Mowgli stalked carefully past the grass huts of the man village, careful not to make a sound. Growing up in the jungle how made Mowgli naturally adept at move quickly and quietly but here in the man village it was much harder. His normally free and nimble bare feet had been weighed down with tight leather sandals which he'd be forced to wear, his skin was wrapped up in seemingly endless robes that almost covered him completely and his thick black hair was encased in a turban.
When he'd first been lured to the man village a year ago, things had been so fresh and exciting. The people had been welcoming and kind to him. They took care of him and showed him around and taught him how to communicate with them. But over what felt like far too short a time, things had progressively begun to change.
Many of the elders felt it was inappropriate for a boy to run about the village wearing nothing more than a tight loin cloth, so they forced him to wear large robes which tied all around his body. They felt it was dangerous that Mowgli should be allowed to bare foot so they'd given him a pair of leather sandals that he had to tie around his feet and strap in every morning. Suddenly even a simple task such as walking had become a pain and unpleasant one.
They'd started to give him jobs around the village and while these tasks started off with him just helping out other villagers cook food and collect wood and water, before long they'd turned into responsibilities for which Mowgli was held accountable for.
So what had once been a life where every morning was a new adventure became a dull and painful one full of routine and misery. He was forced up at sunrise, required to dress and almost immediately he was given heavy pails of water to cart back and forth all morning until his arms and legs ached. Once in a while he tried to remove his robes so that his skin could breath better or remove his sandals so that he could let his toes feel the ground but each time he'd been sharply smacked and ordered to act like a man.
The final straw had come a few days ago when Mowgli was presented with a heavy turban that covered up all his hair and weighed his head down. The villagers gushed that this was a sign that the "wild boy" had finally been "tamed" by humans and that Mowgli could now look forward to a life of endless life of work and misery.
Mowgli knew he had to get out of this awful village and back into the freedom of the jungle. He'd known for some time that a large feast was coming up where the villagers gathered to give endless thanks for something or other that made no sense to a boy raised in the jungle. Mowgli knew that during this celebration the gates to the jungle would be lightly guarded or not even attended at all. So once everyone started feasting and celebrating, Mowgli quietly slipped away from the strange creatures who looked like him but were nothing like and made his way back into the jungle.
When Mowgli finished weaving through the huts and caught sight of the gate leading to the jungle, he was delighted to see it completely unoccupied. Knowing that this was his chance, he made a wild rush and sprinted out of the awful man village as fast as his legs could carry him.
Without even thinking, he ran for ages and ages, jumping over logs and streams and weaving through trees. Finally Mowgli stopped and doubled over in pain and exhaustion. It was in that moment that he realized that no one was chasing him. He was finally free.
Mowgli was surprised to see that he was still completely dressed in the sandals, robes and turban of the village. Delighted that he was now in a place where no one cared if he worn anything at all, Mowgli yanked the turban off his head and threw it high into the trees around him and laughed when it got caught in a branch. He shook his head from side to side letting his hot black hair finally be free.
Mowgli clasped his hands to the robes covering him and began to wildly tear at them, giggling as he could finally not care about taking care of them. The robes tore off revealing the red loincloth he'd worn as long as he could possibly remember. The other villagers had scolded him for holding on to this loincloth. None of the other children wore anything under their robes but Mowgli had grown used to the tight security it brought him and wouldn't part with it.
Finally, Mowgli bent down and undid the awful leather sandals that held his feet firmly. Once he yanked them off Mowgli felt the bliss of his feet being completely free. He stretched and wiggled his toes and delighted in every touch the grass beneath his feet had to offer his hard soles. He couldn't believe how he'd ever been forced to restrain his feet of all things. They were his link to nature, without that he was a prisoner.
But now he was almost completely naked and freer than he'd ever been in his life. Mowgli ran wildly through the jungle, delighting in every touch on his feet, on his bare skin and hair. He stood and felt the hot sun warm his chest. He rubbed his back against a tree just to feel the touch he'd long forgotten and he ran his toes through everything he could find just to feel the tickle they brought him.
Finally the sun began to set. Mowgli came to rest by a large tree that seemed to stretch high into the sky. It was there that Mowgli began to consider what he was going to do. He'd need food and water and shelter and he had no idea how he'd come across it. He'd contemplated finding Baloo or Bagheera, but had no idea how to do so and even if he found them, Mowgli doubted he was wanted back. His wolf family had sent him away, his friends all strongly believed he belonged in the village.
