Colt

On a cold morning in early August, Flicka had her foal. It was an 'Ooops' foal, conceived when the ranch's top stallion had broken down a gate and gotten in with some the mares. It was a colt, tall and gangly with a hammer-head and frizzy black mane. It struggled to rise, encouraged by its mother's nuzzles. Gradually it gained its feet and huddled close to its mother, searching for a teat. It didn't find one and nipped at her in frustration. Flicka winced but stood patiently till the colt finally found what he was looking for.

Katie was, needless to say, delighted with the foal. She spent hours with him and his dam, petting them and, once he was older, teaching him to lead and pick up his hooves. The colt was….challenging. He reared and bit when he was first haltered and was constantly testing his handler even once he was used to the lead. Katie's family watched with building worry as he got bigger and wilder. Whisky, as they were calling him, soon reached five months of age and was separated him from his mother. Flicka wasn't overly worried about the fence between them (despite her son's panicked prancing), and soon went out to the high pastures with the rest of the herd. Whisky, who was a vivacious foal, completely forgot his mother within a few days and started bullying the other weanlings. He was the fastest, strongest, largest weanling in the pasture. He could outrun a frightened jackrabbit, out-jump a deer with the hunter on its heels, and win any mean-ness contest outright.

Katie returned from boarding school and started trying to tame him, though without much success. He would halter and lead quietly at first, but the instant he though you had done enough to him, he would become a devil incarnate, rearing, bucking, kicking, biting, and bolting. Not even her father could hold him when he decided to take off. They decided to try the rope-drag method. They haltered him and let him loose in the round pen. He took a step forward, stood on the lead rope, and exploded. He bucked viciously, hurling himself sideways and snapping at the rope. He hit the ground and stamped on the rope, once, twice, three times! That was the end of the rope. It snapped and he galloped triumphantly around the pen, occasionally pausing to stamp it victoriously. That was the end of their rope-drag session.

It was a hot day not long after the disastrous rope-drag episode and storm clouds had been building on the horizon all day. Now, the sky to the West and the North of the ranch was black, illuminated only by flashes of lightning. The wind started picking up, sending dust hissing across the pasture hard enough to leave you breathless. Whisky and the other weanlings were milling close the small run-in shed in the corner of the pasture, prancing in circles in the hot pre-tempest air. The clouds moved in.

The wind howled against the shed's roof and rain pelted down, flattening the grass and soaking anything outside in a moment, yet Whisky stood a little outside the shelter and watched the storm's fury lash the pastures. Lightning scythed pink-white in the depths of the cloud and crashed down, striking a tree in front of him. Whisky spooked, eyes rolling and showing white, as a spark of energy from the downed tree lanced up and caught him in the face. He spun and galloped across the pasture, clearing the fence and whirling away into the empty vastness of the mountains.

When Katie came out to inspect the damage the next morning, the only sign of him were hoof marks in the mud and a knot of black hair twisted onto a barbed wire fence…