The Waiting Room
Everyone huddled around the gas heater. The sound lulled me to sleep, it sounded like the gentle buzzing of a fly as the red heat glowed. I had only managed to find the room after the others so I propped myself up on the yellow plastic chair that was screwed to the floor. The room was small, four white walls with no window to see out. A door the only entrance and exit point. No paintings, only walls that were endlessly white. A picture would have kept my attention, one of a yellow field on a calm summer’s day or a beach with the white warm sand, a blue expansive ocean and bystanders. Then I could satisfy my boredom and imagine— transportation wouldn’t be problem as my mind would take me there.
A few small groups, covered in itchy thin grey blankets, huddled together for warmth. Eyes peered out from under their blankets, their faces rebuked my stare. I had to occupy my mind. The gentle sound of a tongue flicking down in the mouth grabbed my attention. The turkey sounds came from a small greying man who was sitting with his legs to his chest; he was rocking himself to sleep. He had no blanket only a tattered brown jacket, the collar reaching over his neck. His face was full of wrinkles, each telling an individual story. His life was clearly etched on his face and he needed a shave. His isolation told me he was a reject, his family had left him and he had resigned himself to being alone. I glanced around at those huddled for heat and realised I was a reject too. All I could do was wait I did not know what for. Wait for the long sleep.
I saw her covered from head to toe in blankets, something nestling to her chest. Her eyes were deep blue, packed with red. She looked at me with those tired eyes; she was running out of life. Her pale white breast peaked out of its concealment, the round full tit an object of desire. I turned my head and stared into the white wall, nothing there to fill my head—nothing. I heard the gentle crying of a child, like the sound of a train slowly approaching its destination. I slowly turned my head back towards the woman with the breast, hoping she would reveal more of her flesh.
The breast was in someone’s mouth now; the leathery nipple was being sucked on. He was small with no hair, his dirty, tiny hands clawed on her breast. I watched the marks appear in long thin red lines giving rise to insinuations of intimacy. She looked up into me and gave me a disapproving glance. It was back to the white walls for me. After going over numerous useless thoughts in my head I turned my attention back to the mother and child. She had covered him under the blanket; her breast lost under the concealment. I sat and watched the hidden baby drain her life. I could see it in her eyes. She was being shelled out, sucked dry by her child. She continued to give; the child was of more importance.
I turned away as the hours slowly passed and with it my strength. I was a strong well kept man in my time, but now that had all changed. I was physically and mentally different. I wasn’t my usual self something had happened to me that made me feel ill whenever I tried to do anything menial.
The flickering light in the room brought me back. I looked around; an elderly woman with a toothless mouth was sitting fixated. She held a white starchy newspaper that contained a collection of black inked words. Apocalypse was the only word I could make out as its size filled half the page. No pictures only words, endless meaningless words. The letters were in bold, easily discernible type that would get anyone’s attention.
A-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e, I spelt the word out painstakingly slow just to get the point across. The point was reached. The paper started to drop slowly from her purple hands. The thick stubby fingers tried to hold on and refuse the passing away but the paper tore away and fell to the ground where a lump of a person lay concealed in a blanket.
My eyes closed as my body tried to slip into a sleep. Any sleep would help.
Sleep! Sleep! Sleep! Sleep!
When I opened my eyes the old woman that had clutched the paper for what seemed a century was gone, probably taken away towards the Great Judgement seat of God. I pondered on the thought as I stared at the wall, noticing a few speckles of yellow and brown. Someone had been careless, spilling tea and coffee no doubt. It’s amazing what the mind can do if it really wants. I picked out a prominent spot, the largest darkest stain I could find and named him God.
It took me a while to find another dot that was small and insignificant enough to represent me. I found it in the corner of the room away from all the dots, away from it all. Both dots were too far away to engage in any congenial conversation so with my mind I moved the two together. The red light of the heater suddenly died down as the room was left without heat. A murmur of mutters erupted but they were too weak to do anything. Turkey man drew his collar tighter around his neck while I wrapped the blanket around my head.
“So,” God replied. “How are you doing?”
“I’m fine,” I replied, “I can’t complain. I could be worse.”
“Well,” he boomed back. “Let’s drop all the formalities and pretenses we both know who each other is we can be forthright I hope.”
“Yes,” I gulped.
“So let’s start over again.”
“Mr, Slav how are you really doing?”
