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Flash Fiction: The Serpent at the Well

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He landed on his back for the second time. Much harder than before. He could feel his spine quake like he was going to break in half. The rough hot ground was no help as it fuelled the pains even more. This wasn’t the time or place to think of the pain, or the ground, or even the hot burning weather. For he was faced with a wild beast, a monster snake. The terror King of the land of Daura. It was Zulo, the King Cobra. Legend has it that he was the rightful heir to the throne but his greed for supernatural power cast a spell on him by The Order of the Northern star.

From that moment onwards he has killed anyone that dares to go near the only source of water in the land. Warriors, hunters and mercenaries have been sent by the Queen to kill Zulo. They all met their tragic end.

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He casted a darkness upon him ready to finish him with his signature kill: the Zulo Eclipse, which he does craftily by blocking the sunlight thereby casting a great shadow on his prey which transmits fear causing its victim to be frozen or leaving him half dead before the final strike.

Another lost cause, a sigh! In the hearts of many that watched from afar, to the gamblers on the side who staked high on the defenceless fellow, all were gnashing their teeth so hard that enamel was smoothing out.

The pains! Damn it… He sighed.

He has been through hell for days, weeks, month or perhaps a year on the road. He lost track of time ever since his home where he was a prince was evaded that he had to escape for his dear life. Banished from his own kingdom of prosperity where he snaps his fingers and things are done according to his wish. He crossed the sea on a boat that was capsized by the roaring sea at war with the wind and the sky. A Thursday night to remember which seems like Asgard was not pleased with pledges given to their son, Thor.

Little could he recall other than the fact that there were sea shells around him and he was lying face-flat on fine sand. It was the coast of somewhere but nowhere to him. He travelled miles and he kept going hoping to find a river to lead him to a city where he could find refuge.

His quest for civilisation became a far cry the moment he realised he was in a desert. What? Why? How? and the many rhetorical questions sprang in his head. Lack of water must have caused him to hallucinate from dehydration.

Words from his father still looms in his mind: “Son, if you want to be King you must be ready for the ….”

His eyes opened up like it was the first time he was doing so. The pathetic sound of the vultures woke him up. They were feasting on a dead man close by. That will never be me, he said. Another soul dead and gone in this deadly place.

He journeyed through sandstorms till he finally got to a small village in a dry land. The place had a smell of melancholy. For he hasn’t spoken in so long it was difficult for him to alter a word. When he finally did to a man looking wealthy with plenty of rings on his fingers, colourful beads of leather and hides with a thick overall robe that shows he was into some sort of sport. He said, “Sir, can you help me with some water?”

The man laughed so hard it drew so much attention. People began to ask him why he was laughing. Then he caricatured the young man’s request with jest. Then they all laughed collectively.

“Listen, stranger. If you want to get some water for free at the river you will need a horse to travel two weeks to get the water because water is a very expensive commodity here. Only royalties get to drink water without any stress for other neighbouring communities bring water to them as a tribute.

“Here is another option for you. You can take your chances at the well.”

The thought of going to the river never crossed his mind. So he pondered a bit then asked,

“What do you mean by take your chances at the well?”

There was a little murmuring amongst themselves then they finally told him about the snake that prevents people from getting water from the well.

“Point me in the direction of the well for I will take my chances.”

He had no clue what was in store for him, but nothing was going to stop this thirsty man from drinking from the well. At least not something he hadn’t faced yet.

As he went ahead to the well. The wager began. Gamblers were betting on how long he will survive before the snake finishes him off.

He had stepped into the arena without knowing what he was going to face. Few seconds to the well, the Snake hiding from plain sight, camouflaged in the sand spurn out to reveal itself. Without any introduction, it took a swing at him with its tail to send him to the ground. He got back to his feet hastily to think of what to do. The snake was so long and huge. What in the world is the creature!

Now here he was on the ground for the second time faced with the Zulo Eclipse. The he heard his father’s voice once more, this time very clear with no distortion “Son, if you want to be King you must be ready for the ultimate test.”

An adrenaline rush pumped him up like he was injected with a super-soldier serum. He managed to duck the fangs of the snake. Zulo went so hard to strike that he hit its fangs on the hard ground. The young man grabbed a handful of sand throwing it directly into the eyes of Zulo then hurriedly climbed over to its head while the snake was struggling to disentangle its fangs from the hard surface.

He dipped his hands into the eyes of Zulo drilling it aggressively with so much disgust. The undefeated Zulo broke his fangs to release itself as it wailed like a banshee in pains. The cry was so loud that the entire village that was left behind came out to the arena to witness was what was happening.

The epileptic movement of Zulo threw the creature up before he fell to ground for the third time. This time Zulo couldn’t get up for he had used up his last strength.

He watched the blind snake struggling to find him as it scampered the entire area erratically. Zulo finally got to hear him breathe deeply. He made a sharp turn then went straight at him like a bullet… then fell just right in front of him.

Zulo died.

The crowd went wild and joyous with celebrations on the streets. “Get this man some clean water,” a random voice from the crowd screamed.

Soon the message got to the palace and he was immediately requested for. When he appeared before the Queen he was asked for his name, which he stated clearly as Bayajidda.

For fighting bravely and cleansing the land of the evil snake he was asked to make any request which he will be granted.

Bayjidda, a lost prince with no kingdom to return to, asked for what he desired most in life. He asked to be the husband of the Queen, and becoming the King.

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