2030 words (not including AN). This story contains scenes of violence and character death. I would not call it graphic, but it is there and it is not just mentioning it.
'Sixty-four bottles of bored on the wall, sixty-four bottles of bored! Take one down, pass it around, sixty-three bottles of bored on the wall, sixty-three bottles of bored! Take one down,' I sang in my head. I was bored, okay! Bored. There was absolutely nothing to do! I was bored, bored, borededy, bored , bored from Boredington! All because it was the weekend.
I had finished reading my books, I hated movies, there was absolutely nothing to watch on TV (I hated it anyway), I had already watched Doctor Who, Sherlock and Merlin so many times I could give a basic summery of all of them. I had finished my favourite anime and manga (and any others I could actually care about).
My homework – not that we were given much, anyway – was done and dusted. Studying was out – I would always get frustrated if I studied by myself. I finished practising my instruments for an hour each – piano and clarinet. I completed riding and working my horse five hours previously – my gelding, Yellowwood’s Sacrifice, a Thoroughbred horse, the breed, that is – was now happily grazing in the field with the other horses.
Perhaps… It could not hurt to try, I thought. With that, I went done to the field to attempt to relieve my boredom by simply hopping on Sacrifice and sitting there. In hindsight, that was a terrible idea. He was a Thoroughbred. An OTTB, which meant that he was an ex-racehorse. That had not occurred to me. Not at all.
Leaving our pretty, one story, red-brick house, I strolled down to the paddock. Along the way, I tied my dark blond hair into a low, very-much-in-the-centre-of-my-head, ponytail. It was about one hundred metres from the end of our garden to the stables, which were near the paddock and the arena.
I had not bothered to change out of my clothes – a dove grey long shirt that fades to dark grey from centre to edge and a pair of black jeggings – nor had I bothered with shoes.
I hated shoes. Truly, I did. Of course, if we went out I would put them on – I hated unknown muck on my feet (although, even with shoes, I tried my best to avoid anything I viewed as ‘dirty’) – and by now it did not matter if I did not wear shoes as my feet had become very calloused. I could step on stones or even thorn and drawing pins and it would not bother me. Unfortunately, my mum, Matilda Lucas, often complained about it. She said things such as, ‘But Eris, it looks so ugly.’
To which I would reply, ‘But it helps.’ And we left it at that.
Walking through the indigenous garden, where we had plants such as Aloe Vera, Protea and Strelitzia Reginae. We also had a small carrot patch – the horses loved the green of the carrots, so we grew our own so that they could have it.
I walked along the dry grass. It was the beginning of spring, with very little rainfall in winter, the grass had not recovered. The poor horses had to mostly live on hay and alfalfa. Of course they still had their concentrates – depending on the horse, they all got coarse mix feed with cod-liver oil and, depending on the horse, corn oil and molasses. They were all given salt licks and balls in their stalls. They also had a rather large ball in the paddock and a soccer ball – domestic horses tended to get bored. A lot.
Reaching the wooden gate, I pulled it open. While the gate was wooden, the rest of the fence was made of electrical tape strung between wooden poles. I continued my stroll to Sacrifice – he was at the bottom of the paddock, I did not want to disturb him, so I chose to rather walk to him than call him to me.
My parents owed a riding school, so we had many horses other than our personal ones. Usually, the beginner, beginners would ride one pony gelding called Squishy. He was not anything special – just a pony mix (he probably had a bit of everything) at 14,1hh. He was a classic champagne splash white. Since the beginners rode him, and we did not want them damaging his mouth, he had a bitless side-pull bridle. All of his tack was black, too, with a general all-purpose saddle and sensible, brown numnah.
I went to him, stroked his neck, rubbed his withers and continued on. Valley, Vivace, Astra, Norman, Solve, Kimberley, Niger, Ally, Panther, Tigger, Eeyore, Sandra – those were all riding school equines – most of them ponies with four horses.
Next I went past Yellowwood’s Cassowary and Greenfield’s Cloud. They were my parents’ horses. Like Sacrifice, they both had hunter clips and light turn-out rugs. Cassowary was Sacrifice’s sister and also an OTTB (off the track Thoroughbred). She was a chestnut with a sock on her left front. Her proportions were brilliant – her back was just a bit too long.
Cloud was a grey-on-bay KWPN (Dutch Warmblood) that was a great eventer but rather… problematic. He tended to get injured – he had turned injuring oneself into an art and mastered it – and sick. He was rather talented. He had somehow managed to get his back shoe half-off and lodged into his hoof – Cloud was the only shod horse we had, the rest went barefoot. Father had to put shoes on him because of his problematic self – hoof infections were the norm for pre-shod Cloud.
Cassowary – much like the bird for which she was named – was pushy and prone to kicking. One could never let their guard down, she tended to test the ‘herd leaders’ (i.e. us) and would not pass up an opportunity to be higher in rank than us. So, when she trotted up to me, into my space, I made sure to walk into hers and make her get out of mine.
