“What a big snake… It was huge…,” Zhao Qiang murmured. His expression was a mixture of fear and excitement.
“Be more precise!” Captain Chen said, interrupting him.
Zhao Qiang took a deep breath to get his emotions under control before saying, “Its body was as thick as my waist, and its stomach was so big it looked like it couldn’t move. It’s sleeping on the hillside like a log.”
“Oh, yes!” Zhao Qiang seemed to remember something else. “It looked like a king ratsnake!” he added.
Their faces darkened.
“Are you sure you’re not wrong?” Captain Chen asked doubtfully.
“Of course I am. How could I be wrong? I’ve caught snakes like this before,” Zhao Qiang said unhappily.
Luo Yuan knew all about king ratsnakes. He used to see them all the time when he was young and living with his parents in the village. They were supposed to be approximately two to three meters long, and about as thick as a human arm. It was impossible for a king ratsnake to be as thick as Zhao Qiang had described it to be.
Still, Luo Yuan was slightly relieved. It was always less stressful to face a non-venomous animal than a venomous one.
“We’ve only got one chance. A bloated snake will not attack. As long as we do not provoke it, we should be able to walk by safely. Then we’ll take our guns out, shoot it on the head and run. Understand?” Captain Chen asked gravely.
“Everyone check your guns again. Zhao Qiang, pass Wang Fei’s gun to Luo Yuan. You know how to use one, right? The safety is off, all you need to do is pull the trigger!” Captain Chen said after thinking for a second. It would be safer with more people carrying a gun. As for Wang Fei, they would just let him lie prostrate there for the time being. Getting him back now would only alarm the snake.
Luo Yuan took the gun in his hand. It was the first time he held a gun. Maybe it was because of the depressing atmosphere, but he was not as excited as he thought he’d be. He checked the gun like everybody else. Wang Fei had not fired at all throughout the journey, so the gun was still fully loaded.
“Well… Let’s go now!” Captain Chen said in a deep voice after a short hesitation.
All of a sudden, Luo Yuan’s heart started beating fast. His legs felt like they were floating in the air. He felt completely powerless. Yet he astonishingly followed the rest of the team by creeping along. He was not the last one in line. He was followed tightly by Huang Jiahui, who was holding on to the edge of Luo Yuan’s shirt. Her hands were shaking, and Luo Yuan could feel her shivers.
He realized that he was not as brave as he had thought. When his fear reached a certain level, his timidity took over his emotions completely. If it had been any other animal, he may have been braver. However, since that time in school when someone had played a practical joke on him by putting a water snake down his back, he had started to fear the cold-blooded animals.
The faint smell of rotten fish wafted up from the hillside. It was utterly revolting.
They all walked over to Wang Fei before suddenly slowing down.
“Don’t talk from now on. Just watch my hand signals before you act!” Captain Chen said in a soft voice. Then he crossed over the hillside and waved his hand. Zhao Qiang followed without any hesitation.
Luo Yuan took a deep breath and followed them. As soon as he climbed up the hillside, he saw the giant snake that was lying there.
Although he had been mentally preparing for it, he still felt a shiver down his spine when he actually saw it.
The snake was more than 10 meters long and its huge body was adorned with shiny, glossy scales with a tactile impression of metal. Luo Yuan doubted that its scales were bulletproof. They radiated under the sunlight producing a rainbow-like halo. Its stomach was bulging and its whole body looked like a giant olive. It was the kind of creature that could cause terror even from afar.
The area around it was very quiet. The group’s heavy breathing was the only sound to be heard.
In today’s modern peaceful society, hardly anybody could keep their cool when seeing such a creature. Modern education enhanced people’s knowledge but neglected their body; it increased the number of wise men but reduced the number of brave men. Therefore, anyone able to contain their terror and not scream in such a situation must possess unique inner qualities.
Captain Chen looked at them and signaled for them to keep up with him before he started creeping towards the snake’s head.
The team slowly surrounded its body, stopping at a distance of 3 to 4 meters from its head.
The giant snake’s amber-like, ice-cold eyes were not moving and its pupils were slightly dilated. It seemed like it was asleep. Luo Yuan noticed that the black stripes on the top of its head formed a symbol. That symbol was a clear characteristic of its kind – it was indeed a king ratsnake.
