I've been working on it all day, and now it's about twice as long as it was before. But, it's still far from done, and any suggestions or comments would be greatly appreciated. :0) Also, there are some parts of the story farther down that some would consider really graphic, so if you have a weak stomach I wouldn't suggest reading this. Oh! Right now, I'm using Trapped
as the title, but if anyone has better idea for a title, feel free to suggest it.
Callie Addams loved to ride horses. Just about every day she would put on her favorite jeans, and an old shirt that had become worn with age, tied back her reddish-brown hair and went out into the woods with Blackbird for a few hours. Blackbird was one of the most powerful, beautiful, and charming horses in the stable. She was over 16 hands, with a swan-like neck, a coat as radiant and black as a raven, and a pretty head with a small, white star between her beautiful, chocolate colored eyes.
As far back as Callie could remember her father Jerry would take her and her mother Rachel to the Keeneland yearling auction every summer. Seven years ago, they had come home with their first Thoroughbred. It was a yearling named Firefly, a small chestnut that had stolen Rachel’s heart from the minute she saw her. Since they all had a horse of their own, they would go out for a trail ride every Saturday and take a picnic lunch to be eaten by the lake. Jerry would take his Dutch Warmblood, Regalios, Rachel would take Firefly, and Callie would take her Arabian/Irish Cob mix Rainbow’s Secret.
They also attended a lot of shows, usually bringing home several ribbons. Callie would show Rainbow’s Secret in the novice jumping classes, Jerry would show Regalios in the cross country and steeple chasing events, and Rachel would compete with Firefly in the steeplechases and flat races, with the occasional jumping event. Four years ago, when Callie was 14, they were headed to a show with Regalios and Rainbow’s Secret. It had been raining the night before, and had made the roads slick. As they turned a corner in the road, there was a large buck standing in the road, and as Jerry swerved to avoid hitting it, the truck skidded on an icy patch. They veered over the banking, and both truck and trailer fell over the ledge beside the road.
Remarkably, neither Callie or Rachel were hurt too badly, since both were wearing their seat belts. Callie came home with a number of bruises and abrasions, as well as a severely sprained wrist. Rachel’s worst injury was a broken hip, which would leave her with a limp for the rest of her life. Jerry, however, was not wearing his seatbelt, and as the truck rolled down the ledge, he was thrown through the windshield and tossed a few feet from the truck. Despite the doctors’ best efforts, he died soon after arriving at the hospital, due to severe brain swelling. Neither Rainbow’s Secret or Regalios survived the accident; both were thrown about the trailer, and died before the vets arrived at the scene.
Three months after Callie came home from the hospital, and two days after her 15th birthday, she finally went down to the stable where the horses had been kept. Her mother went down with her to see how Firefly was doing, and to let her out to the paddock for a run with the other horses that were boarded there. Callie walked into the empty stall that used to be Rainbow’s Secret’s, and said a final farewell to the horse. As they drove back to the house, Callie and her mother talked about her not having a horse anymore, and Jerry’s beloved ritual of going to the Keeneland sales each year. They came to the conclusion that the upcoming summer they would again return to the auction, and if Callie saw a horse she liked, it would be hers to buy.
June came, and with it Callie finished her freshman year of High School. Despite her prolonged absence, she still managed to end the year with grades no less than 90. The days went by, and with it the time of the auction was drawing progressively closer. Callie became more and more anxious, afraid that going would bring up painful memories of her father. Rachel urged her to go, telling her that going would be a good way to get over the pain and start remembering the fun they had together.
The day of the auction came, and Rachel and Callie drove to the grounds. They found some seats near the bottom row, and looked over the program to see what horses were up for sale that year. Callie watched as yearling after yearling entered the ring and were sold, the highest price a remarkable $94,500 for a colt by the name of Flawless Victory, sired by that years Kentucky Derby winner, Eternal Pursuit. Near the end of the day, a small, shabby looking filly was led in. The announcer stated her bloodlines, and said her name was Blackbird. Callie looked over to her mother and said, “She’s the one.” They won the bid at a meager price of $18,900, despite the promising bloodlines spoken by the announcer.
