Tony’s voice echoed in the cavern, hollow against the walls. “Are you out of your mind? That thing’s going to take your head off!”
The snake, however, did not move- did not even seem to be watching his teammate approach. And almost as though in response to his own voice, the sound from before came again, long and trembling- midway between a moan and a sob. This time, when his eyes darted in search of the source, the darkness did not block his sight: the naked figure of a man lay stretched beneath the snake, bound to an outcropping of rock. He was all ribs and sharp ridges of bone, all too-thin pale limbs, all open sores on top from the places the venom had splattered and on the bottom where the rock had rubbed away the flesh. The man’s face, directly below the snake’s mouth, had gotten the worst of it; it was raw and red, glistening with blood and exposed muscle and the slick of poison. The man shouldn’t have been alive, much less moving, and yet he was- was thrashing weakly in his bonds, turning his head as far as it would go to avoid the white liquid as it dribbled down. It was not far enough.