Lying there, he drew the python to his chest, and lowered his head. The magpie approached, whistling and rapping its beak on the floor. Victor remained still. The tap and scratch of claws neared; Victor could hear the monster bird breathing. It stopped in front of him and waited, and then nudged him with its beak. Victor yelled at the top his lungs and threw his head back; he lashed out with his left arm. The magpie squawked and jumped back with a flap. In the split-second the bird was airborne, Victor whipped his right arm out backhanded and flung the little snake toward the doorway. It sailed with speed through the air, like a miniature Olympic hammer throw; the magpie turned and watched it with a hellish scream. The snake flew to the doorway, only just off target. It smashed into the door frame and clunked to the floor. Victor looked on in horror at the lifeless snake lying just inches from victory. The magpie turned to Victor with unfeeling eyes and whistled.
Victor tried to wrench his leg free from the glue, almost tearing his skin, but he was stuck fast. The magpie spread its wings to half-span and hopped over to the doorway where the tiny snake lay. The bird tilted its head to look at Victor side-on, and then poised its black-tipped beak above the snake.
“Oh no you don’t, you bastard,” threatened Victor. Twisting himself on a painful angle, he reached his hand behind him, up onto the pool table, and groped about madly. His fingers hooked the cue rest he had left there. “F***in’ magpies!” he yelled, whisking the stick off the table and hurling it at the magpie.
It was a terrible throw.
The cue rest clacked onto the tiles, so far away from its target it couldn’t even be classed a warning shot. The magpie drew its head back and aimed its beak straight down like a sewing machine needle. Three rapid stabs through the snake’s belly ensured it would never slither again.
Victor reached up onto the table again, groaning as his leg twisted against the unforgiving adhesive. He gnashed his teeth and clawed at the table like a lunatic, locking a murderous stare on the magpie. His hand grasped something. Pulsing blood oozed from the snake’s wounds. Victor’s eyes widened as his face broke into a creepy smile; the magpie tilted its head. A forked tongue flicked from the snake’s mouth. Victor pulled down the fat, rectangular rum bottle and gripped it by the neck. He cocked his arm and then flung the bottle like tomahawk, straight at the magpie, who watched, seemingly unaware, as the weighty missile hurtled end over end at its face. The bottle slammed into the bird’s head and knocked it down, momentarily unconscious.
Victor tried again—and again unsuccessfully—to remove his leg from the hardened glue. A grunting, gurgling noise came from near the doorway, and he looked up. The magpie climbed to its feet like a groggy boxer and shook its head. Victor scowled at the bird and shook his head.
“I hate magpies!”
With all this shaking of their own heads going on, neither Victor nor the magpie noticed the little snake shake its head. The magpie turned to Victor with a stare that conveyed hatred; Victor reciprocated the sentiment via a creative combination of obscenities. The wounded snake moved its head back and forward and opened its mouth wide. With a heavy flap of its wings, the magpie crouched and pointed its beak forward like a lance. Victor reached back up onto the table and scratched around for another weapon. The magpie gave a loud whistle.
“Come on, you feathered rat,” growled Victor.
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