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Haunted By Snakes
1 Dec 2017
Pete turned red as Chad and his brother, Billy, pounded the door of Charlie "Beast-Man" Cooper's apartment. The door opened so fast, Chad and Billy, jumped away, frightened, fearful of Beast-Man's temper. Charlie fit the role of a beast, standing six foot, eight inches of solid, hairy muscle. He towered over Pete's five foot six inches.
"What the hell do you three want?" Beast-Man bellowed. Desperately, Billy clutched his privates hoping not to pee his pants.
"I need to pee, Mr. Cooper, please" Billy stuttered. Charlie interrupted.
"So what! I'm not Mister Cooper to you three, call me Mister Beast-Man or walk away wet."
Unafraid, Pete stood tall and repeated his request calling Charlie "Beast-Man." That passed for permission to enter.
"Just you. Not those two ass-holes, just you."
A desperate dash, a splashing noise, a groan of relief, and flushing. Pete reappeared at the door where Chad and Billy waited, smirking.
"Next time, piss on those two. Drain your trouser snake on a shrub. Kill a rose bush. Water a tire. Got it?" Charlie snarled.
"Yes sir," Pete answered, adding: "That's not why I'm here. Would you be part of the Haunted House."
"Me? Those two hate me. Their idiot pastor-father treats me like the spawn of Satan and denounces me from his sorry-assed pulpit. I refuse to be one of your stupid-assed fallen angel rejects, pretending to burn in some faked-up, papier-mache' Hell."
"No Hell-fire this year. Snakes are the new horror. I hacked NASA and got plans for snake suits," Pete said. Charlie stepped toward him, threatening. Pete fixed his eyes on Charlie's eyes and added: "Think of being a yuge, muscular ophidian!"
Charlie eyes brightened but the rest of his body didn't budge.
"Snakes like what those Astronauts found on Mars."
"I want to be one. Please do it for me," Pete said.
"You want me to be your snake buddy, right?" Charlie didn't have to guess too hard.
"We get to play gargantuan snakes, nightmare snakes. No more horned demons frolicking in flames. No more werewolves ripping out the necks of innocent believers. Ever since a snake civilization was discovered on Mars, people think they see snakes slithering everywhere. Snakes big enough to devour a living person. Other haunted houses report people losing control of their bodily functions," Pete said. He was the son of a single father who spent too much time traveling and building things, leaving others to raise his son. Charlie helped him grow from an awkward kid, short for his age and thin as a rail, to a good athlete with brains. Lots of mathematics and science and destined for an engineering college. He already had several scholarship offers.
Chad and Billy were the gifted and blessed kids according to their father, the Preacher. They weren't bright or particularly good at business. Most likely, destined to be deliverymen, dishwashers, personal trainers to the fat and lonely, or like their father, preachers, selling the gullible followers spook stories and creation myths. That was Charlie's sour view of the world.
But Pete stood firm in his request.
"One costume is big like you, and the other is small like me. They won't fit." It was a lie. He knew it. Chad and Billy knew it. Charlie knew it. The boys tried to act brave, but Charlie eyed them from head to toe, making Chad swallow and turn red.
"How many nights is this Halloween Haunted House?"
"We don't use the old name, Halloween. That's for pagan disbelievers damned to Hell," Chad nearly passed out saying it.
"One night, Devil's night," Billy squeaked. "That's when most customers are unbelievers and we think that they will be afraid of invading snakes. It's like arachnophobia, illogical and unscientific." That was too much explanation.
"And since you two are the Preacher's kids, you get to play angels smiting the snakes. right?" Charlie growled. Their silence revealed the truth.
"Where is this Haunted House being held?"
"We'll be in the cistern pit in the old Grover Mansion," Pete answered.
"We're headed there. You can ride with us," Billy chirped, delighted.
"I will like hell ride with you and neither will Pete." He grabbed Pete and dragged him inside the apartment, slamming the door. Charlie poked a finger into Pete's chest.
"Why do you let those two doormats bully you into shit like this? You got the brains. You should be 'Pete the Stud.' I always wondered why you couldn't be captain of the football and wrestling teams instead of those two doughy pant-loads."
