Revenge of the Swamp

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Chapter 4

It emerged from the mist, flicking its tongue, to tasting the dense air, its body as thick as a Sumo wrestler's thigh. It smelt the alligator, long before the other reptile was aware of its presence. Slowly it moved to prepare its 20 feet of gleaming patterns to play an old trick, as inviting as a belly dancer’s swiveling hips, and trap the alligator in a hypnotic daze.

The twelve-foot alligator was no match for this dazzling death trap. It lay there on the swamp river bank, savoring the last shreds of a meal of marsh rabbit it had just eaten. The alligator watched the fascinating yellow, gold, brown and black patterns play around him, soothing him gently into a hypnotic sleep. Nothing in its primitive senses tripped off alarm bells to sense the unfolding danger.

Like the other reptile set to end its life, its kind had survived millions of years from the age of the dinosaur, enduring the dark period and the ice age. Now it was being challenged to survive the advent of humankind. Humankind’s obsession with keeping exotic pets only to carelessly abandon them when they grew too large and expensive to keep trapped in homes had become a hazard. The human species, through this reckless act, had turned the alligator’s otherwise peaceful world, where he was the dominant predator, into a modern nightmare where for the first time in more than a million years, he became the prey to a more formidable predator.

The alligator never knew what hit him as the massive coils of powerful muscles came crashing in, wrapping themselves around his armored shell, trapping him. Recovering from the surprise vice grip, the alligator tried its best to avoid being turned around on its armor like back and expose the soft fleshy underbelly. All this required the alligator to use more oxygen, which it burned faster in this wasteful maneuver. This had been its method of self-defense, an unnecessary maneuver in a world where there were no predators to challenge it.

The python squeezed and used its weight advantage. In one well-timed grip, it squeezed, sending the alligator’s lungs collapsing as it went into panic mode, releasing badly needed oxygen as it exhaled and found out that for the first time in its life, it couldn’t inhale anymore. Its lungs were now reduced to collapsed flat flaps like pages in a book, trapping the alligator in one giant bone-crushing squeeze. It gasped for oxygen.

Desperately, it tried opening its two yards of bone breaking jaws, fortified by a mouth guarded by serrated, razor sharp teeth that could rip a man apart. A weapon that had helped it survive for millions of years. This had been the alligator’s instinctive defensive system for the millions of years it had survived as a species. Unfortunately, its mouth was fused shut by thick steel-strength muscles of pulsing rope which were slowly grinding the alligator’s teeth against each other as the top and bottom lengths of its mouth’s jaws were being crushed and pulverized into tenderness with the rest of its two-yard length. It was now bleeding badly.

As it lay dying, the alligator realized a new king of the swamp had finally arrived, centuries after the arrival of the other predator, humans. It had been caught napping by the ugly wheels of human-assisted evolution. The alligator was not aware things had changed. The alligator desperately enacted this instinctive protective behavior, as it had successfully done before. Something told the alligator as it lay facing this defeat that its million year reign had come to an abrupt end. The survival laws of the Miami swamp had changed, unexpectedly, forever.

In a last desperate effort to free itself, the alligator wrestled as it had always successfully done for millions of years. But these were the death throes of a warrior king. The other beast put its advantage to work, blocking the alligator’s flared nostrils, stopping it from breathing and at the same time squeezing as it tightened its giant rope-like body to send the last pockets of air rushing from the trapped alligator’s system. This triggered panic spasms in the trapped beast making its heart explode and consciousness slip from its monstrous heap.

The alligator died without having understood what predatory beast had taken over its peaceful world. The monstrous predator gently licked its prey with its huge mouth, smearing its saliva all over the alligator. The python hissed, spun its massive head around to face the dead alligator and snapped open the massive jaws to expose serrated teeth.

The python unlocked its jaws and unfurled its gigantic mouth wide to gain enough elasticity to swallow the twelve-foot long alligator, head first, which had been as thick as two giant men lying side by side. Now the alligator had been squeezed to be as slim as one man. The swallowing was a slow and methodical act, perfected by thousands of centuries since the age when humankind was not even on earth. This act alone, propelled the victorious predator to the top of the food chain, making it the supreme predator on the American continent, for the first time since dinosaurs ruled the earth.

In a short few years, the victorious beast had grown from being a loving exotic pet imported from Africa and sold in a Miami pet shop to live and grow in a human’s house in Miami until it became too big and its appetite became too expensive for the family budget. The owners then abandoned it into the wildlife of the Miami swamps to claim and fight for turf along the swampy river banks. Like all ancient beasts, it activated its primitive skills to adjust and learn to look after itself and survive as it had done for longer than humans had survived on earth.

Now it had graduated into being the unrivaled, ultimate killing machine in the stream banks of the rivers of Miami.

But there were other beasts lurking in the Miami marshlands. Every day, hundreds of newly abandoned pets found their way into the Miami marshlands, awakening beasts that had been harmless toys for humans as primitive senses shifted into survival mode, and pets became beasts and instant killers scrambling to claim a slot on the Miami basin’s food chain.

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