“They are coming, they are coming!”

“Who’s coming?”

“They… them… those… they are coming!”

 

          Dr. Laurie sat in the hospital break room and watched the small TV with a lot of interest. The sights of the Hurricane Katrina aftermath were not pretty. A lot of people had lost their homes and many had died. The city lay in ruins, half submerged in water.

          The door suddenly burst open and a nurse rushed in yelling. “Dr. Laurie, Dr. Laurie!” she stopped and gasped for air.

          “Calm down nurse. Take a deep breathe. Now what’s the problem?”

          “It’s Delvin ma’am, they threw him in jail. The Sheriff called and said that Delvin is causing chaos over there… yelling out for you and screaming his head off.”

          Dr. Laurie did his best to stay calm. “Okay nurse. I will go and take care of this. Call me on my cell if anything comes up.”

          Crystal Island was a tiny piece of land on the Atlantic Ocean in North America. At a length of 1,500 miles and a population of approximately one million, folks joked about it being the 51st State of America after Hawaii.

          Dr. Laurie loved this Island and had arrived here after graduating from medical college at the age of twenty-seven. Now, and five years later, the tropical climate, abundance of public beaches and the irresistible beauty of the landscape had become his niche; the hospital, a place where she could change the world. In an island where the locals were a mixture of Americans and people of Asian origin, she looked like ‘the all American girl next door’: long blonde hair and an all year round tan.

          The police station was a mile from the hospital and the small jeep made haste of the trip. As soon as she walked through the front door of the station, the sheriff intercepted her and redirected her to the office.

          “What happened officer?” she asked.

          “Your friend Delvin was running down the streets scaring folks with stories about the world ending.”

          “Is that why you arrested him?” Dr. Laurie asked angrily.

          “No,” the Sheriff replied cautiously as he sensed her protective instincts. “We received phone calls about ‘Crazy Delvin’ being drunk and disorderly. We had to do something.”

          “This is nonsense!” Dr. Laurie jumped to her feet. “I want him released right away!”

          The Sheriff nodded and stood up. But before he could take the first step, he asked, “Why Dr. Laurie? Why you?”

          She took in a deep breath and allowed herself to calm down. “He was brought to the hospital two years ago in a critical condition. He must have fallen or had a bad accident. I saved his life and ever since then, I have felt responsible for him.” She smiled. “Every evening when I get home, my garden has been weeded and the flower beds watered. I know its Delvin’s way of saying thank you, although I have never actually seen him doing it.”

          The sheriff walked into the corridors and Dr. Laurie followed him. As soon as they entered the cellblocks, they heard a loud screaming noise followed by the banging of metal. “I want to see Dr. Laurie! I want to see Dr. Lauriiiii….!” A man screamed.

          Dr. Laurie quickly ran over to the cage and the young man instantly stopped yelling and lowered his eyes to the floor.

          “It’s okay Delvin. I’m here now,” she said softly.

          Delvin leaned his right shoulder against the side of the wall and begun rocking his upper body like a child. “Dr. La…urie, yo…u ca…me.”

          “Yes Delvin. You can not go scaring little children on the streets again, do you hear me Delvin?”

          “Yes Dr. La…uriee.”

          The Sheriff opened the gate and Dr. Laurie hugged the young man. They were probably the same age group although a drunken Delvin looked ten years older. The young man suddenly pulled away from the hug and gasped in fear. “Dr. Laurie… they are coming?”  

          “Who’s coming Delvin?” She looked worried.

          “They are coming… they… them… those.” He looked confused.

          The sheriff chuckled and Dr. Laurie shot him a kill look. “You have to be more specific Delvin,” she added.

          Delvin’s eyes suddenly closed and his head fell on his chest. “I’m tired Dr. Laurie. Maybe I remember tomorrow… yes… Delvin remember tomorrow.”

          As a doctor, she immediately recognized the symptoms and led the young man to her waiting car. “Where do you live Delvin? I will take you home.”

          He gave her the address and then curled himself in the back seat of the jeep and fell asleep.

          Delvin’s house was located at the end of the Island on the opposite side of the forest. Dr. Laurie parked the car, woke up the young man and together they walked into the small house.

          “You live alone Delvin?”

          “Yes. Delvin live all alone. Delvin have no friends.” The keys rattled and they walked into the house.

