Genre: Juvenile Fiction/Children/Middle grade/Tweens
Author: Fiona Ingram
Simultaneously they peeped out of their hiding places. The flashlight the men had dropped, now lying on the floor of the chamber, illuminated their worst fear. In the corner, a pile of silvery coils moved stealthily, light glinting on its silver-and-black speckled skin. Its enormous body began to undulate as it uncoiled in lazy ripples, a large, triangular head protruding from the gleaming mass. A whip-like tongue flicked in and out of its jaws.
"I think this is one of the eight-foot snakes you were talking about," Justin whispered. "Maybe longer."
The giant cobra slithered across the floor with a dry, scraping sound. They shrank back into their sarcophagi, shaking.
"What shall we do?" Adam asked.
"I'm not the expert," Justin snapped." You're the one who knows so much about snakes."
"We should distract it!" Adam said in a loud whisper.
The snake jerked at the sound of his voice. It glided closer to the stone sarcophagus. Adam lay back on the pile of smelly bones and closed his eyes to half-slits. He looked up at the ceiling where the painted cobra shimmered.
I can't believe this is happening, he thought. I know it's after me.
The slithering, scraping sound grew louder. Then directly in front of him, just at the edge of the stone sarcophagus, the forked tongue whipping back and forth came into view followed by the loathsome head, which reared up, its hood spread wide. Then the creature opened its monstrous jaws, revealing wicked fangs. A clear drop of deadly poison trembled on the end of each fang, glistening like a pearl.
The reptile made a hideous hissing as it stared into the stone coffin, hunting for its prey, waiting for the tiniest movement that would betray his presence. Adam closed his eyes so he wouldn't have to look into the snake's gleaming black orbs. I'm finished, he thought, sliding his hand into his pocket and feeling the scarab. Somehow, just holding it made him feel calmer.
Then Justin called softly, "I know how I can distract it. I have my snake stick in my rucksack. Don't move a muscle because the cobra will strike if it senses you. I'm going to make a loud noise and then throw the snake stick into a corner. That should lure it away from you. On the count of three, jump out of the sarcophagus and make for the hole in the wall."
Adam tensed his muscles. He half-opened his eyes. The snake's head still hovered but it had turned to look in the direction of Justin's voice. Adam heard a rattling sound as Justin banged the snake stick against his sarcophagus, creating a vibration the snake would most certainly feel.
Justin screamed, "One, two, three!"
Adam sprang out of the sarcophagus just as Justin threw the snake stick into the farthest corner and leaped in the opposite direction. As the stick clattered to the ground, they raced for the opening. Hissing savagely, the giant cobra sped after the snake stick, and then struck what it evidently thought was another snake.