Short Story Day 79 of 365
Marco and Spencer had been friends for the better part of 20 years but had never been to the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup. Living in Texas, they had heard about the annual event, but never ventured to Sweetwater in the early spring to attend.
For most people, the thought of being surrounded by 10 percent of all the rattlesnakes in Texas in any given year was a complete turnoff and wouldn’t be caught dead within 100 miles of the place when the Roundup was in town.
The Roundup wasn’t on Marco’s or Spencer’s bucket list, per se, but just on their curiosity list. Both took off work to go for the weekend and probably would never go back. One and done.
They got through the first two days without being creeped out, so that was good. Like tens of thousands of other festival goers, Spencer and Marco set up the tent and threw their sleeping bags on the hard West Texas ground. Hotels were a premium during the festival and theirs was a last minute thought to attend.
The guys gathered around the community campfire that second night and heard all the snake stories and legends that regular festival goers told. How many were true was anybody’s guess.
When Spencer slipped into his bag later that night, he froze.
“Marco, did you leave the tent flap open this morning when we left?”
“Uh yeah, based on what I smelled in here last night, you’re probably thanking me right about now, why?”
“Well, you do know we’re at a rattlesnake festival, right?”
“Of course,” said Marco.
“Any chance one of those critters slithered on in here while we were out?”
“Well, it is West Texas in the spring when all the rattlesnakes come out after a long winter of hibernation or whatever snakes do. Other critters roam the countryside too.”
“Well, I’m in a bit of a bind here,” Spencer said. “I’ve got something cold on my leg and I’m terrified to move.”
“Really? Um, uh, okay. Here’s what we do. On the count of 3, you need to get out as fast as you can and I’ll grab the bag and smash it to the ground.”
“What if it bites me on the way out?”
“We could do what ifs all day here, buddy,” Marco said. “Unless you have a better plan…”
“Ok, ok. I’m ready. I’ll count. 1-2-3!”
Spencer was out of his bag and on his feet in one second flat but stumbled to maintain his balance. He crashed into the wall of the tent, which pulled out three of the five outside tent pegs from the ground.
Marco grabbed the bag at the opening, hoisted it, and smashed it to the ground while Spencer was pulling down the tent around them both.
The noise and commotion caused a small crowd from the campfire to gather around their tent.
When the guys came out from under the downed tent, Marco raised the bag and said to the crowd, “Got it. I killed me a genuine working flashlight tonight, C batteries and all.”