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Alex checked his phone again. 12:37 and no new messages. He unlocked it and dialed the seller’s number. His new ball python was supposed to have arrived an hour and a half ago, and he hadn’t been able to get in contact with the guy who sold it to him. Alex kept pacing, willing the man to pick up. For the third time that day he was sent to a robotic voice that said This number does not have a voicemail box set up. Try calling again. Goodbye!

It wasn’t until 6pm that Alex’s doorbell finally rang. He eagerly opened the door, expecting a delivery man with a clipboard and a form for him to sign. Instead, sitting out in the pouring rain was a small black plastic crate. Resting on top was a note. Alex eagerly brought the crate inside, and opened up the note. The ink was streaked and blurry from the rain, but he could make out the two words: Good luck

“Good luck?” he muttered. “What the hell would I need good luck with?”

He carefully opened the crate, excited to see his new blue eyed leucistic ball python. However, when he removed the lid, he was met with a small, pitch black snake. Its body was covered in a snow white pattern he recognized as that of a mystic potion morph. It had cobalt eyes, and a matching dark blue tongue.

“What the hell is this?” he yelled to no one. He pulled out his phone and texted the seller, demanding to know what happened to his blue eyed lucy, and why he had this strange black and white snake instead.

He didn’t recognize the morph, so he looked up black and white mystic potion ball python, black with blue eyes ball python, blue eyed mystic potion ball python. None of his searches yielded anything that resembled the snake in front of him.

Alex looked intently at the snake, who seemed to be taking in its new surroundings. “Are you even a ball python?” he asked.

As I sssssee it, yesssss, a low voice hissed from the crate. Alex screamed, leaping backwards.

“Wha-wha-what are you? Why can you talk?”

The snake was completely silent. 

Recovering quickly, Alex crept closer and asked excitedly “You understood me! And I understood you. Am I a parselmouth?” 

If snakes could roll their eyes, this one did.

Very doubtful

Alex was momentarily disappointed, before he remembered that he had a talking snake in his kitchen. He immediately called his friend, Jamie.

“Dude, you would not believe this,” he said excitedly. “You know that snake I bought, right? I was supposed to get a blue eyed lucy, but instead I got this black and white snake that talks. It talks, dude. You have to come see this.”


Fifteen minutes later, Jamie was standing next to Alex, looking down at the snake. It was draped peacefully over some of the fake branches in the terrarium.

“Talk!” Jamie said. The snake didn’t move. It continued staring blankly through the glass.

“Talk, please,” Alex tried. Again, nothing.

“Why won’t you talk?”

“Speak!”

“Why won’t you say anything?”

They kept yelling at the snake, begging it to talk. Eventually, Alex lost his temper. “Just say something, goddammit! You talked before, didn’t you?” he shouted.

Yesssss, the snake hissed

“Holy shit,” Jamie shouted. “You have a talking snake. Like an actual fucking talking snake.”

“I know! We should ask it more stuff.” He turned to the snake. “What should I have for dinner?”

The snake didn’t even lift its head.

“Should I have pizza for dinner?”

My reply isssss no the eerie voice replied.

“Why does it only respond to some questions?” Jamie asked. 

“I dunno. Maybe it can only answer one question every five minutes or something. Ask it another question.”

“Ok. Snake, should I have Chinese food for dinner?”

Yesssss – definitely

“So it’s not a timing thing. What if it only answers a certain type of question?”

“What do you mean?” Jamie said.

“Like what if it only answers questions about certain topics.” Alex squatted down next to the snake. “What topics do you answer questions about?” Silence. “Do you answer questions about food?”

Asssssk again later

“But I want to know now! Do you only answer questions about specific things?”

Very doubtful

“I’m not doubtful,” Alex protested. “I just want to know why you only talk sometimes.”

“Wait, let’s think about this for a sec,” Jamie said, squatting down next to Alex. “What were the last few questions it responded to?”

“I don’t remember specifically,” Alex whined.

“Ok. But what about the answers. Did they have something in common?”

Alex leapt to his feet. “That’s exactly it! The snake only responds to yes or no questions.”

“Let’s test it! Snake, should I try to win the lottery this week?”

Don’t count on it

“That’s probably wise,” Alex agreed.


They ordered Chinese food, and as they unpacked the bags, Jamie exclaimed “they gave us an extra egg roll. The snake was right!”

“This is amazing. Today is the best day of my life. This snake can predict the future. Should we give it a name?”

Jamie thought for a moment. “What about Talkie?”

