What a World by John Little

Young Simon sat slowly dying under a tree, and he wasn’t the bit sad about it. It felt pretty good actually, all things considered.

Before Simon sat dying under a tree, he worked at a venomade stand, something all too common in Simon’s world which wasn’t that different from ours, all things considered. The main difference between Simon’s world and ours was that all leaves were purple, and that included the evergreens. Of course they weren’t called everpurples, that would be stupid. Not because they weren’t purple, they were ever purple, but to ever call a tree full of multicolored snakes one color would be dumb.

So the leaves were the big difference.

Oh! And all snakes were made of candy. Also a big difference.

When Simon was still working at the venomade stand his job was to milk the candy snakes. The best ones for venomade were the yellow, green, and orange ones, since they produced lemon, lime, and orange flavored venomade respectively when mixed with water.

It was dangerous business milking the candy snakes, especially the lemon flavored ones, they tended to have the sourest disposition, and grow the largest—some of them approaching twenty feet long! The job was of course too dangerous for his girlfriend, she was the one who sold the venomade and took the money. She was the face of the stand, he was just the snake milker. His job was a dime a dozen.

When a little girl of about five years wandered up to their stand and slapped her quarter down on the table, holding it very firm with one finger, Simon waited with baited breath. What would she ask for? Would it be a lime? Or an orange? Maybe she’d be adventurous and try their liquorish flavored venomade—nobody had.

She declared loudly that she would like a cup of Lemon Snake Venomade, their top seller and most expensive product.

Simon glowered, his eyes flickering to the sign that sat a scant few feet above and behind them. It read, in his girlfriend’s perfectly neat handwriting, “Lemon Snake Venomade—Sold out!” Why then had she asked for it? He turned his wry look to his girlfriend, Franny, he knew she would straighten this little illiterate out.

But the promise of a whole quarter was too great, and Franny nodded and bowed, and elbowed Simon hard in the ribs, saying he would have to mix some up, but that it would be out in 15 minutes.

The girl crinkled her little nose with displeasure before sliding her quarter slowly off the booth.

Franny immediately laughed, saying she misspoke, and that it would only take five minutes!

Then the little girl was all smiles again.

Aside from milking the snakes, Simon’s other job was mixing up the venomade. A terribly complicated process, the measurements were roughly one part per thousand venom to water, and if he made it too strong it would likely give a customer a permanent spike in their blood sugar, either leading to diabetes, a career as an auctioneer, or death. If he made the drink too weak the customer would be pissed and demand their money back. Definitely the worse of the two situations.

Simon dug around under the booth looking for his little dropper bottle of lemon snake venom. Finding it, he held the distinct lemon shaped bottle up for a long moment before turning on the spot and heading towards a large ever purple absolutely full of candy snakes—the bottle was empty.

Franny said something, but he waved her off and stomped his way over to the tree. He eyed it up and down, and spied up into its purple depths. Not a lemon snake to be seen, and they were readily seen when present since they were great yellow bastards.

He went to the next tree, and the next, and when he got to the third tree he saw one…

It was at the very top, wrapped around the everpurple’s crown like a big lemony jewel. He sighed, and began his slow climb to the top.

He crossed paths with many different varieties of candy snake, most of them sweet. He needn’t worry about the sweet ones, they were docile to a fault. He eyed a small orange one out on a far branch, they were pretty nasty if you caught them at the wrong time, but it looked occupied with a blueberry flavored one, and he went right on by.

When the lemon one came into view he slowed to a stop and waited, and watched.

It was massive, easily twenty five if not thirty feet long, with a head the size of a watermelon. It looked right at him and flicked its delicious looking forked tongue. He knew what it was thinking, it was the same thing he was thinking.

You look delicious.

The giant candy snake struck, but Simon was expecting it. You see, the trick for dealing with snakes this big was simple. You just needed to be faster than lightning and stronger than god.

Things that Simon excelled at.

In a flash he pinned the snake to the tree and stuck a fang into his lemon shaped bottle. It was half full when he felt the sour taste in his mouth, like he’d drunk a gallon of Lemon Snake Venomade, and then he saw it. The tiny brown bean shaped Tamarind flavored candy snake, the sourest snake in the world.

He’d climbed up a Tamarind ever purple tree and not noticed? What a dumb move.

He fell straight out of the tree, never losing his grip on the lemon snake, and landed flat on his back.

So that’s how young Simon sat their dying under the ever purple, slowly going into a sweet and sour coma, and wasn’t the bit sad about it.

After all, he had the lemon snake all to himself now, and that wasn’t so bad.

It felt pretty good actually, all things considered.

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