Renowned herpetologist Victor Noon stepped out of a cab. A grim expression crossed his face as he was lead to the doorway of the Spiral Theatre. He was giving a seminar on venomous snakes.
He hated seminars. He was merely a reptile-expert trying to make his way to retirement, and it couldn’t come any sooner. His superiors had already mentioned his retirement in a conference before his flight to LA.
Victor’s spirit began falling as he was almost pushed through the theatre’s doors. It seemed that no one cared for him.
Sergeant Randy Garson was in his office when his phone rang. It had been ringing all night. To an amateur it would seem that Beverly Hills was alive with crime. But Randy knew better.
Randy picked up the phone wearily. He suspected it to be another grocery store theft. “Beverly Hills Police Department, Sergeant Randy Garson,” he said in a sleepy but authoritative tone. There was a long pause and all Randy could hear was the breathing of the caller.
“Hello?” he said, puzzled. “Police Department, Sergeant Garson, hello?” After another silence someone spoke: “Hello. I’m calling to…” The caller sounded frightened.
“Sir,” he said, “I’m busy, if there’s anything you want to say…?”
Another silence ensued. Randy almost hung up, but the voice spoke again: “Yes. I’m… I’m sorry. It’s just… I have some information.”
Randy sat up. His adrenaline began pumping. “Yes?” he said. “What is it?”
The caller spoke again: “Do you know about the herpetological seminar at the Spiral Theatre tonight?”
“Yes” Randy answered with a hint of curiosity. He hated snakes, and with good reason...
Randy had been trekking the Mojave Desert with his uncle and his brother Robert. During the night the brothers left the camp to play. They were blissfully unaware of the deadly threat that slithered towards them.
The Western Diamondback Rattlesnake is a well known man-killer of the frontier. Its venom isn’t as toxic as most but its size allows a large amount of venom to be injected from a single bite.
Randy had no time to scream a warning to his brother before the great albino snake sunk its fangs deep into his exposed flesh. Robert couldn’t even scream. He started foaming at the mouth. Randy just stood there, staring in horror as his brother slowly died…
“What’s the situation?” The sound of a cell phone broke the silence in the balcony of the Spiral Theatre’s auditorium.
“Sorry Sir?” whispered the silhouette of a man.
“What’s the situation!?”
“Em… The doctor … Is holding a blue snake” he replied. The caller didn’t sound amused. “The laticauda colubrine?” he said, correcting the simpleton’s woeful description.
“You idiot! The Sea Krait, Student! Have you learnt nothing!?”
Trying to recover from the verbal blow, the ‘Student’ spoke: “Master Veneno, forgive me. I…”
“Hush! I haven’t the time nor the patience to listen! In clear words, what is the professor doing?”
The sound of Victor’s words crept into the sound barrier of the balcony and the Student listened carefully. “And once the sides of the snake’s lower jaw are gripped, you can place it back into the terrarium…”
The Student returned to the cell and whispered: “He’s returning the snake to its cage… No, terrarium, I meant terrarium. Now it looks like he’s gonna open up the one with the adder.”
‘Veneno’ purred and said: “Good. Soon the procedure will commence. Take your position on the roof. I’ll meet you there”
“Yes, master.” He switched the cell off. Pulling a black mask over his face, he exited the balcony and went to fulfil his destiny.
Veneno massaged his temples in frustration. The incompetence around him was inexcusable. But it would be worth it in the end.
He rose. He towered above the ground, reaching almost seven feet. He had long ivory hair. Walking away, he exited through two metal doors.
They closed behind him with a clatter. He walked down a shining chrome hallway. He entered an elevator. After a few moments of code-jabbing the elevator shifted and proceeded to his destination.
Upon arrival, Veneno exited the elevator. He entered in a hanger containing a helicopter. A stocky man strutted over and extended his hand. “Flint, Sir. Pilot,” he said eagerly.
Veneno stared at Flint with distaste. “Well,” he retorted, “if you’re to remain in my service you will learn I don’t shake the hands of my staff. Shall we proceed? I’m not a patient man.”
