This’ll be a quick one. In an effort to get myself to write, I dug through the WritingPrompts subreddit and found this guy:
You work as a volunteer at a local zoo. One day, whilst cleaning handprints of the snake enclosure, you realise one of the handprints is on the inside of the cage.
And so here’s my response!
As a kid, I always loved the zoo. I dreamed of the day I might get to work at one. In all my dreams, it never struck me that I’d be at the zoo after closing. Do you have any idea how unnerving zoos are after hours? There’s only a handful of us left this late, and in a zoo this large, I almost never see anyone else until I leave. The only thing that kept me around was the thought that they might consider hiring me after I finished my degree. Until then, I volunteered cleaning exhibits.
Of all the exhibits, the creepiest by far had to be the reptiles. As a self-professed animal lover, I acknowledge that all animals are important and beautiful, but that doesn’t stop snakes from freaking me out. There’s just something about them that gives me the heebie jeebies. So I usually left their enclosures for last. The huge emerald boa at the center of the room in particular got me every time. I always found myself having to do a little pep talk before getting close to the glass.
Today, the visitors were particularly awful. There were literal food smudges and grime on the glass. Unfortunately for me, that meant really getting in there to make sure it was spotless for the next day. After my five minute pep-talk, I approached the glass and got to work.
Once I got into it, it was almost easy to ignore the snake on the other side of the glass as it watched me work. After about an hour of scrubbing, I got stuck on a particularly stubborn hand print. Usually the hand prints were child-sized (couldn’t expect children to heed the ‘keep off the glass’ signs) but this one was a little bigger than mine. I was on it for fifteen minutes before I realized why it wasn’t coming off.
It was on the other side.
“What the hell?” People weren’t allowed in the enclosure. All the cleaning on the inside was done from above the large tank, without anyone ever actually stepping foot inside. My mind went into over-drive, picturing the worst case scenario. No longer caring about the proximity of the snake, I pressed close to the glass, trying to narrow down if it looked like someone had been in there, while pulling out my walkie-talkie. “This is Sarah. Has anyone reported someone falling into the boa tank?”
“What? No. Why?”
“There’s a hand-” The boa lunged at the glass, right where my face was. I dropped the walkie talkie as I fell on my back.
I wanted to respond, but I couldn’t move. While I’d always felt like the animals watched me, I’d never actually seen this kind of focus in any of them. The snake almost looked like it was glaring at me. Its gaze was so intense I was frozen in place. And then the damn thing actually spoke.
“Sssshhhhh.” It would have been easy to tell myself it was a hiss. I might have been able to convince myself, too, if it didn’t start changing shape before my eyes. It pressed against the glass, stretching up to the ceiling of the tank before it started to fill out. As the body grew thicker, it developed a human silhouette. Arms formed against the torso until it pulled them away, the hands pressed against the glass. One of them went right over the handprint. Before my brain could really register what happened, there was a naked, green-tinted woman on the other side of the glass. While she looked mostly human, she still looked at me with snake eyes.
“Sarah, was it?” She drags out the letter ‘s’ as she speaks, giving her already haunting voice a creepier resonance.
“Be a dear and don’t tell them.” Her eyes dart to the walkie, where Jeremy is still calling my name. I scramble to grab it.
“Hey yeah, I’m fine. One of the snakes spooked me. That’s all. I’ll be done here soon.” I rushed through the words, but he didn’t question it. Everyone knew I was terrified of the snakes.
As I talked on the walkie, the snake woman walked across the enclosure to grab a large leaf. After fogging the glass with her breath, she wiped at the handprint. “My apologies. I’ll try to keep it cleaner in here.”
Snakes always creeped me out.
As always, think happy thoughts!