The grey tinted clouds covered the sky occulting the sun from my eyes, lightning struck the sky and left a disturbingly loud sound echoing in my hears. This was no unusual scenario in my life. Living in South Florida for the seventeen years that I had been in this world made my idea of thunderstorms a typical summer afternoon. I will often lie on my bed and let my eyes wander off to the window to spectate the beautiful yet chaotic dance of lights in the sky.
Here’s where the irony of my life starts. I live in South Florida, home of terribly humid weather and swampy areas. I been living here since I was born, near the everglades, where my favorite animals live: snakes. From my first memories of going to a zoo I will always cry and scream at even the sight of an illustration of a snake, as if it was a the clown from the movie “It” covered in blood from head to toe saluting me from the opposite side of the street. I have ophidiophobia, which is just an extravagant term for someone who is absolutely horrified of snakes.
I truly never understood where this phobia came from. Irrational fears usually are created from childhood traumas or repressed memories in our subconscious. Although there’s nothing irrational about fearing snakes. If anything is just accepting reality and the fact that those horrifying legless animals are nothing more than unholy creatures taken from the deepest levels of hell. If Dante would have decided to make a whole level of hell just consisting of an endless sea of snakes, I would be more terrified of hell that I do with snakes themselves.
“Valentina, honey. I’m going to leave now” My mother said, taking me out of my inner monologue. She was a middle aged woman who never fully understood what growing up meant. Nonetheless, she was a great mother.
“Sure, be careful mom, it’s still raining pretty hard” I said without giving it too much thought. She nodded, and then approach me and softly kissed my cheek to then proceed to leave the house.
“Valentina please close the…” She said as she left the house, but before I could ever acknowledge that she was saying something I had isolated my mind with headphones. As the hours passed the intensity of the rain diminished. Yet the sky was colorless, keeping the grey shade that would always get me in quite a slothful mood. Although sleeping sounded tempting, I knew I had quite a task to work on, my homework.
I locked my room before I could get started, and old habit I developed from when my family used to own a golden retriever who would invade my room every time I attempted to concentrate. We ended up giving the poor dog away because we were unable to take proper care of it, but that’s another story. I tried to concentrate on my Pre-Calculus homework, but no matter how hard I tried I had an unsettling feeling rising through my spine. The type of feeling that you would get when someone stares right at you, with such intensity that would make you turn around and look for the source of the look.
I cursed myself for being unable to concentrate, so I decided to take a break. I moved away from my desk and stretched my muscles. I strolled towards my bedroom door, unlocking it. I then walked barefoot through my house, directing my steps to the kitchen. In my mind eating a snack during a study break was a necessity in my daily routine. But as I walked towards my destination, something seemed very off. The air was extremely humid as if the air conditioning was malfunctioning. As I set my foot down, a somewhat cold liquid made my whole body flinch. I immediately looked down trying to identify the substance. Water. I then quickly started to look for the source of the water. As my eyes scanned the living room, I realize that the front door was half open.
I cursed under my breath and ran towards the door to close it. What was my mother thinking leaving the door half open? I looked at the mess that the living room had become. The floor had a thin layer of water that was covering most of the place. I started to feel quite frustrated over the situation, as I ran to get some cleaning supplies. I slipped a few times, but I was able to regain my balance holding on to the walls and anything that could support me. I somehow manage to open the closets that contained all our cleaning supplies. I took a mop and began cleaning. Once I found all the required utensils to clean I got to work. After continually mopping for what seemed twenty years, the floor what finally somewhat dry. I felt exhausted and quite irritated by the situation to the point that my appetite for my snack had completely disappeared. I dragged myself back to my room.
Once I was inside of my room, I locked the door behind me as usual. As my eyes looked around the room pure panic invades my body. My knees trembled, and my whole body was unstable. I was gasping for air as if there was none in the room. I was in shock due to the terror invading my body, as if a ghost had appeared in front of a skeptic. I tried to scream in terror, but the sound just would not come out. Right there in my bedroom was my worst nightmare incarnated in flesh and bone, a snake. It probably entered my house when the door was open and while I cleaned the living room, and made its way into my room. I could barely stay on my feet and had me lay my back against the door. My eyes were static on the snake as my mind quickly tried to solve the issue.
“Is it a venomous one?” “The ones with the forked tongue are the venomous one or is it the other way around?” “I need to get away” “I might die right now” “I have to get away” “How can I kill it?” “Is there a way to kill it?” “I need to call 911” “Where is my phone?” All these thoughts screamed in my head to the point where I could not distinguish one from another, as if there was a crowd inside of my mind and everybody was talking at the same time.
