It takes 17 seconds for me to walk 156,000 years into the past.
“Eat the apple,” I hiss at the completely ill-informed faces of two rather naked people. It’s meant politely, of course, though nothing sounds quite as quaint when delivered from the tongue of a poisoned mouth.
Eve readjusts the fig leaf covering her groin as she considers this.
Eden’s not as “garden-y” as some of the garden centres back home. Monstera plants practically swarm the entrances of the automatic doors, presenting a painfully manmade jungle-esque welcome. It’s funny, in the artificial way that staged slapstick is funny. But if I were still a snake in this modern day, I’d find it revolting. Not at all the environmental conditions I’d become accustomed to in my earlier life. Fortunately, horological hiking comes with the added component of the complete restyling of my own atoms. If I can shift through time, why not space too? I was a snake in the early days of humanity, a human in the now. They’re not too dissimilar.
“Why should we?” Eve says, after too long a moment. The pause already illuminates her naivety. The fact that she could even contemplate such an offer - especially after such a haughty briefing from the Big Man - means she’ll eventually plate up the offer. She’s only human. The perfect demographic.
But Adam, like his many descendants thereafter, just stands there. Scratches his crotch momentarily. Waits for Eve to decide.
When she doesn’t, he gets annoyed. And he takes it out on me.
“Listen, Lucifer,” I’m not Lucifer, “we don’t want it!” They do. “We don’t want your corrupt apple!” He spits a little. It’s sadly a characteristic that never devolves. “Deceit is too bitter a flavour. We are allergic to your evil.”
I realise in this moment that the theatrical nature that all living people seem to possess descends right from these two here. What is meant to be a simple exchange of fruit has become a poetic tragedy (no wonder it’s called the deep past). Imagine if we reacted to advertisements that way. Nike would be out of business.
“Just do it,” they’d demand.
“How dare you speak so rudely! And to make commands? In my house? Oy vey! Be gone with you!” and thus an uprising - or a Twitter backlash - would ensue.
Fortunately, apple sales don’t tarnish the face of the planet anymore (granted, they’re typically sold by Earthly people and no longer sentient snakes). They just fill strudels, don the covers of teenage vampire books and make touchscreen mobiles. If only I could tell Eve that.
“Eat the apple,” I repeat, calmer this time. Eve looks flustered. Adam looks tempted. “Or not. Your choice.”
“What will happen to us if we do?” she queries. If I had shoulders, I’d shrug.
With one hesitant step, and another tug on her fig, Eve is closer to my apple than ever before, whilst Adam stares at her bum.
She reaches for it, for me, with tentative fingers just long enough to snap Adam’s attention away from her peach and back to the apple. “Don’t!” he cries.
She falls to her knees. It’s all so dramatic.
“Don’t you want to live forever, Eve?” Adam asks her, though it sounds less rhetorical, more uncertain.
She turns to me, almost pleading. “Do I?”
God! These two! I hiss for the sake of it.
But then, then I think back - ahead - to the old folk’s home up the hill from my street. Linda wondered out again, in the dark, lost and afraid. She wound up outside my front door on my night off, trembling. It wasn’t the first time, nor will it be the last. She dies at 94, not even remembering her own name. Maybe forever is better than forgotten.
“That’s not for me to decide.” I answer, “I can, however, encourage. And I encourage you to eat this apple.”
Though it wasn’t meant to be a riddle, that puzzles her, her bushy eyebrows knitting together in confusion. “Adam,” she says, “what does this all mean?”
Adam, whose eyes are still trained onto her lower regions, sighs. “My dear, I fear this is a test.”
Exhausted - shapeshifting time travel does a number on your circadian rhythm, that’s for sure - I drop the apple, watching as it rolls over to Eve.
“Listen, I don’t know why you’re making such a big deal of this,” I begin, “but I’m just trying to sell apples here. Do you know how underappreciated a ripe fruit is in the distant future? Unless it’s dipped in chocolate, it barely exists. Little do you know, but the world progresses into a time of abundance, a wealth of apple trees and apple farmers and apple flavourings and apple juices and apples bobbed and yet! Nobody! Eats! A fucking! Apple! Anymore! So please,” I unwind from the branch I’m perched upon and slither right up to Adam’s soiled toes. He steps back twice, then again. He looks scared. “Just take the apple, would you? I’ve got a quota to meet for Forbidden Fruit Wholesalers Through Time. That’s all. That’s all I care about. You can eat it, throw it, marry it, study it, I don’t give a shit. I just want you to take the goddamn apple.”
Adam flinches at my blasphemy as Eve picks up the fallen apple without question.
My skin sheds then. Thank God, I think as I feel myself simultaneously fading from this era and back into my human body.
As my fingertips painlessly burst through my scales, I hear Eve take a bite. Adam, pissed to Hell, shouts, “oh great, thanks Eve! Congrats. You’ve just condemned our entire species to death. Bravo.”
Eden fades to black.
About the Creator
I’m a writer, a storyteller, a lunatic. I imagine in a parallel universe I might be a caricaturist or a botanist or somewhere asleep on the moon — but here, I am a writer, turning moments into multiverses and making homes out of them.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Easy to read and follow
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Original narrative & well developed characters
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