They brought her home, a small, undersized black filly, who looked like she would never amount to much more than a lesson horse. Callie worked with her every day, and started training her for flat races, then entered her in several smaller races, all of which she finished no lower than 3rd place. Callie kept working with her, and every day Blackbird started looking more and more like a beautiful, well-bred horse should. She also became faster and faster, until the day came that Callie decided to have her entered in larger, better-known races. She entered Blackbird in the Mother Goose Stakes, in which Blackbird burned up the track and won the race by 2 lengths. By this time Callie had become very interested in other racehorses, colts and fillies alike. She watched the Triple Crown with anticipation, and saw Flawless Victory prove his name, and win the Triple Crown, with his run at the Kentucky Derby beating the former track record.
Blackbird continued to win race after race, and despite fierce competition in the American Oaks, she won by a length. She started to be touted as the finest racing mare ever, and was pitted against Flawless Victory in a match race. About 30 seconds into the race, with both horses neck and neck, there was a loud snap. Blackbird had shattered her right front ankle and would never be able to race again. Despite this, Callie insisted upon keeping her, and using her for trail rides, and less rigorous riding, and that’s exactly what the two of them had been doing for the past year.
Her hand moved over to her bedside table, quieting the piercing sound of the alarm clock. Callie lay there in bed a moment longer trying to recall what she had been dreaming about. All she could remember was a large white horse running out of sight and into the ocean, turning into the sea foam around it. She got out of bed, carefully stepping over the creaky floorboard so as not to wake her sleeping mother downstairs. Her fingers slipped lazily down the blocks of the calendar to rest on that day’s own personal cube.
Two weeks. Two weeks until we finally move to our new home. Then, a few years and we’ll be able to breed Blackbird.
Her mother had recently decided to buy a nearby farm that was for sale, and start their own breeding stable. The plan was to breed Blackbird, and Rachel’s other horse Temptress, who was a half-sister to Flawless Victory. They had also decided that Callie would be the stable’s jockey, since she had proved so well at riding Blackbird in past races.
Callie smiled as her gaze then drifted up to the picture resting above the grid, a beautiful black horse with a remarkable resemblance to Blackbird. She walked across the room to her closet and pulled out a faded gray sweater and a pair of old, tattered jeans, the most comfortable she owned. Callie got dressed, took her keys from the top of her dresser and walked out of her room, closing the door carefully so it wouldn’t make noise. She walked down the hall, humming quietly as she went. The walls were painted a white color, almost like the color of an eggshell. With the early morning sun shining in and reflecting on the walls, it seemed like the hallway was glowing.
She left the house, making sure not to slam the door and wake her sleeping mother, and drove down to Moonstone Stables where she boarded Blackbird. Most of the shops were just opening and not many people were out this summer morning, aside from the occasional runner. Callie liked the slow pace of life here, although sometimes it seemed more dead than sleepy.
She parked her car and walked down to Blackbird’s stall, which was only a few stalls from where Firefly was. She said hello to Temptress and Firefly, then walked down to Blackbird, who had stuck her head out of the stall door and was whinnying in anticipation of their ride. After greeting Blackbird she went down to get her tack, a graduation present from her mom, and returned. She opened the stall door and hooked her to the crossties.
While she was tacking up Blackbird, she overheard the stable manager, Richard Evans, and one of the boarders talking. The boarder, Gary, seemed really distraught and was saying that he had seen something out in the woods that was like nothing he had ever seen before. He said it looked similar to a wolf but seemed a lot smarter, almost primate like. Richard was getting quite upset at Gary, and when he saw Callie listening in, he took Gary by the arm and led him into the office, shutting the door behind them, and giving Callie a dangerous look.
Thinking the boarder was just someone trying to give Richard a scare, and probably a drinker as well, she dismissed the conversation and started to lead Blackbird outside when her mother walked into the stable and stopped her.
“Callie, can you try to be home by noon today? Steve will be coming over for lunch and we have something we all need to talk about. It’s important, don’t be late.”
“Aren’t I always home on time?” Callie replied sarcastically.
“Honey, I know you don’t like Steve but you need to think about my feelings this time. Remember how you felt after Rainbow’s Secret died, and then you found Blackbird? Well, that is exactly how I feel about Steve.”
“You can’t replace a person Mom! Why can’t you understand that?” Callie turned Blackbird around and started riding off towards the trails.
“Callie, wait!” Her mother pleaded. But, Callie kept riding off. Rachel went to Firefly’s stall and started mucking it out, depressed and on the verge of tears.
Why can’t she pretend to like him? Things would go much more smoothly, like the way they were before Jerry died.
