The sun is rising as the plane lands on the private runway and comes to a quiet stop. Erin looks out the window as Ana sleeps.
Erin: Ana, time to wake up.
Ana opens her eyes and stretches slowly : Already?
Erin: Come on, get up. You'll love the house. It has views from everywhere. I'll get our things.
She shuffled around the plane as Ana surveyed the island through her window. The jet door opened as they waited for the steps to lower and they felt the warm, humid, tropical breeze brush their faces. The chauffeur met them as they took their first step onto paradise. He took their bags with an awkward smile, and a quick glance.
Erin walked beside the driver : What's your name ? Where's Phillipe? He's usually my
Driver: Najee. Najee Moye is my name. He is on vacation.
Erin slowed her pace, and walked beside Ana : I don't think we should take this car.
I can drive us, been there a hundred times.
Ana: What? What are you talking about?
Erin: He said Phillipe is on vacation.
Erin: I made that name up. Jason is always my driver. I don't know this man.
Ana: I don't get it. Why are you being paranoid about a limo driver? Why are you
worried about the guys name who drives us? Jason isn't here, but what does it
matter? Let's get in the car, and go to the house. I need a shower.
Erin: I just have a feeling something isn't right. I know it seems odd, I have no
idea why I feel this way, but I really don't like this. I don’t like changes unless
I make them, and nobody told me about a different chauffeur.
Najee put their luggage down by the trunk of the limousine, and opened the door for them. He walked back and placed their bags in with muffled thumps. Erin stood outside the car.
Ana rolled her eyes : What difference does it make? Najee, do you know where we're
Najee: Of course madam.
Ana: Thank you. Erin, can we go now? He's just a new chauffeur, and your regular
one, Jason, is taking a day off, sick, or somewhere else. Please can we go
Erin: I don't know. I really think I should drive us to the house.
Ana: What do you want to do, leave this guy out here with no way to get back?
Erin: I'll call his office and have someone come pick him up in ten minutes. It's a
small island, he won't be here long and I'll give him a huge tip.
Ana: You would really make him sit out here, alone, while we drive his car to the
house? Why, because you have a feeling? He's just doing his job and you
are obviously not use to the slightest bit of change without your given permission. Please, get in the car so we can start our relaxing vacation. I'll get in first. Will that make you feel better? Ana slid into the back seat. See, no monsters.
Erin: I guess, but I still don't like it. As Erin was getting into the the car, she felt a sharp, breath-taking pain shoot up her back. She tried to turn to see what
was behind her, but all she saw was Ana's face quietly fading into darkness.
Ana pulled Erin into the car : She certainly made that difficult. She gave one final tug at the limp body as Najee shoved Erin’s legs in. Do you know where to go?
Najee: Yeah. Comodo gave me very specific instructions for the whole thing.
Ana: Good, then lets get going. We've been here too long.
As the limo pulled away, Ana looked at Erin passed out on the seat across from her. She did not feel the least bit sorry for what she was doing. After all, Erin stole her life, stole what was rightfully hers. Why shouldn't she get it back. She was at the BlLU VELVET the night Erin got the job years ago. She was next in line to audition for Sal, but after Erin danced Sal cancelled the rest of the auditions. He treated everyone like dirt, except Erin. He bellowed that Erin was the greatest dancer in the history of the BLU VELVET, and no one else needed to ever waste his time. How many years of my life were wasted in second-rate clubs because of her? No one ever gave me a second glance, because of her. So how could I pass up Comodo's offer for sweet revenge? To get back at the one person in my way. His plan is genius, serves both of us, and I guess this guy driving gets a load of cash. Getting in the BLU VELVET and acting as though I really gave a strippers ass about her, making her believe I was interested in anything she did, was easy. It was too easy talking her into this vacation on this God-forsaken, snake-infested island. Knocking her out was irritating, but soon we'll dump the body and be done with it. Comodo's paying me a fortune, and it's worth every penny to him to see Sal ruined. I'll dance at Comodo's place, happily draining the life out of the BLU VELVET, and I will finally be recognized as the world's best stripper. If Sal would have given me a chance, he would have seen I'm ten times the talent as miss passed-out over there. This is all his fault. Stupid girl. Thought she was so protected, guarded by the Messengers all the time, but not here. What kind of a name is that anyway, the Messengers? Ana gave Erin's still body a swift, hard kick in the ribs. Guess you wouldn’t have given me permission for that would you?!
Ana: Najee, if that is your real name, how long will it take to get there?
Najee: Not too long, it's a small island.
Ana: Good. I'm sick of looking at her flop around. She gave her another well placed kick that was followed by a snapping splintering of bones.
