Serpents' Teethby Rob Shelsky
The noise was horrendous. The clamor of officers’ cries to keep fighting, the anguished screams of the bleeding dismembered, the shouted pleas of those drowning, the endless cacophony of the British cannons, and the resulting bursts of explosions—all combined to overwhelm Jacques. He clamped calloused palms over his ears. He… See more details below
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The noise was horrendous. The clamor of officers’ cries to keep fighting, the anguished screams of the bleeding dismembered, the shouted pleas of those drowning, the endless cacophony of the British cannons, and the resulting bursts of explosions—all combined to overwhelm Jacques. He clamped calloused palms over his ears. He closed his eyes. Jacques tried to shut out all the horror, strived to will away the awful sounds.
Mon mort! It was his time to die, was his sudden realization, his unbidden, most unwanted revelation. Jacques tried to be resolute in the face of this ultimate confrontation—his own personal ending. Still, he just couldn’t summon up the necessary strength. Jacques couldn’t halt the visceral fear flooding into his gut, or stop it from turning his insides to ice water.
Eh bien, he thought. So there was no palliative for this final malady of life, no cure for his terror of death, but death itself.
Jacques finally opened unwilling eyes upon the still-dreadful panorama. He let his hands drop to his sides in a silent gesture of abject surrender. The tumult assaulted him once more. Trying to ignore it all, with knees trembling, Jacques prepared to spring, to vault the railing and fling himself overboard into the consuming ocean.
It would be to his own probable death he knew, for he couldn’t swim, not a blessèd stroke.
Then, an eerie light manifested in the sea, deep beneath him. He stared down through murky waters at the expanding boil of green radiance. A submerged glow ascended there, a viridian bubble of lurid effervescence, one that grew in size and sickly brightness even as it rose, neared the sea’s turbulent surface.
“Pour l’amour de Dieu!” he cried. Making the sign of the cross, Jacques took a fearful step back. Yet, still he stared down into the rising mystery.
Now he could make out the form of an occupant in the bubble, the ephemeral shape of a beautiful, but exotic-looking woman. She floated in the center of that emerald sphere. She turned her head, looked up at him with wine-dark eyes. They sparkled with the promise of all sorts of exciting things. The woman smiled. Pallid pink lips parted to reveal whitest teeth, razor-sharp…
- Rob Shelsky
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