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Dungeon 2 - Philip Jose Farmer

Dungeon 2 - Philip Jose Farmer

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Published by: Don Okello Anabouani on Jul 16, 2011
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01/27/2013

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pond. Even the scent of the flowers seemed stronger now.

In the few seconds it took him to circle the pond he gained a clearer picture of the
serpent. Its body was as thick as his waist, with a head as broad as his own chest. The
scales were red, green, and brown, the largest of them almost as big as the palm of his
hand. The actual length of the creature was impossible to determine, as me end of its
tail was hidden somewhere in the jungle to his left. The body extended from the
foliage across a segment of the pond. Still in the water, it looped twice around Annie,
then stretched past her to girdle a tree where the great malevolent head drooped over a
branch. The snake was gazing back at Annie almost impassively as it waited for her
struggles, which were already getting weaker, to cease.

With a shout, Clive launched himself through the air. He landed on the snake's body.
Wrapping his legs around it, he began to hack at the monster with the knives he had
grabbed from the shore. The serpent rippled, spasmed, arced through the air, and
almost threw him off.

He held on, though he nearly lost his grip when the great length of the tail came
smashing back against the

Eool. It dragged him beneath the water, then pulled im back to the surface. He lost
one knife. Gritting his teeth, he stretched his arm forward and plunged the remaining
knife into the writhing body. Using the knife as a handhold, he began to pull himself
forward. The action created a dual motion; as Clive moved forward the knife slid
back. Thick red blood began to well out from the numerous small trenches he was
carving in the serpent's flesh.

The tail whipped back and forth, dragging Clive over the surface of the pool. He
continued to pull himself forward.

At some point he noticed that Horace had joined the fray.

He was within arm's length of Annie now. She was still conscious, but her struggles
were feeble, almost over. The sight filled Clive with a new rage. He pulled

THE DARK ABYSS

169

himself forward just a little farther, then let go of the snake and splashed his way to
the edge of the pool. He moved forward, positioning himself between Annie and the
creature's head. He wondered whether it was poisonous, vaguely remembered that the
great snakes killed by constriction, and went right for its eyes.

It was perhaps the single most frightening moment of his life. The snake saw him
coming. Its eyes seemed to be made of fire and ice. It opened its jaws, and Clive
realized that they could easily encompass his head and shoulders.

The great head lunged forward—faster, he thought, than it should have been able to.
He leaped sideways and barely avoided being caught in the enormous jaws. Now the
head wove back and forth in front of him, supported in midair by the thick, powerful
body that looped back around the tree, then trailed down to the water where it held
Annie in its coils.

The unthinking rage that had propelled him forward when he first saw Annie trapped
in those scaly loops had subsided. Suddenly Clive felt his heart beating its way up his
chest, as though it were trying to escape.

The snake seemed to be waiting for the right moment to strike. A terrible cold came
over Clive. He remembered outrageous tales of snakes hypnotizing their prey. He had
dismissed them out of hand. But that had been in another time, on another world. Who
knew what this monstrous creature could do?

He shook his head to clear it. Instantly, the snake struck. If it had caught him head-on
it would have been the end; it would simply have engulfed his head and shoulders,
clamped down for the time it took to cut off his breath, and then either dropped him or
swallowed him whole.

But he moved sideways just enough that the snake missed its mark. The lower jaw
struck his right shoulder. It was like being hit by a battering ram. He went staggering
back into the water.

"Just a Bit more, sah," said a voice behind him. "Keep it busy a little longer and we'll
have her out."

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