          There was a kitchen and a living room and that was it. The kitchen table was full of old newspapers and Dr. Laurie glanced at a few open ones. “You like reading about the hurricane I see?” It was a question and Delvin walked over and pointed at a particular article.

          “Look at the currents Dr. Laurie. I fear they will get here one day.”

          She looked impressed by his intelligent assessment and took a second glance. “I never thought of that Delvin. Is it the currents that you are afraid of?”

          “Yes. Delvin very afraid of currents.”

          She scanned the small room. “Where do you sleep Delvin?”

          The young man walked over and stood next to the old couch and Dr. Laurie nodded. “I see. So who sleeps in the bedroom?” She was pointing at a closed brown door and Delvin’s eyes lit up with excitement. He walked over to the door and placed his right hand on the knob. “Do you want to see?” he asked.

          “Yes I want to see.” She joined him at the door and looked into his excited face. Delvin the taller of the two looked down into her eyes and then said with hesitation. “On one condition Dr. Laurie.”

          “What’s that?”

          “You have to kiss me.” He closed his eyes and stuck out his lips.

          Dr. Laurie’s first reaction was to refuse the ridiculous request, but there were a lot of things to consider. First, she wanted to know more about the young man so that she could help him and second, she had never seen Delvin act this normal before. If she broke his heart now then she would never know who he really was. She pushed the girl aside and replaced her with a doctor. She then stepped forward and kissed Delvin on the lips… softy… and then leaned back and watched him. Delvin’s eyes were still closed but suddenly, a glow appeared on his face and he looked like a new man. And before Dr. Laurie knew what she was doing, she leaned in and kissed him again, this time, passionately. Delvin reciprocated and kissed her back and it was then that she realized that he had been kissed before. She pulled back embarrassed.

          “Its okay Dr. Laurie, I love you!” Delvin said.

          Her eyes dilated in shock at her words. “No you don’t Delvin. Love is a very big word.”

          “I … I do…n’t?” The stammer was back.

          “No. Delvin. You like me, you don’t love me. Can you please open the door, please?” 

She bereted herself for being stupid. She hadn’t kissed anybody in five years. Her last relationship with another doctor had left a bad taste in her mouth and her career had turned out to be a great escape. But the kiss with ‘crazy Delvin’ had stirred up something from her past and suddenly she felt a longing inside her… something she hadn’t felt in years.

       

Delvin opened the door and they both walked down a flight of stairs and into the basement of the house. Dr. Laurie stopped suddenly and stared in disbelief.

          “Say halo to my friends,” Delvin said. He was pointing through a glass window into a room full of thumb size rats… thousands of them.

          It took a minute for the shock to wear off as Dr. Laurie realized that the whole basement had been turned into what looked like a laboratory.

          “Delvin, what are you doing with all these mice?”

          He shrugged. “I don’t know Dr. Laurie. There are more in the next room.” His eyes glazed over and he looked distant. “I see them and feel better and when I find them outside, I bring them here… I don’t know why Dr. Laurie.”

          She paced the room in disbelief, “and there are more in the other room?”

          “Yes.”

          “But there must be a reason Delvin, there has to be an explanation?”

          Delvin walked over to the glass and stared at the mice. “Aaaaah…they make me feel safe. That’s all I know.”

          After a while, the two went back upstairs and Dr. Laurie took his time to recover. And when he walked her over to her jeep, she said. “Delvin, I know it’s you who has been weeding my garden and watering my flowers. Yesterday, you planted tiki torches around my house. Why? Isn’t that kind of excessive for decoration?”

          Delvin smiled. “Tiki torches very good for you Dr. Laurie. They protect you.”

          He was a tough read even for a doctor. She sighed. “I want you to take them down Delvin. I appreciate the gesture but …take them down will you?”

          “Yes ma’am. Delvin take them down tonight.”

          Not tonight. She was about to say but changed her mind and drove home to get the much needed rest.

          On the way back, she called the hospital to make sure that things were running smoothly and also let them know that she would not be coming back. That evening she cooked dinner and cleaned the house. Usually, she paid a local girl to clean for her due to her long hospital shifts. But doing it herself made her feel normal.

          At 8pm, she lit the living room fire and sat in front of the flames with a plate of rice and chicken. Soft music played in the background and a glass of red wine sat snugly on the coffee table. She swayed to the music. It felt really good to be home.

