Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: Tom Ball

NARRATIVE BEGUN BY Vanderix, an aristocratic scribe.

We were all watching the snake fights that evening… as we did every night

First up was an old man who had dared to complain.  He was fighting a snake a night for a week and today was his first day, and everyone was cheering for him… But the king cobra bit him on the arm and wouldn’t let go and so he died.  Everyone was saddened, but stoical.

And then there were 50 more snake fights as per usual in a day. One fight was much like another, but there were many nuances, and people watched avidly on TV.

In this book I have chronicled the main events in our world that took place during my lifetime.  But first an introduction…


The snake cubes were made up of a trampoline and parallel bars.  With a fire pit in the center of the trampoline. The dimensions of the cubes were 8 m X 8 X 8 m.  There were 3 of these “rings” and TV hook up all around these rings. Sometimes a burning log was hurled at the snake but the rooms were made of clay brick and wouldn’t catch fire.  As for the aristocrats they fought the occasional duel in a brick cube 8 m X 8 m X 8 m…

King cobras were the holy snakes which had been bred to kill humans.  Man and snake fought it out. Humans had no weapons to fight the snakes.

Let there be solitary confinement for criminals who would fight once a week for a month or even once a day for a week, and have their jaws wired shut so they couldn’t denounce the regime during the fights. This included dissidents against the King’s wise rule. 

King cobra snakes were up to 6 m long and were the sole adversary of the servants/slaves.  The servants/slaves were called, the machinos. They all had to face the snakes beginning at age 15 once every 6 months, but the state looked after all babies and children any way so it didn’t matter if they died.  Marriage was at age 12. 

And, “Let he who defeats 20 snakes be freed from future competition (happened only thrice in living memory).” But such heroes typically wanted to fight and set records and get women to love them etc.  So they all died sooner rather than later.

It was just the way it was.

People fought the snakes naked without weapons!

Snakes won 60% of the fights but some people were very adept at fighting and even kissed the serpents on the lips.

Such were the laws of the serpents.


People had no option but to fight as well as you are able.  And thugs beat those in solitary confinement and captured runaways.  Most thugs were part of the aristocracy.

Captured runaways only won 15% of the time, not 40%, like the average.

Some said the best snakes were reserved for the runaways, but the self-righteous crowds loved it.

And every one of the machinos (servants/slaves) had to give a pint of blood, once a week.

And all were expected to watch the whole 3 hour show with blood flavored moonshine,  and opium. Blood moonshine was very strong. In Rock City the river ran red with blood and people bathed in it and drank it, washed their clothes in it and stunk. The river made a complete circle of the city, being pumped up at the end of the circuit.  About half the blood collected went to the river and the other half to make blood flavored moonshine.

But aristocrats didn’t fight the snakes, instead they had life and death duels. If a man and a woman had a challenge, the woman would select a hero to fight for her.  It was basically obligatory.

The duels and snake fights were all on TV.  Though the level of technology was low, we had plenty of TVs…

There were snake fights every night and the occasional duel.

And every night they showed a classic fight from the near past.


I was an aristocratic scribe in Rock City.

There were 8 Great Aristocratic Houses here in Rock City.  The city was located in the mountains and we knew there was another city, the City of the Sun on the coast and there were also 3 villages.  If there was life elsewhere, we knew nothing of it.

As scribe I had no affiliation with any particular House.

If a leader of a Great House really hated a snake fighter they connived to cover the snake in oil so as to make it difficult to grip.  Or use one of their “most accomplished” snakes.

But all the Great Houses mostly hoped their machinos would do well in the fights.

The snakes were raised and cared for by the King in several locations.

Indeed, the official ruler of all the Great Houses was the King, Bloody King.

The King decided who would fight the snakes and who would duel with who.  But it was a largely ceremonial post as the King seldom used his power.  Just train the snakes.

But young people were very afraid of the House leaders who could force them to fight the serpents every week or even every day for a week.  A veritable death sentence.

There was 2 snake fights per night in the mountain villages, which had a 600-900 machino population and 30-35 aristocrats. And there were duels about once a month.  The only Great House in the villages was the Great Trader House there. And population 15 000 machinos, 100  snake fights per night in Rock city, 1500 aristocrats, here in the mountains, and featured about one duel per night. And also 25 000 machinos, 3000 aristocrats in Sun city, on the coast., with 75 snake fights per night, and about 1 duel a night.

But the TV only showed local serpent fights. The vast majority of people here in Rock City had never left the city.

Each fight lasted 2 minutes so there was about 200 minutes of fights every night.

Most machinos who won went back to their old job.

The best snakes were saved for the best fighters and when such a fight was announced it was delirium on the screen/speakers.

And some people were secretly breeding snakes and practiced on them but had filed down their fangs.

On this particular night the serpent triumphed over the peoples’ favorite by avoiding his kick and biting back.  Many people were distraught to see him go and the other fights of the night didn’t have any sparkle for the populace. It was a bummer.

Duels were relatively common but the aristocrats were 10% of the population and growing.  There was no getting out of trying to be a hero in such situations.  So everyone was on edge.

On this particular night two men both from the House of Green and Blue were duelling.  They had no weapons but punched and kicked one another and finally one knocked out the other and then choked him to death.  It was a typical duel, but the machinos loved it.

But not only were there duels among the aristocrats but occasional all-out war. Recently the House of Traders and the House of Black— had been in an all-out war.  The Traders wanted union with the City of the Sun, whereas the House of Black was against it.  The House of Traders was victorious 170-140 nobles killed.  This rendered the House of Black with just 5 male and 174 female aristocrats.  And these surviving males were challenged to duels by other Houses which destroyed them completely.

All Great aristocratic Houses were purest crystal but their flags were bloody with a symbol of the House on them. But inside it was pure crystal, transparent and fine.

New Houses were made up of a number of Houses through interview processes. The New House had to stand for something. In this case it was to be the new House of Peace as most popular.  Very controversial.

The other Houses connived together to have another new house and established the House of Love instead.  The new House attracted good-looking nobles who would sell sex for gold.


There were numerous TV’s even in mountain villages and typically about a dozen watched a single TV.  And they watched king cobra fights with humans and duels of the nobles.

Once in a while the best fighters fought a 15 m long giant python.  Their only hope was to poke the snakes’ eyes out or grab a burning log and hurl it at the snake. But everyone preferred the majesty of the king cobra…

Some assaulted and assassinated people with a knife the day before they were to go up against the snakes.  They were insane.  And so were forced to fight the snakes every week and were kept in solitary confinement and with their jaw wired shut they were fed via a nasal tube.

Rare draws. But sometimes both the snake and the human fighter both died.

As mentioned snakes won 60% on average.  Though the best snakes had killed dozens…

The fights flashed before our eyes, one after the other.  But the people were entranced by the fights.

Rumor had it that a certain “black knight” was going to come and liberate the machinos and he was supposedly coming soon.  So some tried extra hard to stay alive in the snake ring pit.

Aristocrats didn’t have to fight snakes but there were many duels.  The only aristocrats that could not be challenged to a duel were the scribes. Scribes colorfully recorded the greatest snake fights and duels.  The records went back 1000 years and no one knew what happened before that. Typically the scribes would occasionally appear on TV and remind the people it had always been that way… But nevertheless I kept myself in top shape and was ready for anything.  Most of my fellow scribes were males and were over 40.

And if a woman was pregnant she didn’t have to fight until the baby was born so the women all wanted to be pregnant.  But the government took care of the babies.

However,  it was generally a youthful society. Forty-six average lifespan for nobles, 16 for machinos.

Marriage was the law.  According the laws of the serpents, the machinos who cheated on their spouse would have to face the snakes once a week, but everybody cheated and few were caught…

Population of Rock city aristocrats was 1500 and the general populace was 15 000.  But the population was falling.  Great House Leaders considered less snake fights, but finally decided on not having the women fight so as to have lots more babies.

The aristocrats gambled on the snake fighters and also gambled on duels.  The machinos gambled typically all their few copper pieces.  Machinos were paid 12 copper pieces a month.

Some bet on the snakes, some bet on the fighters.  But everyone was looking for a hero.

It was an honor to represent your House.

8 leaders from the 8 various Great Houses. But mostly the nobles just partied and had sex.  They all had sex enhancers. However some blew out their hearts or livers and died. Medicine was in its infancy, and no one was allowed to do medical research.

There were also the Temple of the Serpents and the noble priestesses who served there.  All aristocrats were “equal” except there were different ranks which one could move up on.  So a Prince/Princess was more powerful than a Duke/Duchess, a Baron/Baroness was more powerful than a Knight/Dame.  And the 12 priestesses were equal to the Duchesses. And the scribes were off in a category of their own.


In addition to the House of Black, the House of An, had recently been destroyed by the aristocrats of the other Houses. But the crystalline Houses still stood only they were empty. The House of An had wanted to discontinue the snake fights.  The other Houses reasoned it was all our entertainment, that and the duels. And they ganged up on the House of An.

But the aristocrats worried that the population of nobles was in decline (so too was the servants/slaves)…  And there were more duels than ever. And the suicide rate for nobles kept going up. It was crazy.

Machinos and female aristocrats of the House of Black and House of An were taken in by the other Houses. Each House trained its fighters using the mixed martial arts fighting which featured kicking and punching and biting and grabbing. The House of Oz had the best fighters. It brought laurels to the House.  And many joined up from other Houses. 

The leader of the House of Traders, was a well-known stud, but he was only interested in machinos and stocked his crystalline rooms of the palace with machino sex slaves. It was all out in the open but no one cared. His wife had lovers of her own.