"But I don't BELONG in the village" Mowgli loudly exclaimed to no one. They looked like him but they were nothing like him. But his friends in the jungle looked nothing like him so Mowgli didn't belong there either.
Mowgli was so deep in thought that he didn't notice the long, brown tail slowly sliding down the tree trunk behind him. Mowgli didn't look down at his feet, or else he would have seen the scaly tail slowly circle just out of reach of his ankles, carefully not to so much as brush against his skin.
Before Mowgli knew what was happening, he felt his ankles clasp together tightly as something thick held them firmly in place. He barely had time to react before he was yanked feet first and upside down into the trees. Mowgli watched in horror as the whole jungle ground turned upside down and suddenly got smaller and smaller as he was pulled higher and higher into the branches away from prying eyes.
Eventually Mowgli found himself suspended in mid air swaying gently. He looked around for signs of life and saw that he all around him were thick branches. Suddenly Mowgli heard a loud giggling hiss piece the silence. Mowgli tensed up and struggled with his feet to get his legs out of the grip but it was impossible. Mowgli tried to lift his body up so he could at least see things right side up but he was stuck seeing everything upside down.
"Well well, if it's isssssn't my favorite man cub"
Mowgli tried to see where the voice was coming from but it was impossible to tell.
"I heard a rumor that you finally decided to leave the jungle. That you never wanted to see me ever again. But I hoped that one day you might come back to me man cub."
Mowgli felt a thick coil brush against his skin. It almost tickled if it wasn't so terrifying.
"How could you not want to see me again man cub? Once you get a good look into the magnetic eyes of Kaa, it's impossible to ever escape his warm coils."
Kaa slithered down out of the branches and smiled at Mowgli, though to Mowgli Kaa appeared to be upside down, Mowgli knew full well that Kaa had him at his mercy.
Kaa let out a giggling hiss and then stopped himself. "You'll have to forgive me man cub, it's a bit of a...private joke." Kaa slithered closer and closer to Mowgli. "You ssssseeee, this isn't the first time I've watched you when you've been upside down, little man cub." Kaa leaned closer until he was almost touching Mowgli's face.
"The last time was when you fast asleep after looking into my eyes and listening to my lullaby"
Kaa began to gently sway back and forth and Mowgli found to combination of being held upside down and the swaying to make him feel incredibly woozy.
"Yesssss you were so exhausted that you actually began to snore. Imagine that man cub..sssssssssnnnnoooorrrrriiiiinnnggggg" Kaa continued to sway back and forth. "So after I told you off making such a nasty racket during my wonderfully relaxing song do you know what you said to me man cub?"
Mowgli felt himself become entranced by Kaa. "No...what....what did I say?"
Kaa turned his head around and around until finally he came to rest in a position that had him in the same upside down as Mowgli.
"You said...ssssssssorry" Kaa hissed the word across Mowgli's cheek and giggled.
Mowgli squeezed his eyes shut and began to shake his body left and right to get free. Kaa gently eased his grip on Mowgli's ankles and let his feet slide out of the coils. Before he could fall head first on to a tree branch, Kaa quickly wrapped Mowgli up in his coils, spun him around and placed him on the branch.
Kaa gently twisted his body so that it covered everything from Mowgli's chest but left his legs and shoulders free. Mowgli struggled but even though Kaa was only gently holding him, he was unable to move a muscle.
"Let me go Kaa!" Mowgli shouted at the smiling snake. "I won't let you trick me again. I won't look into your eyes"
"Oh but man cub, I only want to help you." Kaa slithered an inch from Mowgli's face and although Mowgli would have loved to shove his smug face away, he was forced to watch him. "I know how hard things have been for you my poor little lost boy that's why I want to help you."
"I don't want your help Kaa!" Mowgli squeezed his eyes shut, knowing all to well that once Kaa's eyes began to spin with color, it would be mere seconds before he was smiling helplessly.
"But I want to give you peace my dear little man cub. I want you not to have to worry about anything ever again. I want you to close your eyes knowing that you're completely safe from harm"
"You want to eat me Kaa!" Mowgli hoped the words would stun the snake, that Kaa would drop this whole act of helping him. But to Mowgli's surprise, Kaa merely giggled.
"GUILTY as charged man cub. I do want to eat you boy. I want your sleeping body to slide down my throat and come to rest inside my stomach. I want your last act to be giving a hungry snake a delicccciousssss meal he'll never forget"
Mowgli's clenched eyelids felt a gently tickle and despite his best efforts, Mowgli opened his eyes to find Kaa press against his head, his huge yellow eyes consuming Mowgli's vision.
