FLASHBACK

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Summary

Equine veterinary technician Walter Watson reincarnated as a racehorse must expose a cruel insurance fraud and his own murder. He was a thoroughbred racehorse training and racing in pursuit of men’s fortunes, and chasing visions he could not define. But he was something more. Somewhere in the deep canyons of his subconscious was a memory thrashing its way to the surface, torturing him, refusing to let him rest. The memory of what he had once been. A man…. And what he must expose... a cruel group of men committing a multi-million dollar fraud of killing racehorses for their insurance money and .… his own murder while gathering the evidence to end it. He will not be alone in his quest. Merlin, a black barn cat once a homicide detective; famous animal psychic Sally Andrews and her P.I. friend Chris MacKenzi will see to that.

Genre:
Fantasy / Adventure
Author:
Nick Korolev
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
23
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
16+

CHAPTER 1

Yes, I am a horse, but not the one you were after. While you lay there unconscious from a well placed kick, I am able to touch your mind with my own. You will know the whole truth of how and why this happened as part of what some call karma. Whether it will do any good to make you confess and implicate the others is all up to fate…

Among my first memories in this new life was the gentle warmth of the early spring sun beat against my eyelids softly demanding me not to take a nap on such a nice day. Such days were for exploring and generally enjoying the outdoors. The distant calls of birds, the delicious smells of sweet grass and clover all faded from my consciousness. I began to drift. Sleep brought dreams that allowed the conflict to erupt to the surface again. But this time there came a clue.

I never knew he was there in the dark file room until I was grabbed from behind. We scuffled. I was hit hard on the side of my head. Dazed, I fell. The flashlight dropped from my hand. I never saw his face. The needle punctured my neck in an instant, found the jugular easily. There was a spreading cold sensation coursing through my veins, a suffocating, growing blackness within the dark room, but no pain, just terror. In falling, I reached out. My hand hit something hard; a file cabinet. I couldn’t breathe. My pounding heart fluttered and slowed. No! Not me! Not now! I have to find the necropsy reports … the … evidence …

Then all was total blackness.

Suddenly, my consciousness was floating above my body. In the dim light through the drawn window blinds I saw a shadowy, burly man bending over me. He touched my neck searching for a pulse. Then I followed as he dragged my body to a dark lab. I was angry and terrified, but a feeling of relief began seeping into me like some powerful drug. Something was pulling at me, but I fought it. I had to find the … what? I was aware of being bathed in a light that slowly increased in intensity. In the lab, I watched him carefully place the hypodermic in my hand, pull off his rubber gloves, and tuck them in his pocket and leave. I never saw who he was. The light never revealed him.

The light grew powerful and commanding, yet loving. I was drawn into it like a moth to a flame. The terror melted. I felt safe. I felt warm. The light engulfed me. Nothing mattered at that point. There was an intoxicating feeling of peace.

The light faded. I was pulled away. The blackness returned.

I still felt safe. I was warm and comfortable. Inside me and all around, a muffled, comforting, rhythmic thudding noise sounded. A heartbeat. Other muffled sounds floated in from all around that were a mystery. I was floating. The softness everywhere was pleasant. When I stretched, I became aware of being encased in a life giving fluid. A dim memory stirred. I was in my mother’s womb.

The time came, as it always does in the natural course of things, when growth demanded change. A sudden brutal contraction squeezed me. I was being torn free of my dark nest, nearly crushed as I was pushed in the long convulsing journey down a tunnel toward the harsh cold of a new world. I tried to resist, tried to reach out to hold on. I wanted to remain in the comforting soft darkness. I’d known the waiting outside world before. I did not like it. Let me stay, my thoughts called out. To float in the nothingness of limbo is far more pleasant.

But, the forces of life were much stronger than me. Death had once been stronger and I had accepted it. Now I was quickly losing out to life. Somehow, I knew this would be a far more terrifying experience.

There was a muffled noise, almost a growl, yet different. It was a human voice! I knew it from the time before. But how? The new reality would find me quickly enough, I was sure.

The crushing waves of contractions pushed me faster. My head was thrust through a last constricted spot, my chin resting on my arms.

“Here it comes,” muffled words reached me. I could understand the words, not just their general tone, but the actual words themselves.

I was aware of light. Something translucent still covered my eyes.

Suddenly, I was free of the warmth. The shroud was ripped away; something rough yet soft gently washed the birth fluids from me. When I opened my sticky eyes, I dimly glimpsed my forearms, but they were not right. Stretched out in front of me were the thin, black, knobby kneed, bony legs of a foal. A mare’s huge muzzle was in my face licking me dry.

“A fine colt, Mr. Hawthorn.” Said a deep voice somewhere behind me.

I hadn’t the strength to turn and look. The world was so bright and my vision so fuzzy at the moment, I would not have seen very much anyway. In shock, I just lay there in a thick bed of straw, wet, humbled and vulnerable.

Reborn.

Reborn a horse.

I screamed out in protest, and the screaming woke me. Well, it was more of a squeal, the loudest noise I could make in this new body.

The spring day was back. I was on my side in the fragrant green grass of a half acre paddock. On each side were three identical paddocks, all occupied by brood mares with new foals.

Unlike my fellow creatures, I took some comfort in the strange fact I could see in the full spectrum of colors. This substantiated my previous existence and was the one straw I hung on to in a sea of confused identities.

A grazing chestnut mare stood close by towering over me. From my viewpoint she was all belly and legs. My mother. Grass hanging from the corners of her mouth, she looked at me startled and concerned. In a flash, our minds communicated. I was finding out fast that all creatures have a mental link with their own species as well as others. They did not go through life just relying on sounds, scents and body language.

“You all right?” The words came gently into my thoughts.

“I dreamed I fell,” I lied, but she did not catch it. A week old colt was not supposed to be capable of lying and even adults had little need of it. Lying was more of a human trait that broke through so early in my development.

I felt my head would explode with the new revelation of that dream. My mind was that of a man. I wasn’t a horse: I was a man and I wanted to scream it from the highest hill. For some reason, I had been killed then became trapped in a horse’s body. How? Why?

Still in shock, I tried to think of a logical explanation. My thoughts went spinning off jumbled in science, the knowledge of which I must have had in that past life. Was I the result of some experiment? Had a human brain or that part of it responsible for thought and personality been transplanted into a horse? More alien thoughts drifted up out of nowhere. There was research going on delving into the secrets of the brain and how to get it to repair itself by introducing healthy cells. I struggled to bring up thoughts of my previous life as a man, but any further mental pictures slid away before taking full form. The gruesome brain operation theory died quickly. Not only did the technology not yet exist, but I remembered being born in my dream. Perhaps, could that have been merely an illusion? Maybe a drug induced hallucination or computer virtual reality? If so, I would be in a well equipped laboratory under constant surveillance and wired to computer monitors, not free in a paddock.

Mercifully, the answers evaded me. There was an explanation at all this, whether logical or insane, and I would get to the root of it. The mystery gave me a resolve, saved my shredded sanity.

It’s strange now to reflect on how logically I began to think that morning; how I held the mind bending discovery in check. But shock can have a numbing effect on sensitive brain cells; switch on a self-protective mechanism so that you can think about the most terrifying circumstance in cold, clinical terms.

I couldn’t force my mind to give up all its dormant secrets yet. It would have been impossible anyway. The equine brain was still too new, still developing. I knew I had no choice but to give my mind time to allow fragments to form a whole by searching out clues in the everyday life of this new existence. Of course I could have just given up and allowed the equine part to take over completely. However, even at that early point, I vaguely sensed something of extreme importance, not just to myself, but to others both equine and human.

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