“Dude, that’s brilliant!” Alex shouted. The snake just sighed.


The next morning, as Alex prepared to leave for work, he looked out the window at the partly cloudy skies. Weather.com predicted showers, while Dark Sky promised sun. Unsure of who to believe, and not wanting to drag an umbrella to work if he didn’t need it, he turned to ask Talkie, who was now living in a terrarium next to his bed.

“Talkie, will it be rainy or sunny?” Talkie said nothing. “Oh wait, sorry. Will it be sunny today?”

You may rely on it

“Thanks, Talkie!” he said cheerfully as he walked out the door. 

As promised, the day was beautiful. Alex soaked up the sun during his three block walk to and from his subway stop. He couldn’t believe his luck at getting this snake.


This went on for some time. The snake advised Alex on small matters from what to wear, to what to eat, to what brand of toothpaste to buy. It got to the point that Alex was running every decision he made by Talkie.

Occasionally, the snake’s advice was wrong. Alex quickly discovered that he could not rely on Talkie to forecast the weather. He asked the snake if it was going to rain that day. Don’t count on it, the snake had assured him. Minutes after he left his apartment, the skies opened up. By the time Alex got to work, he was soaked to the bone. Maybe I wasn’t precise enough in my question to Talkie he told himself, unwilling to believe that the snake had been wrong.

His shoes squelched as he reentered his apartment that night. As he peeled off his wet clothes he looked at the snake, who was dozing peacefully in his terrarium. “Do you actually know the weather?” he asked.

Better not to tell you now

Alex was surprised by Talkie’s response. There had been times when Talkie was uncertain, but never before had the snake outright refused to answer. 

“What the hell, Talkie,” he whined. The snake bared its unusually large cobalt teeth.


After the rainy day, Alex stopped asking the snake for advice for a week. But he found it surprisingly difficult to resist soliciting the snake’s opinion. Knowing he could get instant feedback on his decisions was just too tempting. He wanted to ask his coworker, Sarah out, but he didn’t trust Talkie’s advice. Instead, he called Jamie. Jamie answered on the first ring.

“Hey, man! Long time no talk. What’s up?”

“Hey Jamie! Sorry, I’ve been kind of preoccupied with...work.” Alex didn’t want to admit that until last week, every free moment of his life had been dictated by Talkie.

“No worries. I get that. Hey, how’s the magic snake? Get it to talk when you want?”

“Yeah, Talkie’s good. I’ve found it only responds to yes or no questions. But I have a legit question to ask you.”

“Shoot.”

“So you know my coworker, Sarah, that I’ve told you about?”

“Mmhmm.”

“Well, I was kind of thinking about asking her out. We chat sometimes and yesterday I almost left without my umbrella–”

“Umbrella?” Jamie cut in. “It was 75 degrees and sunny yesterday.”

“I know. Long story,” Alex snapped. “My point is, she stopped me and gave me it and there was totally a vibe.”

“I don’t know, man. Workplace romances never seem like a good idea. And I’ve met Sarah before, she doesn’t seem your type. Or really, it’s more that you don’t seem hers.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Alex yelled.

“It just means…” Jamie sighed “I just don’t want you to get your feelings hurt, okay?”

“Whatever, man,” Alex growled, and hung up. He slumped down next to the terrarium.

“What do you think I should do, Talkie,” he asked glumly, knowing the snake wouldn’t respond. The snake flicked its blue tongue calmly. Alex pressed his nose against the glass and whispered, half hating himself, half needing to know. “Should I ask Sarah out?”

Without a doubt

Alex felt like celebrating, before he realized it might be wise to do a little planning first. “If I ask Sarah out, will she say yes?”

It is cccccertain

“If I ask her out this week, will she say yes?”

Concccccentrate and asssssk again

“If I ask her out on Friday, will she say yes?”

It is decccccidely ssssso

Alex beamed. He invited her out to drinks that Friday, and she enthusiastically agreed.


Everything with Sarah was going really well. They’d gone out numerous times, and he’d stayed over at her apartment more than once, but Alex still felt awkward around her sometimes. Usually he would ask Jamie for guidance, but he felt he could rely on the snake for more valuable advice. With Talkie’s assurance, he’d bought a pair of shoes that looked cool online, but were incredibly uncomfortable and resembled clown shoes once they were on his feet.

“Do I look stupid in these shoes?”

Reply hazy. Try again

“No! I have to know. Should I wear the shoes?”

