The snake slithered.
Its head reared up slightly. Its eyes were flat, lusterless. A black color as deep as the darkest night.
The snake’s undulating skin was the color of yellow-gold and black, in alternating bands. Its tongue flickered out.
And the man who carried it on his shoulder was the Snake Charmer.
He was used to the snake’s breath in his ear, telling him things, advising him on matters, sometimes even commanding him. The Snake Charmer never disobeyed its commands. The breath counted. That’s one thing he had learned over the years since his days of sleeping in the circus tent. The snake breath knew things. It would punish him by letting bad things happen, but besides, the Snake Charmer loved it too much to disobey.
The Snake Charmer was extremely heavily muscled. His eyes were dark pits laced with red veins beneath a shelf of overhanging bone. His own breath was not the most pleasant; it matched the snake’s well.
The Charmer strained to hear it now.
The Snake Charmer knew where it was. It was in Downtown Toronto near College and Spadina streets. The snake would tell him more when he was there. He began plodding along.
The Ronald McDonald House was unguarded, unprotected. It should be easy to get in if the snake wanted him to . . . take care of someone. But there was only one qualm — the Charmer was feeling weaker than usual today. He had been drinking beer last night and the effects were still felt today. The snake never judged him, but he berated himself silently for being only human. The Charmer hoped he didn’t have to fight too many, and especially not too many cops. On a good day he could take half-a-dozen police, but today wasn’t a good day for his bare hands to be working their magic.
There is was. There was the RMHC structure. Not too high, a beige-y color.
Once the Charmer had asked the snake why he was assigned — sent — to kill these people. The snake had sent they would in future years do powerful acts of good. By eliminating them, it essentially guaranteed the world became an eviller place. Remember the saying that the only thing necessary for evil to triumph was for good men to do nothing? Well, these men being eliminated one by one were the good men.
Ah, the Snake Charmer said. Not understanding it. Gotcha.
But you must be wondering about the good men who rise up in their place? the snake purred in his ear. For every change, there is a replacement. Sometimes the more skilled replace the less. Sometimes one is born who is more genuinely in the mode of fighting evil.
Sometimes one is born who is more genuinely in the mode of fighting evil. We go not just to slay a good man, but to follow the thread of his passing back to where it leads to the next potentially powerful good man. There are linkages in everything, in everyone, the snake said.
The Snake Charmer was inside now. He had knocked out a husband-and-wife couple who were exiting the building and slipped inside himself. The summertime rooms were cool, refreshing. The interior was extremely well-maintained, not a chip or a stainmark anywhere.
The room he had to get to was 302 upstairs. He climbed the steps. A sick kid with an IV drip was dragging it with metallic clangs down the steps.
When the kid reached the Charmer, he gaped in surprise.
The Charmer snapped the kid’s neck. The snake flickered out its tongue. Tasting the death. The Snake Charmer pushed the contraption aside and reached the third floor. Third floor. All out.
A knot of people were in the corridor — in front of 302 by coincidence. Two were visiting doctors, two were RMHC employees, and two were family members. All six looked as weak and pitiful as civilized (mocking tone) people could be.
The younger doctor started and pointed an arm at him.
The Charmer began trudging toward them, picking up speed.
Then the six transformed into angels.
Wings of depth and beauty grew out of their backs. Their faces become more beautiful. Anger radiated from them — righteous anger.
ssrun! whispered the snake.
Exploding onto the street, panting already, the big man asked the snake, what do I do, as flapping noises occurred overhead and just behind.
The snake said get on a bus. With very few s’s this time.
There was a bus coming straight down College. It was coming straight down for him. He hopped from foot to foot like he had to go pee. Angel skree noises filled the air all around. People were screaming and dropping to their knees and they weren’t even involved. The sky had gone black. With rain drops beginning to fall over his upturned face like tears, the Snake Charmer felt the wicked edge of a wing talon penetrate his back and lift him off his feet two feet, sliding backward even further in impalement on the sharp shaft.
The snake dropped off and attempted to crawl off into a street drain. An angel scooped it up and ATE IT UP.
As the angels flew toward the sun, with the dead Charmer in their arms, all the glass exploded outward from the front of the College bus, affecting no one but blazing an invincible stamp in all their memories.
Teleport to Dragon City parts: