Practice Writing A-12: Serpent

Practice Writing A-12: Serpent

A Story by Tabitha Alphess
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Writing Practice(s): File A-12 Date Published: 11:51, 3 June 2013 (Minnesota Time) Category: Family/Autobiography (Fiction) Title: Serpent

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Writing Practice(s): File A-12

Category: Humor/Family/Autobiography (Fiction)

Title: Serpent

 

      “It’s a boy!”

      “I don’t care what it is; I don’t want it!”

      “But Caleb, he’s your son,” the woman sighed heavily. “Look, I know you wanted a girl, but we have a boy now-“

      “We should have aborted,”

      “Caleb!” the woman gasped and held the sleeping child protectively. When they had first discovered Edna was pregnant, at first they had been overjoyed. They had always wanted children; to raise a family. But when they had discovered the child was a boy �" Caleb had been furious. They had always talked and prepared for a girl, they had always wanted to have a girl and spent countless hours discussing what her name would be. But it all came to a screeching halt when they had made the heart-breaking discovery that the child was not a girl, but a boy.

      Caleb paced back and forth in front of the hospital bed his eyes scrunched in deep concentration, weighing their options and deciding the most logical next move they could make.

      “We could just leave it here; it would be someone else’s problem and no one would ever know. We could say it was a failure or it had some kind of health problem and didn’t survive,”

      “Caleb, he’s our son; we couldn’t just leave him here and abandon him,”

      “Sure we could. And then we could try again for a girl next time,”

      “But Caleb-“

      “Edna, we can’t afford a boy right now,”

      “Oh, and a girl is supposed to be cheaper?”

      “Edna, with your condition you wouldn’t be able to handle a boy. It would be too much,”

      Edna paused and pondered her husband’s words and stared down at the sleeping child as if he would counsel her on the right decision.

      Just as she opened her mouth to respond to her spouse’s convincing statement, the child stirred. Edna stopped and peered in wonder as he opened his eyes. Her heart ached with guilt as she stared into his big bronze eyes. He stared back up at her curiously. Edna sighed and turned towards her husband defiantly.

      “No, Caleb. We’re keeping him,”

      He sighed and rubbed his temple in irritation. “Whatever. But it’s your problem, got it? I want nothing to do with it,” he hissed coldly with indifference.

      “Oh Caleb, I know he’ll make a great son-“

      “No Edna, he’s not my son,”

      Edna’s smile faded and turned her gaze to the infant whom had begun to whimper, as if he had understood every one of his father’s cruel words.

      “What should we name him?” inquired Edna weakly to her irate husband.

      He threw his arms up in frustration. “I don’t care! Name it whatever you like!”

      Edna stared down kindly and tenderly stroked the newborn’s head. “I’ll call him . . . James,”

*****

      “James!” screamed Caleb in fuming anger.

      James’ eyes widened in fear and he shut his door and propped a chair he had stolen from the kitchen against the door knob. His dad had ripped the lock off the door to make sure he couldn’t keep his dad out.

      “James! Where are you?” his father demanded. He could hear his stomping making its way up the wooden steps.

      James gasped in fear and frantically searched his room for a hiding place.

      Oh God, not again. He pleaded, not sure if he was praying or cursing.

      He whipped open his closet door and drove into his pile of dirty clothes and shut the door.

      His breathing was heavy from the fear of punishment and the lack of oxygen. He wrinkled his nose at the horrible smell. His dad only let him use the sink in the basement to wash his clothes when no one else was around, as ever since the storm from last month had flooded the basement that wasn’t an option. So for the last month he had been wearing the same dirty and malodorous clothing without any way for him to wash them.

      The door knob to his room clinked and jiggled and was shortly followed by his father’s angry groan.

      “James! Unlock this door NOW!” he bellowed threateningly and kicked at the door.

      The preteen covered his mouth to keep himself from crying out in terror. His dad was drunk again and in a bad mood. Guess who his punching bag usually was?

      “JAMES!” he roared and he heard the sound his door breaking down and creaking on its hinges. The chair he had stolen from the kitchen and used as a makeshift lock was thrown across the room and into the wall. It sounded as if one of the legs had snapped off in the impact.

      “Where are you, you piece of crap?!” he cried angrily. He heard glass shatter outside of his closet door. His dad was definitely drunk. He probably still had the bottle in his hand.

      “James! Come out and take it like a man!” he commanded and ripped open the closet door. James had to keep himself from gasping or else he would give away his hiding position.

      “Where are you?!” he cried out again and slammed the closet door and stomped back downstairs in search of his hiding son.

      James waited several minutes to make sure he had left and was unaware of his presence in the pile of filthy clothes.

      He hesitated before stepping out of his closest and peered outside at his destroyed room. His door has been unhinged and one of his dad’s beer bottles had been shattered on the floor.

