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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Valley (08/10/06)

TITLE: The Valley of Death


The prickly wind struck his face repeatedly like razors and sweat stung his eyes as his horse zigzagged down the steep mountain. With every frightening turn he clutched the reins that were wrapped tightly round his raw and bleeding fists. His partly bare knees ached as they gripped firmly against the saddle but his horse hurtled on further and further with sweat dripping from every inch of its petrified body.

The rider hung on frantically and with no power of control they careered toward the valley below. He forced his head to turn to see the blazing inferno that threatened to overtake them and felt the searing heat insulting their already over heated bodies. The air became thick with blinding smoke but on his horse pursued the unknown trail before him heaving deep wheezing breathes as they went.

Rocks skidded from under foot causing the horse to lurch sideways and slide forward for a number of stomach-churning seconds but with stability regained the horse veered sharply left to follow some unseen path below.

The long terrifying ordeal of the incline was not over. Before them where the air cleared into the openness of the green valley revealed a stampede of wild horses. The riderís horse almost careered into their path but manage to avoid collision by a quick change of direction.

The rider regained control easing his horse to a slow gallop allowing its heartbeat to slow gently. But with the rapidly descending flames still raging toward the valley he needed to act fast. He remembered this part of the valley and once the stampede had past he steered his overheated horse toward the shallow stream. The water splashed up around them and crossed over to the other side. Without wanting to stress his faithful horse further he eased him to a trot and angled off toward a rugged section on the opposite side of the valley. Once there he dismounted and led the horse through a maze of rocks and crevices.

The blue sky above was rapidly being blotted out by a menacing cloud of thickening smoke. The ground beneath them altered from the luscious valley grass to a rocky path leading into an opening in the side of the valley wall. The cave-like passageway was dark, damp and smelt earthy as they trudge on to the sound of his horsesí hooves on the rocky surface. The wheezing from the horse eased to a slowing pant and finally almost back to a regular breathing rhythm.

The underground passage turned gently right as the faint light of day filtered in. A few minutes later they stepped out once again into the valley. A valley now blackened on both sides. The once green grass of the valley was burnt to ashes. The air was thick with a stench of burnt flesh as hundreds of carcasses of wild horses were strewn across the valley floor.

Both horse and rider had done their part. They were alive.

The riderís horse reared and snorted as the rider remounted and galloped away from the valley of death.

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This article has been read 1149 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 08/18/06
Wow, what a tense scene! Good job.
Corinne Smelker 08/22/06
I have ridden a horse like that, and been in a couple of brush fires - you described things perfectly.

Some good imagery here.
Valerie Routhieaux08/22/06
Very good imagry. I can tell you've been in the saddle more than once. Just a couple places where I noticed a tense problem, but nothing that took away from the picture you so adeptly painted. Keep writing.
Edy T Johnson 01/25/07
As I might have mentioned elsewhere, your prose is like poetry in the beautiful way you string your words together. This reads like part of a novel, and the intensity comes through as I suspect it would if I were seeing it on screen in living color. Now, I shall have to keep reading your stuff to see if I find an entry the judges noticed :)

Keep writing, Friend! I really appreciate you.
Jacquelyn Horne07/19/07
I'm amazed at all these good beginners' writings. This was well told.