The gleam in Flint’s eyes disappeared. “Of course.” Veneno raised his eyebrows and sneered curtly. “Amateurs,” he whispered just loud enough for Flint to hear.
Randy twiddled his thumbs. The seminar seemed endless. His enthusiasm was waning.
The informer had told him that a heist was taking place at the theatre. The urgency in his voice was enough to convince Randy to delve further. He had other officers in position. Randy was on the top floor waiting silently. Although, he didn’t know what he was waiting for.
His walkie-talkie call exploded and without stopping to listen to the caller he jumped up and sprinted towards the auditorium.
Strike from AboveEdit
Victor was halfway through explaining the scale pattern of the Diamondback when the glass ceiling above smashed. In a maelstrom of glass, three men abseiled from the hole in the shattered ceiling. They freed themselves from their harnesses and approached Victor.
Victor dropped the snake and tried to shield himself, but he was hit to the ground. He was in agony and stayed motionless. He glanced over his shoulder in time to see his fellow herpetologists sprinting out the door. He felt anger and fear.
Victor closed his eyes, waiting for what may come. He kept them shut for what seemed an eternity and when he finally opened them the auditorium was deserted, except for a tall man in front of him.
The Student sat on the theatre’s roof. He removed his mask, revealing a young, fresh face.
Dmitry Yeltsin was born in the Russian province of Novosibirsk. Shortly after WWII, his village was pillaged and destroyed by crazed Neo-Nazis. They killed his parents and they would have killed him too, had it not been for a passing stranger.
The stranger’s name was Veneno. He never explained how he had been there and why he had risked his life to save Dmitry.
Veneno taught Dmitry excellence in herpetology and survival. Veneno was a hard taskmaster even though Dmitry’s skills were far beyond a normal human being’s. It was Dmitry’s goal in life to be stripped of his nickname ‘Student’.
He surveyed the area for a few seconds, then stood and strolled around the rooftop. He stopped and stared at the stars. The sea of shimmering crystals bathed him in a firework display of light and wonderment. Peace enveloped him.
Suddenly, there was an ear-shattering thunder and a wind nearly swept Dmitry off his feet. A helicopter descended from the sky. The doors of the mechanical beast slid open and a tall figure stepped out on to the helicopter’s side.
At that very moment, a large man smashed through the rooftop door, followed by an older man. Larger man raised a gun and pointed it at Dmitry, shouting something inaudible over the hum of the helicopter.
Dmitry’s mind raced as the next few seconds sped by.
Adjusting his seat, Veneno leaned back on his comfortable leather chair. The helicopter’s soundproof interior made the journey quite relaxing. He grinned. The heist had gone smoothly; Dmitry was waiting on the roof of the theatre with his prize. His mission was almost complete.
Veneno had been given a mission from God to be his messiah among a different breed of life. A breed that only God and himself could recognise as equals: The serpentine. Snakes.
Veneno had been given a vision of peace and equality among man and snake. This was God’s vision that was passed on to him. But he and God had different opinions…
Veneno believed in an unfortunate truth: Man could never live in harmony with snakes.
Veneno believed obsessively in this philosophy. He found it his solemn duty… his destiny to give snakes the upper-hand. To let them rise and be the Earth’s dominant life form!
He did everything in his power to achieve a dream that tortured him into near-madness. His life destroyed, it was the only thing he had left to hold onto.
Victor bounced uncomfortably on Randy’s back. He was hunched up, his arms around Randy’s shoulders. Normally, would have been embarrassed about this, but he was in great pain.
Victor watched the surroundings fly by and found it hard to concentrate. Randy was fast.
Victor marvelled at the resilience of his saviour. But, suddenly, Randy stopped. Victor could feel sweat on Randy’s face. “Sergeant?” he asked. “What’s wrong?”
Randy didn’t answer. He remained still. Victor tried to nudge to the side to glimpse what had stopped him. “Randy,” he said in a hushed but irritable tone, “what is it?”
Victor felt the movement of Randy’s Adam’s apple as he gulped. “A snake.”
