Deadly Bedfellow (A Short Fiction written from the POV of a snake)

As the earth starts to cool, and darkness falls across the veld, I make my way out from my
hidey-hole. The heat to hot and the cold too cold. It is in the shadows of summer night’s that is my place of delight. Along the dry, blades of grass, I go at fair pace. A great mountain ahead, with holes plenty. Vibrations felt across the earth, I follow with eager.

From memory before my slumber, a number of prey were at my pickings. Caged, unable to escape, just room for me to enter and eat.

Into the mountain I go. Beneath the bristles, a gap just my size. Undetected in the
pitch black. On my stomach I slide along the smooth, cool surface. From side to side I cast
my eyes. Not a single rodent does scurry; no fluffy big one, nor a predator in sight. Without a sound, silent, and deadly in the night, I slide on.

Weaving around and beneath strange rocks, a sudden vibration stops me in my tracks. My eyes dart from side to side, and under on large mound I hide. A large predatory creature walks past. Not a hiss I did sound, but as my tongue flickered out and retracted just as fast my mind registers the molecules of a scent. Picked up by my tines, it is sweet, familiar, delicious. I flick my tongue back out to confirm and in less than a second, I am sure. It is not in the direction of the animal that just past. I wait curled in defence hoping to remain undetected. It has been months of torpor, and now that I’ve rested, it was time to rise.

Sidewinding, flicking my tongue, eyes honed, I follow the aroma. Rounding the
corner, I twist and bend and with a twinge of glee, my hunger may come to an end. In sight,
some small animal, but bigger than me. Confused for a moment, I paused, for this smells like those prey that were once cooped around here. Such delicacy, my tummy grumbles. My mind does not wish to reason as to why this one looks different. Smells like food, must be food. Focused with eyes opened wide, raising my head, stealthily I wriggle closer.

Round and round I turn; up and up I go. My salivary glands tap into the alveoli, where my stored reserves are kept. So potent is that first strike, after such rested inactivity, it will only take one bite. Head weaving from side to side, trying to decide where I shall strike. Inch by inch, sneaking closer, now a mere metre. It twitches as it sleeps so unaware.

Near it heads the scent is stronger. Perhaps this end is tastier. My stomach growls at me to hurry up already, such predatory impatience. There is no rush, this animal will not run or fight.

Rising. Head upright, back arched straight, no need for my beautiful hood. Such a shame I won’t get to flan it. With clear concise, my eyes narrowed. I lunge forward, striking hard, my fangs sink in with a ripping sound. I retract and pull back as the animal jumps, but not to their feet. I strike again and again, my weapon released. The animal’s makes a loud noise, the vibrations are strong, and jumps over top of me. Before I can strike again, they run out of sight.

My stomach rumbles in defeat, no meal for me, but a small satisfaction as my work
cannot be undone. I scorn myself with grim dismay, one shot, blown. The animal’s blood
lingers in my mouth, my tines detecting its mistake. This was not like the prey I once fed on here, no, it was different, not so sweet. How could I have been so wrong? But there was no
time to wallow in defeat. Vibrations thudded across the land.

Down I slid, not bothering to wind or zigzag. Along the cool, smooth floor I go, and through the gap of bristles that scratch. A large predator vibrating near my back. I hurry into the shadows, not slowing, not one bit. No trepidation felt, just a will to live and eat.

Any lingering warmth from the day’s warmth long gone, I slide between the blades. I raise my head to check my eyes are not wrong. Another mountain, full of holes. I do not dare
enter this one. I am not designed to strike every probable food that crosses my path. One meal is all I need for now. Large prey is not ideal. If attacked that is different, my predatory instincts take over and rather than end up dead, it is a fight to the death and with my toxin, it wouldn’t be mine. That was the one resolve I found comfort in. It had seen me right in all my years, even as a young, smaller, version of myself, my fight had be wicked and my bite fatal. Sure I had scars, but then who didn’t. Even the best fighter at the top of the predatory chain had to have some.

It’s on to the next house where the same fate awaits, but this time, let’s hope the animal does not wake.


Authors and Social Media Platforms: Stephen King

The use of social media is not one that is alien to people of today posting pictures of their kids, what they ate for breakfast, etc., so it comes as no surprise that the King of horror, Stephen King, is active on social media promoting his work, projects and waffling on about his dogs. But only the King of horror could get close to 80k likes on a photo of his sleeping dog and still retain his 1.1Million followers on Instagram.

Stephen Edwin King dubbed the King of Horror by critics and fans alike, was born in 1947 in the United States. His career includes 58 published novels, has sold over 350 million copies, and many of his books have been adapted into movies. This American author writes horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy.

Stephen King has a presence on many social media sites, but especially Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Instagram is a social media platform that is image-based, allowing for a small comment section underneath. Stephen King established his presence on this platform in October 2013. Since then he has only posted 92 times and recently the posts are down to 1-3 posts per month. Given his fame, as an author, it is not surprising that he has 1.1million followers on this platform and retains them, no matter how little he posts. Even with minimal posts, his personality shines through on his comments on his posts. He is quite a character with a quirky sense of humour, it feels like he is the type of person who laughs at his own jokes and doesn’t care.

His Instagram posts consist of mainly of pictures of his dogs, his friends, himself and what he is up to, his books, snippets of audio books, his characters that have been made into novelty items i.e. Pennywise cereal, snippets of new short stories he is writing, magazine covers. While his Instagram is eventful, it is used as a mixture of self-promotion and author promotion. He gives us glimpses into his home/personal life and then the next post will be about his books or a movie that is an adaption of his book. There is a little pattern between his posts on Instagram, it’s like work, work, home, work, home, home, work. I don’t think this pattern is intentional, but I noticed it.