God wasn’t that informal, he would have had been more eloquent. Each individual sentence would have been a masterpiece.
There was no response only the gentle crying of a baby. A few figures draped in blankets were muttering to themselves.
I continued, “I never thought life could be so harsh, so infinitesimally cruel. Children who used to run down my street testing the patience of the cobble stones are now lifeless, inanimate corpses.”
“I don’t know what to think anymore. Are you just playing games with us, getting us to think that we’re in control then you shake the leaves and make us realise we are powerless? Did you have a hand in this suffering?”
The silence was annoying. I had asked a question but the response never came. I waited.
“Impoliteness,” I muttered.
“No, no it was man’s doing. The suffering was brought upon by man; it is his inability to treat each other with respect and honesty that is causing his downfall. Treat each other the way you wish to be treated.”
I laughed deep down inside my belly. “The idea of treating others the way you wish to be treated is overly simplistic; such an idea has never really worked.” I shook my head and said. “God I’m an atheist.”
I thought I had him tricked and I had him cornered but he replied. “Then why are you talking to me?”
“Ok, so I am talking to you what is the big deal? You could just be an idea that has been ingrained so strongly into my head that I just make you up.”
“Ha-ha!” It was his turn to laugh.
“I’m glad you are amused but that brings me to my next question. Why suffering?”
I asked, “Why?”
“The age old question… Why suffering?”
“If there was no suffering everything positive wouldn’t look good in your eyes.”
“Take for example a farmer who experienced plenty all his life, he would take it for granted, right? Then take a farmer stricken with poverty yet he treasures his life more because he knows heartache.”
I understood, but I needed to see it.
“You’ll be the farmer,” I said to God “And I’ll be You…”
I put on my deep narrator voice, “It was late, and the setting sun stretched the land as far as the eye could see.”
“Look at my land!” said the farmer stretching out his hands. “All this is mine!”
“As the years passed the farmer enjoyed good fortune, doubling his annual profits never having a bad crop. The bugs never ate at his stalks.”
“I am blessed.” The farmer beamed. “I never had a poor crop, my wife is young and beautiful, and I don’t know what it’s like to be ill. I am blessed.”
“But the years passed and the farmer grew tired of his plenteous life, never having tasted suffering. God looked down.”
“Why are you displeased?”
“I have everything yet I do not know what it’s like live without. No illness has befallen me, I am thankful for that, but this perfect life is getting to me.”
“Another farmer not too far away knew what it was to suffer.”
“Enough of that,” I said. “I get what you’re saying. Suffering is needed, without it we wouldn’t be able to appreciate life.”
I thought of the radioactive waste, the fear and the terror of radiation. Who would have guessed it was nuclear fallout. Who was responsible for such an act? I imagined outside, the snow was falling, casting an outline on the grey buildings. A lamp post covered in soft white snowflakes as the sky continued to spit down the ashen white particles. Was it really snow? What were they up to in their knees? God only knew.
We had been shipped out of my village in carriages that conveyed the horror of the aftermath—bodies covered in red festering wounds. A little boy sat next to me on the wooden bench that offered no respite for the pain. The wood dug into my aching back. The boy was alone; I concluded he had lost his parents. His face was so burnt that every time I looked at him I nearly vomited. The train was old, jolting our organs all over the place. The boy dressed in a little black suit made him look the perfect man. He sat contently on the wooden bench humming some little tune that stuck inside his head. I couldn’t get it out either. Dum-Dum, de, de, hum-hum, I forget now how it went but I remember the little brown polished shoes tapping insistently on the floor. I took a glance into his eyes once; they were the only perfect thing. He smiled back the summer. When the train pulled into the station I opened my eyes surprised that I had slept through the rattling car. The boy was slumped next to the window like he was looking out into a world he still hadn’t fully explored. The arrival at the station signalled his death.
I died too.
The pain was unbearable, the stinging sensation sought to drive me into the frozen ground and double me over. I struggled to stand. Whining buses pulled into the station as screams and shouts were heard as we were herded like cattle into buses heading to the hospital. When I arrived in the white frantic halls no one knew what was happening or where to go. All I saw were eyes begging, pleading, and crying. I found a seat in a room and sat for hours, trying to hold on.
I imagined the words of a doctor, “Good news, it is treatable. With enough medication you will live.”
“Live for what?”