Meanwhile, Callie got onto the trail, glad to be away from her mother and relieved that the bugs weren’t too bad.
At least something is going right
, she thought to herself. Earlier that week her lifelong crush, Reese Miller, had asked her out, and she had been so surprised and excited that she made a complete fool out of herself and he had left, with a confused expression on his face. Not only that, but her mother kept dropping hints that she and Steve were going to get married.
After having gone a few miles down the trails Blackbird suddenly stopped and wouldn’t go any further ahead. Parts of the conversation between the boarder and Richard started popping into her head.
“...I saw Ed’s Oriocs. They were all around, following me, almost as if they were smart enough to plot out how they were going to get me. Luckily they didn’t succeed...”
Now Callie wasn’t so sure what he had said was completely irrational. She looked all around her while trying not to convey her nervousness to Blackbird, since that would only make her spook more. Then she saw it and almost burst out laughing at herself. In the middle of the trail was a small garden snake. Breathing a sigh of relief and feeling rather foolish with herself, she urged Blackbird on and got going again.
Callie checked her watch, and seeing that it was only 10:45 decided she would go a little ways more before turning around so she wouldn’t make her mother too mad. She started talking to Blackbird about what she thought of Steve, why she thought it was a mistake for her mother to marry him, and the differences between her father Jerry, and Steve.
At this point she started to pay more attention because there was a straightaway where Blackbird liked to run. What she didn’t realize was that almost all sound had ceased except for what she and Blackbird were creating themselves. Without the sound of the birds, insects, and other creatures it was almost eerily silent.
Callie started urging Blackbird into a canter and as they started to pick up speed four creatures burst out of the woods after them, two from the back and one from either side. Creature was the only way they could be described. They looked similar to wolves but were much more muscular and the largest one was about six inches taller than an average wolf. They had toes with claws like a wolverine’s and their snouts were longer, reptilian even, with almost twice as many teeth as there should have been. The fur was a mottled gray, similar to a chinchilla’s but with a slight greenish tinge and not nearly as soft or lush. What amazed her most was their eyes. Each creature had different colored eyes, one with blue eyes, and the largest had eyes of an emerald green.
Now, Blackbird was going faster than she had ever gone in her life. Even though there was no breeze, Callie was almost blinded by the wind created as they tried to escape down the trail. They kept galloping and neither Callie or Blackbird saw the hole until it was too late. They were going too fast, and were too close to the hole to stop in time. Blackbird stumbled, Callie screamed, and they fell into the hole.
The creatures had dug this hole, as if they were trying to herd them into it, knowing they would be injured or even killed by the fall. Throughout it were bones of all types of animals, rabbits to deer to what looked like part of a human skull. It was terrifying to realize that these things were smart enough to methodically slay their quarry, waiting for the perfect moment to show themselves.
Blackbird’s screams were like no other. They were haunting, piercing, a sound that cut through the forest and into Callie’s heart. The screams came again. The creatures were attacking her even as Callie was trying to scare them away, knowing her attempts were futile.
She summoned together all her wits and headed towards the closest creature, attacking it in the chest. She knocked it back, and sent it rolling over sideways. It bounded back up and bit at her sweater, ripping part of it off as she franticly hit it in the muzzle with a sharp stone that had been beside her. It’s muzzle started bleeding and it backed off, returning to the dying horse. Callie tried to get at Blackbird, when one of the juvenile animals cut her off and snapped at her, knocking her back against the wall of the hole. The fetid smell of its breath reminded Callie of a rotting mouse she had found, hidden in the basement and found many days later.
As she fell back she felt the searing pain in her calf where the beast bit her. She looked down and saw the jagged gash, red and inflamed from the creature’s jaws, evolved to secrete virulent saliva when they attacked their prey.
Blackbird tried to rear up and escape by scaling the sides and each time her scream pierced the air. Both of her forelegs were shattered, her right hoof dangling by the few tendons not severed by the bone fragments or attacking creatures. She quit struggling, they both knew it was too late, Callie couldn’t save her horse now and even if she tried she knew she would be killed too. Blackbird was now crying, a low mournful cry coming from deep within her throat. Not a scream like before, but a cry like that of a lost child. She looked towards Callie with her large brown eyes, her sad, sad eyes. And she was dead.