Erin could hear their voices, she could feel the rocking of the car, and she especially felt the blunt, forceful kick of Ana's foot. All she knew was the searing pain creeping through her body. The limo stopped in sight of a two story, white island style house on a hill. Najee got out, and Ana opened the back door. She shoved Erin's limp, drugged body toward him. As he grabbed her feet pulling her out of the back of the car, her head hit the coral road with a loud crack. She felt trapped in her body. Her body that had once moved with such fluidity it caused people to faint, was unable to move, speak, or see. She was absolute darkness, and pain.
Ana: It's hot out here. Is this going to take long? You have the venom, don't you?
Najee pulled the syringe from his jacket pocket : Right here.
Ana : Who's house is that? What if someone is there, won't they see us?
Najee: No one lives there. It's the house you two were suppose to stay in. We're
on the back road that dead ends around that bend. To get here you
have to take the path from the back porch. No one comes back here.
Well, except for her.
Ana: So that's the house?
Najee glanced behind him and nodded. He knelt beside Erin and delicately injected the full syringe of snake venom into her vein. Erin felt the sting of the needle, and the burning of the poisonous liquid.
Najee: Done. That was easy, and enough venom to kill a dozen people. Should be
interesting to see what happens next.
Ana : Oddly enough that was easy. You said it was enough to kill a dozen people
so when does she die?
Najee: I don't exactly know how long it will take for the venom to work, may be a
minute or two. However long it is we have to stick around to make sure
she's dead. Comodo's orders.
Ana: But it's so hot out here. Won't it work faster since you put so much in?
Najee: There isn't a lot known about this venom, or the snake it comes from,
only that it's very rare and incredibly deadly. We just have to wait.
Ana: We? Shouldn't you take me to the house? You could come back to check on
Najee: No. Comodo said we both wait.
Ana: But it's so hot out here. I'll be in the air conditioning. She glanced
back at Erin lying on the hard, burning coral path and contemplated
another swift kick, but decided all the fun was out of it. She sat in the front
seat, turned the air on as high as it would go, and let it blow her hair from
her sweating face. She hated the outdoors.
Ana: Dead yet?
Ana: How 'bout now? Been a good minute and a half. Now?
Ana: How long does it take for enough venom that will kill twelve people, to kill
one stupid stripper? I mean ya hear about people dying seconds after
they've been bitten by regular poisonous snakes. This one, the rare
whatever, is suppose to take only seconds and she's lasted what, two
minutes? You're sure it was the right venom?
Erin could hear Ana's shallow irritation. She was in too much pain to acknowledge anything else, and could hear their voices growing farther away. Now everything was simply painful, pitch black, then silent.
Najee: Positive. Took forever for me to get my hands on it, and when I did I ran it through every molecular test I knew of to confirm its validity. It's just taking a little time.
Ana: Molecular tests?! Dead yet?
Najee: Why don't you come see?
Ana: No thanks. Is she dead, or not?
Najee: It's something you should see. I've never seen anything like it. Her skin
is, well, I don't know what her skin is.
Ana: Her skin? I don't need to see. Why can't she just die like a normal person?
Irritated, and curious, Ana got out of the car. She just wanted Erin to die, and not inconvenience her another second. She wondered why she couldn't simply have a heart attack, convulsions, just die like a normal person who had been given a ridiculous dose of rare venom. Even in death she has to put on a show. All the way down to the last dramatic breath. She walked over to the limp body lying on the jagged coral road. She thought about kicking her again until she saw what Markis was talking about. Erin's skin was peeling as though it was molting. Ana starred in disbelief, and disgust.
Ana: Is that normal? Is that the normal way people die from that snake poison?
Najee: I don't know. When people have been bitten by this snake it's said to
affect their entire system, nerves, blood cells, everything. They just die
quickly. Their brains seem to short circuit with weird images we cannot
begin to imagine, they bleed internally, have convulsions, the list goes on,
but nothing has ever been documented about this type of reaction. Look it
just flakes off in the breeze.
Ana: Revolting. I won't catch anything from kicking her will I? Why isn't she
simply dying like a normal person who was injected with that stuff. Any
possible way we can speed this up? And does it ever cool off out here?
Najee: I don't know how we could speed it up. I gave her all the venom I brought.
We have to stick to Comodo's plan, and wait. It will still look like an
accident, and maybe they'll blame her skin on the heat and sun.
You should wait an extra day before you call the authorities, it'll help with
looking more like exposure to the elements. I really don't understand why
she isn't dead yet. Look under her fingernails, it's glistening with the color
Ana: Opals? Really? For God's sake die like a normal person!
Ana brought her foot back to kick Erin again, but at that moment Erin's
body became rigid. Her breaths became long, quiet, deep, and abruptly
fell silent. Ana watched, sliding her shoe back to the rough road : Well?