"I'd rather be an engineer. I want to travel to Mars. Tonight, I need someone with me for courage," Pete said.
"You're brave enough. You just don't understand why, yet. I'll do this for you."
Pete hugged Charlie. He'd never done that before and it left Charlie speechless.
"We better ride If we're going to be snake buddies in the pit of hell." Charlie said, pulling off his t-shirt and putting on his motorcycle vest.
"On your Harley?" Pete asked, thrilled.
Charlie handed Pete a spare motorcycle helmet. "Of course in style on my Harley."
"You got a vest for me?" Pete asked, yanking his t-shirt over his head. He was ripped and shredded on a much smaller scale than Charlie. Charlie handed him his old motorcycle vest, and they went to the garage behind the Apartment building.
"Time to feel the wind in your pits." Charlie mounted his motorcycle and Pete climbed behind him. Fifteen minutes later, after driving the long way and showing off, they roared up the tree-lined colonnade that led to the mansion. The noise of the Harley totally pissed off Chad.
"Take us to your make-believe hell so we can become scary snakes," Charlie announced, making the offense deeper.
The snake diorama stood in the cistern of the old Grover Mansion. The cistern half the size of the basement, fifteen foot deep, and accessed a ladder. The public would look down into a suitably scary pit for snakes rising from Hell. In the middle of the pit, powder-coated black frames concealed the mechanism that made the costumes move. The snake suits had inhumanly long necks surmounted by realistic heads and elongated bodies.
"We're going to be inside those things for a few hours?" Doubt filled Charlie's voice.
"Like sure, dude, Pete says the NASA design includes provision for food, drinking water, and potty breaks." Billy said in a sanctimonious voice.
"Potty breaks? Potty breaks?" the Beast-Man side of Charlie bellowed as he climbed down a ladder to the floor of the cistern.
"I objected when they insisted on calling it poo-poo and pee-pee," Pete said. Billy turned red at the revelation but Chad stood, hands on hips, pissed off.
"Rightly so!" Charlie said, tousling Pete's hair and wrapped an arm around his shoulder, merely to further piss-off Chad.
"Having fun? Once you're in the suits, I can turn off the communications system," Chad said. "Tail first, then the torso section, finally, the headpiece. After that, the framework will make control your movements."
Pete and Charlie undressed and pulled on what resembled hockey cups and had latex appliances for elimination and tubes to carry the waste away. Chad and Billy acted like they'd never been near a naked man before or even touch another human being. Charlie made sure they were thoroughly embarrassed. The tail portion of the costume extended a good fifteen feet beyond their feet and reached to the base of the rib cage. The material felt slippery, scaly, and water-resistant. It was solid but flexible. Chad and Billy tied the laces up their backs. They pulled the lacings crushingly tight. When they finished, Charlie and Pete lay on the floor like bizarre chimera - - half human, half snake.
Billy said helping Pete into the torso section. The costume held Pete's arms tight against his sides, leaving his human head exposed.
"Snakes got no arms just bodies, no thumbs, no fingers, no toes, I can't even see your manhood anymore,"
"You're next, Beast Man," Chad said sarcastically.
"You don't have the balls to take my place, boy," Charlie snarled.
"You're right. I would hate playing a demon from Hell, but today, who cares?" Chad laced the costume tight, making him armless and round. He rolled him next to Pete.
The two half snakes, still with human heads, lay on the floor, wiggling, seemingly without purpose. The suits amplified their movements. Any flexing of Charlie or Pete's ankles, knees or hips turned into a snake's slithering motion. They learned to manipulate their new, snaky bodies. Chad and Billy poked them to make them undulate and ripple. With each movement, the costumes enhanced their control over their new bodies while tightening and compressing them, making them appear more snake-like.
"How's it feel to have that body?" Billy asked.
"Not as helpless as I thought. It's different," Pete said, slithering a couple feet across the floor. He played with Billy for a few moments. When Chad realized that his brother was having fun, he interrupted.
"That's enough playtime, kiddies. Serious business awaits you," Chad said, rolling Charlie over to the metal frame that would animate him during the Haunted House. Billy did the same for Pete. The metal frames gripped the length of the snake costumes and lifted Pete and Charlie upright, bending them into appropriate S-shaped positions.
