Angie Burnett had always been a bit leery of snakes. Having them for arms, therefore, caused her continual concern—even, if to a lesser extent, after one of her arms bit her.
The following couple of months largely involved becoming better acquainted with her appendages. Her death had removed any excessive fears concerning the serpents. Directing their movements, she found, was accomplished more effectively through mind over matter techniques than by physical exertion. By a bit of trial and error, Angie realized the snake that constituted her right arm was poisonous whereas that of her left was not. It was her right snake, however, that she had difficulty fully mastering.
Even when alive, Angie rarely left her home. If there were anyone who would have been well disposed to the life of a housebound ghost, it would have been her. The inexplicable itch, therefore, to leave the house at night greatly perplexed her. Perhaps even more unusual was the fact that her unplanned wanderings consistently deposited her in the nightclubs of neighboring cities.
The darkness and flashing colored lights enveloping the dance floor, combined with her semi-translucency, made it easy for Angie to evade notice as she shook her body and swung her snakes to the loud, pulsating sounds. Her thorough immersion in the club’s festive atmosphere delayed her awareness of the several dancers dropping to the floor like flies and squirming worm or maggot-like all about her.
By the time the boogey fever had run its course through Angie’s system, her ability to distinguish dream from reality was dangerously strained. Though she no longer believed her arms were actual snakes, it was quite some time before she could completely avoid such associations. Sudden urges to jump up and cut a rug were also difficult to suppress when they arose unannounced. Angie even imagined the beads of sweat that scurried down her face as the fever broke to be runaway droplets of snake venom, seeking to inflict their delirium on any soul that ventured near her.
Angie’s anxiety rose to a new level as her father, Frank Burnett, replaced the non-poisonous Corn Snake that she held in her hand--and with which she had been forced to practice--with a Copperhead. How strange it seemed to her that his religion forbade her to swim or dance with boys while requiring her participation in something far more dangerous--or was it? Her shaking hands revealed her faithlessness all too clearly.
“Now dance, Angie,” Frank said.
Seeing that all the neighborhood boys were far enough away to avoid any appearance of evil, she began to dance.
Angie saw that the Copperhead was becoming more restless as her body shook and swung. She knew slowing down would only be an act of doubt, so she tried to exercise more faith by increasing her activity. Becoming dizzy, she struggled not to fall. She saw one of the boys start toward her to help and she reached out her free hand to signal for him to stop. Startled by the gesture, the snake struck.
Frank saw his daughter was crying when he opened her bedroom door after shouts for her to get out of bed met with no response.
“What’s the matter, Angie?”
“I had an awful dream.”
“Yeah, what about?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Okay, so I won’t make you.”
Angie made no reply.
“So the school’s Father/Daughter Dance is tonight?”
“I don’t want to go.”
“Why not?” he asked. “That hurts my feelings.”
“How come boys have never wanted to dance with me?”
“You’re my father.”
“Something wrong with that?”
“No,” Angie said. “I’m sorry.”
“I know how you always hated to go out,” he said. “We can just stay home if you like.”
“I love you, Dad,” Angie smiled. “No, let’s go to that dance,” she said, snaking her somewhat translucent arms around his neck.
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