Najee leaned over Erin's still body. He lifted her eyelid with the needle still attached to the syringe, and listened for her heart beat : Congratulations, she is finally dead. Odd though, her eyes are very clear, very sapphire in color. Strange odor too, smells like something burning, ash like.
Ana: Whatever, and it's about time. Will you take me to the house now? I could
use a long shower, and a drink to match. I'll get everything set up to look
Najee: Don't move.
Ana: What? Why?
Najee: There's a snake behind you, and not just any snake, it's the type the venom
came from. If you move it will bite you, and the plan will have to change.
Comodo does not like change, and I don't want to be the one to give him
the bad news. Just be completely still.
Ana: Well, as long as we have our priorities straight, and it's all about the plan.
Which by the way, what is in this for you?
Najee: Really want to know? Sometimes the less you know the better.
Ana: Might as well talk about something as we may be here even longer.
Najee: Obviously I'm not a limo driver. I'm a scientist, an Ophiologist to be exact.
Ana: A what?
Najee: I study snakes. My area of expertise is venomous snakes, and the effects of
their venom on anything. I chose this snake because there is little to
nothing known about them. There's not even a scientific name for them
yet. No one has gotten this close to one without being its victim, nor has
anyone ever gotten a picture of one. It's been one of the most illusive
species on our planet.
Ana: Well, I guess you can be the first to take it's picture. Where is it?
Najee: Right beside your shoe. I wish I could take a picture, but even if I had my
camera, I don't think it would be a good idea to have a record of this
moment. Anyway, Comodo found me somehow, and said I could have this
opportunity to see the effects of this venom on a person the world
wouldn't miss. So, here I am. Plus he's paying me a fortune, just as I
assume he's paying you. I’ve been fascinated with this snake because
this islands mythology has it related to the same one in the Garden of
Eden. Legend has it, the island elders believe Eve wouldn't have been
tempted if the snake hadn't told her if she didn’t try the fruit she would
exist in a living hell of agony for eternity. So she bit the forbidden fruit
fearing this creature, and the alternative, more than all of God's wrath.
Ana: What?! The Garden of Eden?! Do you really believe in all that ? Do you really, as a scientist, believe a snake could actually talk ?!
That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.
Najee: There's more. According to the myth, when someone is bitten, in the
last seconds of their life they are shown the Garden of Eden. The ultimate lost paradise. Supposedly they see the Garden, and some say they actually
see Creation itself! It's too bad I had to sedate her prior to giving her the
venom, we'll never know what she saw. Also, it would be hard to decipher
what was reality, and what was pure insanity from dying such an
excruciating death. Although she didn't show signs of any pain, not even
when you kicked her. Must've been the sedative.
Ana: So you actually believe in the legend ?
Najee: The legend is all I have to base my studies on. I gather information
scientifically, and put those few pieces together. To date I have no proof
of any truth to them, but it’s incredibly curious these people have believed
in this for centuries. It’s similar to scientist studying what turns people
into zombies in Haiti. There’s tremendous superstition around it, but
there’s also a scientific basis to study how it occurs. I’m doing the same
thing with this snake, trying to add scientific evidence to folklore.
Just imagine for a minute it is true. Can you fathom the immense power that would come with knowing about the inception of Creation, of being able to
see the Garden of Eden?! One of the keys to this entire study is to be able to
do that without dying. I was hoping to get information from her death that
would help with that, but it only added more questions. I think the sedative
was the factor. Also, not only is it's bite deadly, but it is thought to have a
toxic excretion through it's skin. Even the skin it sheds is deadly. Oddly, the
death from simply touching it is slow, but equally agonizing.
One elder spoke of his great grandfather who was bitten, and how
he rambled quickly about a garden. He said, "A land in the beginning," then
he died. It fits with the few other accounts, but there has never been a
formal scientific study. I'll have it soon.
Ana: Uh huh. Where is it now?
Najee: It's going toward the body.
Ana: So I can move now?
Najee: Yeah, but look at what it’s doing?
They stood watching the snake in disbelief as it slithered beside Erin's lifeless body. Slowly it made it's way around her seemingly lifeless shape, and they watched as it’s body stretched beside her.
Ana: Gross. We need to go.
Najee: In a minute. I need to see what it's going to do next. Very peculiar behavior.
The small snake slowly flowed against Erin's body, touching her flaking skin with it's tongue, coveting what it smelled. It encircled her head, stretched across her neck, and nestled beside her as if to sleep comfortably.
Ana and Najee looked at each other, but did not say a word. They walked to the car, and drove away leaving the lifeless shell of Erin's body on the coral road. What they didn't see was the snake on Erin's neck meticulously landing it's needle-sharp fangs into her vein, pumping more venom into the still figure.