She ran, using every trick Cahir taught her to stay quiet in the woods. Adrenalin surged through her, keeping her going though her head spun. The presence in her mind guided her in the right direction.
She almost screamed as something large moved and snapped a branch in the dense forest. The creature nickered and Anna cried tears of relief. She fell to her knees, gasping for breath and unable to run anymore. The adrenalin fled her system, every ache and pain and burn making itself known all at once. None of that mattered because Sabaska was with her. The Traveler nickered again, nudging her.
“I know, we have to go.” She sucked air into her starving lungs and fought the need to curl up and sleep. She struggled to her feet and staggered on unsteady legs. A tree caught her and scratched her arm, adding to her growing list of wounds, but the branch kept her upright until her vision cleared. Using a log, she climbed onto Sabaska’s back and whispered, “Get us out of here.”
The Traveler walked and the world blurred like wet ink. Anna shut her eyes, grateful to be safe.
Sabaska finally stopped and Anna sagged in the saddle. Her wrists felt like they were on fire and she was afraid to look at the damage. Flaps of skin bunched where the blisters had popped and dried fluid covered her arms. She knew she risked infection if she didn’t clean the burns, but the thought of touching them at all was unbearable.
Dismounting was agony. Her body ached in places she didn’t know existed and every movement jarred, or scraped or otherwise aggravated the pain in her wrists. She wanted to curl up and die, but she drove herself–getting Raymond’s saddlebags, and swearing every time her wounds touched something. She hunted for salve and found a jar of pungent-smelling goo. Sabaska nickered, nodding her head.
Despite everything, her wrists were remarkably clean so she gritted her teeth and spread the salve over her injuries. At first the pain was sharp, like she touched raw nerve endings. Then a cool numbness spread out from the salve. If she could market this stuff, she’d make a fortune. They didn't have anything as good on her home world. She hacked a clean shirt into strips with a knife and used her teeth to bandage her wrists. By then, she was exhausted, and starving. Unfortunately, there was no food hidden amongst the things she emptied on the ground.
“I’d kill for a hamburger,” Anna said sadly.
Sabaska nickered sympathetically then started grazing, flicking her ears as if amused.
“I’m almost hungry enough to eat grass with you.”
The horse nickered again, this time in laughter.
Anna sighed, and started stuffing things back into the saddlebags. “If I had any money I’d make you take me to a drive-through.”
About Sebaska's Tale
To Anna, horses were more than a fascination, they were everything. Luckily, she had the opportunity to spend every summer on her grandmother's horse ranch in Colorado. Life was perfect, until she received the devastating news that her grandmother had been tragically killed. Anna knew she was the only member of her family who could take over the ranch and hopefully find new homes for her grandmother's beloved Arabians.
Anna wasn't alone for long. Her grandmother had hired a local teenage boy to help tend the horses for the summer. Anna didn't stand a chance against Cody's quiet charm and the two rapidly become friends. However, even with the responsibilities of the ranch, Anna quickly discovers the secrets her grandmother had been hiding and a legacy that sends her on an adventure she never thought possible. An adventure in the saddle of a horse that wasn't a horse at all. Sabaska, her grandmother's favorite Arabian, was a Traveler; a magical being that could travel between worlds. With Anna at the reins, they find themselves trapped in a fight against evil with the highest of stakes… Their very survival.
J.A. Campbell has been many things over the last few years, from college student, to bookstore clerk and an over the road trucker. She’s worked as a 911 dispatcher and in computer tech support, but through it all she’s been a writer and when she’s not out riding horses, she can usually be found sitting in front of her computer. She lives in Colorado with her three cats, her vampire-hunting dog Kira, her new horse and Traveler-in training, Triska, and her Irish Sailor. She is the author of many Vampire and Ghost-Hunting Dog stories and the young adult urban fantasy series The Clanless. She’s the editor of Steampunk Trails fiction magazine and a member of both the Horror Writers Association and the Dog Writers Association of America.
Find out more about Julie at www.writerjacampbell.com and follow her on twitter @Pfirewolf