Scribes kept track of when one had to fight the serpents and recorded the great fights of the day.  And also great social events.

On one particular day they were having a banquet at House of Oz, all nobles invited.  Staff was very busy.

Princess 100, leader of Oz, told the Princess of the Green and Blues that she was “Ugly as usual.”  The Green and Blue Princess replied that “Princess 100 stunk as usual.” Princess 100 jumped on the table and grabbed a candlebra and hurled it at the Green and Blue Princess.  A brawl ensued between Oz and Green/Blue House. The servants joined in.  The other Houses’ nobles sat there aghast.  Several dozen were knifed, a dozen died.

As a result 15 duels were announced between the two Houses.

House of Peace and Mannequin house also had a lot of animosity between them… Some said the House of Peace was actually a House of War and fighting. Fight the good fight to preserve the peace, was the motto of the House of Peace.

Green and Blue House said the Mannequins couldn’t fight and were chicken and the Mannequins said the Greens were an apocalyptic party.  Each House disdained all the others.  There were no alliances.

But everyone admired the Mannequin Princess.  She was gorgeous and all the men wanted her.  But she never loved a servant as that was too dangerous, as she was so famous.

Everyone also laughed at the hatchet faced, ill-tempered hag who was the head chef for the Mannequins.  Everyone was hoping she’d die in her snake battle the next week.  And there were others who weren’t liked and when they appeared for their snake fight the crowd booed loudly in the TV speaker.

The Great House of Love had the best looking machinos.  Some were seduced by the leader of the House of Peace and they were seduced to come and join their House. Most machino house servants had it easy compared to the mines and farms etc.  And there were orgies every night.

But in the Great Houses the nobles ate wonderful dinners and drank and took drugs and took a lover into one of the guest bedrooms for a quickie.


But in the past, people started having sex at age 12, marriage at 12, so usually had two babies. But only 1 in 500 reached 18. Child rearing was the exclusive right of the state. Typically a mother had to give up her kids when they turned 1 month old.  But now women were expected to live on till they were 40, just as long as they were fertile, and would face juvenile snakes in a new law of the serpents.

Machinos envied the nobles for their longevity. As scribe I lived on and had a lover.  But she was killed in one of the last women snake fights and I was lost without her. Juvenile snakes fought our women in the past.  It would no doubt be common to take an older woman as a lover.

If you won your bi-annual fight you received 5 gold pieces which made you relatively rich.  So it was an incentive to fight hard.  But for “criminals,” they had to fight every week or perhaps every day, and so often only fought half-heartedly, but if they did that they heard the boos of the crowd from the TVs in the snake ring. It was an adrenalin rush with the crowd behind you, but sometimes they all hated a snake fighter.

With their short lives all the slaves/servants partied wildly every night and life was enjoyable for many.  But they were brainwashed to believe escaping their fate was futile.

If you did not watch you’d fight the snakes every week.

Typically those who got a win got a tattoo stroke on their right arm.  Up to four strokes and then five was a dash through the other four and so on.

One hoped not to have to fight a successful, dangerous snake.  Like Old Hisser, or One-tooth or the Big Red One.  Snakes were all king cobras but they had different colors and abilities.  Sometimes the mother snake was put in the snake ring with her nest to protect.  Such snakes fought ferociously but were matched by 18 year old human veterans.

On this day, hero Jack grabbed the pregnant snake and smashed it against the wall until it was dead and then ate its eggs before the show was over.

The nobles hoped to attract the cleverest of slaves and aristocratic turncoats.  To be the cleverest House was the envy of all the others.  Currently that was the House of Oz.

As mentioned the mortality rate was 60% for these snake fighters, every fight. The more fights you won, the more ferocious the snake you had to face. 

And sometimes servants, farmers and miners rolled dice to see who would volunteer to fight the snakes. Children played snakes and ladders and had wind up snake toys.

People envied these aristocrats and their longevity and riches.  One had to be born an aristocrat. But now there were less fights, but my job continued to record the details of the snake fights and duels.

I was bored with it… I didn’t drink blood until I was married at age 12. We shared a cup of one another’s blood.  Even the aristocrats got married early.

But I knew how to read and write and do basic math.  So along with other scribes we were the most educated.  I communicated with other scribes.  We were all selected at age 12 to be a scribe.

I was married to a priestess of the temple and we made wild love again and again and though we had other lovers we kept coming back to each other.

But I had a problem with blood flavored moonshine, I was addicted and drunk all the time. And felt unhealthy.

Many slaves hated the nobles, but generally House slaves were treated better than farmers or miners or loggers etc.  So House machinos, considered themselves lucky and couldn’t wait to face the serpents to impress their fellow machinos.

Some cried at the fights others were entranced by the action, the crowd roared all on TV.  Everyone in the city had a local TV to watch every night.

Some who were dissidents but were exceptionally good were given a 6 month period of grace regarding the snake fights. So it would be a year between fights.

In terms of modern snake ring victory, the record number of wins for a human was 31 and 54 for a snake.  “Old bastard,” was finally killed in his 55th fight by the people’s hero, Carl.  And Phil killed 31 before facing a snake who’d killed 20, and the snake won.

But the all-time people’s hero was blind Btelek, who managed to kill 3 snakes before his demise.

And the record length of a snake fight was only 6 seconds for the snakes and 7 seconds for the humans.

Of course it took the human 30 seconds to die (these snakes were bred for especially deadly poison).  If it was a biannual fight, their jaws were not wired shut and they usually had some amusing shouts and screams as they lay dying.  For example, “Remember me, lover,” or “Down with the King,” and so on.


Statues of snakes were everywhere and made of crystal.

Snakes on snake fights was also a popular part of every evening. There was a surplus of snakes.

Snakes would fight humans once a week and were cut and hit with sticks to make them angry and crazy.


Temperature was tropical, averaging 32 C every year.

Dams on the river produced electricity for TV for the two cities and the villages.


Live or die only two options.

The unwanted people would be released if they could win 8 fights in a week, but only a handful had survived this. In this way the government got rid of the unwanted.


There were hundreds of crystal statues of the peoples’ heroes inside their Great House that they belonged to. All those humans who won eight fights no matter how much time. One in 5 000, I estimated.

And the winner and loser were transported down below ground and most believed the losers were burned in the charnel house,

Others believed the Great Houses’ people ate them for dinner, but that would be poisonous.

The winner was set free if human and on a biannual fight, if they were fighting more often they went back to solitary confinement. And if a snake was the winner then back in the cage.  Sometimes both snake and human died. But that didn’t matter. Except to bookies.

Cages of king cobras.  Statistics were engraved on the cage.  Each snake fought once every month and after winning were given a small non-poisonous snake to eat or a rat.

Iron ploughs with horses greatly increased the population was a recent reinvention discovered by one of the scribes in the ancient texts.  So scribes were valuable.  The discovery was made at the City of the Sun, sister city to Rock City, and the traders brought it.  I wished it had been me to make such an important discovery.  I spent a lot of time reading the texts. 

Anyway there was plentiful food now.  A surplus.  But the snake fights continued.


Charlenda, a painter, painted portraits of the leaders. And made statues of them.

And this painter suggested making drama shows for TV.  Get everyone involved.  But everyone laughed at this ridiculous suggestion.  But the top brass considered it to be seditious so she had to fight the snakes every week.

Many were curious to see how such a woman would fight, but she avoided engaging the snake for 7 minutes before finally being bitten around the fire having set the snake on fire.  So they went down together…

And there was sexual disease and other diseases which killed people. Goat skin condoms were used.  Some said drinking from the Blood River made one sick.


Education was in the martial arts for most people, including both aristocrats and machinos.  Scribes were the exception.  The scribes had no leader, just served the public.  We had all the great fights and duels on tape and often played them at night.


And the House Leaders carried golden staffs and wore their House colored robes.  The masses wore black leather.  It was always about 32 C.

The aristocrats lived in Great Houses of crystal.  Each House was extremely old but no one knew how old.

All furniture was of crystal but they had some golden fabrics that they put on their beds.

Some said the Great Houses were empty indicating a former time in which the population was higher. Others said it was dark magic that created the Houses.

The Mannequin house was said to have people who did not seem to age.  Had they found eternal youth?  No one was talking.

The chef of the Green and Blue House cooked the best food.  No one seemed to want him to fight every six months. So the King granted him an amnesty of six months twice. This gave him plenty of time to fully develop and teach other chefs.

The chefs were part of the 2000 or so machinos in each House.

The chef of the House of Oz was overheard planning to poison the aristocrats but a cook told on her and she had to face the snakes every night until death.  So one had to be careful how you handled people as they could not be trusted.

The butler of the house promoted a new cook and all seemed to be well for the present, but aristocrats from the other Houses were afraid to dine here.

And the new chef loved the butler but he spurned her.  So she told the authorities the butler was planning on murdering the Prince.  As a result both she and the butler faced the serpents.

All people had the same religion: they prayed at the Temple of the Serpents. And they worshipped the King.

Snake breeders in all houses.  They brought them out for their debut and the crowds went wild.  All TV hook ups merged the sound from the crowds on the whole and was very noisy.


And there were crystalline statues around the snake rings but there were also crystalline statues throughout the halls of great former aristocrats (some of who had been killed by the snakes). If a snake of the Halls came near a crystalline statue the statue came to life and fought the snake. If the statue won it went back to being a statue, but if it lost it crumbled into dust.  TV video recorded such events and showed them in the evening. It was black magic.