“Live for others,” the big spot on the wall replied.
“Live for others? How insane is that? This just proves that every man has to look out for himself. The government failed us, even our own people have proved useless, and they are only concerned about looking out for themselves.”
“No,” I shook my head. “I have lived for other’s long enough.”
I closed my eyes and tried to get some sleep.
I had been a cobbler’s son so it was only common sense to take over my father’s business. Repairing shoes and watching the hot glue melt underneath the sole was a joy for any boy, but not for me. I needed something more fascinating in life. My uncle who never wanted for anything paid for my education, which enabled me to become a, well I can’t remember really. I think it was a teacher, although my memory fails me.
The breast was out again only this time it wasn’t as full. It was sagging now as a set of gums bit down hard into the nipple. She lifted her head and met my gaze. Her eyes were like two red brake lights; her black raven hair was falling out in clumps all over the floor.
“What’s your name?” I asked her.
“Mary,” she replied, although she never said anything her mouth was frowning now. I just imagined her, she was a typical Mary. Besides it was an apt name for her due to the child. My stomach rumbled as I licked my lips hoping for a taste.
“Hey, would you pass that nipple around? The baby has had its share now it’s my turn.”
It was rude of me to be so pertinent to ask for something that was so intimately hers, but I needed to wet my drying lips, my belly needed to be satisfied.
“Mary,” she repeated as if for the hundredth time. “And your name is Slav, I heard you talking to God.”
“Yes, yes, you would have some sort of connection with God wouldn’t you, a bit of him resides in you.”
She smiled as the milk dribbled down the babies chin. “I guess you could say that seeing I gave birth to our Saviour.”
I chuckled to myself. “So why are you here?”
“The same reason we are all here I suppose, looking to be healed, to be saved.”
Her voice was calming as I rocked back and forth with her rolling voice.
She opened her mouth and started to sing.
“Cry for me when I am weary
Shed a tear when I am old
But do not cry when I go
To my home of gold.”
A religious hymn no doubt stamped into a naïve mind. No, I shook my head there was no such thing as a heaven, it was only a myth like the Minotaur or Hercules. I was unbelieving. Yet I put the words in her mouth, I made up her speech, her tone, her soft slow voice that struck a cord in my heart. I had made her up just like I had made up the spot on the wall.
I must have been delirious because I started to see in faint outlines the shapes of brown white speckled branches with thick heavy green leaves reaching for the sky. The ivory keys of a piano that I had heard streaming from an open window started to come to me; it was music to the ears. The piano blended into the moonlight as the trees blew in the breeze, the notes danced down the empty foyer and outside to an unsuspecting audience. Me, a little fair-haired boy crouched next to the paraffin light that was waltzing with the symphony. The yellow light danced and spun. I imagined my father slowly lifting his hammer and drilling the small nails into the shoe.
The trees rustled as the keys climaxed under the pianists old worn hands that unlocked a secret of his past every time he lightly pressed down on white and black.
A few stray dogs, skinny and bony, sat on the cobbled road cocking their ears intently feeding on every key. A car roared by abruptly ending the melody. A few minutes more cars with their tinted windows flew towards me, this time they stopped in front of the house. A couple of men, the exact amount was difficult to tell, flew out of the cars dressed in identical brown uniforms hurrying up the granite steps. Their heavy boots began pounding, pounding, pounding. And I listened like the dogs with my head to one side allowing for the notes and tones to reach my ears.
“You are under arrest!”
“I’ve done nothing wrong!”
“…Come with me…”
“But…please…you can’t take me…my wife and…”
“You should have thought about that before you started your subversive activity.”
“No…” I heard a short burst of footsteps that sounded like the rattle of a machine gun.
Then I heard it like the clanging of the piano keys that are hit at once.
Moments later two men on either side dragged him by the arms, a large red hole embedded in his skull. No more music for him.
“Mr,” I looked up, it was Mary again whispering from the other side of the room. Her eyes were filled with fear. She was talking on her own this time without any manipulation of my mind. I looked at her large uncovered hands that were squeezing her child to her chest.
“Yes?” I questioned, noticing her grief. Something was wrong with the child.
“You’ve got to help me, I think, I think…”
A few voices muttered their descent to the sudden rise in pitch. A crowd of eyes peered out of blankets and then they closed again. No one wanted to help.
I watched the little head fill up with blood like a sand timer collecting a bit of his will to live.