Desperately Callie tried to escape from the hole and the fierce creatures within it. She tried not to look towards Blackbird’s body, now just a mass of bone and some shredded entrails. One of the creatures was dragging Blackbird’s head over to a corner, and Callie saw out of the corner of her eye her small white star, blood dripping over it from her ears and into the empty eye sockets. The creatures were occupied with Blackbird’s body; it was Callie’s chance to get out. Even as she was sneaking out she could hear the animals gnawing on the bones and fighting amongst themselves, cracking and splintering loudly as the mouths of overcrowded teeth snapped them in half, searching for the bone marrow within.
She raced back out of the woods, stumbling from the damage done by the creature’s bite. As she was running back into town it was as if she was the only person left, not even one stray dog was to be seen. She ran to the barn, got into her car and drove home, only hoping her mother would actually believe her story, shaking the entire time she drove. When she arrived home and found it was empty, she went into her room, curled up on the floor and started to sob uncontrollably as the phantom horse in the calendar stared down towards her.
As she regained consciousness she stretched her body and sat up, feeling the imprint from her deep, pale blue carpet on her cheek and hand. Callie looked down toward her leg and saw the gash, swollen, with a deep purple color surrounding the immediate area. Putting her hand on the side of the bed, she lifted herself up and left the room, heading down the hallway towards the bathroom. She walked down the hall, one hand hanging limply by her side, the other hand against the wall to provide support to her battered leg.
Callie reached the bathroom and bent down over the tub, straddled it with her bitten leg inside it. She pulled down the shower hose, turned on the water until it was so hot she could barely stand it, then ran the water over her leg until it ran clear of blood. Ready to pass out again from exhaustion and loss of blood, Callie reached over to turn off the water and noticed a strange, small object resting on the bottom of the tub. While still straddling the side of the tub, she bent over and picked up the object. As she examined it she realized it smelled faintly of the rotting smell of the creature’s breath and figured it was a chip off one of their teeth, broken off into her leg when she had been trying to scare them away from Blackbird and herself.
Getting up, she opened the medicine cabinet and took out some Neosporin and a large bandage and wrapped the wound carefully. She didn’t think it was serious enough for a hospital visit, since the wound was a lot smaller than it first appeared. She looked in the mirror and a strange person returned her gaze. It was Callie, but her face was streaked with tears, sweat and dirt, and the parts of her face were pale, almost ghostly white. Shaking, she returned to her room, only to see a large crimson stain on her floor where she had been lying, still moist and fresh. Grabbing an old shirt from the pile of dirty clothes by her bed, she gently sat down and tried to clean the stain, although her attempts only set the stain even worse.
While she was busy trying to clean the stain, her mother arrived home. Seeing Callie’s car there, she came in and headed up the stairs with a fierce look upon her face, ready for the fight Callie was sure to bring with her excuses for missing lunch. She walked into the doorway of Callie’s room, and stopped abruptly, and her faced immediately turned from fury to shock and fear at the sight she saw. Callie looked up as she heard footsteps in the hallway, and met her mother’s eyes. She stopped rubbing the stain and tears started streaming down her pale, dirty face. Rachel ran over to Callie and wrapped her in her arms, rocking her back and forth like she would when Callie was a small child.
“I... I tried to stop them,” she sobbed, “They were too strong for me. She couldn’t get out... I escaped and she didn’t. It’s... not right.”
“What happened Callie? What are you talking about?” Rachel asked frantically.
“The monsters, they came from nowhere and attacked us. I got out and Blackbird didn’t.” The words just started tumbling from Callie’s mouth. “They were big... Really big. I couldn’t stop them... I tried, I couldn’t, it didn’t work. They got Blackbird, and it’s all my fault! I saw them, I heard them, I heard her... She was screaming and I couldn’t help her! I tried to save her, I really did... We couldn’t stop. They trapped us in a hole. It was full of bones... Their eyes... I knew those eyes...” Callie shuddered, and went silent.
“Callie!?” Her mother was frenzied now. What had happened to her daughter? What on earth were these creatures Callie was talking about? And above all, would she be alright?
Callie sobbed, and Rachel smoothed back her tangled, matted hair. “It’s going to be alright Callie.”
“No... It’s not. It’s never going to be the same. Not now, not ever...”
“Are you hurt? Do you need to go to the hospital?”
“No, I already cleaned the cut on my leg. I don’t need to go there. That’s the last place I want to go. I hate that place... All I ever see there is desperation, fear, and pain.”