Some said the ancients were superior to build such grand designs.


Aristocrats had to be careful with so many king cobras running loose in their palaces.  And the snakes largely fed on rats. Some said the rats and snakes interrupted the purity of the palaces, but the aristocrats loved their snakes. And they shooed away the snakes with their long staffs and were non-aggressive towards these serpents.  A few times an intruder entered the palace in the dead of night but they stepped on a snake and were bitten and killed.

On this day a governess of the Black House committed suicide and fatally poisoned 10 noble children. She apparently believed death was better for them than life.  She had been known to call our society a death cult. It caused quite a stir among the aristocrats, but the machinos thought it was just another group of deaths.

A few days later the chef of the House of Oz poisoned a dish that 10 aristocrats ate before it was apparent they had been poisoned.  She had killed a snake in the House and mixed its venom in with a meat dish. Only 3 of the 10 survived.

After that the King called a meeting of Princesses and Princes but the meeting resolved nothing.  So the Princess of the House of Oz declared that the chef and her 10 assistants fight the snakes every week until death.  And she bought cooks from other Houses.

The House of Oz was also known for its 3 gay ladies’ maids and 4 gay male servants.  No one was troubled by it except for those who thought of joining them during the nightly parties.  But they fought the snakes too.

Some said ancient stories told of the serpents as demons, to tempt people toward violence.  And some said the devil was pleased by this world.

The populace in general hated the snakes with a passion… And believed society to be a snake death cult. But no one stood up and complained as you would be doomed to fight the snakes every night.  And anyway they enjoyed it.

Now that jaws were wired shut the snake fighters couldn’t say anti- establishment jargon nor practice animal mesmerism, and just try and whistle to confuse the snakes.

Some said the snakes enjoyed the fights…


The night before one faced the snakes, friends and co-workers had a “Nite Nite,” which was a party to cheer up the “hero of tomorrow.”

But actually one snake fight was much like another and happened quickly.  I had nightmares of snakes.

Tomorrow, it was everyone’s hero’s turn (his name was Noveau) to battle the snakes.  As a scribe I didn’t have to fight duels. Anyway he had a good Nite-Nite party and then he defeated the snake the next night by biting it. He was drunk.  The crowd was behind me and rejoiced in his victory.  Women wanted to love him and hoped to get pregnant.  Men wanted advice on how to fight the snakes.  But it was all elementary I figured.

But in my dreams I kept dying from snake bites. Wise old people told me I was doomed.

Criminals were kept in isolation. People who were disliked were free to go after 8 battles. But until then they had to fight again.

Still some machino women who were disliked by the nobles, had to fight the smaller snakes. But the juvenile snakes were still very dangerous. People in the crowd typically wanted the women to win with all their heart.

Breeders sometimes cut the snakes and hit them with a stick to make them crazy for the fights.

But one snake fight was much like another. However most machinos didn’t live long enough to get sick of the fights.

Machinos all wanted a cushy job as a domestic servant.  Much better than working in the mines or farm or a lumberjack or a factory worker.

Factories produced new crystal, lights, TVs and gold bricks.


Sometimes it took women or men a couple minutes to die, but the TV screen was typically divided into 3 for constant action, and if they weren’t dead after 2 minutes of being bitten, they went down the elevator to the charnel house anyway.

There was no such thing as an antidote, but I read about such a thing in the ancient records, over 800 years ago.


The book detailed how to best kill a snake.  You needed good hand-eye coordination, you needed to sway and hum to mesmerize the serpents.  And of course bite, kick, punch and throw burning logs at them or jump on the parallel bars and swing into the snake. Or grab them by the throat and smash their heads into the fire. And if you were really good kiss them, and then hurl them into the fire.  The book detailed what kind of kicks and punches to throw and where to bite the snakes. For those few who could read well, it was useful.

One had to select the logs carefully however so as to avoid bad burns.


Fifty-eggs of each king cobra were hatched every month.  Multiply that times 1000 snakes and the result was 50 000 snakes in 3 months.  Those snakes who seemed to be poor fighters were released into the wild. We weren’t going to run out of snakes, that’s for sure.

We had large rat farms which produced prey for the king cobras.  We had snake farms all over the place.


Then one night, a famous machino lover was condemned by the rulers to fight the snakes because he dared to question the Blood River quality that was making so many people sick.  He had one seven fights and just needed one more victory to free himself…

Today his snake he grabbed by the tail and swung it against the walls whirling in a circle.  Then finally he choked the stunned snake.

I was a classic, text book attack. The crowd went wild.


Then one day towards the end of year 1001, Rock city caught fire and was flattened.  The rooves and furniture were highly flammable and there was a lot of debris.  Most figured it was arson. Of the 15 000 machino denizens of the city, about 10 000 perished or so it was said.  The survivors scattered to the mountains…

The surrounding mountainous forest had regrown recently but now much of it went up in flames. 

But when it was over, they fixed the TV network for fights and news.  And watched the snakes eat rats until they got the system up and running.  One guy jumped in the snake pit with a sword and killed several of the snakes before being killed. He was disgruntled with the system and claimed he wanted a peaceful, non-aggressive society or so he said on TV while he killed the snakes.

Anyway it was a traumatic time here at Rock City. I stayed to record the chaos and got some good TV battles on tape.

Life was short and fleeting…


It was decided to rebuild on the same site as before.  The city was in a giant crater filled with metals so there were mines all over.

There were temples built to the various Gods.  Even the sex God wouldn’t hear our prayer. Nor even the God of Freedom.  There was only one God, the God of Serpents, most people figured.  Most people prayed 5-6 times to the God per day for 5 minutes each time. “Please God hear our prayer.”

Over and over again. Many people thought the Serpent God was the devil and only he could bring your desires.

Two men vied for the new kingship. A, 65 years old and B, 49 years old.  Most were cheering for A as he had a wise, nice personality whereas B was rough and abrasive.

They fought a duel with each other using swords for a change, in the ring and finally B was the victor, cutting off the head of his rival.

Duels were common during this rebuilding period.

The duels were on TV like the snake fights, but that was basically all there was, except for the occasional announcement from the King and classic fights and duels.  As before, friendship groups of about 10 again clustered around their TV every night.

The hunt escapees were said to all have been caught and executed in the wilderness and no one seemed to know any different.  The bodies were not broadcast on TV.

But people were trickling back to Rock City and the population was growing. Those who had run away were forgiven.

But there were a lot of missing persons after the fire.

Some said there were a lot of people still in the wilderness. 


Some just lay down in the snake ring and refused to fight.  They were considered to be the arsonists.  They were simply sent down to the charnel house and were typically booed.  The crowd would also boo when their heroes were killed.

It just took 30 seconds to die from a snake bite.  The match lasted a maximum 10 minutes and if both snake and fighter were alive after 9 minutes, 2 more snakes were let into the room. The fighter would soon be dead.

They bred the snakes with the most virile poison carefully and saved them for special occasions.


On one particular evening, one of the peoples’ heroes was battling the snakes like he had all week. Wired his jaw shut just ate liquids with a straw so he could not utter profanities about the King. On this particular night the snake grabbed him by the ankle and wouldn’t let go.  He died in seconds.

Females were graceful and swift and held their own with the juvenile snakes, if they were required to fight.  Everyone was cheering for the women tonight…

Mesmerism with a flute, king cobras on the street. But animal mesmerism was difficult with your jaw wired shut, or even if it wasn’t there were no flutes allowed. Try to sing to the snakes…

Society was on the whole egalitarian in this version of the Rock City. Unlike previous days when one was born a slave, people were well paid for their work and had room to improve their prospects.

But the King had spies everywhere and had hypnotised people not to challenge him but rather fight the snakes or duel with one another.

Dogs chased down runaways at night.  And they put them in the snake fights the next night. But they claimed that several animals ate the runaways and that’s why they weren’t on the show.  But almost everyone was convinced there was ultimately no escape.

People spent the nights drinking during and after the fights.  And spent most of their money betting on the fights (they were paid 4 silver pieces a month).  Food and drink was free. That is to say they drank moonshine (blood flavored) and blood beer and ate blood puddings and blood sandwiches and snake meat from non-poisonous snakes.  And dog meat.  And pork and vegetables from the farms.


Beautiful garden villas downriver with quaint gardens, pagodas etc. The magic pool that was supposed to convey eternal youth.

And there were houseboats on Lake Cool just downstream from Rock City.

And were popular party venues for the aristocrats.  The lake was 2 km wide by 17 km long by up to 69 m deep.

Party boats on Lake Cool.  Cleaned up the sewage and sent it to the ocean in baked clay pipes (it was all basically downhill).

100 miners and 100 prostitutes lived on Lake Cool.  The mines were in the mountains nearby and the sea was only 30 km downstream and was navigable. It was now a new village, the fourth village in our world.

Many talented musicians and storytellers came to Lake Cool.

Flute and drum and old and new stories and blood wine… After the fights every night. But most in other villages and cities were too tired and went to bed after the shows.


Beyond the King were the eight new Great Houses of aristocrats who lived in the Rock City but a poor machino seldom could get into the Great Houses. But if an aristocrat loved you, especially if you were a scientist or architect or merchant, you would often be hidden away in some secret room in the basements of the Great Houses…

All machinos were part of one House or another.

The King had 12 lovers in his palace and no one could touch these women. In the first three years he had 16 children.  When they grew up they would form an entirely new House.

People were all disappointed in the new King.