          A scratching noise in the kitchen. She perked her ears and craned her neck. She heard the dishes clanking … and then… a plate fell and smashed to the floor. She was on her feet in a heartbeat. Trembling, she searched the shelves and tables for a weapon, but there was none. Her shaking legs inched her towards the kitchen. And then… she screamed!

          There, curled on the floor amidst pieces of broken plates was a brown tree snake almost 8ft long. The snake saw her and slithered from left to right in agitation, feeling cornered. Dr. Laurie leaped backwards.

          The front door suddenly blew open and she screamed again. A man ran into the house and past her. She stopped screaming when she recognized Delvin. Delvin ran into the kitchen and paused under the doorway. He then stretched out his left hand and the snake pounced. Quickly, he pulled back his hand and reached around with his right and grabbed the snake’s tail. Through her shock, she noticed his swiftness; his calculated moves, the concentration on his face. She knew that he had done this before.

          Delvin raised the snake by the tail and slammed its head on the floor. The snake dangled lifelessly in his grasp. Still grabbing the tail, he walked past a startled Dr, Laurie and threw it outside and away from her compound.

          “Are you alright?” he asked as he walked back into the house.

          “I’m okay. Where did that come from?” She was struggling to recover. “We don’t have brown tree snakes on the island?”

          Delvin ignored her and walked back into the kitchen. “Where do you keep the lighters?” he asked as he pulled the drawers open.

          She shelved her questions and pointed out a cupboard. Delvin grabbed two fire starters and handed her one.

          “We don’t have much time Dr. Laurie, light the tiki torches. Now!”

          He ran back outside and she stepped out after him, cautiously watching the grass.

          “Now, Dr. Laurie, now!” Delvin yelled.

          The tiki torches formed a perimeter around the whole house and Dr. Laurie realized that they were not the normal ones sold at the store. These ones were knee high bamboo sticks with fancy glasses on top of each stick. Inside the glass was a wick dipped in more than the normal level of paraffin. They burned bright in the night. She was wondering where he had bought them from when calloused hands grabbed her and ushered her back into the house. “Close every door and window!” Delvin yelled and they both ran around the house doing exactly that. Finally, they met in the living room and sat in front of the fire, him staring pensively into the flames, and she, searching his face for answers.

          “Who are you Delvin?” she finally asked.

          He half turned and looked at her and then back into the fire. “M…e called Delvin Dr. Laurie.” The stammer was back she realized. A minute ago, it hadn’t been there. She had never seen him move so fast… be so in control. There was more to ‘crazy Delvin’ than met the eyes.

          “Where did you come from Delvin? That night when you came to the hospital, you were badly hurt. Do you remember anything?”

          “I… I remember the fire Dr. Laurie. I re…me…mber the fire.” His voice shook with uncertainty.

          “What else Delvin? There must be something else?”

          He turned and looked at her. “I remember you Dr. Laurie.” He lay down and put his head on her laps. “Tell me a story Dr. Laurie? I’m tired.”   She wanted to slap him back to reality. How could he sleep at a time like this? She was still shaking from the snake ordeal, but she managed to collect herself. She ran a hand through Delvin’s hair and inspected his face. He looked peaceful and then… she noticed something else that she had never seen before: Delvin had a great manly physique and with a little grooming… a beard trim and hair cut… underneath all that… he was handsome. It was the kind of handsome that needed a closer look to discover and not the drop dead gorgeous look of a Hollywood actor walking through the front door. Delvin was a sweet guy without a mean bone in his body.

  

“There was once a little bird called twit,” she said and Delvin closed his eyes. “It rained on Earth for forty days and forty nights and twit couldn’t find a place to land. The little bird decided to fly to Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain on earth and the last hope for her, but when she got there, it too was submerged. Twit was exhausted and it was only a matter of time before her wings failed and she dropped into the water and…”

          The lights went out suddenly and Dr. Laurie’s words froze in her mouth. “What was that?” she asked with a fret. “We just lost power.”

          Delvin sat up and scanned the dark room. The only light was the one from the fire. “They are coming!” he whispered. “They are coming Dr. Laurie!”

          “Who’s coming Delvin?”

          “They are coming. Tree snakes. They coil around trees and electric poles. They are coming.”

          Dr. Laurie believed him then. “But we don’t have brown tree snakes on the island Delvin! Where are they coming from?”

          Delvin looked into her eyes. “The hurricane.”

          “Hurricane Katrina?” She looked puzzled.

          “Yes. The hurricane destroyed their natural homes: flooded the zoos, warehouses and snakes in people’s houses were washed into the Ocean.” Delvin looked scared. “Don’t you see Dr. Laurie? The currents have changed direction.” He looked back into the fire and she stared at him in horror. Her face was as white as a ghost; her brain too afraid to comprehend what he was saying. But one thing was for certain, she trusted him completely and everything that he said.

          “How many snakes Delvin?” she dreaded the answer.

          “Hundreds… thousands… am not sure.”

          Her hands trembled and she felt her heart thudding. How could Delvin know all this? But that was the wrong question and she did not want to get wrapped up in details. Time was of essence and there was a bigger picture at stake. 

          “What do we do Delvin? We can’t just wait. Everybody on the island will be killed. We will all die!”

          Delvin didn’t reply. He sat in front of the fire and started rocking back and forth. Dr. Laurie watched him and said nothing. She was beginning to understand the young man. Somewhere in that brain was an answer that could save the island. The fate of the people lay in the hands of one man… a crazy fool.

          “Aceta…” Delvin said. “Acetamin…” He gritted his teeth as though in pain.

          “Acetaminophen?” Dr. Laurie finished for him.

          “Yes. We need it.” Delvin kept staring into the fire.

          “The generic equivalent of Tylenol? Why do we need Tylenol Delvin?”

          “The mice… the mice.”

          And she gasped as she understood.

          Delvin suddenly found his voice and jumped to his feet. “We lace the mice with Tylenol and drop them on the ground. The tree snakes will eat the mice and die. Tylenol is harmless to people but fatal to snakes.”

          She could feel the excitement well up inside her. “How long does it take for the snake to die?”

          Delvin scratched his head. “72 hours.”

          “But Delvin, what if they bite people in those 72 hours?”

          “Their venom is not strong and can’t penetrate through clothes. They will be invasive yes, but people will have to wait it out.”

          Dr. Laurie paced the room in deep thought. “I have a lot of Tylenol at the hospital, but how do we get it to your house?”

          “Call the Air force ma’am.” He said it like it was nothing and she looked nervous. And then she pulled out her cell phone and searched for the number. It took an hour to find the right person in charge and another hour to explain what was happening.

          “How do you know?’ The General asked. He had been awaken in bed and was not happy.

          Dr. Laurie walked over to the window and looked outside. Beyond the burning flames of the tiki torches, he saw them. “General? Please walk over to the window and look outside.”

          Silence. And then a few seconds later. “Oh my gosh, they are all over the place!” The General yelled. “I’m on my way!”

          Dr. Laurie and Delvin were picked up by a humvee forty minutes later. It was almost midnight as the armored vehicle sped towards the hospital. The passengers felt the sick crunching underneath the tires as an occasional snake was ran over. Dr. Laurie looked through the window and saw them curled around trees and on people’s front yards. A helicopter flew low and advised folks to stay in their homes and lock their doors and windows. It was like watching a scene from a bad movie, only that this was real and mind boggling.

          Soldiers from the army were waiting at the hospital and Dr. Laurie showed them what to take and where to get it from. A convoy of trucks then headed for Delvin’s house.

          “Only five men can come in!” Delvin yelled above the noise when they arrived. Five men, the General, Dr. Laurie and Delvin descended into the basement and the men began crushing the Tylenol into powder and mixing it with water.

          “That’s a lot of small rats you have there,” the General said and Dr. Laurie shot him a warning look. Delvin had stopped stammering and she knew that he was on familiar ground.

          “What’s that Delvin?” she asked pointed at the bottle in his hands.

          “Rat poison.” He poured the dark stuff into the water. “Tree snakes don’t have to hunt for their food.”

          The mice were lured out of the room and into a pool of water where they drank a combination of Tylenol and poison. Buckets of dead mice were then rushed to the waiting helicopters where they would be air-dropped with plastic bag chutes all over the island. The operation took all night and men changed shifts to avoid fatigue. Delvin stood aside and supervised the operation until finally all the mice were gone.

          “What do we do now?” Dr. Laurie asked as she cleaned her hands with a dirty cloth.

          Suddenly, a scream from a soldier tore through the cool night and everybody in the basement ran upstairs to see what was happening.

          “I’ve been bit!” a soldier yelled.

          Dr. Laurie rushed over and inspected the wound under the powerful work lights. There were two puncture marks on the man’s leg. She looked up at Delvin with a frown.

          “It’s a cobra,” Delvin explained.

          “I thought we were dealing with tree snakes?” The General asked.

          Delvin looked around in fear. “Tell your men to get into the house and in their cars. Now!”

          The wounded man was airlifted to the hospital. Dr. Laurie, Delvin, the General and a few soldiers ran inside the house and double-checked all the locks and windows. With night vision goggles, the General scanned the surrounding dark terrain and watched out for the imminent attack. A hissing noise filled the air and grew louder and louder as the reptiles moved closer. And then they saw them.

          “There!” the General yelled frantically. Almost twenty cobras slithered forward with grace and then circled the house. The first of dawn lit the sky, the morning mist looked mysterious.

          “They are hungry,” Delvin explained. “They have been floating on water for days.”

          “What do we do Delvin?” Dr. Laurie crossed her fingers and prayed that the young man had a contingent plan. She shuddered as the first thought of annihilation crossed her mind. The thought of thousands of cobras on the island was unthinkable.

          “We are out of rats,” a frightened soldier whispered from the back.

          Something rammed against the front door and all the soldiers quickly swung their rifles ready to fire. A second thudding noise shook the door and the fear started to show on the soldiers’ faces as they realized how vulnerable their position was. Take away the guns and uniform and underneath all that, they were just boys who wanted to return to their homes and build a life.

          “Whatever comes through that door men, you take it down!” the General ordered as he pulled out a .45.

          Dr, Laurie’s eyes were glued on Delvin’s troubled face. He could see him struggling with his memories and she prayed fervently that he would remember, sooner and not later. And then Delvin gasped. “The second door!” he yelled.

          Yes, she remembered that the house had a second door. The door that Delvin hadn’t opened.

          “General, follow me!” Delvin yelled.

          They ran down the stairs and Delvin yanked the second door open. Inside and through the glass, they saw hundreds of mongoose scratching at the window, trying to get out. “They are hungry,” Delvin explained. “I rationed their food.”

          “Where did you find them?” Dr. Laurie couldn’t believe it. How could anybody have planned this… foreseen this? The plan was flawless.

          “A few came on the ships. I breeded them.” Delvin turned to the General. “There’s an exit door on the back. Once I hit the red switch, these things will fly out of here hungry. The General gave a thumb up sign and Delvin hit the switch. A tiny door in the back swung open and the mongoose started trickling out.

          “They are so many,” Dr. Laurie said as she watched. It took almost an hour for the room to empty. Meanwhile the thudding noise at the front door had stopped. The trio ran back upstairs and watched through the window.

          A mongoose and a cobra were standing toe to toe, circling each other. The puffed cobra stood taller and at an advantage over the tiny creature. The cobra suddenly struck forward and the mongoose leaped to the side. The cobra missed and the mongoose swiftly turned and bit into the snake’s neck and then drugged the lifeless reptile away.

          “Wow, they are so fast!” The General whistled. “I would never have imagined.”

          A few hours later, and with the morning sunlight burning in the horizon, the group opened the door and stepped outside. An eerie silence cut across the land and dead snakes lay all over the ground. Hundreds of mongoose swept through the town and then headed for the forest. One by one, the villagers appeared on their doorsteps and drew confidence from the presence of the military men. They begun to cheer and raise their hands.

          “Good job men!” The General congratulated his troops.

          Meanwhile, Dr. Laurie continued to watch as Delvin walked up a tiny hill and stared into the forest. She joined him.

          “What is it Delvin? Are we safe now?”

          “I have a bad feeling,” he replied as he stared into the forest. “Binoculars. I need binoculars.”

          “General! Bring me some binoculars!” she yelled and he came running. The civilians fell silent at the commotion. People’s nerves were taut.

          Delvin pointed into the forest. “Look between those two tall trees and tell me what you see,” he said calmly.

          Dr. Laurie took the binoculars and after a few seconds, “I see a mongoose.” Pause. “He looks… he looks scared.” Silence. “The bushes are moving! He’s gone!” Panic in her voice as she lowered her binoculars. “Something snatched the mongoose away.”