Its whole body was releasing that dreadful breath that could freeze one’s blood.
Luo Yuan’s heart was racing at a tremendous speed. He switched the gun to his right hand and held onto the knife with his left hand. He kept taking deep breaths. He looked as pale as a corpse.
Huang Jiahui, who was right behind him, looked even worse. Her body suddenly felt like jelly and she held onto Luo Yuan’s arm even tighter while the softer parts of her body were pressing up against him. Luo Yuan had no time to enjoy the feeling of her supple breasts, though. Instead, his face darkened.
He thought he might get killed because of this woman when they all started firing and the snake struggled to survive.
Captain Chen made a signal to attack and pointed his gun towards the snake’s eye.
Luo Yuan struggled slightly, but Huang Jiahui held onto him even tighter. Anxiety clouded his eyes but he could no longer do anything other than point the gun towards the snake’s head.
Time seemed to stop. Every second felt like years; sweat was dripping down everyone’s forehead, hitting the ground and splashing into tiny crystals.
Almost at the exact same moment, three guns fired scorching hot bullets, one after the other. No one could miss at such short distance. Even Luo Yuan, who had never held a gun before, hit the target.
Drops of blood spattered from the head of the giant snake. Its amber-like eye was blown off, a deep bloody hole forming in its place. The sleeping snake could never have expected such a great loss.
The pain made it wake up with a start and raise its huge head. It moved as fast as lightning, its shadow the only thing that could be seen. It also somehow stirred up the atmosphere, causing a sudden fierce wind.
However, the movement lasted only for a second before its head fell back to the ground. The dying snake was writhing violently, its mouth open wide while it hissed.
The bullet had not just blown off its eye, it had also pierced its brain. As snakes are strong creatures though, it could not die so easily.
It destroyed everything in the vicinity, its tail swinging around rapidly as it produced a loud sonic boom. All the trees nearby were snapped off, and debris and sand were thrust out in every direction like bullets, causing small red dots to form on their skin when they hit them.
Luo Yuan pulled along Huang Jiahui, who would still not let go of him, and ran desperately towards a densely wooded area. Meanwhile, he heard a distant cry of terror. He did not recognize who it was.
He cursed silently. Huang Jiahui was a burden to him. With his speed, he could have been safe by now. He so far as felt the urge to kill her.
The exploding firework-like sounds heard continuously from behind them and the strong howling wind made them envision their own sudden deaths.
He was dragging along Huang Jiahui, which caused his energy to drain fast after only a short distance of running. His lungs were burning and he did not feel like he could run anymore. When he spotted a huge tree ahead, he ran desperately using every last bit of his energy. He reached the back of the tree and leant his body heavily against its trunk while his legs trembled.
Huang Jiahui did not look satisfied though, and hugged his waist even tighter. Her body started shivering.
Luo Yuan no longer had any energy, so he just let her hug him.
He closed his eyes and felt the life pulsating within his body. It might be because he was facing death, but he suddenly felt the will to live.
As time passed, all movement around them gradually reduced.
Luo Yuan pushed Huang Jiahui away, wanting to go out and take a look.
“Don’t. My legs are still numb!” Huang Jiahui hid her head in Luo Yuan’s chest and hugged him tighter.
“Please, just sit here. I will go take a look. If the snake is dead, then we can go!”
“Okay!” Huang Jiahui let go of Luo Yuan, her body swaying and falling to the ground.
Luo Yuan reached out to help her. He had not recovered his strength yet though, so he ended up being pulled to the ground.
They were face to face, close enough to smell each other’s breath. Their hearts were beating fast. Luo Yuan instinctively wanted to stand up, but when he thought of how he had almost gotten killed because of her, he suddenly became angry.
He might still be alive, but he did not plan on letting her off the hook that easily. He looked at her tender sweet lips, and planted a vengeful kiss on them.
He could not have predicted her reaction.
Huang Jiahui struggled only for a bit, and then she started to react intensely, kissing him in a more impulsive manner. Much like the sparks landing on the dry log next to them, the kiss burned out of control.