"But you won't feel even the slightest hint of pain man cub. Most in this jungle are so....barbaric. They want to tear and bite and poison and harm. Not me though"
Kaa lowered his tail onto Mowgli's head and began to gently stroke his hair. Despite being trapped, Mowgli found the action strangely soothing.
"I've been blessed with the power of...hyponsisssssss. I can make the whole thing feel like a blissful dream from which you won't ever have to awaken"
Kaa wound his way around Mowgli's neck until he formed a tight noose to squeezed his cheeks and kept him from uttering a sound.
"You're so...ssssssstresssssseeeed man cub. Your friends have abandoned you and even your own kind want to force you to work and slave forever." Kaa smiled as Mowgli watched on helplessly. "There's no place for you in the world man cub, do you understand that?"
As Mowgli stared into Kaa's yellow eyes, unable to move a muscle, he felt the truth of Kaa's words. Mowgli had always been too slow compared to the rest of the wolf pack, to small to fight with Baloo and Mowgli remembered Bagheera's harsh words all to well "Is that all the better you can climb?" He'd mocked when Mowgli struggled to climb a tree.
But Mowgli was too wild and free to be tamed by the village. Kaa was right. There was no place for him in the world.
"Ooooohhhh don't feel sssad man cub" Kaa affectionately rubbed his big nose against Mowgli's little one. "Sometimes people don't have a place in the world. Sometimes they can't live the life they want to and they have to choose. Do you want to slave in the man village forever man cub? Do you want to be bound head to toe and ordered around forever?"
Mowgli shook his head as best he could in Kaa's grip. Kaa laughed happily.
"Then sadly a little cub like you is only good for being someone's prey. Now wouldn't prefer that poor hungry Kaa make good use of you man cub? Wouldn't you prefer to curl up beside him in blissful, silent sleep then be hunted down by some pompous tiger?"
Tears began to well up in Mowgli's eyes as he saw he had no choice. He wanted to live and be free but he knew he couldn't. Mowgli understood some animals were predators while others were prey, he just never thought he'd end up as food for another.
But Kaa was right, it was far better to let Kaa do it than anyone else. Mowgli had twice before let himself be hypnotized by Kaa and knew deep down every night since then that he'd never felt more relaxed and settled than when snuggled safely with Kaa.
Knowing that Mowgli had made his choice, Kaa began to let his yellow eyes pulsate with endless bright colors that would dazzle and mesmerize any who stared into them.
"No more tears little man cub. Just look into my eyessssss"
Mowgli stared into the spinning colors and felt his stress and sadness wash away.
"That'ssssss right. Look into my eyes and let yourssssself grow ssssssleeeeeppppyyyy"
Mowgli's eyes began to pulsate with color. All thoughts began to clear out of his head until all that remained was Kaa and Kaa alone.
"Yesssss man cub, just relax, let yourself go. No more fighting. No more running. No more dancing or playing and jumping or crying. No more laughter. No more music. Jussssssssssttttt peace."
The relaxing feeling brought on by Kaa's eyes and words began to drown the last of Mowgli's resistance. His eyes spun faster and faster and he couldn't help but let the corners of his mouth lift upwards into a huge, relaxed smile.
Kaa unraveled his messy coils from the boys bare little body and began to gently wind around him once again. This time making sure that he would be almost completely covered by tight coils that would send him to his doom.
Once everything was covered apart from Mowgli's smiling face and his bare feet, Kaa gently whispered into Mowgli's ear "Ssssleeeeepppp man cub. Sleep forever."
Still wearing a huge smile Mowgli let his colorful, hypnotized eyes gently close and sunk into a deep and peaceful sleep.
Kaa giggled to himself. "Foolish man cub!" Kaa laughed knowing that the boy couldn't hear a thing anymore. "I always was good at tricking people into trusting me but I've never heard of anyone as dense as you!"
Kaa pressed his face up against Mowgli's peacefully sleeping face. "I'll never forget you my tasty little cub. Who could ever forget a boy lucky and clever enough to escape me twice and then willing let himself go!"
Not wanting to waste anymore time, Kaa opened his mouth wide and placed the boy's sleeping head into his mouth and began to consume him whole. Not once did throughout the process did Mowgli struggle or even so much as twitch. He truly had accepted his fate completely without resistance.