‘Dim ond fi,’ as they say in these parts. Only me this time, but I enjoyed the challenge. It feels good to be back in the saddle, so to speak. So what have I got here? A little vignette, flinging us back to past days of glory and tragedy, swords, sandals, and beating hooves. It didn’t quite do all that I’d hoped but I’m content with it.
From next week I’ll be getting some signal-boosting assistance from my good friends at the Ginger Nuts of Horror, so hopefully we’ll start seeing a bit more company and competition around here. I’m happy to keep plugging away for my own satisfaction but the frisson of competition definitely adds something. It drives us to do better each time, and I think it sharpens the mind, makes us more aware of the power and significance of each word, each line.
Anyway, here’s my nugget of creativity for this week…
Golden light smears through dusty lashes. The salt-sweat smell of battle. Blood and screams. My screams, and those of my sisters, echoing from the high walls around us. How did it come to this?
* * *
Morning dawned chill. The scent of spring was in the air, sharp as desert flowers, clear as the hawk aloft. Dew misted from our bodies, huddled together in close proximity. A hard life in some ways, but one we were used to. We trod familiar paths and drank from familiar streams as the sun spun its way through the seasons.
Won by our grand-sires, kept by our vigilance.
Long patrols like this, pacing the borders. Guarding the people. Giving fair warning.
And training, of course. Often. We were born to fight. Bred to it. But like any weapon, we had to be kept keen. Drills, practice, competition— and ever the prize dangled before us. The unspoken promise. Our mount. Our heaving god of fertility.
Ever we scented him on the wind. He haunted us. Spurred us on.
* * *
They caught us unawares. It boggles me how. The air was still and wretched dry, yet you would have thought—
We’d entered the ruins with confidence, relieved to find some shelter from the burning sun. The flies were maddening. Had us all on edge. Perhaps that was it. We were distracted. The clanging of the gate startled us all, man and beast. The trap snapped shut behind us and the rattle began: a hard rain out of the blue. Short arrows shot from walls and windows.
Bronze swords were swiftly drawn, shields brought to bear by those that had them. Men bellowed in angry confusion, but the enemy held back, sowing havoc from shelter.
A man, shieldless, dove toward me from the meagre cover of a stone fountain. Perhaps he saw me as a means of escape, but he wanted my bulk first. I whickered and reared up as shafts ricocheted from the flagstones by my hooves.
I wheeled about, outraged, seeking an enemy to charge. But arrows struck the man, pierced my flanks, drawing screams from us both.
* * *
I stumble. Fall.
As I hit the ground, my saddlebag bursts open.
The contents spill, and so too does the secret.
The spur that drove us. Our prize.
Nothing but lies.
The scent of stallion, smeared on old blankets.