"This feels OK," Pete said as what he thought were hidden motors and hydraulics in the costume flexing to make his tail undulate and coil. Chad pressed the controls and made the frames lunge forward and snap back.
"Still feel ok?" he asked.
"Remember we're human and might not bend as far as you can bend these frames."
"I know what the frames can and can't do. How many times did you have Pete or me working with the prototypes?" He made the frames whip around and coil, bending the helpless Charlie and Pete into tight curves and rapid movements. Each time, the suit adjusted its flexibility. When Chad finished his manipulations, Pete didn't feel as much pain as he expected. In fact, he was barely even sore from the most radical of movements.
"Ready for the headpiece?" Billy asked.
"Do we have a choice?" Pete answered.
"Heads up, as they say. Any last words before we seal you into your snake-like prisons for the night?" Chad picked up a headpiece, over-excited to completely encase Pete and Charlie.
"You'll get yours one day," Charlie growled.
"Don't forget to activate the sub-vocalization microphones," Pete said. Those were his last human sounds.
"Don't know why but if NASA said do it, who am I to argue. You can talk to your biker buddy." Billy didn't give Pete a chance to answer. He put the snake head on Pete's head and fastened it. The edges merged with the rest of the suit. Billy felt the breathing and feeding tubes slip into place. The helmet pressed tight against his head. Like the torso and tail portions, it enabled the movements of his head and neck to match his new body's movements.
"Do you think they suspect what you're going to do to them?" Billy asked.
Chad snapped at him in a whisper: "They can still hear us, stupid." His brother shrugged.
"It doesn't matter if they do."
"These two have been a pain in my ass for years and I'm going to get revenge today." Chad pushed a button on the control panel. The frames flexed again, forcing Charlie and Pete's bodies into inhuman and awkward movements resembling side to side slithering motions of snakes.
Chad heard Charlie and Pete grunt as the framework manipulated their bodies. He laughed and increased the frequency and roughness of the movements.
"I know you can hear me, gentlemen, and I use the term loosely. I hope this hurts because snakes in Hell are all about pain." The snake suits began a series of undulations and compressions along the length of Pete and Charlie's bodies. The undulations began to reshape their human bodies.
"That's unnecessary," Billy said.
Chad didn't care. He continued: "Tonight, we will have vicious, evil, hateful snakes over thirty feet in length and a foot in diameter. These two are going to be superb specimens. They deserve the pain; Am I right, Billy? Or should I tell Dad you're having another crisis of faith?" he paused a few heartbeats. "We agreed. No more troublesome Pete hanging around like a needy child sucking up out authority, and no more Charlie the Beast-Man biker encouraging kids to wayward atheism. Enjoy your night of acting like devil snakes." Chad laughed out loud, turned the suits to their highest setting, and activated the animation on the rest of the diorama. He left, Billy in tow, locking the doors to the basement. Even if Charlie and Pete could scream, no one would have heard them. Pete felt his body stretch, waves of pain rippled through him. He spoke through the comm system.
"Charlie, Charlie, can you hear me?"
"Yeah, They double-crossed us." The suit compressed his torso forcing him to stop breathing for a few seconds. He felt the convolutions shift his organs to accommodate the length of his body. With each sinuous movement, his intestines stretched toward what were once his legs. His liver painfully elongated. The compression eased and let him breathe.
"We're going to die, and it's my fault," Pete said groaning as the apparatus reshaped his body to match the serpentine, coiling movements. He felt fluid from the feeding tube push the contents of his stomach and intestines from his body. The next compression narrowed his shoulders and pulled his neck from his body. The helmet pressed against his skull, forcing it to fit its odd shape. He wondered if he would retain some semblance of human features as the suit forced his body to conform to that of a snake. He groaned. His arms didn't seem to exist. He only felt muscle along his sides. The device stretched his torso again, narrowing his pelvis, lengthening his legs and feet in undulating waves. It duplicated his ribs a hundred times and kept altering his internal organs, remaking his body into that of a snake.
"My legs feel ten feet long. My ass feels like it's at my feet," Charlie said.