Each great house had its own colors.  They were the Mannequins of pure white, they wanted aristocrats to fight duels.  The Black House was black, and now stood for nihilism (except of course the Serpent temple. Oz’s House of Gold continued to have the cleverest and the current King was from there. And the Green and Blues who controlled the flow of food into the city. And the Traders were orange-skinned and controlled trade.  The House of Love was famous for sex and romance.  The Peace house was a bunch of neo-hippies, gray in color. The House of Black was new and they were nihilists who nevertheless worshipped the serpents.  And the new House of An were fire worshippers.

Each House had a general meeting alternating with the other 7, so every four months there was a meeting at one of them.  They were ruled by Princes and Princesses (one of them).  Anyone could challenge the Prince or Princess to a duel at the meetings. Dame Yolanda’s hero, of the House of Oz, defeated the Duchess of the Greens hero and so co-ruled with the Duke and stayed married to her husband.

Upper class nobles had soft hands and were well-dressed in the House colors and were perfumed and mostly did no work.  After all they were aristocrats…

The palaces all had many snake statues and some King Cobras roamed the Halls.  It was dangerous for anyone to try and get past the House leader’s body guards.

Typically the crystalline palaces had swimming pools, gardens, minstrels etc.


Regarding Machino breeding, females were bred for elegance and femininity and men were bred for strength…

Many men worked hard at the farms, the mines and as lumberjacks.  The House servants was a far more cushy job. The women spend their days making clothes and selecting perfumes etc.

Some in the upper class were richer than others, controlling business.  Many women were involved in such business.

The head of servants was the governor/governess.  Under them was the servers/butlers and finally the blue collar workers.

Poison mushrooms killed the Mannequin Whites. The few surviving aristocrats didn’t know who was responsible so they “executed” all the machinos of the Mannequins in the snake fights… But that was the end of the House of Mannequins.


But I was disturbed by the news as many aristocrats died and a pall hung over the city.

Back in Rock City, the butler of Trader house reportedly raped a young 14 year old cook.  She told on him and he had to face the snakes every week as a felon.  But she was charged too for leading him on.  So she fought as well.

And also in the Trader house someone murdered the Prince and no one knew who did it.  So one out of 10 was sent to fight the serpents 1 per every 10 days as a lesson to those who planned murder of an aristocrat. The “criminals” all died in their first or second fight.


But the aristocrats were worried they’d be assassinated so they partied with abandon just like the servants. Perhaps more so.  Would be assassins had nothing to lose and so were very dangerous.

Elaborate banquets, moonshine and blood flavored moonshine flowed freely.  On this particular night the party was held at the House of Oz.  Everything was made of gold… Many nobles attended.

Dame Griselda was drunk and told the diners she would take any man.  Sir Drake took her up on her offer.  It was against the rules but only the laws pertaining to the serpents mattered.

Still secret rendez-vous were thrilling. Especially between Houses.

But it was all dog eat dog, no one respected one another.

It was expected that people were virgins when they got married, but women could get a replacement hymen and men could fake it.


Wilderness dwellers were armed with fire arrows and dwelt in small groups.

Some were hunted down with snakes on a leash, throw the snakes at the run away.  Horrible death with pain. Sometimes the king cobras bit someone and wouldn’t let go.

Some wise city denizens caught wind of their ultimate arrest to fight the snakes and fled to the wilderness.

But as time went by there weren’t enough “criminals” or volunteers so the city King sent out parties of troops to grab the wilderness dwellers and bring them to the fights.  Women were especially prized as most fighters were men, but the rebuilt Rock City forced all women to fight every six months.  And so the population was falling.

One wise man was said to have remarked “Revolution is impossible with the slave mentality of the people.”

But the Upper Class was growing fast, and many wanted to join it. Even though it was almost impossible for a machino.


Every 365 days we celebrated New Year’s Day.

A number of females were fighting snakes today.  Many were excited about that.

In the past females were reserved for bearing children, but females now fought like the men, despite their femininity and many were enemies of the King.

It was always a big party in which machinos mingled with nobles, in a grand masquerade.

The House leaders all had 8 large king cobra snakes in harnesses to pull their cart. The snakes slithered in a straight line.  And were whipped.


On this day, union leader, machine, Edward, was imprisoned and preparing for his next snake fight.  But he kept banging in his rubber room.  Three guards came in to tranquilize him but he knocked out all 3 using his martial arts skills. He took a key from one of the guards and gagged the injured men and then stole a uniform and let himself out into the wilderness.

And he ran into the mountains.  It was dusk and he was safe for the moment.  So he crossed a few streams and went down them a little ways so that his scent would be lost for the dogs. And he reflected that maybe security should have been tighter.  Perhaps allowing escapes was a type of safety valve…


Also on New Year’s Day, there was to be a duel between the Prince of the Blue and Green House and the Prince of the House of Oz.  People were looking forward to the fight. Both princes were skilled in martial arts and the fight lasted 10 minutes and went back and forth.  Finally the Oz Prince knocked his rival out and then choked him to death.  The crowds loved it.


But gradually, people filtered back into the settlement of Rock City, which was now just a town.

Investigators looking down found that there were many cities on top of one another and so several cities had been destroyed in the past.

One level, level 3, was full of skeletons burned in a fire. This level was bigger and more widespread than the others.  And they used strange technology such as light bulbs which we managed to revive and so our city was one of “light.”

But the old name of the old Rock City, was the “Forever City.”  That is, according to the clay burnt tablets.

Women received 5 gold pieces for every baby they had and 10 years after being rebuilt by 500 machino survivors there were 800 children, but there were only 150 over 11 years old.  Plus 1400 adult aristocrats. Although people were coming back to the city or being born, the machino adult population was dropping fast.  

This time the city was mostly made of baked clay with fireplaces of stone.

The city was full of smoke and the lumberjacks kept hauling in logs from the forest to be burned.

And we climbed the surrounding mountains using ropes and nails and found nothing in most of the valleys and the mountains went on and on.  But found remains of former cities.

There were a lot of hopeless people who volunteered mostly in the rings but also plenty of criminals.  And of course people still had to fight once every six months. The flames destroyed a lot of snake cages, but they had hedged their bets and had plenty of nearby snake farms which were not damaged in the fire.

Some women threw themselves at winners in the ring.

Some volunteers fought just for the favors of certain women.

When someone died their body was burned in the charnel house and their death was duly recorded. If the poison snakes didn’t quite kill the human fighters with their poison, the body was burned anyway…

Women were fertile at 12 and had on average 4 babies, 10 years after the fire. But now the women had to fight. 

You got 5 gold pieces for having a child…

There were still 3 villages in the mountains, and the City of the Sun.

The King needed more workers for his building projects so they built temples to the King and also to the Serpent God.

And the royal brewery and wineries… and tobacco and weed… They were producing more than ever before.


Some abused their power and put snakes in the anus and vagina of young women, effectively taking their virginity. Or men they hated had a snake put down their throat.


They improved roads and bridges and opened new mines and cut down more trees from surrounding mountains that were not burned in the fire.

And there were still a lot of snakes in the wild as many had been let loose during the fire.

Spies for the King identified dissidents who were sent to fight the snakes just like before.  It can’t be helped said the King.

Some captured king cobras in the wild in nets, there were a lot of them and they were particularly vicious…

One of my fellow scribes said he kind of felt sorry for the snakes but people said he was a sap and a wimp…

The new King said everyone is equal, but some must rule and some must work hard for the greater good…

Some said close the mines and forget about gold and other metals.


The library was full of baked written tablets and previously was mostly about the snake fights and also the deeds of the rulers. The tablets were mostly undamaged in the fire.  Chroniclers combed the refuse pits for pots with inscriptions. Hoping for scientific data.

Famous chess games were also recorded. Many people passed the time playing new chess in which the pieces all had different movements every month.  This was to combat people memorizing the opening moves.

Genius, Alexander re-invented the electric light in this year and there was much rejoicing. People wanted Alexander to be King and all wanted him to not face the snakes.

And emboldened by Alexander’s success, aristocratic playwright Sandra made plays involving the whole population. But she was condemned to face the serpents for a week and died.  Many aristocrats complained, saying they had broken the Laws of the Serpents, that nobles shouldn’t fight snakes. It was scandalous, with the Leader of the House of Love being held responsible.  There was a mob protesting and so finally she was herself sent to face the snakes for up to a week, and most people called that justice.


The modern (last decade) record for most snake kills was 21, by the “Master,” who died in his 22nd fight.

Another great fighter (also dead) was the “Lord of the Rings;” he killed 19 before meeting his demise.

Descendants of these two heroes were trained to fight at a young age with an old skilled fighter.

Pros could quit at any time but for “criminals,” i.e. persona non grata they had to win 8 times in a week, to be released.

And many people were restless and hated to see their friends fight.  And some said the snake fights were boring, they dared to say so in what seemed a better, more open era than the decade before.


Payment shall be 3 gold pieces per successful biannual fight. 

Donate all you can to the Serpent Temple.

One must watch every fight in your city/village.

One must identify those who criticized the fights and such people faced the snakes.  This law made everyone paranoid.

Felons were required to fight 8 snakes to get their freedom but so far only 14 had reached that. And they were all dead now.

Volunteers could fight as long as they wanted, a few retired unscathed.

New laws vs old laws, it was the same…

The crowd roared as snake after snake entered the ring for hard criminal cases.


Some said to bring in wolves instead but wolves bred slowly, and held no fascination for the masses, so they kept the snakes.