Victor was confused. All the terrariums had been accounted for after the attack and so were…
The shocking realization: During the attack, Victor had been holding the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake…
Randy stared into the eyes of fear. Fear hissed back menacingly in a monotone. Dark memories flashed before Randy’s eyes. The snake’s eyes never moved and remained fixated on him.
A calming voice broke the tension: “Randy… listen to me. This snake is more afraid than you are.”
Randy knew better. He knew that it wasn’t scarred and tormented by a fear of humans and fear prevailed.
“Randy,” Victor said forcibly, “you have to stay calm. If you let this creature affect you, we’ll both die.”
Then it struck Randy: We’ll both. They were both in danger. His fear was great, but he would never forget what his training had taught him: Never endanger a citizen.
He was willing to do anything to protect the doctor. It was his duty as an officer, and as a human being.
Victor began: “Keep the snake locked in eye-contact. If the snake feels you are empowered he mightn’t attack.”
Randy burned into the eyes of the creature. His trance was broken by Victor: “Stay perfectly still. Snakes have poor eyesight and will sense the movement of your body.”
Trying to stop himself from shaking, Randy tried to stay motionless. “Good,” Victor continued. Now, try backing off.”
Randy was shocked by Victor’s amateur advice. “I can’t” he whispered. “This is the quickest way to the roof. We take another route we mightn’t make it.”
“Very well,” Victor said in frustration. “Take out your gun.”
Randy was shocked by this but followed. He reached slowly for his holster and retracted his gun. He pointed it at the snake. “Randy…” Victor started, but then an expression of horror crossed his face as he yelled: “Randy! What’re you doing!? Don’t shoot the snake!”
But it was too late. The sound of the shot rang in Victor’s ears as it pierced through the air at its unfortunate target. Victor shut his eyes. But all he heard was the ding of what sounded like an elevator.
Suddenly the wind rushed down Victor’s sides as he felt lifted into the air. Randy was jumping…
Just as the elevator’s doors shut before them, Victor saw the tail of an unharmed Diamondback slithering away.
Veneno balanced expertly on the helicopter’s side.
He turned and gestured to Flint to bring the chopper down.
The helicopter lowered, until, seeing Randy draw a gun, Veneno threw Flint down and grabbed the controls.
He forced the joystick down and the helicopter crashed. A piercing scream of agony rose above the sound of the collision.
Veneno rose from the cockpit’s seat and pushed the door open and exited, ignoring Flint’s glass-impaled corpse.
Randy ran at him. Veneno leapt to one side as the massive man came crashing down where Veneno was standing seconds before.
Veneno fell to the ground. He looked to his side and was horrified to see Dmitry...
He had little time to stare, for Randy was up and pounced upon him.
Dmitry rose to his feet, defying excruciating pain.
Mustering all his willpower, he limped over to a horrified Randy and Veneno.
“Student!” Veneno screamed. “Quick! Kill him!” As soon as the words reached Dmitry’s ears he’d sealed Veneno’s fate. Even now, in this crucial moment, he still refused to call him Dmitry. An anger greater than he had ever felt pumped through his scarred body. A resentment that had started the day he received the nickname ‘Student’.
Dmitry limped, dripping with blood, over to Veneno. Releasing Veneno from his grip, Randy approached him. You must rest” he said. “We need to get you…” Randy was cut off as he was smacked across the face by Dmitry.
Dmitry grinned as Randy fell to the ground. Dmitry turned to Veneno. “You’ve done well” Veneno said, standing up with a smile. “Now, give me the medallion, and we can finally end this.”
Dmitry paused and stared at his master. A curious Veneno stared back. “Student,” he said, “Give me the medallion.”
“No,” Dmitry whispered.
“Dmitry,” Veneno replied furiously, “Give me the medallion now!” Dmitry didn’t reply. “Dmitry,” Veneno repeated, removing a handgun from his breast-pocket, “give me the medallion now.”
At his feet, Veneno saw Randy begin to stir. “Stay down!” Veneno said pointing the gun at Randy and kicking him in the ribs. He groaned in pain, and Veneno looked back at Dmitry. “This is no time for delusions of grandeur. I want that medallion, and I’m sure you want your life, so I think we’ve come to an agreement!”