          Delvin stood up and shook his head. “I was afraid of this,” he mattered and turned to the General. “How many men do you have?”

          “Forty men Delvin. What are we looking at here? My men are capable of handling anything.”

          Delvin shook his head. “We need more men and gunship helicopters. We only have ten minutes left. How fast can they get here?”

          The General frowned. “Half an hour to an hour.”

          “We will all be dead by then,” Delvin said and Dr. Laurie grabbed him by the collar. “What’s coming Delvin? What are you so afraid of?”

          Delvin took in a deep breath. “Burmese pythons Dr. Laurie. They are one of the largest snakes in the world and range between 12 and 19ft long. They are eating all the mongoose.”

          Dr. Laurie covered his mouth in shock and the General quickly grabbed his phone and radioed for help. Delvin took a loudspeaker to the top of the hill and addressed the people of the town who were gathered.

          “Isn’t that crazy Delvin?” they asked. But when he started speaking, they didn’t think that he was crazy anymore.

          “People of Crystal Island, we only have ten minutes before pythons appear through those trees. The General has radioed for help but before help gets here, it’s our duty to protect that which we loved most: our homes, our wives and our children.” The people nodded and moved closer. “I want everybody to run into your homes and grab a gun, a knife or whatever weapon you can find. Lock your children and wives in the house! The fate of the island is in your hands.”

          The compelling speech stirred a patriotic fervor and a stampede almost occurred as folks dashed into their homes. A few minutes later, the men emerged spotting outdoor jackets and carrying rifles. Delvin turned to the General. “The operation is yours sir. You know the drill.” He took Dr. Laurie’s hand. “You should go inside doctor.”

          “I’m not going anywhere Delvin,” she said bravely and proceeded to tie her long hair into a pony tail. He respected her for her courage.

          The General looked disapproving and then reluctantly handed them each a .38 Smith & Wesson pistol.

“Single row!” he yelled at his soldiers. The men ran forward into formation. The General then motioned for the armed civilians to line up behind the soldiers. “Listen up everybody,” the General yelled. “You see something move in the grass, you shoot. And don’t shoot your friend!” Somebody laughed. “These snakes have great camouflage abilities so don’t hesitate. The best way to kill them is by either shooting or cutting off their heads.”

          Dr. Laurie shuddered and Delvin squeezed her hand. “Stay close doctor.”

          The hunting party moved cautiously towards the ominous shadows of the trees. The wind picked up pace and Delvin searched the skies for the helicopters. The sky was a beautiful blue but no help was in sight.

          The trees shook with movement and a murmur erupted through the crowd.

          “They can smell us. They are getting excited,” Delvin explained. “Remember Dr, Laurie, a snake strikes with two thirds of its body, so keep your distance.”

          The first python that came rushing through the forest was instantly gunned down. But before anybody could celebrate, three more instantly appeared, slithering from left to right, trying to decide on a point of attack. The people stared in horror at their gigantic size … and then they fired.

          The bullets on the snakes’ bodies seemed to have little effect and if anything, they seemed to aggravate the creatures. The head was a tough target and one of the pythons managed to reach the line before it was cut down. Five more appeared through the trees.

          “Oh no!” Delvin yelled. He knew that at least one of the snakes would get through and without further thought, he grabbed a grenade from a soldier and dashed forward.

          “Cover him!” the General yelled.

          Immediately, all five pythons turned their attention to the advancing dwarf of a man, trying to get an edge over each other to reach the prey. Delvin stopped running and waited until they were close, and then he pulled the pin and threw the grenade. Boom! Smoke filled the air and the five snakes were blown into pieces of meat. The impact of the explosion threw him back and he landed a distant away near the trees with ringing ears.

          He sat up dazed and ran a hand over his face to clean out the dirt. He spit out grass and quickly scanned the bushes and trees. It was all too quiet he knew. It was time to make a run for it. He pulled out his gun and started running.

          “Cover him!” the General yelled again and gunfire erupted around the running man. Delvin ran like the wind but when he reached the middle of the opening, a giant tail swung from the bushes and tossed him into the air. He landed on his back near the trees and lay very still. The head of a python suddenly appeared and moved towards the fallen man. The soldiers fired but all the bullets landed harmlessly on the python’s body.

