Prickly wind struck his face repeatedly like razors and sweat stung his eyes as his horse zigzagged down the steep mountain. With every frightening turn he clutched the reins that were wrapped tightly round his raw and bleeding fists. His partly bare knees ached as they gripped firmly against the saddle still his horse hurtled on further with sweat dripping from every inch of its petrified body.
The rider hung on frantically. With no power of control they careered toward the valley below. He forced his head to turn to see the blazing inferno that threatened to overtake them and felt the searing heat insulting their already over heated bodies. The air was thick with blinding smoke but his horse continued to pursue an unknown trail heaving deep wheezing breaths as they went.
Rocks skidded from under foot causing the horse to lurch sideways and slide forward for a number of stomach-churning seconds. With stability regained the horse veered sharply left but the terrifying ordeal of the incline was not over. Just as they plunged into the openness of the green valley a stampede of wild horses threatened their safety. The rider’s horse swerved to avoid collision. The rider regained control easing his horse to a slow trot to allow it’s heartbeat to ease gently. But with the rapidly descending flames still raging toward the valley he needed to act fast.
Immediately the stampede had past the ride steered his panting horse toward a shallow stream. Without wanting to stress his faithful horse further he gently steered the horse with the reins toward a rugged landscape located on the opposite side of the valley. Once there he dismounted and led the horse through a maze of rocky crevices.
Above them a cloud of thickening smoke rapidly blocked the sky. The ground beneath them altered from the luscious valley grass to a rocky path leading into a partially hidden opening in the side of the valley wall. The cave-like passageway was dark and damp as they edged forward to the echo of his horses’ hooves on the rocky surface. The horse’s wheezy breath gradually eased closer to a regular breathing pattern.
A gentle breeze carried a fresh earthy fragrance as they made their way through a tunnel that seemed to have no end. The man touched the wall and the ceiling above to find their way. Following a bend slightly leftward a faint light filtered in. Within moments they stepped out once again into the valley now blackened – burnt to ashes. A hundred yards further on, the stench of burnt flesh insulted their nostrils. The horse tried to push the man away from the scene but they couldn’t avoid the hundreds of carcasses of wild horses that were scattered across the valley floor.
The rider’s horse reared and snorted. In awe and wonder the rider mounted and rode away from the valley of death.
© Chrissy Siggee