The #3 issue of The Midnight Diner, featuring, as Editor’s Choice, my story The Blood Bay (read about it here –http://wp.me/pYY7p-1b) as well as my friend Greg Mitchell’s Flesh and Blood (which has its origins in his The Coming Evil series –http://thecomingevil.blogspot.com/2010/10/buy-your-copy-of-coachs-midnight-diner.html), and Kevin Lucia’s Lonely Places.
I just recieved my contributor’s copy and it’s a real beaut – love the cover art (featuring good ‘ol Xanthe, the meanest horse since Tornado). I haven’t read all of the stories yet, but I can recommend Kevin Brown’s Monster Made, which is partly about a young abused boy’s identification
with Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman, one of my all-time favorite movies.
Anyway, it’s a quality anthology if I do say so myself. Pick up your copy here –
And while you’re at it, here’s an excerpt from my offering, ‘The Blood Bay.’
He kicked one of the pails of water and sent it crashing against the wall.
“Stupid goddamned horse!” he hissed.
Where the pail landed in the corner, a lean rat had been hiding under a pile of straw, hungrily ogling every grain of uneaten oat. Since the pail cut off its escape route along the wall, the rat dared the middle of the floor, taking a direct path to some hole it’d had the foresight to gnaw in the back of the stall.
The darting rodent scuttled across Jonas’ boot and under the stall gate. Jonas was afraid it would startle the mare into hurting herself, but when she sighted the sharp nosed rat, her left fore hoof came up and stomped it squarely in the middle of the back. It convulsed and squealed. The mare kept her hoof planted firmly as a cat’s paw and the rat squirmed pitifully.
Jonas had never seen anything like it. The mare pinned the rat until its flopping and squeaking gradually waned. In about a minute it was dripping pellets, dead. Then she lifted her hoof and anxiously moved about the confines of the stall, alternately bumping her rump on the wall and banging the gate with her head.
Jonas thought she was trying to dip down and nose the dead rat out, or kick it away. Panos had told him horses didn’t usually care to keep company with dead things.
“Here,” he coaxed, grabbing the pitchfork and getting on his knees. “I’ll get it.”
The mare laid her ears back and snorted. She whinnied and worked herself into a frenzy as Jonas gingerly tried to get hold of the rat. A few times her hooves struck aside the prongs, but he managed to drag it out.
He laid the pitchfork against the wall by the door and picked the rat up by its tail. He was about to toss it across the yard for one of the stray dogs when the mare began to batter her head so violently against the gate that it rattled on its hinges.
“What is it, girl? What do you want?”
The mare only shrieked and bucked all the more, straining against her confinement.
Panos and Clem were right. She was too crazy to be ridden. She’d never be his.
Angry tears leaked out of the corners of Jonas’ eyes.
“You stupid jughead! You know what’s gonna happen to you now? You know what they’ll do?”
The horse’s multicolored eyes bulged. She rammed the gate again, and her stripy mane whipped about like long grass swept up in a tornado of fire.
“They’ll butcher you up for glue and bar soap!”
The mare banged against the stall door again. A thin cut opened in the middle of the white blaze, red as a new day rising.
Jonas felt something warm on his leg. The rat had bled out onto his jeans while he held it.
“Goddammit!” he cussed, looking at the dark stain.
The horse looked about to explode, her neck stretched over the gate, straining. Blood was dripping down her nose now.
“Here!” Jonas screamed. “Here, you stupid bitch!”
He whipped the rat straight at the horse’s face. Instead of bouncing off her broad forehead, the mare threw back her neck and caught it in her teeth like a dog snatching up a cast off soup bone.
Immediately she stopped thrashing and her mouth began to work, noisily grinding the rat to meal between her big teeth. Blood spilled over her smacking lips.
Jonas watched fascinated. She wolfed the whole thing down in a matter of seconds, tail and all.