A little while ago, I asked about what kind of werecreatures people thought were interesting/ would like to read about. My blog-friend Marcia demanded wereowls and weresnakes, and as she might very well send a monster to get me in my sleep is a very nice lady and suggests interesting ideas, I have obliged.

A water snake from Florida, not the species mentioned, but similar in appearance. Image from Wikimedia by Birdphotos.com.

A water snake from Florida. Watch your step!
Image from Wikimedia by BirdPhotos.com.

*   *   *

Blake jogged on a gravel path along the banks of the river. In the muggy summer air, the slowly rippling water appeared temptingly cool, but he knew it could easily conceal a gator or venomous snake.

Someone screamed from the park, and Blake jumped, stumbling over a rock on the edge of the path. He tripped down the slope to the river before stabilizing himself. As he came to a halt, Blake felt a sharp pain in his calf.

Swearing, Blake stumbled back. He spotted the source of that pain–a snake lying on a nearby rock, half-hidden by a fallen tree’s branch. It had been sunning itself peacefully until he’d almost stepped on it, and now coiled dangerously.

“Cottonmouth! I’m going to die!”

The snake slithered off the rock away from him, disappearing behind the half-rotted tree trunk.

A woman’s head popped over the edge of the log. “I’m not a cottonmouth, I’m a Florida Water Snake.”

“What?” Blake stared at her.

“Florida Water Snake. I’m not venomous,” she plucked a leaf out of her short brown hair. “You startled me.”

“I startled you? I. Startled. You?” Blake’s voice rose, and the woman made a shushing motion.

“You stepped on me,” she twisted to look at a spot on her back, revealing her bare shoulders. “I have a bruise.”

“You bit me!” Blake pointed to his injury, speaking quietly though he felt like screaming. The woman made him feel unaccountably guilty and stifled, like a disapproving librarian.

The woman shrugged. “You should be fine.”

“Should be?” Blake repeated in a strangled yell.

“If the bite heals within a day, come back here. I’ll wait by the jungle gym.”

“Why?” Blake examined the puncture wounds, which oozed blood and felt tender when he pressed on them.

“It usually takes more than one bite to make a weresnake, but you never know.”


“Are you in shock, or stupid?” The woman stared up at him, and shook her head. “Jungle gym.” She vanished.

When Blake leaned over the fallen tree trunk, he saw the tip of a snake’s tail disappearing into the water.

He went home, cleaned and bandaged the bite wound, and tried to forget about it. Before he went to bed, he gave in and checked the damage. Instead of clotted blood or scabs, two neat pink scars decorated his leg.

The next morning, all that remained were the faint white marks of an old injury. Blake dressed like an arthritic old man, pulling on his favorite running shoes slowly and with much fumbling.

About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

6 responses »

  1. Marcia says:

    Hahaha. You are so funny, Caitlin! A great presentation of a weresnake tale. Love the whole idea!

    In case you are interested, the snake you have picture above is a Brown Water Snake (nerodia taxispilota), a large, very pugnacious snake, common on our rivers, but also ranging as far north as Virginia. I’ve seen these guys many, many times while canoeing. They, like all non-venomous snakes, lack fangs, but their short, sharp teeth can deliver a painful, slashing bite that bleeds profusely. Yeah, I know this is probably TMI, but I’m such a nature geek, and I used to do interpretative canoe tours on a local river, so I hereby pass it along to anyone interested.

    Of all the snakes you might have picked, I would never have guessed this one. I was thinking of a dainty, but deadly, coral snake, perhaps. Or a large python that was perhaps a burly biker in his alternate life. So many possibilities, eh?

    Really glad you ran with the owls and snakes idea. Great fun! (You have bought yourself another day with visiting monsters. I can’t promise to keep them under control in the future, though.)

    • caitlinstern says:

      Eh, you’re not too much of a geek in my book. Of course, I spent some time on the Florida Museum of Natural History’s Herpetology guide website picking out the perfect snake just for you.

      I liked the Rough Green Snake and Ringneck Snake, color-wise, but was looking for something non-venomous and fairly aggressive. (There are a bunch of snakes in Florida!)

      The only picture I could use was the Brown Water Snake. I thought about a disclaimer: this is not the snake depicted, but similar in appearance, habitat, etc. Instead I went for a joke. 😉

      • Marcia says:

        Oh, I didn’t mean to fault your ID or anything else. WERE-creatures have rules of their own. I mean, typically, werewolves are much larger than normal wolves, so a were-snake gets to make its own rules. And I loved the one you picked for the type of story you told. The thought of a big, ugly (some might say) brown water snake turning into a beautiful woman is quite unexpected, and thus, really cool.

        Rough green snakes are gorgeous. They have bright orange tongues. That’s the “scribble” I referred to in my poem “On The River.” I used to see tons of them, but they are becoming far too scarce, these days. And I have ring-necked snakes in my garden. (Along with black racers, eastern garter snakes and the occasional red rat snake). The baby ring-necks are the size of earthworms, and so pretty. But even a full grown one is seldom longer than 10 inches or so. (I love reptiles, as you might have guessed.)

        And I really AM pretty geeky, you know. But I don’t mind. Makes life interesting.

        • caitlinstern says:

          I pictured this one as a normal-sized snake, because the idea of a gigantic were-snake either makes me think of really cheesy monster movies, or that there’s no way someone could miss the critter.

          Reptiles are pretty nifty. Embrace the geekery!

          • Marcia says:

            I think your choice was just right. A python would call for a big dude. But you’d be surprised at how well they are hiding in the Everglades. They are taking over! Horrible news for native wildlife.

            I promise to embrace my geekery every day. It just comes naturally to me.

          • caitlinstern says:

            Yeah, invasive species are never rainbows and butterfly kisses, are they?

What are your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.