It was a beautiful day and she just wanted to get out for a little while before time for the gala event. She had never been the glamour seeking, evening gown sort. Just give her a good pair of jeans and a tee, and she was very much at home. But today, this evening, she would have to suffer through all the frills and pretentious smiles. After all one turns sixteen only once in a lifetime. And this was to be her “coming out party”. She would rather just be “out”. There’s no way she could have known what was waiting for her on her simple ride.
She saddled Buster, her two-year old pinto, and rode across the south pasture, outlined with wildflowers, to where the trail crossed the branch. She rode for a while just letting Buster have his lead. After all she had ridden these trails almost daily since she was six years old, but never alone until this year, and she knew them like the back of her hand. She enjoyed just letting Buster decide where to go. He always seemed to take the right trails, and she saw no reason to think he would do any differently today. There was a special friendship between horse and rider. She had been riding for a while, her thoughts cascading over each other. Somewhere she thought she heard something, in her thoughts maybe, or had she really heard it, she wasn’t sure. It was rather eerie sounding but it was somewhere in the distance, maybe a bird of some sort. Buster hesitated, like he may have heard it too, but only briefly before walking on. Her thoughts took over again as she tried to prepare herself for a new phase in her life. She would now be a young lady. Could “young ladies” do what she was doing? Was she expected to act differently? All of a sudden she was jolted back to reality by a sound she was vaguely sure she had heard somewhere before, but could not remember just where. This time Buster stopped and was acting very strange, almost afraid to move. It took a few minutes for her to get him to walk on. Then she noticed that a dark ominous cloud had formed. Was that terrifying sound connected to the impending storm? She hoped so, but her common sense told her no.
The storm was coming faster than she expected. She had already ridden too far to go back. In fact she wasn’t sure just how far she had gone. Her mind was on an imminent danger and she wasn’t paying much attention to the direction they took after hearing that menacing, wailing sound. She knew it would be raining soon so she checked her surroundings for any familiar landmarks, and found none. Where was she? There must be something around here that would let her know which way she should go, but the more time she spent looking, the closer the storm was getting. The storm was not the only thing getting closer. Chill bumps covered her with each eerie howl from her unknown foe. Not even the loud thunder, that was now all around, could drown out that sound. She didn’t like storms with lightening, but she knew if she could find shelter she would be safe. She was facing something now that she could find no protection from. The rain came all at once, and it was the worse downpour that she could ever remember experiencing. And to make the situation worse-she was lost!
It was raining so hard she could not see three feet in front of her. Then all of a sudden there was a loud clap of thunder and the lightening struck something close by. The sound, like a rifle shot, was so loud and so close that it spooked Buster, who was still a bit nervous from those awful sounds. Startled by the unexpected sound, the horse stopped short, then bolted sharply to the side throwing her off. She landed hard and blacked out, but only for a minute or two. When she came to Buster was no where to be seen, and she was left on her own. Well, not quite on her own! When she heard it that time it was almost as if it knew her plight. She was hurting from her fall, but thankfully nothing seemed to be broken. She reached for her cell phone only to remember she had not picked it up. She didn’t think she would be gone that long and she probably wouldn’t even need it anyway. Now there she lay not knowing exactly where she was, no way to get to anywhere, the rain pelting her hard enough to hurt, and probably worst of all “something” possibly life-threatening, stalking her.
She looked around for a place to find shelter and had it not been for the lightening she would not have seen the opening to the cave. As she rose to make her way toward it, she heard that sound again. And she knew what real terror was! Before she made it to the cave she heard it again and this time it was closer. She was not sure what awaited her inside the cave, but she knew she did not want to face what was outside!
Just as she reached the opening she thought she felt something brush her leg. She told herself it was just the wet brush she had to wade through. Inside the cave she tried to look around but it was pitch black except when the lightening illuminated the area just inside the opening. She didn’t know what time it was because she never wore her watch when she rode. One thing she knew for sure, if she ever got back she would never leave the house without her cell phone or her watch. She couldn’t tell how much time had lapsed since she left for her ride. It seemed like an eternity. She just hoped that someone had noticed she wasn’t back yet and would come looking.
She was soaked through to the skin and felt cold even though it was a summer storm. She knew that part of her chill was fear. She had never been in a perilous situation before, but she was trying to keep her wits. Each time the lightening flashed she would look around her in the cave for anything that would help her. The last flash of lightening was accompanied by another loud clap of thunder, and revealed something farther back in the cave. And it was moving! Before she could even think about what to do next, it was gone-swallowed by the blackness into the back of the cave. What she heard next chilled her to the bone. It rang out almost deafening, and it was inside the cave!
She moved as close to the mouth of the cave as she dared, keeping watch toward the back. Was she in danger from inside and outside? Which would be the lesser of the two evils? She glanced out then just as she turned to look toward the back something was coming fast and right toward her. Her only escape was back out into the storm. It was sheer terror that drove her as she left what she thought was a haven of safety back out into what would probably be certain doom. She felt the sting of the rain on her face and arms as she ran blindly, not knowing for sure where she was going or if she would survive. The only thing she was sure of was that whatever “it” was, was still following her and getting closer. Her foot got tangled in some wet vines and tripped her. As she fell to the ground she turned her head just as the lightening flashed as bright as daylight. Everything around her was very eerily illuminated, but the brightness caused her to shut her eyes tight. At the same time something grabbed her arm!
She felt herself being roughly dragged across the wet ground, back into the cave. They didn’t stop at the front, but continued into the blackness of the unknown depth of what just might be where she would take her final breath. This was not right. How could she not have brought her cell phone? She remembered a grip on her ankle. She couldn’t move and she couldn’t hear herself speak. Was she screaming, “Help me, somebody, help me!”, or was she just thinking it and unable to call out? She felt a lightness in her head and hoped she would faint so she wouldn’t know what was about to happen. Her eyes had gotten a little adjusted to the darkness and she thought she saw a shadow, no wait, a huge figure, and it was standing over her reaching toward her….. She fainted!
The grip on her hand seemed to be softer now. It was no longer storming. But how could she know that from the blackness of her grave. She blinked quickly, testing herself to look slowly. She was still alive, but she still didn’t know for how long. Then she opened her eyes again briefly, and thought she saw something familiar. When she opened them again her mother was standing there holding her hand. They had found her. She was safe. Her mother was saying, “Well, finally, welcome back. You really had us worried when you screamed. That must have been quite a dream!”
Source: written by Sue Gibson