Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta horse. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta horse. Mostrar todas las entradas

jueves, 5 de mayo de 2016


   Yitris had always been a very special place to leave. The few people that lived there, never left but they lived in one of the best places in the world because it was located in a remote area where no one would go bother them, whether they wanted it or not. Its location in the middle of the desert, made it only possible for the best explorers to reach the city and know its citizens and also, their queen.

 Queen Alina was more than fifty years old and she had been working for her people for at least thirty years. She lived in the top house of the city but her home was not really different than other peoples home. It was only above all others house, all built on top of very high trees in the middle of the green valley, hidden in the desert. It was a very good place to hide but also a very good place to feel free from everything.

 There were less than a thousand people living in Yitris but hey all had access to good doctors, to the only school that was directly handled by the Queen and also to food, that never really lacked in any of the people’s tables. Everyone had to have, at least, some bread and fruit to eat. Only half of the population actually ate animal meat and they were very good at using every single part of the animal’s body in order not to kill something and then waste it all because they only wanted some of the meat.

 People were very trusting and, also, always seemed to be happy. No person of Yitris yelled, unless they were really angry and it was only for one second. The Queen, of course, set the example for the rest, always been gracious when she did her daily tour around her small kingdom. She went from her place, to the jungle floor. There, several people had settled, specially the ones that were hunters or farmers.

 There was a small piece of the terrain that had almost no trees and that had been specially done by the people with the permission of the Queen, because they didn’t have anywhere to grow things like corn and wheat and they also needed land to build mills and kitchens where they would make the bread and so on. So she authorized a rather small piece of land to be used for that purpose. It was so small; it was always the first place to be hit by sandstorms, when they occurred.

 The desert was mostly benevolent, protecting them from the outside. But it’s sand was sometimes the worst thing for them because it could almost destroy everything that they had build. But they endured because it was because of that sand, because of the endless desert, that they had always been protected from exterior influence. Only a handful of people had made it to Yitris and all of them had died there, whether from exhaustion or because they had chosen not to go back to their lands.

 That was until Jack Freeman, a English explorer, and two of his men wondered into the desert and stumbled upon Yitris after a particularly strong sandstorm. The locals were cleaning their homes when they saw the men approach. It was the first time for many to see a foreigner and that’s why so many did not seem to remember that they always had to notify this to the Queen. She only knew about these knew visitors when they decided to ask for a leader and the people, shy but interested, indicated her home.

 She didn’t like, at all, to have people enter her house without permission as they did. Alina knew nothing about manners in the exterior world, but she imagined England and all other lands must have been really awful places if all people did that to their neighbors. They communicated with hand gestures and body language because both of their languages were highly incompatible. Even so, the English sometimes yelled things in their language, as if the people of Yitris had to understand them.

 The Queen, trying to be as generous as she could, decided to invite them for dinner. She had all the best food prepared for them and every single person in the small country, which only consisted of a deep valley, was able to come and greet the strangers in person. Those men ate differently and seemed to have a second skin that made them smell funny. That’s what most of the people thought of them.

 The English, however, thought the people of Yitris were nice but also very strange. They thought it was very weird that a valley like that existed in the middle of the desert. They had been looking for another settlement, an oasis that they had to check thoroughly because it seemed to be located on top of an oil reserve. That’s the kind of explorers they were. Not adventurous men working in mankind’s behalf but just some guys working to get some money like many others.

 When, after the party, they decided to leave, the Queen denied this and insisted on them sleeping on a house that they would give them to be alone and to rest. No one would be there, just them. They took them by a series of stairs and bridges to a lower level where a big house, normally used for storage, had been cleaned and three beds made of thick leaves had been set as well as some more food and water on a table in the middle of the circular home.

 The locals left them alone and the foreigners decided to leave as soon as they could the next day. They agreed that the people of Yitris were very nice but they also thought that they had some work to do and that they couldn’t let down the company for which they worked. Oil was important.

 When they attempted to leave the next day, a group of locals decided to take them, instead, to the mills and fields in the border between the valley and the desert. The men looked at the sand with insistence but the people did not realize that they wanted to leave. Even at the end of the tour, when the English did all signals for them to know they had to go back to the desert, the people appeared not to understand or at least it seemed like they had no answer for that.

 The English had arrived with an exhausted horse and some bags of objects and they went straight to the Queen’s home and demanded their things to be brought to them immediately. Again, she was very bothered by them entering like if it was their home but she decided not to say anything. Instead, she told her aides to bring the objects and, as they did, she told the English with mimic that their horse did not existed anymore.