There was one official playwright and two official philosophers in each noble House. But they had nothing new to say. They were chicken shit.

Secret playwrights wrote of forbidden love mostly…  As a scribe I wrote a secret story about a land where there were no snake fights nor duels.

Many cheered for the snakes…

And there was one hero who had the yearly record for killing 11 snakes.  Today was to be his final battle. And they sent a fierce snake with a formidable reputation then another and finally a third, but it was the third one which got him.  People said he had been drugged by the authorities as he was too powerful and nearly everyone was dismayed.

The next day people seemed to walk a little slower and did their work half-heartedly.

Originally the dead human corpses were brought to the charnel house, but now the bodies were diced up and fried for the criminals to eat, or so the King said.  This would poison the criminals, but usually there was only a bit of human meat on each plate.


And they started to hypnotise people on behalf of the King so they would volunteer in the fights (opponents of the King mostly).

Farmers, miners, lumberjacks etc. were disgruntled.  They said they worked too hard.  Some ardently desired to escape like union leader, Edward, who had still not been found.

Some said there had always been tyranny, but what about the potential of island settlements abroad?

Some ran for it.


Prostitute Candy had sex disease but many men put on a goatskin condom and loved her the night before they were to face the snakes.  Others partied in a wild orgy and debauch, the so-called Night-Night.

But finally the King ordered Candy to face the juvenile snakes for all the rest of her days so as to contain the disease.


Population 35 000 in the year 1014.

So I traveled with the Traders to the City of the Sun.

Differences between City of the Sun and Rock City were not so large. But after the fire of Rock City, people considered the City of the Sun to be the cradle of human existence.

The City of the Sun on the coast.  People were more laid back than Rock city.

But again the noble Houses, of which there were nine, wanted lovers, money and slaves and to duel against those who irritated them.

People here however, openly denigrated the snake fights…

They seethed with hatred for this society. But they still had to fight.

3 islands bridges in the harbor.  They were winding like snakes.

Treacherous currents.

Who knew what kind of water snakes they’d created and put into the sea?

Here again people donated blood every week.  And people drank from the blood pools and fornicated and bathed.  An S-shaped Dome covered the bridges in the harbor.

A couple of years ago someone had poured king cobra poison into one of the pools and many people got even sicker than usual.

Typically people would get drunk on blood-flavored moonshine.   There was a lot of evaporation of blood in the lake, so well water was used to water it down to “normal blood.”

When one faced the snakes here it was common to have a few blood-flavored moonshine drinks to relax and at the same time embolden you.

Here also the survival rate for a machine human in a snake fight was 40%. 

35 000 pints of blood were collected every week.

Aristocratic scientists here, were working on water snakes battles.

One fight passed like another and few were memorable.  But the King of the City of the Sun offered me a job as a scribe to record them and make them sound interesting.


The masses at the City of the Sun were getting sick of the snake fights and felt they were poor and undersexed and unable to complain and even if they kissed ass that often was not desirable either.

At the time I was loving another one of the priestesses.  We made love in the open, in the blood pool, which violated the laws of the serpents.

And I knew that she openly loved machinos down in the basement of our House, another flagrant violation.

But times had changed.

Then one day, rebels in the two cities, the City of the Sun and Rock City simultaneously armed with pointed sticks took over the treasuries and stole the gold and then ransacked the two King’s palaces. There were about many hundreds of rebels in the streets, but finally the King of Rock City was able to restore order.  The King said he would forgive the rebels of who 349 died but the next thing he did was raid houses with his troops looking for gold and pointed sticks.  And the mob surged into the 8 Great Houses and ransacked them and burned them.  But after a few weeks the Kings of both cities regained control and all 401 remaining rebels were captured and set to fight the snakes.  Thousands of machinos had died in the fighting…

Most of the aristocrats were dead and the Great Houses were mostly empty.  Only 3 houses remained in Rock city and 3 in the City of the Sun.

They all knew the population was in free fall and the snake fights had to be curtailed.

In the City of the Sun, Cornelius C. spoke to the masses of peace, love and longevity.

Or in some cases the rebels would face two other rebels at once to make 3 all battle together.  But it wasn’t such a big hit like the King had planned. Many refused to watch.

The old Kings of the two cities were forced to fight a duel and died. Then new Kings. But the new Kings were much like the old and brought back snake fights for all, every 6 months.  No one dared say anything about it as the new Kings had 100 + guards.

The new King of Rock City wanted all those 10 and over fight 1/6 months. If a woman was pregnant she still had to fight.  But such numbers could not be sustained so the King was defeated in a duel and the numbers went back to the previous rate of 15 years or older to fight once every six months.

And people had to admit the fights were interesting and especially the duels.

So order was restored in the two cities. Many of the Great Houses were depleted however.  They had all lost nobles in the conflagration.

For example the House of Oz in the City of the Sun, here the servants rebelled and killed the aristocrats in the snake dome.  They put on airs and dressed in fancy clothing and congratulated one another for seizing power from the tyrants.  But about half the servants remained servants to serve the nouveau aristocrats.

Food tasters etc.


Now, the Houses aristocrats’ had a total of 1000 in the City of the Sun and 300 in Rock City.

The House of Green and Blue was having a party today they were entertained by a story of some of the escapees and how they had been caught by the dogs and troops.  Such escapees had to fight every night until they were dead.  No one escaped or so they said. But some whispered that people they knew hadn’t been caught but the aristocrats said they died fighting the troops.  They vowed to never be taken alive… it was widely believed.

One day out of the blue I went to the Green and Blue House and said I was very clever and could help the aristocrats. I was a member of the King’s scribes and took a chance kind of expecting to be relegated to fight the snakes but instead they promoted me to captain of the guards.

Duels I had one the first night of my new job.  I was considered an aristocrat.

But I won and thus got a lot of respect.

Girl Q often got men to fight over her, but everyone agreed duels in the aristocratic ring was the way to settle grievances.

House of Orange… They liked music.  And sold music for the snake fights and duels.


But the most remarkable thing that happened while I was a scribe involved the House of Love.  Here the Princess, Mad Bonnie, declared war on the two other surviving Houses.  The war raged on for a year and the result was a Pyric victory in which one-quarter of the machino population died.  Only a handful of nobles died.

As a noble, I was one of the survivors.

But Princess Bonnie stepped up the snake fights and called herself the Empress.

But finally she was assassinated by her own guards.

In the aftermath immigrants in the City of the Sun were encouraged to immigrate to Rock City, but many people wanted to leave Rock City.

As scribe I downplayed the violence and virtual ruin and didn’t say how many were killed.  I wrote it was just a “skirmish.”


Then there was the scandal of the filed down canines.  All baby snakes had their canine teeth filed down to nothing so they couldn’t inject their poison.  This led to a string of dubious victories before the truth was discovered.  A whole year of snakes was ruined.  Some wanted to practice with them but the Empress had them destroyed. But there were plenty of king cobras in the wild to be gathered.

The butler of the House of Love, was a true ladies man even though sex outside of marriage was forbidden.  No one complained.  He wore goatskin condoms and went nuts the day before he would fight the serpents.

So tonight he would fight the snakes.  There was a sense of anticipation and hope.  Most people were hungover from the night before.  It was an entertaining fight with both man and snake feinting and dodging but finally the snake bit him on the finger and we all watched him die.

Sometimes people would challenge another to a duel the night before they had to fight the snakes.  To take them down with them, so to speak.

The King was surrounded by guards and had several food tasters.

And the snake pits were also under heavy guard.

People continued to copulate illegally in the fields and the miners’ camps. Even the outhouses.

Upper class aristocrats studied some science and experimented on the new machinos.


So it was popular machino, Gordon of Oz’s time to fight the snakes.  Like the other dissidents his mouth was wired shut like the others so he couldn’t say anything on TV.  Everyone was disappointed again.  The rulers worried that morale was too low amongst the machinos.

The night before he had dreamt of running through the fields as a free man.  He had this dream many times.  But there was no way he could escape.  He was half-starved and weak. But he had tried to do exercise in his cell.  And every day they came to his cell and beat him, breaking a lot of his teeth and his fibula bone also.  Still he had to fight.

No TV no contact with other prisoners.  24/7.  It was madness.

He wouldn’t have fought but he knew golden hair, his true love would be watching so he grabbed the snake and throttled it, but then it bit him and he died.

Then after that, there was a fighter who kicked the snake in the head several times before throttling it.

And then a fighter who fell on the snake and tried to suffocate it but failed.

And so on.  It was just another day.

I lost all my gold pieces, gambling on the day’s snakes, I gambled with my heart not my head.

The King told us on a rare TV broadcast that the people were living like Kings to try and drum up support for his reign.

And every child was now given a basic education, so they could read the aristocrats’ posters with a bit of difficulty and could calculate wagers and winnings on the snake games and the duels.


Then one day they came for machino Boris.   His crime was suggesting we have a little nude party in the house of Orange.

He probably wondered if he would get a full 5 m King Cobra or a smaller, younger one.  He had nothing else to think about while rotting in solitary confinement.

The all-time Prince of Snakes had killed 51 straight and it was his lot to fight it.  So he ran about erratically and whistled before finally grabbing it by the throat and smashing its head against the wall.  But it turned its head and bit him on the foot and he died.


On one particular night, there was an old man to fight the snakes.  This old man, said he was the oldest person in the world at age 62.  He was formerly an escapee living near the coast. He escaped his “Nite-Nite party” with the help of one of the Dukes of the House of Oz.  He was always on the lookout for more   escapees and when caught had now 3 men and 1 woman and a pair of one-year old twins in his group. The old man was bisexual though and perfectly content.