          Dr. Laurie gasped. In a few seconds, Delvin would be prey! She hesitated for a flitting instant and then started running. The General yelled for her to stay back but she ignored him and ran towards the fallen man. It was a gutsy move and for someone who had never been impulsive, she knew that she was beyond her boundaries of control. The big snake opened its mouth to swallow and Dr. Laurie, having closed down the distance, fired a singe shot. The python reeled back from the impact and then regroup for a second attack.

          She reached him and stood between him and the snake, gun pointed at the approaching reptile. “Get up Delvin!” He yelled over her shoulders. But Delvin wasn’t moving. He just lay there like a dead log.

          The snake’s head rose into the sky and Dr. Laurie dropped on one knee and fired three quick shots. She was angry and surprisingly calm. Her dogged determination had a lot to do with the fallen man and the protective instinct inside her body. The muzzle flash almost blinded her but the bullets found their mark and the snake froze mid air and then collapsed dead on the ground.

          She dropped the gun and ran over to his side. “Delvin! Wake up. We have to go!”

          Delvin opened his eyes and stared at her. “Did you get him Dr. Laurie?” Blood oozed from the corner of his mouth.

          “Yes I did Delvin. He’s dead. We have to get you to the hospital. You are hurt!” She turned around and searched for help, but the soldiers were all busy fighting as more pythons slithered through the trees. Delvin grabbed her hand and squeezed it softly.

          “It’s okay Dr. Laurie. Delvin is ready to go. Delvin very tired.” His face was bruised and full of cuts.

          She looked around desperately and wished that they were back at the hospital. She would have saved him there.

          “Dr. Laurie?” he called with a slur. “What happened to the little bird when the world was flooded?”

          She had forgotten about the story. “The little bird didn’t die Delvin. She found a boat! She lived! You have you live too!”

          A thin smile crossed his lips. “I love you Dr. Laurie,” he whispered.       

She watched as his eyes closed. “No. Nooo Delvin. Don’t give up on me. Don’t you dare give up on me!” But Delvin didn’t look like he was willing to fight. Her lips quivered and tears started streaming down her face. “Don’t go Delvin. You are my best friend. I love you too. I… love you! There you go. You made me say it. I love you Delvin. Don’t leave me alone!” She thought that she saw a smile but that was all… and then a paleness covered his face and she knew that he was gone.

 

The wind picked up speed and the tree branches begun to creak. Dr. Laurie looked up and saw the apache helicopters hovering, machine guns pointing downwards.

          “They are not ours!” he heard the General yell. She counted five of them. And then, they opened fire and the air exploded to the thunderous burst of machine guns. Dr. Laurie covered her ears and leaned protectively over Delvin’s body. The choppers formed a row and fired on every inch of the forest.

          One of the choppers turned back and hovered over the doctor and she tried to shield her face from the whirling downwash of air. A rope was thrown down and a man carrying a box slid down. He hit the ground running and pulled Dr. Laurie away from Delvin’s body. He worked quickly, opened the box and pulled out what looked like a long needle, which he stuck mercilessly through Delvin’s heart.

          “We have to take him! He’s in a comma,” the man yelled above the sound of the bird. He tied the rope around Delvin’s body and then tied the end around his right foot. The chopper started airlifting the two men and Dr. Laurie ran after them.

          “Who are you?” she yelled.

          “I can’t answer that ma’am. But Delvin used to be one of us. We brought him to the island after his accident. Didn’t want him saying the wrong things to the wrong people!”

          The two men ascended and Dr. Laurie, for someone who never went to church, prayed for a miracle.

          The End.


The Diaries of Dr. Laurie

 

1st June

It’s been two months now since Delvin was taken away from me. I see a speck in the distance and my heart misses a beat. And then I realize that it’s not him and I feel empty.

 

15th June

The Island is safe now and every inch of the forest has been combed. The currents have changed direction and are being monitored. I pray that no living person on earth will have to go through anything like this again.

 

30th June

I came home today, found my garden weeded and flowers watered. The tiki torches are gone. My heart skipped a beat and I know that Delvin is back. I can’t wait to put my arms around him and feel his warmth. I love Delvin with all my heart.

News

Off to AFRICA

 

My book A Whisper in the Jungle has been picked by a publishing company and approved by the board. It has been scheduled for release soon.

 

The music is all around you, all you have to do is listen

 

Contact

 

mrobertto@yahoo.com

Without God, what are we? What do we have? What is life...