I wanted to whisper back to her and say, “Leave the child die, isn’t that we all want, to die?”
She shook her head as I turned her into Mary again. “No, Mr Slav no one wants to die even though we have gone through the tomb of suffering we all want life, we all want eternal, everlasting life.”
A physiological debate, I thought.
“No, I said. “I would rather be dead and buried. Stick me in a coffin any day, I have tasted life and I have had enough. There is no point going through the anguish of having to live another life, especially for all eternity. Who’s to know what that life will be like what if it is hell for all eternity? No, I’d rather die and that would be the end of me.”
I looked away from the mother who was staring into me, looking for a tidbit of information about me that would unlock my refusal to help. I turned to the wall and stared into it imagining if I was a brick layer or a stone mason I could have guessed the structure of the wall with one wrap of my frozen knuckles.
Then God spoke, “Turn not away from the mother and child!”
I lowered my head and slid down the back of the slippery plastic chair. That was not God that was my own head playing tricks again, probably some passage that I had just added with my black ink pen in, The Bible according to Mr. Slav. I shook my head. Torn between the two, myself and others, what benefit would I get out of helping her, what would it achieve? I wasn’t too sold on life, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to help someone else.
Light is a source for reading. It is needed for a child’s homework, the great minds study under it. A farmer tills the land under the sun, he plants and waters as the light encourages growth. This light was different. It came in a great blinding wave, at first it was beautiful the magnificent giant that loomed overhead with plumes of black and red like the cloud of a dust storm coming from a stampede of magnificent stallions. The clouds of billowing smoke woke me up out of my appreciation for the work of art that even Michelangelo could not conceive, although he had masterminded the Sistine Chapel; then the long train ride and the waiting.
I had been there once; the quiet interior decorated with colours I never imagined existed. If God lived inside any building it was that one. I had taken numerous pictures most of them were inside my brain stored for my pleasure and individual viewing. They had been catalogued, all alphabetically in steel cabinets. I scanned the letters printed neatly on the drawers and came to the letter W.
“W is for war,” I said, slowly opening up the heavy sliding drawer.
They were marching again the long line of soldiers with their tin metal helmets a testament to the people that they would protect the homeland.
“We will not lose this war!”
Churchill, the bulldog that was within him, had always been defiant shouting, “We will never surrender.” Now the government had taken over the defiant stance saying surrender was an act of cowardice and acceptance of defeat. In my mind I argued that surrender had been necessary throughout history to ensure the survival of a nation, but no one listened.
In the thicket and over the hilly green woods soldiers sent to protect the people were positioned waiting for the inevitable.
It was quiet as I crept on my belly towards a knotted hill, twisted by some mortar attack.
I could hear the sweet chorus of choir birds belting out a rendition of Handel’s Messiah. “Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah …and he shall rein forever and ever.”
It was wonderful as the dark enclosed forest sparkled with light, the sun breaking through the green pine leaves. The heat hit the damp forest floor and the brown rotting bark mixed with a decaying stench. I plugged my nose as the smell shot down my nostrils and slid down my throat. The sound of sporadic gun firing stopped, the singing silenced and I felt alone. With my sweaty hands stuck to my rifle I clamoured to the top of the mangled hill. Bits of shrapnel no longer hot nestled in the brown rich dirt. I peered over; my helmeted head spied the ground ahead that gave rise to a steep dirt embankment. It was loose; a thin layer of carpet moss fed on the ground below. I pointed the rifle out in front of me, capable of firing my cartridge in seconds.
I spun around thinking the shot had become from behind but no one was their except for a body dressed in green lying with his waist deep in mud. He held out his arm, reaching for something. His black fingers had been unevenly bitten off. Buzzing flies surrounded him.
Then it happened, the great deluge as my feet gave way under the sliding dirt, the great mound slipped down. I wanted to shout when I was thrown onto my back with a thud and the wind knocked out of me, but I couldn’t get any air out. I slipped like a child going down a slide for the first time, wondering if he should panic or let the rush of the moment take over. I panicked as the dirt seeped into the cuffs of my greyish-green jacket and through the high neck collar. I could feel the gritty sand swimming around my dirty stinking flesh. The dirt began to rise as I sunk up to my knees. I was thrown into the air and swept back down into a wave of suffocating dirt. I was riding the wave to my death. I started kicking and spraying my arms around me and tried to keep my eyes and mouth shut, but in my panic I had gulped large mouthfuls of dark coffee rich dirt. It was gritty, horrible earth. I hit the ground with a thud. My leg caught under my rear and then twisted painfully back with a snap! I lay still for a while trying to think what had just happened but it didn’t last.
