Ten year old Daniel let the screen door slam behind him as he walked into the kitchen. Uncle Ethan was working with the new horses this morning and Aunt Abby had gone into town. He grabbed a glass from the cupboard and filled it with ice cubes from the freezer.
Ethan and Abby still had a freezer old enough to need ice-cube trays. The child momentarily considered this a charming anachronism in the 21st century.
He filled the glass with water and swallowed it down, attempting to quench not only the heat of an Idaho summer morning, but the growing sense of surrealism he was experiencing, particularly at the latest disturbance, a talking hen.
Daniel refilled the glass but before he could start drinking it, he heard the unmistakable sound of horse hooves cantering. He looked out the backdoor and there was Uncle Ethan riding “Champion.”
Daniel, glass still in hand, walked back outside to greet his uncle. “How’s the new horse?” Daniel didn’t know a thoroughbred from a nag, but he knew uncle prized his new acquisition greatly, not only for the animal’s beauty but for the anticipated stud fees.
“Champion’s just fine, Danny. Want to come over to meet him?”
Daniel grinned, mostly for his uncle’s sake, then started approaching the horse. Uncle Ethan had dismounted and was holding the horse’s bridle. At that moment, Champion reared up on its hind legs, throwing uncle on his backside, and Daniel remembered the hen’s warning about the horse.
Champion charged at the child, the animal’s eyes glowing red, and reflexively Daniel launched his glass of ice water at him.
A frigid spray coated Champion’s face, and he cried out in naked pain and terror as his hair, skin, and eyes instantly froze solid. The horse staggered and then ran.
“What the hell?” Ethan was up on his feet again but had missed the entire bizarre spectacle.
“Danny, are you alright?”
“Yes, I’m fine Uncle Ethan, but why did Champion do that?”
“I have no idea, but I’m going to find out. You stay here. I’ll go corral that beast.”
As his uncle ran in the direction of the horse, which had stopped not far off, Daniel looked down at the unbroken glass. It was lying in a puddle of water and half melted ice cubes. Not even a hint remained of the miniature blizzard that had assaulted the attacking horse.
After some time, Ethan walked Champion back to the barn yard. Daniel cautiously approached, but the horse now seemed perfectly tame and displayed no sign of any injury, cold related or otherwise.
“I don’t know, Danny. Something must have spooked the old boy, but I’ll be damned if I know what. Seems right as rain now, though.”
Over by the hen-house, Gerald the Rooster took in the entire scene, and muttered to himself as if giving a report to an unseen superior, “Another one of us has been neutralized, this time unwittingly by the boy himself. The kid is proof that it’s better to be lucky than smart, and he’s already too smart.”
Gerald cocked his head to one side and listened to the reply. “His luck will run out Gerald, and very soon.”
The low throated growl that punctuated his leader’s sentence made the rooster shudder.
This concept is loosely based on Iain Kelly’s recent A to Z Challenge 2017 story series. Every day, Iain crafted another puzzle piece to his murder mystery that had me and his other readers spellbound. I doubt I can create the suspense he conjured up, but when my wife got a giant A to Z jigsaw puzzle for our two-year-old granddaughter, I thought I’d give it a whirl.
I don’t have a lot of time, so I think each “letter” will be shorter and I’m not sure I can write one every day, but I’ll do my best.
The previous story is H is for Hen.
The next story in the series is J is for Juice.
Let me know what you think.
I managed to get a little time to myself to craft the next chapter in my A to Z challenge. Hope you like it.