The monster is slithering a dozen yards away, coming fast, both heads reared
steps ahead is a big birch. Jake reaches the east side of it, finds a rock, and
throws it. He hits one of the cobra heads in the snout, and the beast hisses
and veers toward him. Yelling, he bolts. The other snake head strikes at me.
jump sideways and the snake misses my legs, catching a mouthful of dirt
instead, but for one moment I’m inches from its long fangs and wrinkled mouth.
Gasping, I spurt around the west side of the tree, and the snake’s heads chase us
on opposite sides of the trunk, one after Jake, one after me, its body smacking
into the tree trunk, the two heads twisting, trying to force the other around its
side. Stupid monster. It buys us a few seconds.
far ahead, a massive rotting log is leaning against another big tree, its high
end four feet off the ground. It’s a natural dead fall in front of a small
opening at the base of a pile of boulders. Dad showed it to me several years
ago, explaining how dangerous it could be and warning me not to go near it.
the tree,” I yell. I watch Jake, and trip over a tree root, my legs flying too far out as I try to remain
upright. “Don’t touch it,” I croak.
dives beneath it and Charlie flies in low after him. I stumble to it, bending
over at the waist and scraping my back on the bark, my back bumping it hard. I crash
to my knees. Rolling to the side several times, I end up on my back, little
rocks and sticks jabbing into my skin.
scrambles into the opening in the rocks and shouts, “Sam.”
tilt my head to see beneath the crack under the log. The cobra is racing toward
us barely above the ground. Feeling exposed, I slide over farther to hide.
perches on a rock near Jake. “Do something, kid.”
my knees to my chest, I kick the deadfall with both feet. It’s like hitting a
rock. It doesn’t budge. Huge disappointment. The way dad described it, a big
mosquito flying into it would topple it.
hissing cobra slides beneath the dead tree five feet from me and stops, eyeing
Jake. I go rigid while staring at the monster. Please don’t see me.