Face-to-face with pure evil


The snake raised its head three feet off the ground and started right toward me.

Growing up in the countryside of West Texas, I spent most of my time outdoors, where I had the opportunity to see, catch and torment every kind of critter this part of the world had to offer.

Bo Brock DVM, Dipl. ABVP

One day, however, I was surprised to see a portion of a coiled snake that looked like no snake I had ever seen. It was inside a cardboard box in the storage house I was cleaning. The visible portion was gray, and the scales appeared large and rough.

I am not afraid of snakes. If they rattle, I stay away; if they don't, they usually just slither away.

I simply picked up the box, carried it outside and dropped it on the ground, assuming the snake would take off, and I could then finish sorting the things in the box.

Not the case.

The snake stayed put.

I thought it might have crawled into the box and died, but I wasn't about to reach inside to find out. Instead, I picked up a pig-show stick and decided to poke the thing a few times to get it on the move.

The box was now on its side. In the outdoor light, the body portion I could see was fairly thick and the skin still had that unfamiliar gray gleam.

What happened next took only about five seconds, but seemed like one of those slow-motion segments in an action movie:

I poked the snake with the stick, and it came out of that box like a bolt of lightning. It must have been seven feet long and seemed like the most evil creature I'd ever encountered.

It moved so fast I could barely get a good look until it raised its head about three feet off the ground and started right toward me. It began hissing and spitting, and was moving so fast I had no time to contemplate what to do next.

So I did what my fight-or-flight mechanism dictated: I started swinging that show stick like a hyperactive Zoro in a swordfight, screaming like a little girl.

What was this thing? I was quickly backing up while swinging the stick as fast as I could.

I backed onto the step of the storage shed and could feel myself going down. Oh, no, this would bring me down to eye level with the creature and, even worse, I'd have to stop swinging the stick to catch myself.

About the time my fanny hit the ground, however, the snake turned and sped off faster than a dog can run. It disappeared into the bushes and left me sitting there with a speeding pulse.

I wondered what it could be. The more I thought about it, the more it reminded me of a black mamba we had seen at a zoo a few years before.

But what was a black mamba doing in Lamesa? Those things live in Africa.

I was beginning to wonder if someone was mad at me because their horse didn't live and had released a mamba at our house. I went inside and told the kids not to venture outside for a while. I wondered how I might contact Jack Hanna, because I couldn't think of anyone else who could handle a mamba.

I told Kerri, "I'm afraid the dogs may be dead in the morning. I think I just saw a black mamba in the storage shed, and it is the deadliest snake in the world."

"You're crazy," she replied, and went on about her business.

The next day, when I told some people at church about the snake, they laughed and told me it was simply a coachwhip.

I had never seen one in my entire life, but after researching it on the Internet I believe they were right.

I am still amazed at how fast that snake could move.

If you ever see a gray-looking snake with large, rough scales, run away.

It may not be deadly, but it will scare you half to death.

Dr. Brock owns the Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas.

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