idol friends and rivals | week 12 |840 words
The winged serpent woke in a sea of flesh, bound scale and feather and unable to move. He did not know how long ago his last waking had been. His dreams seemed almost endless now, briefly broken only to return and consume him again.
This time, the sun was dimmer than before and the air cooler than he remembered. He detected the presence of Man and heard his words, but the language was new to him. Whatever might have happened while the serpent had slept, it was certain that a great deal had changed. The world had grown louder and uglier, and there was not a single tree or leaf to be found.
The serpent was not alone in the flesh sea. There was a skull nearby, and a blood-tipped dagger. He knew both elements well, his partners in rituals from so many years ago. They were different now—flattened and silent, mere images of what they had once been.
"What place is this?" the serpent asked, but no answer came.
The skin beneath the serpent was red and swollen, oozing droplets of blood. Yesssss, the serpent thought, taking the blood in greedily. He felt stronger then, a hint of something powerful and merciless rising up with the faintest sense of movement at the tip of his tail.
The skull grinned and the dagger dripped, and the air around the serpent smelled like smoke and the exquisite aroma of pain.
Days passed as indefinable time to the serpent, days measured in what he had learned. The serpent had seen other images in the sea of flesh—words and flowers, crows and symbols—but like the dagger and skull, they could not speak. He had felt the bitter coldness of this place, and discovered a new entity he had heard referred to as "snow."
"Snow" was terrible and beautiful, miserable to the touch while gleaming like bone or sacrificial ash. The serpent remembered the plains and pyramids of his past, and puzzled over the odd structures that had taken their place.
He spent much of his time in the dark, under heavy cloth or in the long blackness of true night. He still sensed what he could not see, and yearned for what he did not have but so desperately needed:
The glorious elixir that was blood.
It was a moonless night, and the winged serpent was hunting. No one brought offerings to him in this strange new age, but the flesh beneath him could be manipulated to do his bidding. The serpent and the Man whose body was his prison prowled the pathways of the city, chasing the shadows that moved in the dark.
Lowly creatures scurried past, but they did not merit the serpent's attention. Only Man could slake the serpent's need, for it was not the blood alone that mattered.
It was the taking.
The serpent's victim grew nearer and nearer. He could feel it, feel that delectable sense of the vanquishment to come.
There was the briefest moment of anticipation, and then the Man and the serpent leaped and tore, and the music of screams filled the night.
With each conquest, the winged serpent grew more powerful. He drove the Man out into the city night again and again to find new victims, leaving gore and devastation to greet the sun.
The fog of fear that ruled the air offered almost as much sustenance as the blood.
The serpent's tail moved when he willed it, and he could feel his wings beginning to lift from the confines of the Man's skin. The day would soon come when he would be released from these base limitations like a spirit departing its human shell.
Before long, the Man was reluctant to go out and yet the serpent did not relent. He compelled the Man to go forth and kill, until the anguished cries belonged as much to the hunter as to the hunted.
The winged serpent was ruthless and unstoppable, defined by the essential nature of his being.
The Man was defeated by blue-clad warriors who advanced in a whirlwind of piercing sounds and flashing lights.
Later, the winged serpent lay under cloth colored like the sun, noting his new surroundings. He and the Man were confined to a small, barren space constructed of something similar to stone. The serpent remembered the vast temples built in his honor, and the sacrifices offered so long ago.
There were few others here, and he felt the agitation of the Man whose flesh bound him. In this isolation, the need continued but the opportunity to fulfill it was scarce.
The serpent yearned, but he was ancient and unmoved by mortal considerations of time. His chance to strike again would come, bringing him the blood and the victory he sought.
He shifted and stretched against the Man's skin, feeling how little it would take before he could finally break free.
On that day, the winged serpent would rise in full glory and fly off to reclaim his place in the sky.
I am part of a team this week, where votes for the team as a whole matter! Please vote for any entries you enjoy from my Weird Sisters team and any other teams. All stories are here.