At our farm, we were big on natural horsemanship. It worked, very well actually. The only problem was the aforementioned Cassowary – very aptly named – whom backed off and went back to grazing. Satisfied, I continued down.
“Sacrifice!” I called. “Hey, boy, come here!” I was a few metres away from him, at this distance, I did not mind disturbing him.
He looked up, then forlornly at the grass, and ambled towards me. The good boy stopped just before he entered my space – he was a very respectful horse, flighty, but respectful.
I stroked his neck. I read that this release the same pheromones as when their mother licked their neck. I did not know if it was true, but it seemed to work for our horses.
Moving to his back, I signalled to him to sit down. Complying, Sacrifice lowered his quarters and I slid onto his back. I did not take his light turnout rug off – I saw no point. I then signalled for him to stand up again and gave the ‘relax’ signal once I had stretched myself across his back.
This was… really peaceful. I felt the lovely sun on my face – not too hot but not non-existent. It was perfect.
I sighed and turned my head. What I saw caused me to tense but I immediately tried to relax – I could not have Sacrifice spooking.
It might have been better if he had.
It was a pack of African Wild Dogs. They were really rare, so it was quite surprising to see them. One thing to note was that the horses hated and I mean hated them, but they would not spook unless Cassowary did.
Which, I must say, she did. Spectacularly.
She bolted and the herd did with her, including Sacrifice. I skidded off his hindquarters, landed with a loud thump on the sparsely grassed, dry ground. Winded, my lungs were heaving but receiving no oxygen. I thought that was going to be the worst of it, but nope.
The Wild Dog pack had split in two – one half was what I saw and the horses spooked at; the other lay in the direction were the horses had run. The first half had moved into a position that left the place where I lay as the only option for the horses to run. No no no no no! Not here, not here! I thought. The horses galloped towards me, “Mum!” I barely managed to gasp. “Mum-meeee!”
The reached me. They reached me and they were going to trample me – they were going to trample me.
This is not a story were they noticed me, or some deity or hero rescued me from them or they, miraculously, did not step on me. They did and it hurt.
There was a hoof by my head, the light was blocked. Several hooves hit my stomach, one my head. My leg and both my arms were broken. Then… a hoof on my trachea. The horse crushed it. Then I realised that it was Sacrifice. My Sacrifice killed me. Or, at the least, ensured it.
As the horses left, the Wild Dogs descended upon me. The bit and tore and I was being eaten alive. For the first time in years, I cried. I had always tried not to cry – to me, it showed weakness. I could not afford to show weakness. Not with all the dangerous company I kept (i.e. my horses and dogs) whom would become dangerous if they thought me lower on the hierarchy.
I wheezed, I felt them digging in my abdomen. They were in my abdomen. “Hu-huh… Ma-Mum… Mum.”
I started to get dizzy – I had lost so much blood. It was… fading… Everything was fading. The yelps of the Wild Dogs as they fed, the terrified neighing of the equines… It was… Gone.
In the void between universes dwelt a being. A borderline omnipotent being that was bored. Sometimes, this being liked to play games. It chose random things, anything – abiotic and biotic – and sent those things anywhere in time and space, ranging from transporting a person’s swimming costume from their bag to their house to changing a laptop into a cat and putting it in an alternative universe. It was bored and its last toy did not do what it was meant to. It just died. Really, really, boring.
That being had an idea. It would take a human – any human from Universe-100 and put it in Universe-100 000. When they did that, they would change their form into… something. It had not decided it. 'Perhaps into the form that will suit it most to the terrain and inhabitants nearby? To find one…'
Sensing a brutal death – it always kept its senses out for those as they helped with the boredom – it watched a human girl – one point seven metres tall, Dutch, dark blonde hair, bright blue eyes, fourteen years, living in South Africa in a rural area – be trampled by horses then torn apart and eaten alive by African Wild Dogs. She was perfect! It would send her to the Rohirrim in the form of a black Moroccan Barb.
Boredom would be no more for it - for them. Hopefully. It would just send her there and watch her and hope that she messes the plot up enough that it would be interesting. If it was not… Well, it considered that her fault and would punish her for it. Severely.
The being made a body for her – the most in proportion two-year-old Moroccan Barb mare it could possibly make (how could it not do so) and made a pocket dimension in her cranium so that her brain would not be pathetically small. After creating everything and coding the horse’s DNA – the mare would grow to be 15,2hh, have a true black coat with a metallic sheen, have three whorls - two below eyes, one between them – and have two, bright blue wall eyes and a faint on the whorl between her eyes. The tissue in her feet that would normally be soft was hardened to be able to withstand rugged terrain without shoes.
The being laughed. Everything was almost perfect.
Lastly, the being plucked her conscious from her human body and put it in the horse’s one.