Hunger is the cruelest of all feelings. It’s insatiable. No matter how many times you eat, no matter how full you feel, in a matter of hours the rumble begins again.
For me, it had been more than a few hours. It had been a few days. Winter had begun, and all the animals had moved to warmer parts of the jungle. Not one was left for me to prey on. I slithered about aimlessly on the ground, sometimes up the trees. But even bird’s nests weren’t left. My skin left no marks where I had been, my skin collected nothing from the ground I had tread on.
A sudden movement on my right caught my eye. It was the toad, my faithful friend – the only companion I had in this forest. He always had stories to tell me. But…
But hunger is the cruelest of feelings. Today, I saw not my friend, but an object to be gobbled, if I wanted to keep myself alive. My forked tongue was out, my mouth had begun to water. The toad sensed the shift in my behavior. “No!” he cried, “I am your friend. I always have been.”
“A snake and a toad must never be friends. Besides, you seemed happy when I ate your brother.”
“Yes, I was! I spent my whole life in his shadow. You gave me an identity of my own. Please, don’t do this!” The toad’s eyes widened with fear.
“Well, one must never hurt one’s family. And one must never trust a snake. Especially if – ,” I paused for a theatrical effect and continued, “Especially if one is a toad.”
In a flash, I was up on my prey, my fang-like teeth digging into his spotted brown body. Hunger cost me my only companion.