It is quite clever how he balances his posts between home and work life, but as he is an already established and well-known author, those posts about his dogs does not affect his presence.

On Instagram, you cannot post any hyperlink text or website links in the comments below each post, as it simply won’t hyperlink. Stephen King combats this by having a business account, which has been verified as truly being him by the small verified tick and placing his hyperlinked website address in his bio space. He gets anywhere between 70k-160k likes per post and between 351-3,200 comments per post. That is high engagement with his audience by Instagram influencer standards.

I think Instagram is a great platform, but it is clearly not King’s main social media platform because if I look at his Facebook page where he has over 5million followers, he posts 1-2 times every 2-3 days. This, of course, is unless he has something on his mind, like his wife being insulted by a recent article.

Facebook is a social networking website that users can join for free and share pictures, comments, videos, and post links. It also has the feature of being able to do a live chat, private messaging, and you can buy goods and services on Facebook.

On King’s page in the about section, he has a hyperlink website address to his website. There is a message me button placed under his profile picture, and I suspect that while yes you can send the page a private message, like most celebrities, it is not read or answered by the person the page is about. If you do receive a response it is most likely from a manager, agent or other assigned employee of that celebrity.

The content of King’s posts are links to other Facebook page’s dedicated to his adapted films, his books, or critics reviews. He shares movie trailers that have been adapted from his books, and what audiences and critics reactions are to those movie trailers. He shares videos and pictures of projects he is currently working on, links to talks he has done, nominations for awards, short stories he has read and what his critique is on them or suggestions to the author. I like that he also shares his random peculiar thoughts with his followers, it makes him a very interesting character to follow.

I found that while his Facebook posts get anywhere between 2,000-50k likes, 50-10k comments, and 30-20K shares, per post, there is a lot of repetition of posts. King will share the same movie trailer or audiobook sample 3-4 times over a few weeks. I didn’t like the repetition, but it is an effective marketing tool, as those who didn’t see the first post, may see it on a new post two days later. His posting is consistent to the once or twice every 2-3 days.

Facebook is an incredible marketing platform for King, as each post has a ripple effect, making his post reach further than just the people who follow him. If one post is shared say 20,000 times, each of those 20,000 people has followers that will see this post on their newsfeed, giving them the potential to share it on further. The reach is unlimited on Facebook and that makes it incredibly powerful for marketing and promotion, especially to someone established like Stephen King.

The consistency and reach of King’s posts on Facebook could make you think that this is his main social media presence but in fact, there is one better in engagement for King. Twitter, the online news and social networking site where people communicate in short messages called tweets, like microblogging but with a restriction of 280 characters per tweet.

It is on this platform that King has 5.1million followers, and posts between 1-3 times, every 1-2 days, making this his most used platform.

King uses Twitter as his platform to voice his opinions on political issues, especially Trump, and other issues he feels strongly about. He doesn’t do this on his other platforms, which is quite curious to me. He tweets about the best short stories he has read, small excerpts from his books, issues with writing and editors, book reviews, to tell jokes occasionally and talk about his thoughts and ideas. The idea of an author tweeting strongly about political issues and their stance on it is something I find taboo, however as an American, this is something very publicly discussed, and King doesn’t lose engagement or audience over it.

King also uses the platform to retweet reviews about his books by others, film reviews, and film trailers. He also likes to use hashtags on Twitter, where he does do that at all on Instagram. The other thing he does on Twitter that he doesn’t do on Instagram is tag people using the @ symbol, this tags them in his post and will send them a notification of him doing so. By tagging someone in his post and using hashtags he is furthering his audience reach because anyone searching by hashtag will come across his tweet and the audience of the tagged person will also see the tweet.

King has a hyperlink to his website in his bio section, as he does not post hyperlinked text or website addresses within his tweet. Doing this is clever because a follower must click into his tweet, follow it back to his Twitter account and then click onto his website link. It creates traffic to his page and website, and anyone who knows anything about marketing knows that generating traffic to website and accounts is a valuable tool.

Whatever King tweets about he is generating a huge amount of engagement with his audience. Each post can get anywhere between 140-15K comments, 200-120K likes, and 200-5k retweets. This is huge engagement on each post and that makes this platform the most valuable to King in the promotion of not only himself but his work as well.

After analysing each social media platform Stephen King is active on, there is on clear thing I picked up on. It doesn’t matter whether he posts about his books, his dogs having a sleep, his anti-Trump opinions, or his random thoughts, whatever he posts is gold.  Whether he posts once a month or once a day he attracts high engagement and his followers grow.

I don’t personally follow Stephen King on any platform because I do not like horror genre anything, but after reading each post on his Instagram, this would be the account I would follow. This is because his posts are humorous, his quirky personality shines through in his comments and it made me laugh. I really got a feel for his personality, I liked it and found it relatable.

I think for anyone that is not Stephen King you have to be cautious posting your personal opinions about things like politics on your social media accounts if you use them for the promotion of your writing and work. There is a fine line between preaching and opinionated, and I don’t like to be preached to. That is my opinion on that little thing.

I do like that on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, he gives critique to novels and short stories he has read, offering the authors perhaps valuable insight to their writing or where they have used a filler. It is quite interesting to read his take on these books and then to read them myself and see if I pick up on them. I like that he isn’t harsh with his words, but his words are helpful. 

It seems no matter what he posts or where he goes Stephen King has sway, an audience of magnitude follows him. He keeps the appearance and layout of his accounts professional and I think he approaches social media with a minimal is the best approach, especially for Facebook and Instagram. With the number of followers, he has, I think he can afford to be minimalistic on his posting. He makes practical use of his accounts and each one has a different feel to it.