03 February 2012

"Dead Horse" #Fridayflash

Hooves drummed the loose-packed earth. Arrows whizzed overhead. Somewhere, the sound of another man dying. Arcien turned to see he was no longer being pursued by the mob; instead they’d stopped a distance back, obviously distracted by something else. He drew back the reins, jerking his horses’s chin to its neck with an objecting snort as it halted. The dust cleared around them as he turned the stallion back the way they’d come.

The sun hung low in the bleeding sky, warning of impending darkness which would bring the battle to another standstill as forces separated and returned to their respective camps. Blood was not permitted close to the city walls; this was no-man’s land. Parched ground was grateful for the warm moisture of red seeping over swollen cheeks and bruised arms.  Rigid fingers still clasped their valued weapons.

Curious, he urged his horse back towards the battlefield at an easy trot, slowing as he drew near.

They’d circled around a single man who cursed, covered in sweat, as he flailed his horse, which lay there on the ground. The poor animal was obviously dead. The mob fell in at last, carving hunks of flesh off the great beast’s side with their crude daggers and swords.

When one of the scrawny aggressors looked up and caught sight of him, Arcien kicked his horse in the ribs to ride away. The war was never about land. The opposition was made up of nothing but starving men.

He recorded his recommendation and sent the sealed message to his Caesar.

Photo credit: jade from morguefile.com

17 comments:

Sulci Collective said...

great to see you back Carrie & the punch this packs, it's like you haven't been away at all! I seem to remember that the starving Germany 6th Army encircled in Stalingrad had to eat their horses during the siege.

Great stuff

marc nash

Nerine Dorman said...

Ah, juding by @stonesentry's cryptic Tweet... Interesting

Tony Noland said...

I could see every glint of the action. You have a gift for description.

Kim Batchelor said...

I refused to see War Horse, but I survived this story! Very stark but evocative scene.

John Wiswell said...

Recommendation: "send more horses."

I couldn't help thinking that as he rode off. Seems like an awful place to live.

Carrie Clevenger said...

Thanks for your time, everyone! This story is a double-entendre, and can be interpreted in several ways.

You flatter me with your praise. xx

Tim VanSant Writes said...

So well done [no pun intended] that I should not have read it just before eating lunch.

Eric J. Krause said...

Excellent story. Very visual and vicious.

Icy Sedgwick said...

At first I wasn't sure if you were dipping your toe in the Old West, but then all became clear. Beautiful writing, as always.

Jack Holt said...

Really nice stuff, Carrie. As has been mentioned above, there's some great descriptive work going on here.

Eerie picture, too!

Deanna Schrayer said...

Superb imagery here Carrie! You have such a marvelous gift for setting atmosphere. So glad you're posting Friday Flash again!

brainhaze said...

Brilliant descriptions and you seem to pack so much into so few words - great stuff!!!

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

Oh great... now I've read this most excellent story four (count 'em) times, trying to see the different meanings but am as blind as the dead horse itself. That's the thing about being obtuse - trying to see new things is like beating a dead horse.

Carrie Clevenger said...

Hi Cathy, the meaning is both literal and metaphorical, such as beating a dead horse in vain as the character is doing. Perhaps he's trying to escape, or save the animal from the would-be devourers? And war is like beating a dead horse, so much pain and suffering. I blame waking that day with both a fever and the song from Guns 'N' Roses "Dead Horse" in my head. xx

As for the rest of you that have graciously commented, I truly appreciate not only your time taken to read my humble offerings, but the sweetness and thoughtfulness in leaving a comment to tell me your impressions.

Tom Gillespie said...

vivid, extraordinary and intense.. War Horse aint got a look in!
I would suggest that you are certainly NOT flogging a dead horse. Your writing is very much alive and roars from the screen like a primeval wail.

Erin Cole said...

I always enjoy the unique perspective and descriptive voice to your stories. As others have mentioned, you tend to braid something deeper into your work, and this is another great example. The dead horse could also represent all that is too late to change. Cool, cheers!

synde said...

loved this... really can see the landscape it's beautfully visual..... nice job...