As for the Duke, Duke Blue, he paid everyone off and was thus able to enable the escape. Successful escapes were relatively rare. But then one war party from Sun City smelled the smoke of their fires in the night and the next day attacked.  There were 20 of them armed with bows and arrows, deliberately wounding the escapees, rather than kill them.  They wanted them to face the snakes every night though their children were put into the Sun City school.  Their jaws were wired shut so they we couldn’t tell anyone that the old man and his old friends had been at this homestead for many years.

Of course some City of the Sun nobles, recognized the old man and friends but were afraid to say anything about it.  The official scribe account said the old man had been in the dungeon for many years as an experimental subject and the vast majority believed it and hoped for the old man.  But the old man and friends were gone by the second day of fights.

It was a similar story further down the coast.  Two escapees had left their impending snake battle and followed a mountain stream to throw off the scent for the hunting party’s dogs.  But they were also recaptured and died soon after both committing suicide as they had agreed before the capture.

They had been alert for a hunting party but not late at night.

Betrayed no doubt by roving traders/scouts. TV screens everywhere.

The escapees had raided cropland and took corn back to their hide out but must have been caught on video, in the end.


TV hook up to all 3 villages and 2 cities done by scientist, Able. It was the year 1015.  Henceforth people everywhere could watch all of the snake fights on the continent.

Still some wanted the magical Able to fight a duel. He seemed to have other ideas like reviving ancient technology. So the King forbade anyone to challenge him, even though many were jealous of Able’s success.

In the Temple of the Serpents in Rock City, there were hundreds of snakes.  Farmers fed them captured rats and smaller snakes that they had captured. But farmers were often bitten by the wild king cobras.  People left the temple with the forked tongues of the snakes in their mind, and often had their tongue cleft in two, in the garden of plenty.  No paradise for us.

But it was dangerous for the thousands of miners too.  They all got silicosis around age 18 and died, but most died in the snake ring.

People came to the Temple for a coming of age party the night before their first snake fight. One more or less had only a 40% chance of surviving their first fight.  Typically they honored the snakes with prayer and all their few coins.

But old wise aristocrats said at one time there were only angels and life was indeed paradise and people all lived long and happy, non-violent lives.

That originally TV had been for movies about the dangers of love and greed and non-lethal sports. And everyone was rich.  And that now those people lived under the sea in domes of quartz.

Young people said it was all just rumors…

But only the aristocrats knew anything beyond 15 years.  However some people reported seeing iron submarines off the coast from the City of the Sun, it was said.


Then it was New Year’s Eve again. Everybody dressed in a mask and costume.  During this festival aristocrats mingled with the youthful machinos.  Youth was prized. I made love with several machino girls and took off their masks.  In later days I kept loving 5 of them.


The King had king cobras pull his cart.  He whipped them and had them in a tight harness. When you saw them coming you had to move away giving them a large berth.

And when the King paraded down the street, some people felt they must kiss the King’s poisonous ring. People didn’t know it was poison, but many people felt they had no choice but to kiss the ring.


Snake boats.  Snakes on the bow and stern and forked paddles. Some took them out to sea but most were just on Lake Cool. No one knew what happened to those who went out to sea.  They never came back. Or so it was rumored.

But the King of the City of the Sun, was building up a fleet to explore the rest of the world.  He needed more snake fighters.  The ships were each equipped with hundreds of chains for snake fighters.  They were essentially slaves to row the boat.

I said to my close friends and lovers that it is not my world and I wanted to get away.

The King drew a new constellation (the big dipper) so to resemble a coiled snake.


Many people were superstitious.  And believed in omens.

If you dreamed about snakes it was considered a bad omen. And people said if you had such a dream you had to volunteer to fight the snakes immediately. Most people didn’t reveal that they’d had snake dreams, me included.


On one particular night,  two illicit lovers who’d taken too many risks were both to fight a snake each tonight.  The crowd went wild.  The woman was able to grab her juvenile snake and poke its eyes out.  But her lover was aggressively bitten by one of the best snakes and he died.  Everyone said it was a tragedy…


And they were experimenting with a two-headed cobra which we would soon see.


I had previously written a script “The Lonely and the Lost,” which the scribes approved and the Houses approved and showed it on late afternoon TV. Snakes were all gone in my story and people worked to create wonderful science and art.

But as the story continued, the House leaders grew nervous and finally sent me to fight the snakes every week.  Although I was a strong, muscular aristocrat, everyone was afraid to duel me.  So they relegated me to fight the snakes.  Some said they had broken the laws of the serpents again.

I said it was the final death of Art. They said nonsense.

They locked me up in solitary confinement.

But I had a pick for the lock and broke out with all 12 men and 6 women in my sector. We had to kill the door guard…

We met our guide outside and he took us up mountain streams to throw off the scent and we kept going for 36 hours until we were totally exhausted.

We knew from maps where the four villages were and also Rock City and the City of the Sun… But we went many days march into the mountains

They didn’t catch me as they said they would. We explored the mountains and came to one of the three villages. Here they had only one snake fight per night so it was four times a year to fight for each.  But they had very nasty serpents.  However they welcomed us here and made me feel like home.  I imagined I was a savior to all mankind, the legendary black knight…

Throughout our world, 63% of machinos’ deaths were directly due to serpents. The rest were due to fighting on the drop of a hat or war or suicide. For the aristocratic men 80% of deaths were caused by wars and/or duels and the remainder mostly suicide. Machino women were allowed to live as long as they were fertile, but after becoming barren they had to fight the serpents.

Serendipity, the playwright often said, “Life can be good. Short and sweet.”


I was now a 42 year-old former aristocrat and wondered what to do for my final adventure.  So I and the 16 surviving escapees (two were bitten by snakes and died), built a large raft with a sail (I’d heard about sails in the clay tablets)…

Tuberculosis on board.  Dumped the two sick ones in the sea.  It was cruel but it had to be done for the greater good.

We saw a new settlement at the same latitude, a few hundred km away from our home continent…

The settlement was made up of strange blue men.

We built a stockade here and tried to trade with these people. We offered them gold in exchange for blood beer and wage slaves.  We were given gold by the Duke who engineered our escape.

I spent a lot of time here writing “Plays of the Serpents.” As scribe I was talented at writing literature…

Plays of the serpents…  I felt like a big fish in a small pond.  And I was trapped waiting for the flood. But I didn’t share my true feelings just wrote plays of hypothetical possible lives which I did not share except with my lovers.

The girls on the voyage all liked me but I had a true love, Mancy, a noble of the House of Oz, she and I wrote plays.  We didn’t know if there were writers back in the settlements on our home continent as far as we knew.  The other sailors were machinos.

On the boat we didn’t need to hide our plays on the boat, everyone was grateful I had engineered our escape.

Some of us said we were a backwards, foolish island.  And elsewhere people were more advanced just like the TV only more technology.

Anyway things went nowhere with the blue men, so we set sail again, again on the same latitude.

We saw air cars and sailed in the direction they had come from. But the weather was storms and our snake boat almost capsized.  So the next land that we saw we stopped to build a ship.  I had memorized the plans for such a ship and it took us months to build it.

 It featured a snake bow and stern and forked tongue paddles. We had no idea if it was seaworthy.  We built it in secret near the coast in a forest.  And went on voyages away from the snakes seeking a better world.  We had enough food for 4 months. Most of our close friends and mates had said it was hopeless and if we found anyone they would be backwards and not have TV.

We finally arrived at a new coast!  And a new city.


We came to a glittering domed city of light in the evening.  It was all lit up in a kaleidoscope of colors.  They greeted us warmly but it was evident that they considered us to be backwards.  They knew all about the snakes and our part of the world.

They told us their world was advanced and they had brilliant architecture and art.  And they made action movies.

And they told us mostly criminals and dissidents had to fight the snakes.

But recently they had developed computerized robot snakes who killed people with their powerful electrocution bite, typically going for the neck and they could also envelop “prey” and suffocate them.  To fight them you needed to kick and punch them in the head or grab them and throw them in the fire or throw a burning log at them and of course go for the eyes.  The fighters were given a long sword with which to fight.  These snakes were always in a bad mood and were formidable opponents.  They were thinking about making all snake fights about robot serpents.

They told us we had to fight real king cobras the day of our arrival and everyone was curious about how the foreigners would do. They gave us a sword to fight with and told us that the snakes won 80% of the time. Here only dissidents and other criminals fought (in addition to the very rare foreigner).  So their population was fast growing on this continent, with a coastline of 7500 km they had a total population of 1 million.

The climate was tropical and balmy.  With a lot of rain.

They also had crystalline towers everywhere in the city, like Rock City.

This City of Light was the capital of this continent of 1 million people.  It was a place similar to where we had come from, but more advanced technologically speaking.  For example they had electric lights, telephones and computers.  The computers generated air cars which everyone here was proud of.

But why were there snakes here too I wondered.

We had traveled most of the known world, we figured and everywhere were the king cobras.


Leaders were determined by success with duels.  If you wanted to be leader you had to duel with those above you and you kept fighting one after the other until there were no other would-be leaders left.  If there were just two or three left they fought duels, one on one or all 3 for themselves vs 3 snakes.

They said if any of us survived they would be given a job and would not have to face the snakes again if we were model citizens.

But some of us were experienced fighting real snakes (I had not fought but the other 10 sailors fought 1-3 times).  So we did fairly well.  I decapitated my king cobra and I survived as did 6 others and suddenly everyone wanted to get to know us and party with us.  We were in very good shape having been working out during and after our voyage.