Dmitry reached into his blood-drenched pocket and removed a blank, golden medallion.
“Good,” Veneno purred.
Dmitry paused and stared at Veneno. He looked at the medallion, then back at the exasperated Veneno. After a pause, he tossed the medallion into the air.
In a second, all four were leaping for the medallion.
Victor tried to grab the medallion, but he fumbled. He tumbled over his opposition.
Quickly regaining himself, he leapt over the others and scanned the ground for the coin. Rushing around frantically, he tried to concentrate on searching and his opposition.
Victor stopped as a bang exploded into the air. He turned to the sound’s source and saw Veneno holding a gun in one hand and in the other…
“The medallion’s mine!” he screamed fanatically. “Finally!” Victor glanced to his left, and saw Randy reaching for his gun. “You!” Veneno screamed, gesturing his gun towards Randy. “Drop your gun!”
Randy hesitatingly reached for his gun. Once he removed it from his holster, he slowly bent to the ground. Then it all happened in less than a second.
As the bullet shot into the recoiling Veneno, Dmitry leapt onto him. The two began to wrestle, despite their injuries.
Dmitry tried to wrestle the gun out of Veneno’s hand, as Veneno pushed it towards his chest. Dmitry groaned, but continued to fight back.
Eventually Dmitry’s resilience won and jolted his master’s hand back, making a cracking sound. Veneno growled as the gun slid from his lifeless grip.
Seeing Veneno was unarmed, Randy rushed towards them. He scooped Veneno’s gun and pointed the weapon at the men. “Freeze!”
The two stopped, but still gripping each other, and stared at Randy. “Freeze?” Veneno said mockingly. “An officer of the force, are you? Well, you will be among the first to go when I rise to power!”
Randy stared curiously at Veneno, but Dmitry said: “Your rise to power? I will personally make sure that never happens, my old master!”
The two started wrestling again. Confused, Randy watched as they fought. Veneno broke his right arm free from Dmitry’s grip and struck him in the ribs.
Dmitry, un-phased, grabbed the arm and pried Veneno’s fingers open, releasing the medallion. Dmitry reached for the medallion and grabbed it again.
Veneno, fuelled by his ambition, struck his nails into Dmitry’s arm. Dmitry yelped and flung the coin up.
Randy bounded towards the coin and, trying to grab it, fumbled repeatedly. Still trying to grab it, Randy lost his footing and tumbled off the edge. As he fell, he shot his arm forward, and caught Dmitry’s sleeve and felt the weight of the two men come falling down.
Victor watched in horror as the three tumbled off the building, each frantically trying to grab anything.
But then hope came. He heard a grunting. He ran to the edge and saw, to his relief, Randy hanging on the edge, with the others clinging to a lower ledge.
“Victor!” Randy said with a sigh of relief. “Hoist me up!”
“What?” Victor said bemused. “I can’t lift you!”
“I can’t hold on!”
Unbelievably, the two men below began fighting again.
Dmitry yelled in shock as he fell back. He tossed the medallion up, and, as Veneno tried to seize it, Dmitry grabbed him and both men fell screaming.
Nobody could help them. Randy stared Victor right in the eye as Victor tried to keep him up by the hand. Victor could feel his strength sapping away as Randy slowly slipped from his grasp.
Suddenly, Victor felt different. He felt stronger, as if an invisible force had joined his body. Feeling the cold touch of the medallion in Randy’s hand, he hoisted him up.
Victor couldn’t figure out how he had rescued Randy. Where did the energy come from?...
The Venom SpreadsEdit
He need only read the headlines ‘Spiral Theatre thief still missing’ ‘Spiral Theatre medallion stolen again’ to realize he was safe.
Tossing the paper aside, he walked over to a mirror. He began admiring his new fresh face. He smiled an evil smile. His life was perfect. His master was dead; the medallion was his; and he had a new identity. All was going smoothly for Dmitry Yeltsin.
Soon he would accomplish what his master never could.