A big pair of black boots pointed out directly in front of my eyes. From the boots I could tell immediately that he was an officer or that he shared a high rank. I started spewing out the dirt that was trapped in my mouth as I search desperately for my rifle. It was gone, lost somewhere in the mudslide. My fingers shook like an old man’s as I reached for the pistol in the holster and pointed it high in the air above the towering boots.
“Solider,” the shout reached me on the ground. “Drop your weapon!”
I strained my dirt filled eyes to make sense of the figure behind the voice but the sky was too white to make out any detail. I kept the gun raised.
“Private, what division are you with?”
I searched the list of men that I served with. Demtri Pavlov, George Hoff, Peter Constance and on the list went. I couldn’t remember the name of the division.
“We were beyond the forest?” I pointed back in the direction I had come. “We were ordered to protect the town beyond the forest.”
“So what are you doing out here?”
“Just yesterday fighting broke out and we were assigned to check out the area for trouble. I lost my company yesterday.”
“Yes, well I see it all sounds provable. Reports have been coming in that that village has been taken.”
I never took my eye off the trigger; the gun was still in the air as I heard the heavy boots scrapping against the dirt inching towards my face.
The boot slammed against my face as I heard my jaw snap inside my head. I pulled the trigger and fired twice.
The sound ushered in the darkness.
I strained my eyes to see where I was but it was too dark to make anything out. Even shadows were impossible to see. I was lying on the cold stone floor breathing in the damp heavy air. No sound to paint a picture only silence.
I could see things I never wanted to see. I saw the arms and legs of people frozen in their last living moment crying out for mercy as a bullet penetrated their skull. The brain would shut down and the signals to the body would end. A little boy with foggy bulging eyes was lying with his snapped arms and broken legs. He should have been running with his hands in the air as he celebrated a goal, scored on the open green field. His mother cheered from the sidelines, draped with a purple and orange scarf, the colours of the local team while his father applauded the move. Now his mother was face down in the dirt as big black bulging bugs ran up and down his father’s once strong hairy arms looking for a way in. The face was the entrance to greater things, inside numerous bugs had already started darting up the nostrils and drilling into the eye sockets. The mouth was a breeding ground for decay.
Footsteps followed by loud angry voices, the loud clanging of metal keys flicking off the solid steel door. After the key jangled in the key hole for minutes I heard the lock clicking open. Still no light. I felt a strong hand grip me in the pit of the arm. The sharp nails pinched my flesh as another arm grabbed me. My legs were sliding behind as they dragged me down a long straight corridor. I couldn’t see, yet I tried to desperately see with my ears. As we passed a door I heard the sound of keys being roughly banged, the rhythm sounded like an archaic typewriter followed by a bell then more angry stomping feet. I listened to the soft rumble of voices feeling my legs getting burned over the rough carpeted surface.
The dim light in the room blinded me as soon as the blindfold had been taken off. The light was coming from a table lamp that was situated on the corner of the teak desk. A wooden chair with a strong supportive back sat neatly in the centre behind the table. I had been seated with my hands behind the chair, handcuffed into a submissive position. The light spilled over my white dirty body alerting me to my nakedness. Ashamed and afraid I pulled on the cuffs. I needed to hide my nakedness! I struggled as the pain chewed at my wrists. I pulled frantically. I gave up. I had to give in to my humiliation.
Suddenly it dawned on me that I had been captured and I was in the interrogation room where they would break me into submission.
But nothing would prepare me for the horror that unfolded. She came in, how she entered was of little consequence. Her blonde hair was dimly lit as she paced back and forth in front of the table.
Only the sound of her heels clicking against the grey bare floor.
“Private Slav!” She roared, there was no need for her to raise her voice I was only in front of her.
“Yes!” I replied as my entire body shook. I had never been trained for this only Special Forces had been given the honour of physically and mentally being able to resist. Even the toughest men crack.
“Private Slav I need your full attention,”
“Yes,” I mumbled.
She didn’t reply.