      He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw the extent of the damage. It could have been worse. His dad could have set the bed on fire like he did last summer.

      “YOU!!” James gasped in terror and whipped around, but his dad had already discovered him and within moments had grabbed his shirt collar and had pinned him against the cracking concrete wall.

      “Dad, please . . .” he pleaded and stared up at his enraged father with poignant. He resisted the urge to wrinkle his nose in disgust in reaction to his father’s awful alcoholic breath.

      “Caleb! Please! Help me!” screamed his mother in distress. She was almost nine months pregnant but was already on the brink of having the child. It was too soon . . .

      He groaned angrily and punched James in the stomach and scowled in antipathy when his nine-year-old son crumpled to the floor, groaning in pain and on the brink of tears. He kicked him in the side and spit into his red hair. “You’re a pathetic failure. I should have had you aborted while I had the chance,” he seethed darkly and left the room, shouting at Edna impatiently that he was coming.

      James sat there and slowly sat up, wincing from the horrible pain in his side and stomach. Blood seeped through on a cut in his forehead resulting from a piece of shattered glass that had scattered from his father’s last beer bottle.

      He sat there on the floor and wept, nursing his wounds alone in the decimated room for almost twelve hours before his parents returned home.

*****

      “James, James come down here,” it wasn’t his father’s harsh voice calling him down, but his mother’s husky voice hailing to the entryway.

      He took a deep breath and cautiously walked down creaking wooden steps. They needed to be replaced soon but it was clear his father had no plans of doing such a thing while his son still resided there.

      Edna sat on the worn red couch stroking a little bundle wrapped in blue cloth. Her raven black hair fell down in greasy strands over her bloodshot eyes. Shortly after James had turned three and mom had begun to give up protecting James from his father’s uncontrollable wrath, she had turned to drugs and alcohol to help soothe her pain. But all it did was keep her distant and hazy and almost indifferent to the raw beatings his father would dish out.

      James hopped down the last few steps, transfixed by the tiny bundle in her arms. He shook his head and sat next to her on the cracking leather couch and peered at the bundle.

      Edna looked blinked and looked up blankly at James, but blinked again and recognition flickered in her bloodshot eyes and she smiled weakly.

      “James,” she croaked. “Meet your new baby brother, Tony,”

*****

      The guard roughly but not forcefully shoved James into the cell. The newly Infectant grudgingly obliged and stepped into the steel reinforced containment unit. It was similar to a solitary confinement cell, dank and dimly lit and no windows with almost nothing other than the bare necessities. But because James was young and here because of his toxin and not because of a crime he was allowed a decent cot with blankets and a pillow along with a real sink and toilet and even a few books.

      He gripped the C.R.O.W. library book tightly in his shackled hands. It was called The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis, a Christian author a strong theologian. James wasn’t exactly a Christian himself (he wasn’t quite sure if he believed in a supreme divine being or not). However a book illustrating and depicting a senior demon teaching a junior demon in the art of temptation was certainly intriguing, so he grabbed it to give him something to do in his cell during the long and boring hours he too often spent there.

      “That’s enough of that for tonight, Snake boy, lights out,” ordered the guard and shut the thick titanium door and locking it behind him. James sighed and shuffled over to his short cot with his ankles chains rattling all the while. He sat down with his back hunched and turned away from the wall.

      He wasn’t a criminal, he was just . . . different. He had been diagnosed with a rare and very dangerous decease not known to the general public. It was commonly referred to as a “toxin”, and it came in many different forms and types. The type of toxin he had been diagnosed with was known as the Reptilia Toxin and had reached Level 4 of the toxifying process. He had been kidnapped by secret undercover agents and imprisoned in a top secret government facility known as C.R.O.W., a place that specialized in these mysterious and deadly toxins. The reason these toxins were so top secret and information on them was classified to most be because of their effects. In the case of the Reptilia Toxin it causes the Infectant (or organism infected with the toxin) to gain reptile-like abilities and characteristics and instincts. The different levels indicating the stage at which the toxin had taken effect. Since James was already at a Level 4, he had already grown large snake fangs, thick and tough scales, claws, a forked tongue, and even a fully formed lizard tail. The guards and the Warden had all explained this to him shortly after he was first brought to C.R.O.W. and the handcuffs snapped on his wrists.

      But because of his “unrulely” behavior, he had to be kept under maximum security (as if security wasn’t tight enough already) and kept under a 24/7 guard watch. So as a result he was required to wear an electric collar and the necessary feet and hand restraints along with the standard white jumpsuit all disobedient subjects had to wear. It sucked, but he managed. He did, after all, have the privilege of checking out books from the C.R.O.W. library (so long as he had a guard escort and was wearing all the proper restraints) and taking the books back to his cell to read away the long and seemingly endless hours of the day.

