Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Dream Log

I am in a laboratory with a well-known herpetologist and his daughter, and he's handling venomous snakes with me on attendance. He picks out a particularly large cottonmouth snake, also known as a water moccasin. It's a species of pit viper. Here's a picture.


This is actually its threatening position, with its whitish mouth and fangs exposed. This is how it got the nickname Cottonmouth.

Anyway, the herpetologist wants to show me how well his seven-year-old daughter does around venomous snakes, so she comes forward and picks up the snake, in her hands like a pet, and lets it slither over her shoulders and slink around her neck.

"Here, you try," she says to me, and she dumps the entire mass of writhing serpent on my barely outstretched hands. I look around for some sort of instruction on how to handle this creature, but the herpetologist has simply melted away, as they often do in dreams.

So I try to manage the snake, but my hands shake as they often do, and especially because I am nervous, they are also inconveniently sweaty. An unbidden quote rises to my consciousness, "They feed on your fear." and I bite down the thought. My slippery palms make it hard to grip the muscular undulating body of the viper. In a particularly inexperienced move, I try to gently hold it around the middle but completely miss and end up pinching it spectacularly by the neck.

It twists around and pauses, sizing me up, and in the second that it makes up its mind, I know what it is going to do. It takes it a fraction of a second to raise its head and unsheathe its fangs, but before it can lunge, I know that I should not; but I slap the top of its head down to discourage it. Completely unfazed, it continues its bid to strike, and I wrench myself the hell out of that dream as the lab erupts around me and I come to in bed, drenched in sweat and entirely bemused.

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