and to flop powerless to the ground, but she ground her teeth together and demanded that it behave.
“I think he is about five foot long,” Matt said.
She couldn’t guess its length, but its body seemed thick as a big man’s arm.
“It’s too thick, it has to be longer,” she stuttered.
“Rattlesnakes are big in girth. I’ll try to get him to stretch out so you can see,” Matt said with clinical indifference, then moved toward the snake with his stick outstretched.
The blinding light and the vibrations from Matt’s movement were too much, and the reptile chose to run.
Stephanie gasped. Certain that it had decided to attack her, she bolted straight into the brush.
“Stop!” he ordered.
As she froze another snake asserted its presence from somewhere in the darkness.
Close or far, she was uncertain, but she stopped, with tears in her eyes, waiting for the inevitable fangs to bury deep into her leg.
She gasped again when Matt put his hand on her shoulder. “Did you see how long it was?” he asked.
“No,” she mumbled through tears.
“You’re right, he was maybe six feet. Well let’s get back. Remember if you’re careful, you’ll be okay.”
He put his arm around her and they turned toward the motel.
Her jitters had long passed, but their warm embrace remained as they approached her room. Then from inside came Janet’s shrill laugh, fracturing their tranquility. Steph wanted to pound the threshold, but turned away, pulling Matt with her.
Finally she forced the words out: “My luggage, we forgot. It’s still in there.”
Matt’s heart sank, he wanted to kick himself for not remembering.
“Use my room. We’ll get your luggage in the morning,” he offered. He wasn’t being forward, opening the door for her and grabbing his bag to leave.
“You’ll need to get up early to catch the bus,” he reminded.
“I don’t have an alarm,” she said, wanting to delay him. Then she placed her hand over his and pulled the duffle bag toward the bed.
“Three o’clock,” Matt thought. He awoke, without moving. The moon
had gone and left a pitch black night. He