Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Another Night in the Everglades
By Lin Neiswender

Bert Harper, Greyhound bus driver on the Miami night run, was unnerved. Am I dreaming? There’s no tunnel on this stretch of Alligator Alley.

So what the hell is that up ahead?

He peered at the tunnel through heavy fog rolling across the Everglades. It gaped dark and menacing.

Must be new construction. They can build stuff in a helluva hurry these days.

A sudden premonition made him tighten his seatbelt before he saw them. Two huge eyes, glassy and black, on either side of the tunnel. ”Anaconda!” he screamed, stomping on the brake, squealing metal to metal.

Headlights lit hundreds of backward curving teeth flashing by his window and the white then pink flesh of a massive throat. Bert gagged on the fetid smell of death and decay.

The bus screeched to a stop, crashing into the snake’s ribcage. Migrant workers and locals screamed, falling into the aisle. The anaconda closed its mouth, enveloping the bus in darkness, pinpricked by fading headlights. Voices screamed prayers to various gods as the bus’ frame groaned under the snake’s crushing contractions, working bus and passengers down its gullet.

“Anybody got any weapons to cut our way out of the snake?” Bert yelled.

Passengers passed forward two machetes, a small caliber handgun, and several lighters.

“We gotta get out before we hit the stomach,” Bert said, cranking open the door. “Take turns with the machetes.”

They picked their way past the buckling floor and jumped out. The men and a few women attacked the anaconda’s side between the ribs, but it twisted and squeezed fiercely. A young Vietnamese man slipped and fell, entangled in the flexing bones. They tried to drag him out, his cries terrible, but it was too late. His body, a dislocated mess, dropped into the anaconda’s slopping secretions.

They retreated back into the bus.

“Now what? That’s our only way out- can’t get past those teeth,” Bert said.

“There’s a way,“ a thin, tattooed skinhead said.


”We drug it. Here-“ the skinhead opened a backpack and dumped out a bag- “finest Maui weed around. It’s too wet to set it on fire so we’ll just have to smoke it,” he grinned. ”Won’t be long, that snake will be higher than the Archangel Michael. ”

He yelled for rolling papers and they rolled furiously.

The druggies puffed away outside the bus and formed a dense cloud of marijuana smoke. The constrictions slowed and the stoned snake relaxed. The skinhead yelled, “It’s working!”

They took up the machetes again and hacked a narrow opening in the snake. Bert shoved the passengers through and waved them down the road, shouting, “Run!”

They staggered on as best they could.

Bert pocketed lighters and cigarettes, tucked the gun into his waistband and cut a long strip of blanket. He left one end in the gas tank and unrolled the strip to outside the snake. When the cloth was soaked with gasoline, he stepped back and threw down a lit cigarette. The makeshift wick burst into flame, racing away down the snake’s innards. Bert ran for his life, rolled into a ditch, and covered his head.

He waited, and waited. Nothing. Now the biggest anaconda in the known universe will wake up from a reefer high with a booboo in his side and the worst case of the munchies since the world began, and we might as well have a sign on us that reads “Eat Me”. Time for plan B.

He trotted past the snake. The passengers were trying to use cell phones, but no one could get a signal. So much for that plan.

“Look, we have to keep moving in case that thing comes after us. The nearest town is 20 miles. Let’s go.”

They walked for fifteen minutes and stopped a Volkswagen with their frantic waving. Bert talked the driver into taking three passengers and summoning help while he and the rest followed.

Bert kept looking behind him.

“I know that sonabitch is coming after us. Move it! Come on,” Bert said.

It started to rain. They slid on the black asphalt, oily from many vehicles passing.

Then they heard a huge splash that washed over their feet and a scraping sound as scales met the road.

“Run, everybody!” the skinhead screamed. They scattered.

The skinhead was ahead of everyone but crashed down hard on an oil slick. The other passengers surged past him. Bert caught up and tried to pull him upright but he screamed, “My leg’s broken!”

Wheeling, Bert pulled out the gun. He had no idea where the snake was, but he smelled its horrid stench. Suddenly Bert saw the tunnel again, only this time it rushed towards him. He advanced toward the anaconda but its eye was on other prey and veered away.

It engulfed the screaming skinhead as yard-long white teeth pierced the man’s flesh. His blood dripped onto the asphalt, mixing with the oil.

Then it turned its attention to Bert.

He raised the gun. The snakes’ mouth was agape and bloodied, opening wider and wider. When it could open no more, Bert squeezed the trigger, firing into the open maw repeatedly. The explosion blasted him off his feet.


Bert woke up in the hospital with burns, a broken arm and partial amnesia. When he got out of intensive care he had to endure an unpleasant visit from a bureaucrat named Nateson.

“So you see, you really didn’t see a giant snake, right Mr. Harper? This was all a wreck with a semi, remember that. Public security depends on it. The passengers have received the same briefing.”

Right. I wish you’d been on my bus. I’d let the snake eat you. You know, that snake you say doesn’t exist.


Nateson drove to the scene, to speak to the task force hunting for snakes in the vicinity. His Mapquest directions lay on the moonlit seat beside him.

Funny, it doesn’t say there’s a tunnel on this stretch of road…

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With the rich language of her Alabama surroundings firing her imagination, Lin Neiswender knew from childhood that she was destined to be a writer but lacked the courage to follow her dreams until her later years. She now lives in Central Florida and the climate must agree with her, as she has finally blossomed into a bonafide writer: her work has appeared in Flashshot, the short story anthology The Zombie Cookbook, and the poetry anthology "Vicious Verses and Reanimated Rhymes: Zany Zombie Poetry for the Undead Head". Lin spends her spare time with her Shetland Sheepdog who thinks it is his job to try and kill the mailman, and can be reached though her website Land of Lin at http://landoflin.blogspot.com.


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