was smiling slightly but it was a natural smile. There was no effort involved. I think she was just happy to see I'd come. Her delicate feet echoed around the small street as she made her way to the bottom of the hill and her eyes were like cats' in the streetlights. She stopped next to me and looked down. Somehow I hadn't noticed until that point that she was holding a small white plastic box, like a lunchbox, with very rough holes punctured in the lid. She reached her thin and slender hand over to mine and led me up the hill. She hummed a tune I think I used to know and showed no expression on her face other than that one set smile. But that was Carrie. That was what she did.

We climbed the wet and well-cut grass of the hill until we reached a huge rock, the size of a small car perhaps and coming out of the hill itself. Carrie began to elegantly and effortlessly make her way to the top of the rock and I followed without question. I don't know how she didn't drop the box or even falter in her determination to reach the top, but she managed it. And I, less-than-gracefully, clambered up behind her. Grabbing hold of the huge boulder in the damp and mossy nooks and crannies that, it seemed, could only have been made for this purpose. I could feel soil and grit gathering between my fingers and beneath my nails as I steadily ascended in pursuit of Carrie.

Finally, I hauled my tired and unprepared body onto the top of the rock. Carrie sitting, waiting for me, with the box in hand and what was now a slightly unnerving smile on her face. Panting heavily, I shuffled alongside her and stared out at the scene before us. You could see the entire village from that spot. The labyrinths of houses and corner shops that make up a place like that and we were above it all. And with the moon reflecting off the plastic drainpipes and optimistic greenhouses it was like looking at a perfect black and white photo. Something that would be on the cover of a guide to the history of this small piece of the world.

Carrie was looking out at the view too. I reached over to the lid of the box but she rested her hand, once again, on mine and looked at me with a subtle pleading look in her eyes. She was asking that I didn't ask. That I appreciated this moment regardless of the box. We turned our eyes back to the village at the same time and I couldn't help but notice that her hand was still on mine, only now it really was resting. We were both at ease. Beyond the village we could see the forest and, beyond that, the sea. I like to think that when looking at a view with someone you see it completely differently to each other. One person will notice the perfect moon reflected in the sea first, another will see the way the trees in the forest sway in a certain and repeatedly rehearsed rhythm first and maybe even hear this rhythm too. But give it enough time and everyone will see all there is to see.

At this point a small grass snake slithered onto my crossed legs and made its way onto my arm. The one connected with Carrie's. I gasped slightly, and so did Carrie, but neither of us did anything else. We just watched the snake as it passed from my body onto hers and then down and onto the ground again. Carrie smiled a little as she watched the last flick of the snake's tail as it disappeared into the dark. She turned to me and stared into my eyes. This time with an unexpected excitement for what was about to happen. She pushed and pulled her body around until she was sat, still with crossed legs, facing me with the box on the rocky surface between us. She put a cold and pale hand on my cheek and looked at me. She smiled. Then she nodded slightly and I nodded back.

As she pulled back the lid of the plastic box, I lent forwards to peer inside. Lying in the bottom was a snake, much like the one we had just seen. Or at least it seemed it at first. The night made it difficult to tell the colour of the creature but as Carrie tilted the box towards me the moon seemed to glisten on the skin of the snake and I saw it clearly for the first time. Its scales were blood red and it had another head where the end of its tail should have been. But the fantastic monster was lifeless. Just as the moonlight hit its skin when Carrie tilted the box the entire body of the creature slid across the dull plastic. Its eyes were wide open, all four of them. They were brilliant white with dark green pupils. This was not a snake.

I glanced up at Carrie who seemed entranced by the whole thing. She watched the corpse of the beautiful creature as it tumbled into the corner of the box. She tilted the container this way and that, always watching. It was a disturbing entertainment for her that I didn't anticipate. Eventually I couldn't take it any longer and I grabbed one of the edges of the plastic. I looked her in the face and shook my head gently. She simply nodded and replaced the lid. I took the box from her and stood up. The damp of the rock had soaked through my jeans by now and dirt was all over my hands and, because of that, all over the box as well.

Not looking back, I left Carrie on the rock as I quietly and quickly returned to the bottom of the hill. I made my way back across the village with the box in my hands and my footsteps echoing in the empty streets.

© 2013 QuiteOllie

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Added on June 13, 2013
Last Updated on June 13, 2013
Tags: prose, short story, snake, mythical creature, night, catching, monsters, beauty, nature



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