FC: Hank and the Horses By Beth
1: Sitting on a damp and slightly soggy leaf several slugs observed the scene below. Three young blackbirds danced around in the leaves, nipping their sister on the shoulder and dropping sodden leaves on her. The birds shrieking laughter taunted the other sister and up above the slugs shook their antenna wearily. ''Reminds you a bit of Hank, doesn't it?'' said one disapprovingly. A few nodded, but Neil admitted he didn't know the story, ''Ah-
2: well you are in for a treat then ,'' smiled Edith, the eldest . For a second she hesitated, slugs these days were not always interested in the yarns of a semi senile old women, but she dissmised it, she had brought up her grandson better than that. ''The feeble sun, typical of the countryside that Hank lived in was slowly drowning in the thick and heavy clouds that smothered the sky.''she began. ''A chilling wind whistled through the moulting trees, causing a few burnt looking leaves to spiral through the air into the saturated paddock. In the dull red stable several handsome stallions stood, tall and intimidating they did their best to exclude Hank. The grizzled old donkey stood uncertainly, dithering around in the muddy patch before the stable step. He looked pleadingly into the eyes of the arrogant racehorse who stood before him. He saw no mercy in those dark eyes, so he turned and wandered across to the nearly bare Oak, doing his best to shelter from the icy wind.
3: Back in the warmth of the stable, Edward turned back to his fellow racehorses. ''Ridiculous old goat,'' he muttered, jerking his head back at the Oak tree. ''Completley ridiculous ,'' they murmered to themselves, all apart from one: a new horse, he was not quite as big as the others, nor nearly so old.
4: ''What about you then Benjamin ?'' asked Edward, narrowing his eyes suspiciously. ''Not going to give him your spot in here are you?'' ''No Edward.'' replied the near foal, giving the distinct impression of trying to keep the peace.
5: Edward turned to his followers, sharing a menacing grin, ''I think you ought to call me sir, I am your elder after all,'' he said with a provactive little laugh, watching Benjamin for his reaction. He lowered his eyes. ''Yes sir,'' he choked eventually. Edward sighed, obviosly disappointed in this lack of fighting spirit. That night a ferocious storm blew around the wintery surroundings. The last of the leaves were dislodged, falling into the frequent puddles. Under the Oak, Hank shivered. He was not as young as he once was. He lowered his head, pushing it hard into the trunk, wishing he could force his way inside. With a thunderous noise the old Oak fell. Almost instantly several horses burst out of the stable, Edward in the lead of course. Back in the shattered building a horrible screaming neigh ripped through wind. Edward began to shake, he had just realised who he had left behind. It was the fastest horse of all, even faster than himself. If the fastest horse was gone then they wouldn't win, then they wouldn't get the expensive hay anymore. Edward turned back to his followers, they were ordered to come up with ideas. The poor horses, never having to think for themselves had little more than ideas than the splintered stable. Edward himself came up with an idea, which he declared quite brilliant, of course.
6: He would push the tree out of stable and save the day in a classically heroic fashion. Edward trotted over to the fallen Oak, swishing his handsome tail proudly, he began to push against the solid log. If a horse could grunt then Edward would, but he was possessor of no such talent. After a few fruitless attempts he gave up, venting his disappointment on the uncertain horses; 'You lot still seem to be
7: without any ideas worth half a bale of mouldy hay!' he panted angrily. 'Can't you do anything?' he shouted, trying to prevoke a response from the blank looking animals. They remained silent and Edward became progressively angrier, but he kept it inside, no satisfaction for that cursed donkey he thought in a slightly paranoid way as he glared at the distant shape. Eventually the silence was broken; 'Perhaps Hank has
8: an idea?"ventured Harold warily. Edward was now so depressed he barely even groaned. Instead he kicked the paddock fence violently, but put up no argument. Harold took this as a positive response and set of across the field. In the corner Hank stood, dripping and shivering he merely glanced up at the young horse before he lowered his head again. Harold cleared his throat, but to no avail. This was not going to be as easy as he had thought. ''Perhaps....,' Harold paused again. 'Perhaps you could be so kind as to attempt to help us dislodge the large tree that is penning in a friend of ours,' he blurted all at once. To his surprise the old donkey did not ask to him repeat his request, instead he shook his weary head. 'That, I fear I cannot do, but I am willing to help you dislodge your friend, if that is acceptable.' 'Yes, of course! That will do very well indeed, thank you for your help.' Harold would have continued, but Hank interrupted. 'I do not think it wise to accept thanks before doing the deed.' Then, much to the relief of Harold, he smiled. Togethor they trotted back to the others, Hank showing his uncertainty once again. The eyes of Edward still showed little more that hate, and he challenged the aging donkey instantly, 'What do you propose to do then......my dear old friend?' 'That is of little concern to you, Edward- but rest assured that he will
9: come out safely,'' trying to use a commanding voice to accompany this bold statement. Edward narrowed his eyes, and turned away, he then replied disdainfully, 'Do what ever you feel necessay old goat but do not expect my support or surprise when you fail.'
10: Hank tried to smile, but he couldn't, so he turned away and walked calmly over to the stable. He shouted, but his mouth was so dry that he could not be heard over the howling wind. Harold shouted instead, he called through to the horse on the inside to move away from them if he could. They heard him dragging his injured hoof across the floor and then obviously stopping, waiting. Before Harold had even turned back
11: to Hank there was a tremendous crashing, he was kicking the planks violently, smashing out a hole for the trapped horse. After a few short (but very loud) minutes there was a large enough hole for him to climb through. He clambered out shakily and gave Hank a grateful smile. Not even Edward could deny his old friend a place in the new stable after the episode in the storm. He couldn't bear to apologise to Hank, after several years of scathing disdain this proved near impossible. Surly and usually busy sulking Edward lived out his | existence quite happily, though he had far fewer opportunities to provoke Harold, who grew large and strong, he happily took the place of Edward as head idol. The other horses experienced temporary confusion, they even tried to sulk like Edward for a while. '' Edith laughed softly, ''There you are then Neil, I hope you enjoyed that. Not too bored by an old slugs ramblings.'' Neil smiled up at her, he really had the best grandmother.