 She imitated a four-legged animal and then passed a finger over her throat. They understood that immediately and one of the men launch itself at her in rage but two locals grabbed him and stopped his attack. He was yelling and crying and having all sorts of emotions that the people there did not really exhibit on a daily basis. Even for the men holding him, it was interesting to see how foreigners used their feelings.

 They released him and the Queen then spoke in broken English. They were very surprised. She explained that the horse had been killed because in their land, animals were not used for work. Besides, the creature they had brought in was exhausted and wouldn’t have survived another trip. That’s why they had decided to kill it and use its meat and insides in different things in order not to waste anything.

 The man crying didn’t really hear any of this but his leader did. He demanded her to explain what that meant and when they would be able to leave, as they had important matters to attend.

 Queen Alina simply said that the horse was in all that they had eaten fast and happily the day before They had eaten all of his meat and the organs had been stored for further usage in soups for the people of the valley.  They expect it to be very nutritious. As for the bones, they could use them to make weapons or instruments for working on the fields.

 The second question was easier to answer: they couldn’t leave because no one left the valley. They couldn’t afford anyone leaving and telling the world of their existence. So, smiling, she insisted on them going back to their assigned home and settling in. They would soon learn their ways and will be integrated in no time, been able to enjoy all that life had to offer in Yitris.

 The English men complied but not because they agreed but because they knew when to stop fighting. In their minds, Queen Alina was now an enemy and Yitris had to come out to the world and be destroyed. Only because of a horse and the secret of its existence.

sábado, 30 de abril de 2016

A horse named Alex

   Every single horse ran immediately, except one. Alex, named like that after the leading character in A Clockwork Orange, had stayed exactly were he was and no matter how much the jockey on top of him kicked him, he didn’t move a single millimeter. Everyone in the team was seriously pissed. They had all invested something in the race and now it was all in the trash can just because a horse had decided to show his opinion during a very important event.

 To be fair, it wasn’t that Alex was especially bright or anything, the point was he had been well trained by his former master. Lady Claire had been only ten years old when her parents had gave her that horse as a present for her birthday. It wasn’t exactly a surprise, considering the family had strong connections with horse that went for years. They had even provided the police and the army with horses and won several contests and shows with their best stallions.

 Alex was, nevertheless, Claire’s pet. He was never supposed to run in any race or to be under scrutiny of any person ever. Yet, when he grew up and transformed into a very well formed horse, more than one person started telling Lady Claire’s father that he was wasting a great horse by letting his daughter have him just running around his premises every day. They saw how he played with the girl and how he ran when she asked for a mount and all the other instruments.

 Those men were always around the house, normally just overlooking the training process for the horses that had been specifically raised to enter competitions or to serve certain institutions. But one of them, called David Byrne, got obsessed with the idea of seeing Alex run in a real race. The man insisted daily to Claire’s father that he had to make that horse run and that he could make a lot of money with him. He also proposed him to sell the horse to him and he would be the one to train him in the best conditions possible.

 But of course, as soon as Claire heard someone wanted to take her away from her pet, she insisted to her father that he couldn’t simply take something he had given to her as a preset. The horse was hers and only Clair could be the one to decide if he ran or if he just walked around their estate. And she had no intention of selling or training Alex for anything, so the answer was always a negative one to Mr. Byrne.

 Annoyed by the fact that a girl was on his way and that her father was a man that couldn’t even control his own daughter, he decided to do what he knew most: manipulate the context. He decided to end various deals he had reached with Claire’s father, which put him in very serious problems with a lot of people, like the government and a large amount of private investors that had invested their money in the very large and modern stables in which all of the horses trained and maintained by Claire’s father lived. Although the hit was not very strong at first, it became a problem after some months.

 Byrne was a very bitter human being and he didn’t like to loose at all. He hated the idea of even stepping aside to make someone’s life easier. The moment he had the idea of making Alex his horse and making him run in various competitive events, he had decided in his head that it needed to happen and he wasn’t going to stop for details, like the horse not being his or the opposition of the real owner. Besides, he was rather accustomed to winning his arguments so he knew it was a thing of time until he had his way.

 Claire’s Father, who she called Daddy even when she got older, came to her room one day and decided to ask her for Alex in the nicest tone possible. She was already a woman, almost off to college. She visited Alex every day in the stables and treated him more like a dog than like a horse. She even had the idea of going to study to a school where she could have him around in order to make some exercise and not to loose her connection to the horse. And it was then that her father realized what he had to do: promising something he wasn’t going to do, like taking good care of the horse.

 The girl trusted her father because he was who he was. She left for college months later and once she was out of the picture, her dad attempted to deal with Byrne. The man was obviously beaming with pleasure when he received the call and he even decided to play dumb and not accept the man’s calls for a while. But he eventually went to the stables and talked to him, hearing his proposal. Claire’s father was not ready to sell the horse as, legally; the horse was his daughter’s property. However, he would let Mr. Byrne trained the horse and earn money that way.

