Knight of the Ribbons - Chapter 1

Trying to sit up, he fell back down and retched, vomiting and lying almost in it. He was able to roll onto his back, but he couldn’t rise. His eyes spun this way and that, seeing stars. In moments he realized some of them were real, not simply darting about in his dizzy brain.

He again tried to sit up, using his left hand, but it buckled and threw him on his face once more. He lay there and tried to catch his breath, aching all over. Finally, he made another attempt to rise, this time using his other hand. He struggled to a sitting position, drawing his knees up. Looking around, he was in time to see the last great breath of silvery, star-lit steam seep from the nostrils of the gray thoroughbred.

Now he noticed the ringing in his ears. He felt suddenly very sleepy, and he tried to remember what he was doing here. Why was one of his boots off? Where was he, for that matter? He looked around, seeing dim orange lights in distant houses, black trees swaying against the midnight blue skyline. He started to push up again, and this time he saw his left forearm buckle midway, and once again he fell. The fall was accompanied by searing pain like he’d never felt before.

Feverishly, he rolled onto his back and raised his arm over his head, staring at it until his eyes focused. His forearm was bent at a strange angle. He almost fainted.

And then he remembered Samantha . . . Samantha!

He had to get to the doctor. His wife and child were in trouble! Struggling to his knees, he crawled to Domino, cradling his broken arm. He lowered his good hand to touch the horse’s chest as his eyes fell on the animal’s face. Its great brown eye was open to the night, and a big tear had rolled over the bridge of its nose.

With an involuntary sob, Clay lunged to his feet. He almost fell again and had to stand there, keeping his eyes shut for a few moments. Finally, he opened them again and saw in the distance a smattering of dim reddish yellow lights. How far were they? Two, three miles? It didn’t matter how far. He had to go.

Looking around, he found his other boot near the dead horse and sat down on the horse’s side, somehow managing to get his boot on one-handed. Then he looked toward those distant lights again. He started that way, in stumbling steps at first. Then his strides became more sure, and after trying to go at a run for a minute or so he settled back into a fast, long-legged pace that let him hold onto his broken arm, easing the pain. Samantha!

A heart-wrenching feeling seized Clay, and he stopped for a moment and saw a vision of his little wife, dead. He squeezed his eyes shut and forced it away. He wouldn’t entertain those horrible visions. He would force them out of his mind, will them gone. He wouldn’t let Samantha die, a death foreseen, like the deaths of his parents.

He sped on, walking as fast as he could, easily five miles an hour. He could feel his feet getting sore in his riding boots, but it didn’t matter. They could get skinned for all he cared. At all costs he would reach the doctor.