We had our pick of the young females. But marriage was illegal here.

And they had machino slaves in farming, mining and house slaves.  The leadership of the machinos was dominated by “The One.”  But he had a number of assistants, 10 in number at the highest level.  But they were the lower class.

The upper class was made of people who succeeded in business.  If any one of them wanted to be supreme leader they had to fight the leader, winner take all and if both were killed by the snakes then the other assistant leaders could all try to fight the serpents.

People here in the City of Light enjoyed the snake fights for about half-an-hour a night and the rest of the night was spent drinking, sex and smoking opium.

But most people were machinos only they were better off than my home continent.

I had a lover here she insisted on making love in a snake ring with 2 live juvenile king cobras. I was very afraid and felt it was reckless, but we went ahead and surprising didn’t get bitten.

It was too much for me I fled the building. Afterwards, they told me that that particular snake room was for youths to practice, often they died.


It wasn’t long before I got a girl pregnant.  I was excited as children here were reared by their parents.  I spent less and less time with my seafaring compatriots and more and more with my new friends and of course my new girlfriend and child.

The domed city of spires was surrounded by terraced farms on the surrounding mountains.  At night the farmers all came into the city.

According to the locals there were 7 scintillating domed cities on the continent each one between 50 000 and 100 000.  But most of the mountainous land was uninhabited and most food came from fishermen and their nets and the terraces surrounding the cities.


But from the beginning I sensed power here and didn’t particularly care for the King.  So after the baby was born I challenged him to a duel.  This was a law of the serpents.  Anyone could challenge the King to a duel, but the King was a skilled, wily fighter. However he was 49 years old now and not as strong as he used to be.  Most people here thought he was just OK.

In the duel we had swords.  I took a chance and pointed my sword at him and threw it at his neck, hitting and killing him.  I won and he lost, so I was King. As King I ruled the other cities in this continent and had plenty of lovers and sumptuous palaces. I took the King’s Queen as one of my lovers.  She hated me for engineering the demise of her King and doubly so as I was a foreigner.

Everyone was trying to appease me and guess what I might like.  It was a dangerous game they were playing.

I set up a new set of advisers including two of my fellow sailors.  But all these assistant leaders were very obsequious to me as only I had the power to call people dissidents and force them to fight the snakes or the robot snakes, even worse.

And below the assistant leaders were just rich traders.  They formed the upper class. They were just like the Trading House in Rock City and the City of the Sun. But they only cared about their own gratification.  Half of them were females.  The females typically got rich by selling sex and then went into business in the trade and service industry.

And I commissioned a new, “Temple of the Serpents” in which everyone had to donate money to and donate art they had made etc.

The temple was full of robot snakes and one had to tread carefully, but my scribes wrote down who gave what and if they didn’t give what I thought they should they had to face the robot snakes. Almost everyone here was a wage slave.  The aristocracy was only 1 in 100 = 10 000.

If people died in the temple all their belongings would be seized by the King’s scribes.  And went into the royal coffers for my building projects.  Here they paid the machinos 5 silver pieces a month. Aristocrats got 4 gold pieces a month. Gold was worth 80 times that of silver here.

I was aware that the serpentine culture could not be changed.  It was as if it was an ingrained instinct.  A handful of my closest advisors said I should eliminate the snakes altogether, but I knew to do so would be to commit suicide; people wouldn’t stand for it.

Our city was the capital of the island continent, City of Light IV.  The city was known for a local sport called “battle axe soccer.”  There was a field with one ball and a goal at either end.  The idea was to score goals and not to get axed.  It was an exciting game for the bloodthirsty masses.

Then I was challenged by a young buck.  But I kept punching him in the head and finally he fell and I finished him off.  Although I was 32, I worked out a lot and was a muscular, formidable opponent. But it was my unorthodox way of spin fighting that got me where I was today.

I opened a school of mixed martial arts for my supporters to help protect them from duels (the aristocrats) and protect the machinos from losing to the snakes.

And I opened a school of dreamers.  People would dream up their wildest fantasy.

Over that year I was challenged to several duels.  The first wanted exclusively robotic snake fights. I chopped off his head, the second was power-crazed, but old and I stabbed him in the heart. The third wanted more women and was easily defeated.  Then there was a challenger who wanted to eliminate the snakes altogether and he too was an easy opponent. Then there was a man who thought robotic snakes were a dangerous phenomenon.  He too was easily vanquished.

 I won them all. I had a clever technique to throw the sword at the opponent. I was King…  And I was nevertheless bored!

Scientists kept asking for the go ahead to develop computers but I turned them down saying we have enough technology as it is!  We don’t want to replace ourselves.

But I allowed them to develop robotic snakes which were hard to defeat and opponents got a bow and arrows, to try and kill the snakes in the ring.

Older people who were model citizens told stories to the juvenile people. And sang old songs.

Then one day, 2 years into my wise reign, a group of 9 men attacked the palace.  I had 15 guards though and so the attackers were defeated with only one survivor who went before the robot snakes. I lost 5 guards, but hired 15 more.  It was difficult to hatch a plot against me, the King as I had eyes and ears everywhere.


Many aristocrats said if a woman is barren then let her fight the snakes once a week and so get rid of a drain on the treasury.  It was a new Law of the Serpents.

I decided to tell people to live for love and kindness and put an end to the snake fights and duels (and thereby cement my position as King).  And no more battle-axe soccer.

People moaned and complained that they were bored but I told them it was better to be alive than dead.

A lot of females told me they adored me and I spent a couple hours a day making love.  I would typically do virgins (it was safer) and give each girl one stroke and then on to the next, using goat skin condoms…

I wanted the other cities in this continent to follow our example and live a loving life.  And I wanted to send air cars to take my homeland and turn it into a love paradise also.

And I said there shall be no more free enterprise.  Henceforth all would have an equal share in the one state company, the Gestalt.

And I wanted more gold so new people had to work in the mines for their now longer lifetime.

Already the imperial palace was nearly all solid gold.

And there were gold statues of 233 Kings of this continent over officially about 800 years.  Records went back 1000 years but the oldest records seemed to indicate there were no Kings 800 years ago and it was an era of peace.

As King I was not subject to the laws of the serpents I declared.  Then when one of my assistants challenged me to a duel I had him executed.  And I increased my bodyguards to 40. I gave the bodyguards a lot of gold but now I worried about a palace coup.

People appeared to protest in front of my main palace saying “You’ve broken the laws of the serpents… You must die etc.”  But I ignored them.

I slept alone with my robotic snakes and they attacked anyone who came into my chamber while I was sleeping they were programmed to do so.

We also had robots who served me, the King food and drink and even served as jester.  My computer scientists were programming new robots every day.

We made the robots fight and they said they didn’t want to, but we put them in the revolving cage. And finally they would fight.  They all had their own personality and we were programming them to fight.

Also some renegade scientists created 3 m/ 3 yards tall ogres…

They were formidable opponents for the robot snakes.


Many celebrated the new era of the foreign King.

I commissioned archaeology to determine the past.  Just like in Rock City and The City of the Sun, they found the bottom layer had very advanced looking machines which we did not know how to use.  So I redoubled my efforts to produce new scientific discoveries. I hired all the scientific type minds I could find.

They had re-developed the telephone and electric lights a century ago.  Air cars were a recent development and were powered by a vast series of batteries which were powered by the dams of this continent and there was an electrical grid. The air car was considered the apex of our civilization. There were no air cars in the archaeological record.

And we had occasional trips to the Moon, but only the best could go there. The moon was only about 384 000 km away. An air car could make it in a month.


But there were many species of real life snakes here on this continent.  Some poisonous and the rice paddies were dangerous.  Those farmers who were bitten had their bodies cooked and served to the other machinos who were not liked.

Aristocrats continued to believe they were superior, though most now had hidden machino lovers. Such lovers tried their best to appease their master/mistress.

The aging deputy leader of the Gray House, one of the nine Great Houses of the City of Light, preyed upon young 13 year old girls.  And abused them in every way.  They were too afraid to tell on him and so the abuse continued.

Many nobles abused their machinos.  There were 9 Great Houses, and 7 cities here on this continent. Once you shared the bowl of blood beer you could be love mates for a week. Typically people picked tall and strong mates, for men, and women were selected for elegance and femininity.  But some women were bred to be tough like men.

Lovers came in numbers to survivors of the snake fights.

Everyone listened to every word of the King carefully.  They knew no other leader or rules.

“Oh mighty serpent God we are with you and worship you.”

“Look upon our work and rejoice.”

And the air cars were decorated with carvings by servants.

But as King I was worshipped more than the serpent Gods.  People in many cases gave me all their money and women offered sex to me.

I wore a golden mask and everyone was curious how I looked like over time. We had plastic surgeons to alter one’s face. So I could go incognito into the city.

Taxidermy continued all the great fighters’ heads were preserved.

And one day my favorite Queen said to color the duels with 2 snakes and 2 people all inside an 8 m cube.  I, the King told her it was a good idea.

And why not fight pythons? She asked.

And the Queen said to clean up the garbage and get rid of the rats and snakes in the palace.  She said we need to preserve the pristine beauty of the crystal palaces and make them safer.  Stop scaring the young children…

Then one day House leader of the local Whale House was found dead, murdered in her room in her palace.

The murder was captured on TV. It was a machino man who did it. And a pogrom resulted with numerous machinos were slaughtered in the streets and in their homes.