      But it wasn’t the books that kept him going or even the thought of freedom. It was his little brother, Tony. He had been captured over a year ago by the government because, he too, had been diagnosed with type of toxin, though they refused to give their family the details or where they were taking him so they could visit him at least. Actually, his father could’ve cared less about either one of them or what they did to Tony (he probably would have handed over James too the first chance he got), so it was James that had demanded where and why they were taking him, but all he had gotten was a wave of the hand and they simply walked away.

      Tony had been and was James’ entire world. He loved Tony more than he had loved anyone before. When their father was in a fit of rage or was drunk it was always James who would take the punishment for Tony as a way to help preserve him from their father’s cruelty and evil.

      But he was completely helpless to save his little brother when they came and took him away.

      He winced at the recollection of the painful memory as he remembered the heart-wrenching cries from his brother as he was ripped away from his arms and handcuffed and loaded into the black van.

      It was barely a year before they came for him too.

      He set the book beside him angrily clenched his hands into tight fists until his knuckles turned white the chain bounding his wrists together through the cuffs rattled softly.

      “I’ll find you Tony, I promise,” he muttered softly and bared his new found snake fangs.

*****

      James sighed heavily and rubbed his forehead wearily and threw the rental bills on the cracked coffee table. He was way behind in his rents and he had no way to meet it. If all the rents weren’t met by the end of the month, they would be thrown out onto the streets without mercy.

      “Hey bro, you OK?” inquired Tony gently as he stepped into the cheap, crumbling and bare apartment. After James had escaped from C.R.O.W. and rescued Tony from Area 51, James had saved up every penny he had and had rented them an apartment. But since James never able to finish high school and gain a high school degree finding a steady job with his skill set, age, and enough pay was nearly impossible. He found word wherever he could, but it was often scarce and he almost always fell behind in his rent.

      James looked up and smiled weakly up at his worry-faced little brother. “Yeah, we’ll be alright,” he reassured, not sure if he was trying to comfort Tony or himself.

      Tony sat down next to his older brother. “They’re not gonna throw us onto the streets, are they?”

      “Oh no, no, no, bud,” he wrapped his brother in a one-armed hug. “They’re not gonna throw us onto the streets,” he rubbed his shoulder comfortingly. “We’re gonna be OK,”

      Tony smiled and wrapped his brother in a tight hug. James smiled and hugged back, tightly embracing his younger brother in a loving and protective hug.

      “I’m sorry I can’t do more for you,” he whispered softly.

      Tony smiled. “It’s OK. I know you do the best you can. You’re an awesome big brother,”

      Tears formed at the bases of his eyes and he hugged tighter, ashamed at himself for barely being able to provide for his little brother, yet he still praised him for being such a wonderful older brother. He was a worthless failure. What was wrong with him? Why couldn’t he do something as simple as getting a job and buying food for his sibling?

      “I love you, Tony,” he whispered.

      “I love you too, James,”

*****

      James ignited the lighter and lit the cigarette and breathed in a puff of the poisonous smoke into his lungs and breathed it out into the think hot air.

      After the landlord had thrown them onto the streets for not meeting the rent James had become desperate in search of work or some way to earn some money or food. A group of fugitive Infectants had been kind enough to take them into their “home” of sorts, which was basically been a hideout deep in the sewers with a fire pit and bunch of blankets. But at that point the pair didn’t care.

      It hadn’t been long after they had been tossed out of their apartment and onto the streets that James had gotten involved with some shady characters in an effort to make some money and pay for much needed food and other necessities. He had even begun to drink alcoholic beverages from time to time and had become an avid smoker.

      He breathed another puff of smoke into the bar’s hot air and sighed. He should probably be heading back to Tony and the gang soon.

      “Hey,”

      James looked up. It was an unshaven man wearing a leather jacket and had several ear piercings.

      “I haven’t seen you around here before. What’s your name, stranger?” his voice was husky and his speech slurred. He was clearly a drunkard.

      James pondered a moment, unsure if he wanted to give his real name or make one up. But a thought occurred in his brain and he smiled.

      “Call me Serpent,” he hissed and his eyes narrowed into reptilian slits. He smiled dangerously and blew another puff of smoke into the air and played with the knife in his hand.

      He had begun a dangerous game. Turning back was no longer an option.

© 2013 Tabitha Alphess


Author's Note

Tabitha Alphess
I post these practice writings every two weeks. Let me know if you have any requests.

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Added on July 8, 2013
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Tabitha Alphess
Tabitha Alphess

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My pen name is Tabitha Alphess and I'm a follower of Christ. My writings and novels range anywhere from Apologetics and theology to science fiction to mystery and suspense and fantasy. My most common .. more..

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