"That isn't human. I think I feel scales and skin."
"Where did you say you got the plans for this?" Charlie asked.
"These aren't costumes. The damn things are turning us into Martians."
"Why? What for?"
"I don't know." Charlie felt the helmet press against his skull, cracking it and reforming it. Silently, painfully. He stopped talking.
"Do you think we can stop this? Reverse it?"
"Not from the inside," Charlie answered.
"We're doomed to become snakes." The two men didn't talk again as their heads changed, fangs grew, their jaws moved to the back of their skulls, and their spines reformed. The machines continued a relentless and irreversible reshaping of their bodies. They wouldn't be ophidian mermen with tails and arms and ripped abs but snakes, long, thin, tubular. Snakes that crawled on the ground.
Hours passed before Chad and Billy, wearing white robes, sandals, and fake halos came back to the cistern. They stood at the rail looking down into the pit holding the two snakes and rehearsed their routine for the Haunted House. Crowds of people saw the show. Women screamed. Men held them. Kids laughed. People enjoyed the big scary snakes as they lunged up from the flames of hell and tried to bite or swallow them. After the last group of thrill seekers, Chad and Billy left the cistern with the machine on its highest setting.
"That should finish them off."
"You think they'll survive?"
"Not a chance. I set the frames to puree. By morning, there will be nothing left of their bodies but crushed bone and liquified flesh. Then we'll burn them to ashes." Chad never sounded this bloodthirsty. Pete didn't like what his brother said but did nothing. This was wrong but he feared his brother more than he feared killing.
Their fate was sealed. Regret wouldn't help Pete or his homicidal brother.
During the night, NASA activated their side of the communicators and spoke with Pete and Charlie, explaining their situation.
Chad and Billy returned at 6am to complete the plan. The frames still moved in patterns from the night before. Chad manipulated the controls, making the frame twist in violent ways and coil into tighter and tighter shapes. Satisfied, he caused the device to throw the two costumed men onto the floor.
"Help me roll the bodies so the crane can lift them out of this cistern," Chad said.
Billy rolled the snake that was Pete and let Chad roll the larger snake that was Charlie. When they reached the side of the cistern, both snakes came to life. The cistern was a pit with only a ladder to reach the bottom. Nothing human could climb fast enough to escape. Wrapped in the coils of nearly 40 foot-long snakes and bit multiple times with paralytic venom, Chad and Billy dropped to the floor.
"Are you hungry?" Charlie asked through the internal communicator.
"Yeah but- -."
"No buts about it. Chow down, Snake boy."
"I can't think of a better first meal," Pete sort of giggled.
Eating as snakes was new. Swallowing the bodies took time and effort. Charlie and Pete lay in stuporous, overeaten satisfaction on the stone floor of the cistern. Noise of boots and hard voices giving commands roused them.
A squad of soldiers sent by NASA opened the basement and removed Charlie and Pete. The snakes were made ready for their journey to the space center and then Mars. Two unique living specimens of what earthmen would have been if earthly evolution had picked Ophidia Serpentes instead of Pan Troglodytes. Such was martian evolution.
The first astronauts to land on Mars discovered the caves and a Martian civilization consisting of hyper-intelligent snakes. The rocky surface kept the Martians safe from the harsh solar wind that stripped Mars' atmosphere. However, hundreds of thousands of years of survival and science didn't solve the genetic problem. The lack of genetic diversity was killing the Martians. Pete and Charlie would be two of one hundred humans loaded onto Martian spaceships and sent to Mars. Mars needed fresh DNA. Earth received the technology for building interstellar star-drives. It was the birth of a new epoch of mankind.
3100 words more or less
FUTURES YET UNKNOWN
Ten Stories by Dave Fragments
*An Alien serial murderer and a furry detective with fleas.
*Murder on a world with altered humans.
*Disturbing apocalyptic visions *Monstrous dystopian societies.
*A man on trial for betraying the human race to robots.
*Devils, demons and ghosts.
*Survivors of a plague war.
*Cyborgs trying to be human.
*Six friends in a strange sinkhole.
*The truth about a world drowning in rain, without sun, without hope.
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