But the aristocrats were phasing out machinos. Most machinos now were rendered sterile by the state from the food, or so it seemed.

Snakes to pull the King’s cart…

Gambling try to roll two ones (snake eyes) for a few coppers.

And my priestess lover was in the news for trying to bribe House leaders to get her machino, Boris, promoted to a noble House.  But the nobles put their foot down and challenged her to 3 duels.  She needed 3 brave fighters, but didn’t include me, as she loved me too much.  But she had a lot of lovers who loved her, so the three candidates fought the challengers and two of them won. It was considered a great victory by the nobles anyway as they had put out the fire and kept the aristocracy pure and clever.

Sometimes a hero wore a mask and claimed to be another thereby sacrificing themselves out of honor.  And save another.

Others said the state was trying to sacrifice a popular fighter and so gave him a mask.

But it was all tiresome for me, so I looked into the Moon settlement which only accepted nobles from Earth.  I just wanted to get away from it all.

Frankly, I was bored by the snake fights and futilely of finding meaning here.  But it had over the past few years become apparent that aristocrats were settling the Moon.


An experimental lab created snakes with legs and other kinds of snakes for the fights. Variety was where it was at.

Clever aristocratic would-be scientists were whisked away to the Moon.

I was tired of this world of paranoia, rumors and lies.

Many wanted to drink the blood of those who committed suicide.


And people were all sickly from blood diseases.  And people smelt really bad.

I was sick too and never felt well.  But I drowned my pain in blood flavored moonshine and opium, like almost everybody else.


And then one day it was announced that test tube babies would take a moron and a dumb girl and impregnate the machine women with twins. These sub-machino men were given vasectomies.  It was not really my idea but I went along with it as machinos didn’t have much use, and were suffering in this world.

Dumbing down of machinos.  Other pregnancies were now pre-empted. It was nothing more than the wiping out of most of humankind here on this planet, they said…

And things were getting out of hand on the continent.  Not only were they turning the machinos into morons, but people were loving each other openly in the river of blood and the aristocratic feuding was getting out of hand.  As King I was powerless to stop it.

And people were everywhere spreading blood on roses which grew in the city and then licking one another’s blood up.  “It was a freak show.”  

But finally there was an imminent coup to overthrow me and I ran for the space port and took off for the moon.

I had been King for four years and was now 46.


So I took a trip to the Moon.

The voyage was uneventful, we spent our time having low-gravity sex, with one lover tied down to the bed.

People said the Moon was a free land with no worries or problems. And said it was a life of pleasure and intellect. But it was a one-way trip. No one came back from the Moon.

When I arrived the locals denounced me as a former dictator, and I was challenged to 11 duels, one after the other.  We fought with spears in low gravity outside the living tunnels.  But I won each duel and so people begrudgingly accepted me. Some of the women threw themselves at me.  I had killed 4% of the population and now people were very afraid of me.

But when I arrived I discovered people were fighting snow dragons.  Still serpents.

Robots here replaced the machinos.  But advanced computers were illegal.

Great Houses didn’t exist on the Moon, everyone was noble…

Low gravity dragon fights were the raison d’etre.

And low gravity sex. But a gravitron in our tunnels produced gravity…

Once every week it was required for all Moon dwellers to go out on patrol, patrolling the Moon cattle who lived off Moon grass.  The Moon grass sucked up ice from the largely frozen surface and were eaten.

It was dangerous though as if your friend or lover denounced you to the Emperor, you’d have to go out on patrol every day for a month.  The Emperor was a typical dictator, drunk on power.  But he had been elected Emperor for life, so it was impossible to get rid of him, to most people.

While out on patrol one had a set of spears and had to protect the Moon cattle from the dragons.

And there were also relatively rare robot snakes.  They had an android human head and a snake body.

These snakes were almost invulnerable and were recopying themselves quickly.  They had a battery and could live on and on. If a human came across one, it was a vicious fight with humans being the loser 80 % of the time.  There was no use running away as the snakes moved faster than humans. It was simply a case of bad luck to meet a robot snake.

But though many were killed by robot snakes there were about 25 new aristocrats coming every month and we didn’t send the women out to fight so there were a lot of children.

And it was rumored there was a new settlement on Mars which had no snakes of any kind.  But I needed to pass the test to go there.  The test was basically an IQ test.  I scored 158, it was not high enough.

But here on the Moon people lived underground on the equator which sometimes got positively balmy.  There was a lot of water trapped in the soil.

The space grass grew wildly everywhere and were hardy plants.

Ships only came here once a month. But after landing here they went off into deep space and were typically never seen again.

Here on the Moon, there was a small lake near our settlement, which people swam in with their oxygen breather.

Water snakes filled the lake and humans had a multi-loading spear gun. Spear a few snakes and eat them back at the boat.

Snakeheads, water snakes with a body of a fish and the head of a snake often interfered and took the speared snake to eat.

Dragons with multiple heads also an experiment of the scientists here. It seemed most science had to be dedicated to improving the serpents, just like always.

And there were rumors of other serpentine monsters lurking outside our tunnels.

We only had about 400 people in our settlement, the only one on the Moon.

There were 12 prostitutes and 4 gigolos on the Moon. And there were 200 children (under 15) and 200 adults.  The gene pool was kind of precarious.

We watched the snake fights and duels on Earth every day, but we didn’t feel any empathy for the snake fighters.  Many of us gambled on the results.  Others saved their money for sex workers here. And the City of Light could watch our dragon and snake fights here on the moon.  People in the City of Light, back on Earth were reportedly horrified to see nobles fight dragons.

If you encountered a dragon (1 chance out of 30 every time you went out), your chance of survival was only 35%, in most cases of survival you were seriously injured and the dragon too would often retreat. And you went out once a week.  Everybody did except our Emperor and his 10 technocratic assistants.  Except women did not fight.  They were needed to have babies.

Many nobles back on Earth said it was an outrage that aristocrats were forced to fight serpents (dragons).

And on Mars there were virtual reality dragon fights, but we didn’t understand them.

For entertainment, other than TV (of Mars, the Moon and Earth), there were women who “danced the serpent,” kind of like belly dancing.

And there were orgies, none of us felt safe so we lived a life of wild abandon.

Despite few newcomers our population was stable as each female produced a baby every other year on average.

We trained our kids to fight dragons.


But we were ruled by the Emperor and his technocrats who did experiments with snakes and space travel.  They justified their corrupt reign by pointing out we lived in the space age now.  There was no evidence on Mars or the Moon of previous human settlement.

If we killed a dragon meanwhile, we drained it of its blood and made blood candles and blood beer.  The candles made it smell like death and the blood beer was a delicacy.

However it was the usual pint of blood, only on Earth it was just machinos who gave blood… Here on the Moon Planet everyone gave blood, a pint every week, which was used mostly to brew blood flavored moonshine.  One pint of blood could produce 8 pints of blood beer.  We distilled moonshine from the wild Martian grasses that grew here.  Opium was very valuable as our scientists claimed they couldn’t grow it here. So it was imported from Earth. 

Some were chicken shit and when the dragons came they ran away leaving the Moon cattle for the taking.  This was what the dragons preferred as encounters with humans were risky.  But if you ran away you’d be sentenced to go on patrol every day for a month.  It was all on TV.

Dragon lairs were full of shredded space suits and the bones of Moon cattle

There was an estimated 20 mating pairs of dragons and they reproduced themselves with 20 dragons each per year except that a lot were killed by astronauts. Raids on their nests eliminate eggs and chicks.

Old one-eye was the most dangerous dragon.  He took a sword blow to his eye last year and had a visceral hatred for humans.

On my second patrol after 2 months, I encountered a dragon. It flew in to bite me but I stabbed him in the mouth.  It uttered a piercing scream and flew away.

Back in the tunnels everyone congratulated me and the women all wanted to have sex with me.

My fifth patrol, in my fifth month of being here, was against old one-eye, but I used my confusing spin technique and then stabbed him in the snout and then the ear and it too uttered a terrible piercing scream. And slowly died.  But then I noticed my left arm was missing in all the excitement. The space suit automatically seared the wound closed and I hurried back to the settlement.

I was getting to be a real celebrity, here on the Moon. And they regrew my limb.  I was surprised.

I told them I’d like to join them as a past King on Earth.  They said I was not a scientist. I’d fallen a long way from King it seemed.

And I asked them why do we have to fight the dragons?

They said I was henceforth going out on patrol every day or night for a month. I knew then that I had better shut up.

The night shift was particularly dangerous as the lights were blinding.

And then I fought the dragon in the night, and ripped apart its wings so it couldn’t fly then I kept throwing spears at it, one connected with the eye.

We hung the vanquished dragons upon the walls of our Great Hall.  There were now 90 of them…

They were good eating but not as good as the Moon-cattle.

But I felt my vision was failing and I worried.  But they had recently invented glasses through the development of telescopes, so they gave me glasses.  I felt like the luckiest man in the world.

Change was coming… but it seemed too late for me, I was getting old and was 47 now.

Anyway I survived the month with one more dragon, but I pierced its eye and watched it die.


And finally, they developed video games to fight the video dragons and also virtual dragons and also to live in virtual reality, just like on Mars. If you lost the game you were irrevocably dead.

But virtual reality was being designed around life and death with the dragons.  It seemed we’d never get tired of serpents.  Even on Mars there were serpents (virtual dragons)

Every world was sad it seemed to me.

But if there was a lesson in it, I’d say wipe out these laws of the serpents, perhaps it would happen in the future.


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