The instant the spotted stallion blew through his nostrils behind me, I felt his presence as if he were an oncoming train. I did not turn. I did not heed his warning but rather I waited, for a lasting second before the weight of a thousand railroad ties crashed against my spine.
The horse stood over me for a long time. Puzzling over the limp carcass stretched out before him. So completely foreign, the shape of my body that the horse stood relaxed, unthreatened by this man no longer upright. So unusual my twisted shape on the floor that I might of been a bird, a kitten, perhaps garbage in the stall. The stallion, plainly exultant, reveled in the satisfaction of exacting such a terrible toll.
Consciousness came with the approaching dark. The smothering sweetness of the damp clay enveloped my face. Off in the distance, a man laughing, a woman scolding a child. But inside I lay helpless, a bowl of jelly, a spineless fish. Words would not form on my lips, could not cry out that something was amiss. My mind’s metallic voice echoed wholly contained within my skull. My fingers, my toes, not even an eyelash could I move.
The spotted stallion lowered his neck, trained his bloodshot eyes to mine as if my body were a misplaced blanket, an empty bag, something to go out in the trash. I could feel the hot breath of his muzzle dampening my cheek as he pawed the ground, surveying the impotent mess on the floor that so carelessly disrupted his schedule, his routine. Without warning he raised his head to the adjacent stall and called to the others in a raspy tone.
A pigeon cooing in the rafters took flight as the resident Tomcat approached my face. I wondered if my head yet remained attached to my body. Or perhaps it was free to roll about the stall. Perhaps my rolling head would be kicked or bitten. The cat approached my face, amused at my curious position and began swatting his paw in single swipes across my eyelash as if taunting a mouse. I imagined my gaping eyes to be wide with terror, but they would not move, just stared, aghast and frozen, awaiting the sear of the retinal scratch.
The sound of a panting dog ushered in as the Tomcat vanished. The wrinkled hound began lapping my face. “Thank goodness! Run! Please run for help!” But I found these words to be merely thoughts for I could not utter a sound. The hound slipped away, displaced by the barnyard rooster. He lowered the slits of his reptilian eyes to mine, cocked his head a degree at a time as though calibrating his savage beak, the surgical dagger that would surely peck my sockets dry.
“A hapless head, trapped without voice – an animal’s plight,” I thought, while pushing the pull of the flickering light.
John Grabski is a runner, writer and poet. In addition to The Harpoon Review, his work has appeared or is forthcoming at Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Eclectica Magazine and Cyclamens and Swords. He is hard at work on his first collection tentatively titled Into the Vertex. You can find him on Twitter at @GrabskiJohn or visit his website at: www.GRABSKIworks.com