 The man accepted. Claire’s father was very glad because it meant they could do business again and he could access all of his former clients again. The money made from the horses was very important to him and his wealth. So Alex begun training under a very harsh woman hired by Byrne, who was supposed to be one of the best in the field. She was a very harsh person and used a whip to make her results even better.

 She made Alex work a lot more than he had ever worked. Called Françoise, the woman was as big as a small horse and cracked the whip every time she thought the creature was not doing what she was asking or had been doing it wrong for a while. She made him run and jump for hours, until Alex was exhausted.

 Even the other trainers, the ones supervising the horses that would go to other owners, seemed appalled by the way Françoise treated Alex and her energy around the stables. Every single horse got quite restless when she appeared and would only calm down after a while. Alex would always respond to her arrival by kicking the wall of his small room with his hind legs. He kicked so hard, he broke the wood once and that had to be mend by Claire’s father.

 He witnessed one day how the woman did the job and was horrified by it but he didn’t say anything because it seemed Byrne was very happy with the results. Françoise stated that the horse would be ready for a race in just a month and Byrne had already booked him for three different events taking place just within days of each other.  The only thing Claire’s father did was checking his calendar and making sure his daughter wasn’t going to be around for those dates.

 He had dodged any questions about her horse for days now. He would always answer to her vaguely over the phone and change the subject abruptly to her studies and she didn’t say anything because she was grateful to her father that he had understood her choices in life and that she had chosen to study a liberal art and not the career he had always wanted for her. So she went along and never insisted on speaking about her horse or anything else really.

 The last month of training was simply brutal. Françoise cracked her whip more times in those days that in all the others days combined. Her trained was becoming so intense, that some of the stable workers decided to ask her to relax a little and let the horse rest for at least a day or she would kill him from exhaustion. But she simply cracked her whip at him and they never insisted again.

 The day of the race, Byrne and the whip women were really confident that Alex was going to win. They had run tests with him against other horses and he had won every single one of those. So there was no doubt they had a winner in their hands. So it was baffling, to say the least, when Alex stood still and didn’t budge one bit.

 What they didn’t know was that Claire had found out some days earlier about the whole thing and she had visited her pet in secret. Having spent her life with him, enable her to just tell him what he had to do when he heard the gun going off at the racetrack. She claimed her horse back after that and decided not to forgive her father for his behavior. Claire just took Alex and moved him closer to her and away from betrayal.

lunes, 10 de agosto de 2015

A game

   When I woke up, I felt the scent of grass invading my nostrils, as well as the scent of dirt. I lay there for a while, not really wanting to move but that didn’t seem to mind as I stood up almost automatically and started walking slowly. It was very strange, as I didn’t really want to do but, nevertheless, was moving. I decided it had something to do with why I had woken up just on the side of a dirt road, below a big pine tree. I walked some more but then stopped, as I reached a small wall on which I stood up to see the surrounding view: there, very far to the north, I could see a castle or at least its shape. And by the east, there was a small river coming down a mountain range where a big mountain had smoke coming out of it. It was a volcano. Closer to me, I could see more tree and a building. I decided to walk towards there.

 I walked with decision towards the building, feeling very strange still. I tried to remember what I had been doing before waking up by the road but I just couldn’t remember. It was as if there was nothing to recall. Then I stopped, as I head a strange noise coming from behind. I looked up to the sky and there it was: a plant or an animal, something floating up there very high in circles. I stupidly walk towards it and it noticed me: it had razor sharp leaves and it was about to hit me when I ran as fast I could towards the building, which happened to be a farm. I stopped on my toes as I passed the two houses that formed the ranch and realized there was a pasture area behind them, as well as a granary.

 There were horses and many chickens and a girl. I hadn’t seen it right away as she was sitting on the ground feeding the animals. When she saw me, she greeted me as nice as one can greet a stranger and told me that I looked funny, as she had never seen a boy like me. Apparently my attire, which I hadn’t really paid attention to, was not very common in these parts. She told me that the best thing for me to do was to pay respects in the temple close the castle, where every wish could come true. Then, she taught me how to sing to the horses and lend me one of hers. Before leaving the farm, she told me I could come back any time but that her brothers may not be as nice to me as she was.

 The horse was fast and elegant, soaring through the bushes, over the grass and elevating dust all over the place. We finally got to the castle, just as they announced hey were letting in the last group of people before drawing the bridge for the night. Some others seemed to be entering too but they looked more like peasants and people trying to buy their stuff in the castle. After the group entered, the bridge was elevated and, just before they had finished closing, I could swore I heard the call of a wolf. That made me a little nervous but I decided to move on. Suddenly, everything went black.

