Girls Horse Club Blog

Nightmare: Chapter 12

Published by • Jan 21st, 2010 • Category: Fiction, Loft Book Club Favorites

by Findabhair Blacksgote, age 14

Fiala rose the next morning to the sound of talking. The men were sitting around a campfire cooking breakfast. She studied the party.

There was Jan; glowering as usual. She supposed he liked his bed better than the ground. Then there was Evan; stocky with white-blond hair and blue eyes; the clown of the village. He was the blacksmith’s son. Gareth was quiet and hard-working; the farrier of the village. Brown hair and hazel eyes suited his sensible, good-natured personality. And last but not least…Bain. Bain was also a clown, though in a more subtle and refined way than Evan. He was sometimes so gloomy it was amusing, but then he would burst out laughing and spoil the effect. Fiala approved of them all; she thought they were the most worthy people of the village to go to Stargate to find out more about Ava’s kind.

At the moment Evan was trying to engage Gareth in conversation, to no avail. Bain and Jan were talking in the universal language of married men; grunts and the occasional mono-syllabic sentence. Fiala jumped up and tripped over in high spirits. She ignored the others and returned to sit beside Ava with a bowl of porridge and a biscuit.

Presently Evan sauntered over to inspect Ava. He looked at her wings through squinted eyes, then leaned over and poked Ava’s wing-tip experimentally. Ava’s wing responded by flicking out and clipping the leaves of a nearby shrub. Evan nodded respectfully.

“Make a right good guard-dog, that would,” he remarked.

Her name is Ava,” Fiala huffed. “And she’s not a dog, she’s a horse.”

“Well that explains why you like her so much. All girls are horse-crazy,” said Evan knowingly.

Fiala threw a clod of dirt at him and returned to her breakfast. She liked Evan well enough. He was about six years older than her and worked as a stable hand at the inn when it was busy. They had declared an everlasting war of practical jokes on each other when Fiala was seven. She had restrained herself from being particularly nasty, knowing how scary Jan was when a mess of any sort was made in his barn, or anywhere for that matter.

Apparently Evan had no such reservations, because the next second a ball of twigs, mud, and pond scum came hurtling over from behind the trees. Fiala ducked and pulled a face at Evan, repositioning herself leaning against Ava’s shoulder and making a mental note to be on her guard at all times.

That day they walked at a faster pace. Fiala tied the bags onto Ava’s back at lunch. Ava merely walked lightly along, not minding the extra load in the least.

They walked for nearly a month. Fiala’s boots became scuffed but very soft and pliable. She was on constant lookout for any of Evan’s jokes. So far they hadn’t caught each other, sometimes through luck, sometimes from good reflexes.

As any girl would, Fiala climbed onto Ava’s back to see what she would do. After being bucked off several times, they reached a mutual agreement; Fiala would be very careful not to rub Ava’s coat the wrong way, bump her wings or tug too hard on her mane, and Ava would walk passively beside the men. Sometimes they flew up around them to exercise Ava’s wings, but Fiala was scared she would fall so they didn’t do this often. Mostly she watched Ava flying around at night, darting among the stars, or following the moonlight.

One day they walked to the top of a hill, and there was the biggest wall Fiala had ever seen.

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Editor’s Note: Nightmare was first published at GHC in the former Loft Book Club, and was a finalist in our monthly Judge for Yourself competition in January 2007.