Outlook good

He decided to wear the shoes, hoping to break them in. But they seemed to get tighter, rather than looser, and Alex limped the whole night. He was in so much pain, he could barely focus on what Sarah was saying. 

“...your place tonight.”

“What?” Alex said, pulled out of his pain clouded stupor.

“I said,” Sarah said, a new edge in her voice, “I thought we could go back to your place tonight.”

“I’m not sure that’s the best idea.” 

“Why not?”

“Because I have a magic snake.”

Her eyes flitted down. “I’m not sure I’d be that generous, but what’s that got to do with going back to your apartment?”

“We just can’t go there, ok!” he shouted. Sarah recoiled.

When he dropped her off at her apartment, he suspected that they would not be going out again.


Jamie dropped by a few days later. “I heard about you and Sarah. I’m so sorry, man.”

“Thanks, dude,” Alex said, pulling Jamie into a bro hug. When they stepped away from each other, Jamie immediately looked over Alex’s shoulder.

“Where’s the snake?” he asked.

“In the bedroom. But I think Talkie’s sleeping right now so maybe don’t go in there-” Alex sidestepped, trying to block Jamie’s path to his room.

“Chill, man. I just want to say hi.” he strode into the bedroom, Alex trailing behind him unhappily. “Talkie! What’s up little dude?” The snake opened its eyes but didn’t move. “Carly misplaced the bracelet I gave her, so I need to figure out where she left it. Talkie, is Carly’s bracelet in our apartment?”

Yesssss

“I didn’t know you and Carly moved in together,” Alex said, surprised. He didn’t like how this visit was going at all.

“Yeah. She moved in a couple weeks ago. Talkie, is the bracelet in the bedroom?”

My sssssourcesssss sssssay no

“Crap. Is the bracelet in–”

“Hold up, stop asking my snake questions. And you and Carly moved in together weeks ago? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“You seemed preoccupied. And why can’t I talk to Talkie?”

“Because it’s my snake, and I don’t want you talking to it.”

“Chill out, man. I think this snake is messing with your brain a little. Are you feeling ok?”

 “I’m fine! But maybe you should go,” he said, steering Jamie towards the door.

“That snake is messing with your head, Alex,” he said. “I think the snake is pushing you to shut me out.”

Alex denied this, but he was lying.


The final straw was Alex’s quarterly presentation. He had been dreading the meeting for weeks. He wasn’t sure whether to be relaxed or formal. He asked Talkie if opening with a joke was the right move, and the snake assured him that it was.

When he got home he stormed into the room and started screaming.

“I told that stupid joke you told me to tell, and I got crickets! The room was completely silent, and the presentation went horribly. I hate it there. No one respects me. Am I going to get fired?” The snake said yes. 

Alex called in the next morning, informing his boss that he was never coming back, but in significantly harsher words. He hung up, and was immediately hit with a wave of regret and panic.  

“Talkie, was this a good decision?”

All sssssignsssss point to yesssss

 Alex paused. He’d heard that phrase somewhere. It didn’t sound as natural as Talkie’s other responses. He wracked his brain on where he’d heard that before, and his blood ran cold. “That’s a...that’s a Magic 8 ball answer,” he stammered, backing away. The snake didn’t bat an eye.

Alex’s mind whirled. He considered the unusual morph, the strange blue tongue, the oddly worded, seemingly random answers. Random. He was such an idiot. 

“Are you a normal ball python?”

Reply hazy, try again

“Are you a normal ball python?”

It is certain

“Are you a normal ball python?”

Don’t count on it

Alex screamed in frustration. “Are you…” he felt stupid asking. “Are you a…a Magic 8 Ball python?”

The snake seemed to grin, flashing its dark blue teeth.

Without a doubt

“You’re a Magic 8 Ball python?”

Without a doubt

“Are you just going to keep repeating that answer now?”

Without a doubt

“I lost everything because of you. My friend, my job, my girlfriend. How the hell am I even supposed to keep my apartment? Did you mean to ruin my life?”

Without a doubt

“STOP SAYING THAT!” Alex roared. He picked up the terrarium and threw it at the wall. The glass case collided with the brick and shattered with an ear splitting crash. Broken glass flew in every direction, and Alex crumpled to the ground. He didn’t notice the snake slither through the wreckage and out the door.


When the landlord came in, summoned by the scream and the sound of breaking glass, he found Alex lying among the shards, rocking back and forth muttering “without a doubt” over and over.


May 16, 2020 03:13

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