 When I woke up, it was morning already. I had no idea where I had been sleeping but the horse wasn’t there with me anymore and I just happened to be in the middle of the morning market. People were everywhere, pushing other buyers as they moved from one post to the other. There were also games and dances bursting up a little bit everywhere but I finally saw what I was looking for when I walked into an alley: a big white building with the symbol of the land on top of it. That had to be the temple the girl in the ranch had told me about. The castle was not far, as I could see it when entering the temple. Inside, there were no chairs or places to rest; people would just stand and pray before a big altar and nothing more. None of them would take long there and I started to get anxious when I didn’t see anything that could help me. So I just prayed and left.

 My next move was to go towards the castle. I felt I had to go there so I went through the market again, which seemed even more crowded than before, and then on to an open road which lead to a big gate on small canyon formed by very high hills. There was a guard there and told me I couldn’t move beyond that point as the royal family had it strictly prohibited than anyone walked into the castle unannounced and without proper permission. So I went back but only some meters, where the guard couldn’t see me anymore. There was a vertical wall on the side of one of the hills and plants had grown over it so I just climbed to wall to the top. My next move was to cross the gate from above and then move from tree to tree, hiding from the guards.

 I finally got to the main entrance of the castle, were two guards were busy talking to each other. The thing was I had to pass by them to reach the entrance, unless I swam across a small pond of water, which seemed to come from inside the castle. With great disgust, I submerged myself slowly into that water and moved cautiously, in order not to alert the guard. I finally go to the end and there, found that the door was closed. I couldn’t force it because that would be making too much noise so I just looked around and saw a big hole on the wall that seemed to be crumbling. I snuck up through there.

 There were some guards in the gardens, but it was easy to full them through the mazes of hedges and flowers. Finally, I got to a big garden filled with the most beautiful flowers I had ever seen in my life. Every color was there and the smell was even better. That’s when I saw another girl. For a moment, I thought it was the girl from the ranch but soon realized that couldn’t be. This girl was wearing a dress that looked smooth and silky and a headband with a jewel on it. It was almost as if she was a princess. She finally noticed me and I thought she was going to call the guards but instead asked me to come closer.

 She said that her father had asked her to exit the throne room as a visitor was going to be there. It was said to be an important man and, as such, women were not allowed to be there. It was one of those traditions she hated but had to respect. So the next best thing she had was to see the whole thing through a window that was just there in the garden. I came closer and saw the throne a big bearded man sitting on it. That must have been her father, the king. There was no one there on his side, which struck me as odd. I looked towards the other side and saw a tall and dark figure. But it was his robes that were black, as his skin was the color of olives. He had a big nose and looked more like a horse to me than anything else.

 The big man approached the king and kneeled. They said something but I couldn’t hear behind the glass. Then, a voice behind them told them that it wasn’t very polite to hear other people’s conversations. It was a tall woman with short hair but not as tall as the man they had just seem. The princess asked her if she knew who the man was and she answered with a very somber expression. She only said the man had come from the desert to the west to pay respects to the kind and inform him that the kingdom could be calm as he had soldiers that would help the kingdom be much more secure. However, no one had ever seen his army and there was a rumor that he was a wizard.

 The woman looked at the kids and told them it wasn’t their business anyway. She told the princess to stay there as she helped me get past the guards without been seen. She left me by the village, where I decided to distract myself with more games. But I couldn’t think about anything more than the princess and the tall man from the desert. He had a menacing look. To be honest, his whole physicality was very menacing, as the one of a giant or something like that. That night, I decided to leave the castle and go to the river and fish, to distract myself. I had very nice time fishing with a borrowed rod and the river was very nice place. The volcano, which was close by, was a very nice sight.

 When the night came again, I decided to head back to the village but the drawbridge was up. There were no people waiting and it started to rain. I screamed and yelled but no one would open. When I got a little bit closer to see if they could hear me, the bridge fell hard and then a horse came running fast from inside the citadel. All I could see was that massive black horse that got scared to see me, as I was from it. He stood on two legs and in that small fraction of time I realized it was the tall man riding and, in front of him, he had the princess hands tied and with a cloth on her mouth. Something fell from the horse to the moat just before they rode away fast, disappearing from view in a few seconds.

 I walked towards the edge of the moat and realized that what had fell from the horse had been a small flute that floated on the water. Just as I took it in my hands, I remembered the song from the farm girl. And I would have played it but then the world went dark and I wouldn’t wake up for a long time.