“Alright, but at least let me take a look at your wound.” Rachel took the bandage off Callie’s leg, and examined the gash. It was small, about an inch long, but deep enough to concern Rachel, who used to be an ER nurse. She had some old stitching materials, and closed the wound with them, then rebandaged it. She then gave Callie some sedatives, and told her to go to bed and not worry about the stain. They could talk about what happened later, after she had calmed down a little.
Later that evening, as the sun was setting a fiery red, Callie woke up and slowly went down the stairs looking for her mother. She found her in the living room, looking through some old newspapers she had. Trying to retain her composure, she asked how her time went with Steve. Rachel shook her head and looked at Callie, her face still covered with sweat, tears, and dirt.
“Come with me, Callie” She led her into the downstairs bathroom and set her down on the toilet seat cover. She wet a hand towel, and started cleaning Callie’s face. “Well, he came over around 11:30 to help me make lunch, and so we could talk about how to tell you our plans.” At this Callie made a disproving noise. “Callie, hear me out. I know what you’re thinking, but you’re wrong. 12:30 came and went, and at 1, we went down to the stable to see if you had come back yet. I figured you were just mad still from this morning, so we came back here and ate lunch. When you hadn’t come home by 3, we got worried and went out to see if anyone had seen you. I had just dropped Steve off, and came back here when I found you in your room. I called him after you went to sleep, and he’s on his way over right now. You may not think it, but he was really worried about you. I know he can never replace Jerry...”
“Dad.” Callie interjected.
“Okay, Dad.” Rachel responded. “I know Steve can never replace him, and I don’t expect you to think of him as a father. But, he does care about you, even if you refuse to believe it. When he gets here, I want you to tell us both what happened. In as much detail as you can.”
At that moment, Callie heard a car pull in, and looking out the window, saw it was Steve. “He’s here Mom...” They headed back to the living room where Callie curled up on the couch, and Rachel met Jerry outside.
Listening carefully, Callie heard bits of the conversation outside. “She’s awake now...” she heard Rachel say. “Is she alright?” Callie didn’t hear the reply, but they walked in together a moment later.
“Hi Callie.” Steve said, a look of distress upon his face. “Your Mom told me what happened, are you alright?” Callie didn’t respond.
Rachel sat down beside Callie, and held her protectively in her arms, while Steve took the opposite end of the couch. “This is the hard part hun. We need to know what happened.”
Callie recounted the day, starting with the heated discussion with her mom, and ending when she got home. She was very detailed in her description of the creatures, making sure to not miss a detail, and was especially specific in describing the eyes.
“The eyes were haunting. I swear I’ve seen them before, they were so familiar. The leader of the pack had these sharp green eyes, like emeralds. I know I’ve seen them before...” Then she pulled the piece of tooth from her pocket and handed it to Steve. “It broke off into my leg when one of them attacked me.”
Steve examined it closely, with an intent look upon his face. He then handed it to Rachel, who looked at it and nodded.
“Where are the old papers you have?” He asked Rachel.
“In the desk, bottom left drawer.”
He looked over the yellowed papers, and stopped when he found one dated back in August of 1979. He looked through it, and found the article he was looking for. “Attack on Local by Mystery Animal” was the heading. Skimming over the article, he stopped at a paragraph about halfway through.
“Edward Miller, the local butcher, described the lone animal as a large wolf, with yellowed teeth and extraordinary intelligence. ‘There were too many teeth for his jaw, and it wasn’t a normal wolf muzzle, it was longer, and looked somewhat scaly. He was also really intelligent, you could see it in its eyes.’ he stated. Local police searched the area where Edward had reportedly seen the animal, but all that was found was a lone wolf, thin and emaciated. They are paying no heed to Edward’s report, his validity being questioned due to his well-known alcohol problem and the lack of evidence supporting his statement.”
Callie straightened up and went tense when she heard the name. “Edward Miller?” She asked, a bit of shock in her voice. “But, that’s Reese’s father!”
Rachel and Steve nodded in unison. “Nobody believed him because he used to be an alcoholic, but maybe people will believe the rumors now.”
Like I said, any comments, or suggestions, or whatnot are more than welcome.
The Rodent Habit
Abbie, Sadie, Cassie, Daisy, Dixie, and Rosie
"The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives."