General Fiction posted October 16, 2023 Chapters:  ...7 8 -9- 10 

This work has reached the exceptional level
My boys

A chapter in the book Four Horse Island

The Goat

by w.j.debi

Ava Revel frees herself from debris after a shipwreck, searches the ship, and finds she is alone except for four horses and a goat in the cargo bay. Ava is attempting to free the animals one by one.
Bleating greeted me as I stepped out of the elevator. I positioned the wooden block to prop the door open and pushed the button for the main deck so the elevator would be ready to go. Due to his smaller size, I expected the goat would be the easiest animal to handle. I envisioned untying his tether and trotting with him to the elevator. When the doors opened, he’d go bounding off to join the horses. 
Instead, the goat was straining at his tether when I entered the compartment. Worse still, he had chewed halfway through the rope that held him in place, leaving only a few strands of cording along a four-inch section near his mouth. It wouldn’t take much for the rope to snap.
“Whoa, boy.” I walked over and started stroking him on the head. “Calm down. You’ll be joining the others soon.” I examined the halter and sighed. “Goat, tell me why they didn’t put a snap on the lead rope. This knot looks impossible to undo. Oh, well. I doubt you’d hold still long enough for me to untie it anyway.”
I examined the end tied to the railing and huffed. “Goat, I’m blaming you for this. Straining has tightened the knots—a lot! It’s going to take several minutes to loosen this mess. Wish I had a pocket knife. Or too bad you didn’t chew this end of the rope instead of that one.” I paused to scratch the top of the goat's head then knelt to better address the knot. 
The goat bleated.
“I am hurrying.” 
Several minutes later, the rope was untied. Standing, I gave the goat a relieved smile. “Come on boy. Freedom awaits.” 
Instead of following me, he balked and refused to move forward. I tugged. I pushed. I tried tempting him with hay. I finally grabbed his horns and started dragging him out the door. His ninety pounds felt like so much more as he struggled against everything I tried. A couple of times he changed tactics by relaxing and then trying to charge at me. I was huffing and puffing when we finally reached the elevator. 
“Time to take off your halter, shove you in the elevator and let you find your way out when the doors open at the top. I’ll take the stairs.”
As I reached for the buckle on his halter, the goat backed up. Then he charged forward into the elevator, catching me off-guard so that I stumbled backward, knocking the block out of the doorway. The door closed. 
I gave him a disgusted look as the elevator started up. “Not what I had planned.”
When the doors opened, he dashed out, surprising me and snapping the last strands of his rope. I tumbled to the elevator floor.
The lights flickered. The doors closed. Then it went dark.
“No, no, no, no! If I die in this elevator, I’m coming back specifically to haunt you, goat!”
Thankfully, the lights flickered on. I struggled to my feet, hitting the open button immediately. 
When the doors opened, I saw the goat running down the deck in the wrong direction. I watched him go. I’d deal with him tomorrow. I was too tired to chase him now.
But I did want to confirm the horses were okay, so I headed toward the back of the ship. Halfway to my destination, I heard the goat running behind me. I turned just as he clipped me, causing me to lose my balance and tumble to the deck.
With a thud, I found myself on my back, looking up at the darkening sky. One star twinkled.
I fumed. “Really, you stupid goat? You have the entire deck to use and you have to run over me?” The name Grendel came to mind, the ancient monster from the old epic Beowulf.
“Grendel the goat. A perfect name for a perfect monster. You’d better hope there is plenty to eat on this island or I might have to make goat stew.” 
With an effort, I got to my feet, limping toward the railing at the back of the ship. I was starting to stiffen up as all the pains from the day combined. The bruises that stupid goat had just given me hurt the most, but every muscle in my body was complaining as I trudged forward. 
Leaning against the railing offered some relief as I gazed down at the animals. All four horses were munching hay at the various piles I’d distributed. Grendel was sharing with Hermes. So, the goat was the yearling’s stablemate. That made sense. The skittish colt could use a companion to calm him down. I wondered why the two had been stabled so far apart in the compartment. It would have caused fewer problems if they had been closer together.
I sighed contentedly at the pastoral scene below. It was worthy of a greeting card or a calendar: four horses and a goat eating peacefully, tails swishing, the ocean sparkling behind them.
Eating? All I’d had today was a panini, a few bottles of water, and a snack bar. No wonder I was so exhausted, hungry, and thirsty. Time to care for myself or I wouldn’t be much use to any of us going forward.
“Apollo!” He looked up. His real name must sound similar for him to respond so readily. I wondered what it was. “Take care of them, boy!”
He neighed at me then returned to eating.
I shuffled past the elevators and headed to the nearest stairway. No sense taking any chances. There would be no one to rescue me if I got trapped. Besides, I wanted nothing to do with a small box suspended on a cable on a ship run aground on a tropical island.

It had been an unusual day:  frightening, productive, and eventful. Somehow, I had survived and saved five other lives as well. Sadly, there was no one to help me celebrate.



Young woman on her first cruise: Ava Revel
Horses: Apollo, Titan, Poseidon, Hermes
Goat: Grendel
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Save to Bookcase Promote This Share or Bookmark
Print It Print It View Reviews

You need to login or register to write reviews. It's quick! We only ask four questions to new members.

© Copyright 2024. w.j.debi All rights reserved.
w.j.debi has granted, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.