Dapple Rain

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Chapter Three

Metal rattles all around me. I’m stuck in this two-horse float alone, ropes holding onto me firmly. I fought as hard as I could to not get put on here. Three hours of strenuous moving and I could barely stand anymore. I was so tired it took them little effort to slip a halter onto my head.

I try to glance out the side rails to get an idea of what direction we’re going in. But the ropes don’t allow much head movement, so facing forward it is. I need a plan of escape. I could try to bolt when they get me out of here…but I don’t think my legs could carry me far, let alone get away from these bastards. Okay, I rest for one night and then think of the next step. I pray they don’t sell me to a slaughterhouse or something.

The thought makes me sick to my stomach. Yes, I could shift and just walk out of the yard or something, but the chances of them having security cameras make it too risky. I’ve heard the stories of what happens to us when human’s find out. A shudder runs along my spine. It wouldn’t just be me I’m endangering, I’d be risking the lives and the secret of all shifters.

I’m so exhausted. It feels like we’ve been riding for at least an hour. The adrenaline has worn away and the pull of sleeping has been nipping at me the whole time. My eyes are getting heavier and heavier…I just can’t…keep them open.

I wake to a loud bang behind me. Instincts take over and I kick backwards, connecting with only air. I can’t turn my head to look at what is happening, and it scares me only more.

“Whoa there, boy,” says the woman from before. How can her tone be so gentle after what she did?

The side door in front of me opens and I pull back, straining my neck. I snort in anger and hope it got on him. Hands are suddenly reaching near my face and I try to bite them. They pull back just in time.

“Careful, Mitch,” the lady says. “You can’t move so quickly around him.”

Mitch nods and we have locked eyes. Oh mate, I am going to bite you so hard. I dare you.

He inches his hand closer to me, then past me. I decide to just watch for a moment and he grabs a rope and pulls it, untying one of the ropes attached to the halter. Okay, okay. I look away the best I can to try and say, ‘please, do untie these ropes, Mitch’.

After several hesitant moments later, he’s got all the ropes untied and held firmly in his hands. I waste no time and fly backwards, yanking them from his grip and nearly trip over I come out of the float so fast. I know I said I should rest but I have newfound adrenaline, so screw waiting.

People have scattered away from me and I realise they aren’t trying to approach and catch me. They’re just…watching. Then it comes into focus. Behind the people I’m staring at, there’s a huge barred fence. I spin around and it’s still there. I’m in a pen with no escape. I’m startled when they close the back of the float and jump to the side.

This is my chance. I can bolt through the gate when they drive the ute out. As soon as I hear it unlatch, my legs spring into action. Before I can make it, yet another piece of rope loops and tightens against my throat. I’m heaved to a stop, feeling like my neck is burned and bruised. From outside the pen, the other ropes around me are grabbed by people through the bars.

I can do nothing but watch my opportunity sinks away as the gate closes behind the float. My heart feels broken. I feel broken. The once tight ropes are loosened, and I just stand there as they slip them over my head. The uncomfortable halter remains in place. My head drops low and I know if I were in human form, tears would surely fall into the dry earth below.

The sky has turned dark by the times I can muster the strength to move. Everyone is long gone, and I stand alone, surrounded by a large circle of metal poles. A bucket of water and handful of hay being my only companions. I shift until my butt is touching the fence and look forward, taking a closer look. This fence is really high…

I know us Dutch Warmbloods are known for our jumping capabilities, but I don’t think the best of the best could make it. Not to mention having no room to gather proper speed. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. This is the stupidest idea I’ve had in a while.

Having to force my legs to move, I start with a gentle trot around the outside. Everything hurts. I pick up the pace and when I feel ready enough, I head full speed for the tower of poles keeping me in here. With a grunt of pain, I push off with my legs and soar through the air. Hope rises in my chest. I think I’m going to make it!

My hopes are crushed, along with my face, when I connect full force with the pen. I collapse into the ground, an instant headache forming. I carefully move my limbs to where they’re more comfortable and close my eyes. Tonight, I will rest up. And tomorrow, I’m getting back to my family.

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