Omigosh! I was going through old files, and found an old book report, one from fourth grade! Jeez! I mean, even I can find the difference from what is written and how I write now. When a book report was assigned, I always tried to do a creative stories. It did not always work out in my favor! GRRRR! Thank you to my fifth grade teacher, for an entire year book report free! Anyway, I decided to share it! It’s very outdated, but this story always has a soft spot in my heart. The assignment was to write a prequel to your chosen book. The book I was reporting was Out of The Darkness by Lauren Brooke. I fervently recommend it to any horse lover. Anyhoo, enjoy!

Into the Darkness

Ryan, my stable hand, led me into my stall after he finished lunging me. He opened the stall door that read, ‘Gallant Prince’. That’s me, but the old spirit of Gallant Prince is gone, drifting farther from human reach from what this night will do to me. And when I walked into the barn I had crossed over a threshold in to darkness.

When all the other stable hands began to leave, Ryan began to sweep up. It was a rule that one stable hand had to stay the night in the barn.

Some people say that animals are the first to know when a disaster is going to happen. I would have given so much to what was going that night, and change it. Yet what can I do? I’m just a race horse.

When Ryan left my stall, I watched him slowly check on all the other horses. Soon he came back to my stall.

“Kind of cold in here, isn’t it, Prince? Hang on” he said “I’ll be right back.”

He dashed around the corner and came back with three kerosene heaters, and set them up in the aisle of the barn.

When it’s your night to keep watch, you don’t have to sleep in the barn. There is a small apartment for sleeping in. Soon Ryan retired to his bunk in the room.

As began to drift into a dreamless sleep, the most painful night began. A stable hand came in to stack some bales of hay, and then went home for the night. But he must have spilled some kerosene on the bales of hay because some hours later, a sharp smell dragged me from my sleep. SMOKE! A fire had started in front of my stall! So…I panicked. I started to rear and whinny like crazy.

Suddenly, I leaped forward at the door, and at that moment my stall door broke, and I leaped out into the flames. The fire was spreading fast and now two others horse stalls were under attack by this army of flames. Horses have very sensitive noses, and the thick smoke burned my nostrils and chocked up my throat. Trapped by the fire (which was creeping forward all the while) I reared and coughed, hoping, praying, that horses had guardian angles to protect us, too.

Ryan must have woken up at the sound of splintering wood, because there he was, eyes huge with confusion and fear. But, he got over it quickly, and leaping across burning wood and red hot embers of what once was a shovel, grabbed what was left of my halter, and led me out of the burning barn. But I was burnt, badly. The most fragile part of the horse is its legs, and mine were burnt and bleeding as I limped out of the barn.

When we were a safe distance from the fire, he let go of my halter.  “Stay here boy.” Ryan said, “I’ll be back!”  And with that he left me, and ran back to the barn, were the fire had gone through the roof. I stared after him. I whinnied furiously after him, but he paid no attention. He then disappeared into the barn.

A few minutes later, I saw him through the smoke with Flash, a thoroughbred colt. They were about to cross through the door frame of the barn, when a large, flaming beam fell from the fiery ceiling. Flash reared up in fright. Ryan, was holding the lead rope, but losing his grip.  Ryan suddenly jumped, as though shocked by a sudden good idea. He quickly pulled a black bandana out of his pocket, and tied it over the colt’s eyes. He then led the horse out of the barn.

Several trips were made to the barn and back, and when the last horse was taken out, Ryan herded all the horse into the biggest covered arena they had. But something was wrong with him; his cloths were black from ash and burned. His skin was raw and bleeding. His eyes were teary and his voice hoarse and raspy. I later learned that the last horse he brought out of the stall, which was blazing with fire, had knocked him over when she ran out on to aburning block of wood.

Soon morning dawned, and as I woke from a nightmare filled sleep, last night’s events came back to me. The fire, the suffocating smoke and terrified screams of the horses that were waiting for rescue, it all started to come back to me. I remembered the loud red trucks, and how men came and sprayed water on the fire till it died out.

My body ached, and my legs hurt badly, all four of them. Race horses are usually very energetic, but all the energy seemed to drain out of me. I’m sure all the other horses felt the same. My throat was still hoarse and my eyes watery. I searched the crowd of horses looking for my friend, Apollo.  Apollo is a white thoroughbred with grey dapples. He is the average height of most thoroughbreds which is usually sixteen hands. We’ve been racing each other since we were colts, and three years back, the owner of the stable finally bought him. He used to be in the stall next to mine.

As I searched the crowd, my eyes fell upon Flash, the baby colt. His face was twisted with pain as he struggled to walk. H e wandered around the arena, looking for his mother. His bay body seemed black under all the ash. Flash collapsed a few yards from his mother who was looking across the group of horses with a worried expression on her face. She finally found the colt and trotted over with sore legs. When he saw her , he slowly got to his feet and walked over.

The days after the fire seemed to speed up like a video set on fast-forward. The only thing I really notice, besides that the stable hands move us into a pasture with water troughs and bales of hay, was that Ryan was missing. I haven’t seen him for what seems like ages. He doesn’t come into the stall I’m staying anymore (when my group of pasture mates gets to go in to the other barns, ant the other horses come out to the pasture,) or groom me or feed me treats. The other stabled hands do that know, if they can come near my stall without me charging them out!

“You best forget him.” Apollo said “He isn’t coming back.”

Those words hurt more than a branding iron. Forget Ryan? How could I do that? He’s my friend and we’ve always shared a powerful bond. But wait, what if Apollo was trying to tell me something. May it’s not that Ryan won’t come back, maybe he can’t come back. Maybe he was injured or worse. No, I can’t think like that.

The months after the fire have been horrible. Let’s face it, I’m a wreck. When someone approaches my stall, I rear up, teeth bared, hooves flashing. The humans have tried special herbs in my food, horse shrinks, and vets. But nothing has brought me to the horse I was. And I doubt anything will. Thoroughbreds are one of the fastest breeds of horses, yet I can never be fast enough to run away from that horrible night that scars me mentally. Thoroughbreds are the descendants from Arabians, yet my personality is more like a reckless rodeo horse. And though my burns and scars will heal, my spirit is forever broken.