The snake was looking directly at me with its round black pupils. The snake was about 27 inches, maybe more maybe less my mind was too stressed to fully visualize the reptile. Its body was covered in black, burgundy and yellow rings. Its scales were smooth and slightly shinny like my watering eyes at the sight of it.
My biggest desire at the moment was to unlock the room and never come back. My body didn't respond to my commands. I was frozen in time while my mind could not wait for the future. The snake started to create a spiral of itself, in an attempt to look smaller and isolated from me, yet its eyes were still meeting mine in a perpetual stare. The black forked tongue of the snake peeks outside of its domains for a few seconds. The terror was a constant feeling that my body was not used to and was burning my essence slowly.
“If I leave the room it will still be here, and by the time I come back, I will have no clue where it is” I thought as I tried to breathe slowly in a poor attempt tranquilize myself. I looked around my version of Dante’s hell as quickly as humanly possible. Immediately after that I would look at the snake, to not lose it out of my sight.
“I have to kill it” My heart skipped a beat. “If I don’t kill it is going to kill me” My thoughts were rumbling in a reunion of panic. There was no way out, leaving the room was just as dangerous as staying in it. I quickly grasp for anything near me that could be utilized as a weapon. My unstable hands were capable to grasp a picture frame that contained a picture of me and my girlfriend in last year’s Homecoming dance. I was unable to keep the frame in my hands for much longer due to the trembling; the frame fell on the floor shattering into several glass pieces. Several pieces of glass impacted my feet, making several slashes on them. I screamed in pain, the first sound that left my mouth since I had entered my personal hell with the snake. I let myself fall onto the floor as the blood coming from my feet slowly dripped down.
My side was against the floor and I attempted to hold my feet in order to conceal the pain. As I looked up I realize that my bleeding feet were not the biggest of my worries. The snake and I were now at the same level, the ground. Our eyes meet for the first time in a straight line. Its round black soulless eyes were looking right through me. Its tongue showed itself to me, as a hissing sound filled the room and paralyzed me in fear. The horror was not over yet; the snake started to move towards me in a wave motion.
When my mind processed that the snake was approaching me, I tried to quickly stand up, yet my wounded feet did not allow me to properly stand my own weight. My eyes twitched and I decided to follow what my mind was discussing this whole time, I had to kill the snake. I reached down towards where all the shattered pieces of glass where. I took one with my left hand and tried to sit up to avoid being in such an uncomfortable position with the snake near me. By the time I was able to sit up the snake was just about two feet away from me. Then I firmly grabed the shattered piece of glass as if my life depended on it. The glass was slowly penetrating the my hand, creating a deeper cut with every second it was in my hand, yet the adrenaline prevented me from feeling pain.
The snake had stopped moving and the hissing sound again filled the room. I again screamed as the adrenaline took over my mind and body. The snake had the same idea in mind. It opened its mouth as I simultaneously moved my hand with extraordinary force that not even I knew to have. As the snake mouths wrapped around my forearm, piercing me with its fangs. I screamed due to the terror as the glass pierced the snake side completely separating the snake into two pieces. As the snake got separated into two pieces the snakes lower body falls to the floor still twitching and moving. I screamed in panic, yet the place where the snake had bitten me was not in pain nor swollen.
“Valentina? What’s going on? Are you okay? Open the door now!” My mom said, banging on from the other side of the door. While my hands were still trembling, I reached up and unlocked the door. My mother screamed in terror as she saw the dead snake on the floor, and my wounds. She without a pinch of hesitation, she grabbed her phone and called 911.
* * *
The hours after my encounter with the snake were a blur in my memory. I kept replaying the scene in my mind over and over again as if I was studying the cinematography of a film. I was experiencing the whole attack in third person. The snake that bit me was indeed a venomous snake, but its bite in non-fatal to humans. After my mom called 911 I was in the emergency room for a few hours.
Although the attack did not jeopardize my health the collateral damage was fatal. A few months after my mom and I had to move to a new apartment far away from the swampy south Florida. Most importantly, far away from any snakes that might think of intruding my house. I’m now not only terrified of snakes, but also staying alone at home. Even if I have to stay alone for a few hours, I will start getting flashbacks of the horrible incident. I just hope one day I will be able to look at a picture of a snake without trembling and crying my eyes out.