Where the Horses Go by Kaila Nordstrom

We were settled in our pasture as the bright rays of the sunset graced the pastures. Much like we always do on the hot summer evenings. My herd continued to graze the green delicious pastures as our person secured the fence. I whinny and call to her as she tells us to be good, making sure she knew we would be here when she came back the next morning. The smallest of my herd, little filly Casper, ran up to me in desperation. Something had spooked him on the far side of the field as he gathered himself behind me. I nudged him with my nose assuring him that it was nothing to be afraid of. With unsteady eyes Casper tried to convince me there was something haunting the pastures. I shook my head and continued my path down to where the rest of the herd settled in. Casper followed in an attempt to feel safe, I encouraged him to fit within the middle of the herd between Nelly and I for a blanket of security. The rest of us started our nightly routine that consisted with rolls in the fuzzy green that we like to munch on.

            A loud knocking sound woke the herd and I. Something with two bright lights stared back at us, rumbling loudly while it got closer, a larger metal clanking figure followed closely behind it. The figure approached fast. Trying to tame the herds movement, I stood tall towards the figure when two people stepped out of the vehicle. They crouched by the door when they pointed a long dark figure at us. I felt a sharp pain on my rear and looked back to see my herd stumbling. All of a sudden, the men were grabbing us one by one and leading us to the back, herding us into the crate. I tried to do something, but things were moving in slow motion. A rope was then wrapped around my neck, and I was led to the back of the crate and pushed in next to everyone. I looked up as Casper fled the scene, whinnying as he ran, I attempted to call out to him, but it was no use, he was known for fleeing.

            Something was different, I couldn’t smell the fresh air and the fuzzy green that normally consumes my nostrils as I awake in the fields. My body is sore, I tried to move my legs to stand and there was nothing to show for my efforts. My heart felt weird, like it does when I am running through the fields. I open my eyes and am overtook by the metal figure in front of me. Panicking, I moved my body in every which way to get up, slamming into the metal with my legs and head before I could get up. To my right was Nelly, the oldest of the herd, staring off into the distance. I scanned her body with my eyes and noticed a red running down her leg that took place where her normal white coat consumed. With a closer inspection I notice her favoring the leg that the red ran down. I nudge her to see if she was okay and she looked back at me with dark eyes where the once noble wise eyes typically is. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I scanned the room. The floor was unstable and slippery. One wrong move and we end back to where I was. It was hot, but the small openings in the metal allowed for some air to pass through us. Many of us are licking our lips in desperation of a drink, I close my eyes in hopes wherever we are going comes fast.

            A bright light beamed into my eyes and a screeching sound alerted my ears as my body jerked to a halt. I could smell other horses from a different herd and the pleas of their neighs as someone opened the metal crate from the back. I nudged a few of the pack to the side so I could be in the front of whatever it was. My first glance, there was a group of large men with sticks grinning at us. A guy with a scruffy face and a fat lengthy body stepped towards me. I warn him as I stomp my hooves pacing at the thought of someone like him touching me. He jabbed me with the stick and a current ran through my body, I painfully stepped forward. I was ready to charge when he started poking the others in my herd. For the sake of their safety, I whinnied at them to follow.

We were pushed into a dirt area where we were packed in shoulder to shoulder. The smell of rotting flesh filled my nostrils. The men smacked something on our ass, everyone had one on their rear with black figures on them.

Beyond the hot horizon the dust clouds bloom over in a dark haze. The sun piercing our thin skin left baking in our small quarters. My mind wandering to what was our home. Looking at my herd licking their crusted over lips with the hot saliva, no fresh drops in sight. Whinnying as red liquid thickens down our legs and flies burrowing in anywhere, they fit. Only a barb wire and the small, dusted hills. Lowering our shoulders to end the pain. I kick around a rock, dragging my head, in hopes for something to pass the time.

Group by group, people, looked at all of us, grinning in what I assume is pleasure. Looking at my herd, I feel the spirit of a once lively group droop in sadness. I perked up my head and nudged those around me. I was determined to go back home, it was my job to protect my herd, and I led them here.

I nudged myself to an opening, positioning myself to the closest man around the wire. The large metal crate began to come close once again. I knew this was the time. The men held a smoking stick from his mouth chuckling at our own despair. The others behind them counting something green and handing it off to others. The man reached his hand atop the fence and just as soon as he opened it, I bit his hand till he let go, rearing towards the other men as they panic at what just happened. I whinnied towards my herd and one by one they ran through the fence up the dirt hill. The men started to come near, I turned around kicking my legs up in every which way to give them a chance. They began to hit me with a stick with a barb that caused my body to fry from within. Nelly was the last to leave. She looked back with life as she began to gallop her way to the others.

I could feel my body giving up. I fell to my knees, watching my herd running and calling out to me. One last breath I called out to them to run home. My body slammed to the dirt, and I closed my eyes as they got over the dusty hill in the distance.

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