Her standard grey army uniform had the top three buttons undone. Her breast line stopped short of revealing the outline of her breast. I was embarrassed to even think such thoughts, afraid I would get an erection in the dim halogen light.
“What do you want?” I questioned struggling to keep my thoughts off her.
I looked at the floor.
Floor, Floor, Floor I thought to myself. It was working.
FLOOR, FLOOR, FLOOR!
A picture flashed in my mind. She was on the floor as I strode on top of her naked. It felt good, the driving force of man and woman acting like wild insane animals.
I felt a shower of spit fly in my eyes and then the blue piercing eyes that screamed, “Damn it I want your full attention!”
She was no longer the object of desire as she lifted her shoe over my leg and drove her heel into my thigh. I screamed.
“We want to know where you were!” She dug her sharp long nails into my scalp and then pulled every root and strand of hair that was connecting to my head. I screamed, my teeth biting down into my lips, which started the bleeding. She brushed the ball of hair off her hand and fingers as if her act was nothing. She glanced at her white nails that were now stained with blood. The torture was yet to start.
She pulled a packet of cigarettes out of her breast pocket. I assumed it was a pack of twenty four. They were unfiltered. A silver Zippo with the emblem of an eagle braced the front and I watched her flip the lighter as a flame leapt out. She held the cigarette balanced in her mouth. She must have realised I was taking special interest to the moment as she said, “You talk and you get one of these!”
“Talk?” I said as she took an enormous drag inhaling every bit of nicotine then with a puff a cloud of smoke trailed out her mouth and nostrils hitting me in the face. I didn’t know much, perhaps I would be better off if I told her everything I knew. I thought of the town that we had held. Sporadic fighting had erupted in the outskirts near the cedar trees where a wooden bench had been carved to death with lover’s names, hearts and x’s. It was a well loved spot; a group of wild monkey boys had rehearsed every move on the old greying branches. Everything changed, the burst of gunshots fired where once school children’s voices exploded with glee. I remembered a silly little song.
“I am a fisher man fishing on a boat
but all I’ve caught is a stupid old coat.”
“Villagers started fleeing, said they would be safer away from the senseless fighting, they never asked for it, it only came. The officer that was in charge argued, that’s all he ever did was argue. We were to hold the village, people or no people.”
“Why did you leave the village?” She took the cigarette out of her mouth as she held it with two fingers. I watched the ash fall slowly to the floor like a winter snowfall.
She drew the red glowing cigarette to my leg making a threatening gesture.
“Ok, ok,” I started to squirm. “A few of us were ordered to scout out the forest.”
“Ten from what I can recall.”
“We were fired on…”
“Come on I need answers…”
“And then I found myself alone.”
“Why did you stay in the forest, you knew Bratislava was safe?”
“No,” I shook my head. “I didn’t know, I wasn’t sure I didn’t want to take any chances.”
“So you stayed in the forest for over a day?”
“Yes, yes, yes! I’m telling the truth for God’s sake.”
“Don’t be so overly dramatic dear,” she said stretching out her hand to comb my hair again with her long nails. I bent my head away from her.
“So you’re afraid of me?” she cackled, taking another puff of her cigarette.
I didn’t reply, I didn’t want to encourage her.
“So you enticed the people out of the village and then you slaughtered them?”
“If you are insinuating that I was responsible for such a barbaric act you are utterly and totally insane.”
“The people were a problem you didn’t want to be, should I say, burdened with them?”
“No, no we were there to protect them from you.”
I spat a thick yellow spit. It hit her freshly polished boots.
Her arm that held up the cigarette flew towards my leg as she pressed the burning cigarette into my flesh!
I jolted up as the pain shot through my leg then up my spine. She pressed the fag butt deep into me. When she lifted it up the pain was worse, a bright reddish-black ring had already formed and my leg was swelling.
I cursed out loud, every possible curse I was screaming in her ear making it known that I hated her and her kind. I hated everything she wanted to be and anyone she had come in contact with. Hate.
Hate doesn’t come nicely wrapped down some supermarket aisle. It doesn’t come with freebies or a buy one get one free scheme when it hits you it hits you hard. I heard that a snake’s venom could make you swell up and you die within a few days. You lie on the hospital table waiting for treatment but it never comes you hope the doctor will rip you open and extract the poison but it never happens. If it was caught in time you would only lose a limb. It’s the waiting before the dying that is the worst.