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This was dying in style. So be it. Oh-see-rah yelled, “AAAAAY!”

Lord of the Caves Part 18

Oh-see-rah clung to the Mare’s mane as she raced through the night and bounced him up and down and all around. Though he couldn’t see the forest because of the dark, the eyes of a thousand night creatures glowed through the swirling mists, the creatures fleeing as if afraid of the Mare.

How would death come? Would she buck and shoot him into the dark? Perhaps into the jaws of a dire wolf. Or she might make him tumble off, circle around and trample him with giant hooves. He smelled water—perhaps she would wade into the lake and shrug him off, let him drown. Though he could swim, she no doubt would hold him under water, let the Lady of the Lake take his body and soul.

The Mare galloped along the Lake’s shoreline. Oh-see-rah had been to this lake a long time ago—it was much bigger than the lake near Tiger Rock Cave. If he could get her into the water, perhaps he could slip into the lake and swim into the dark.

He shook his head. Those were coward’s thoughts. He was a sacrifice and needed to quit thinking about escape. Though he would miss Ee-shee-nah and their offspring, no one lived forever.

The Mare nickered and veered away from the lake, passing through a forest. Oh-see-rah ducked down to avoid being brained by tree limbs. Leaves and twigs caught in his hair—he wished he’d asked Ee-shee-nah to cut his locks. He grinned and spat out leaves. It no longer mattered. His life had but a short span to go.

The trees thinned out and disappeared, a fat moon glowing on him. Distant dark shapes ahead must be hills. The Mare seemed to stretch out and gallop even faster. Oh-see-rah had trouble catching his breath.

The Mare slowed to a trot. Though hills were on both sides of them, Oh-see-rah remained level—they were going through a pass, a gap in the hills. At this point, he just wanted his ordeal over with—his ancestors awaited him.

They entered a fogbound hollow, and she halted. What now? He sniffed—his nostrils filled with the musk of horse sweat, then he realized that beneath him was a mare the size of a hill.

The moon danced away from the clouds, and he blinked. Before him dozens or horses grazed, circled, or gazed back at him. Was she feeding him to her tribe? His belly lurched. He had hoped for a swift death.

A mountain-sized stallion every bit as big as the Mare nickered and pranced to them. This stallion had a chest as wide as a man’s height and was the color of the night. Oh-see-rah took a deep breath—the Mare was going to feed him to the Stallion.

The Mare and Stallion nickered to each other as the other horses watched them. Oh-see-rah believed that this pair was the king and queen of their band.

Then the Stallion turned his attention to Oh-see-rah whose fingers and toes were twitching until he could barely old still.

The Stallion halted beside Oh-see-rah. I stink, don’t eat me, Oh-see-rah wanted to say. The Stallion nickered to him, and he dearly wished he could understand the tongue of horses. As if she were used to this, the Mare moved not a muscle.

The Stallion thrust his head forward and nudged Oh-see-rah’s side just enough to make it tickle. Not knowing what else to do, Oh-see-rah gently rubbed him between the eyes. The Stallion nickered as if he relished the attention. He continued to rub the stallion, moving to his jaw.

The Mare nickered, and the Stallion backed away. Oh-see-rah hoped he had made friends and wouldn’t be eaten.

The Mare whirled around and galloped toward the pass, soon leaving through the pass. Oh-see-rah didn’t understand why he yet lived, but life was good.

Soon she was galloping faster than the wind, the herd far behind. What next? Oh-see-rah wished he could explain to her how waiting to die was torture.

YOWL!

The Mare reared straight up, Oh-see-rah clinging to her mane.

TO BE CONTINUED

Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

Bray Place—built by Revolutionary War vet, Samuel Bray in 1796. Abe Lincoln visited in August 1841. Scoggan-Jones operated a Thoroughbred farm from 1888 to 1950s. Lookout, 1893, won the Derby. Frank James visited here Derby eve 1889 and is said to have bribed a jockey. This is on Bashford Manor Lane across Bardstown Road from Bashford Manor. Some Louisville folks think this is Bashford Manor Mansion, but that was torn down to build Bashford Manor Mall.

Flying Teapot

Stanley Steamer operated from 1897 to 1924. At old car festivals, I got to see them in operation. They were quiet, gently hissing when they moved. They took a long time to build up a head of steam and soon fell out of popularity.

Stars and stripes

June 14 is Flag Day. The Stars and Stripes Forever.

American flag flying in the wind

Lord of Bourbon

God of Bourbon!

Borvo was a Gaulish/Celtic God of springs and healing. The French called him Bourbon—is a coincidence that Kentucky Bourbon is named after this God? I don’t think so!

Monday June 14 is National Bourbon Day!

Kentucky’s favorite beverage or food flavoring. Chocolate bourbon fudge pictured. At home, I have Old Turkey Honey Bourbon (Lawrenceburg KY) and Silas Jones Bourbon (Louisville)

[use discretion, non-alcoholic Bourbon available]

Not so long ago

Now and then

Main entrance of Central State Hospital (Lakeland Asylum) about 1960. Near Louisville. Building from about 1870 to 2000. Most of the asphalt drives are still there, mounds where the building stood, too massive to remove entirely. Quarter mile from my house.

Then and now

1938 River Road, Louisville Water Tower/Ohio River to the left. Zorn Ave. starts to the right. Gas station still there, I believe. Now, to the right is I-71, parallel to River Road.

Whinnying like a whirlwind, she reared up on her hind legs and flailed her front hooves over Oh-see-rah.

Lord of the Caves Part 17

Willing his mind to go still, Oh-see-rah breathed deeply and waited for his sacrificial death. For what seemed ages, the giant white Mare whinnied while her front hooves milled over his head. Her hot breath burned as it flowed over his face and neck down to his chest.

What was taking her so long? Was she toying with her sacrifice? Her shrill whinnies bored into his skull and gave him an earache. The unmistakable musk of horse sweat filled his nostrils. She was shaking the ground, making Oh-see-rah seasick.

The drum and flute started up. The High Priestess chanted:

Hail Mother of Horses!

Hail Lady of Horses!

Hail Queen of Horses!

No! Oh-see-rah wanted to shout. Let me die alone! Let this agony end!

The Mare quit whinnying and backed away, standing on all four legs again, her eyes drilling holes through him. The drum and flute continued.

Oh-see-rah dared not budge or blink or even breathe. Ee-shee-nah was likely trying to tame the Mare to save him, but it was hopeless.

Like four stone columns, the Mare’s legs were still, but she was so close she could pounce on him in a flash. Perhaps she was a cat, toying with her sacrifice.

As the drum and flute continued, the High Priestess chanted:

Hail Lady of the Moon!

Hail Lady of the Summerlands!

Hail Lady of the Shadowlands!

The chant ended, the flute and drum quitting. Silence filled the cave, the only sound, the soft breathing of the Mare. Oh-see-rah continued kneeling, his eyes on the cave floor’s stony surface.

The Mare stepped forward. Oh-see-rah held still and prepared to die. Oh-see-rah couldn’t help it, but his hands trembled as his belly lurched.

The Mare knelt on her front legs, her mouth only a handspan from his head. Her hot breath made him sweat. He hadn’t realized how huge her mouth was—she could probably put his head in her jaws.

The drum and flute started up again as the High Priestess chanted:

Hail Giver of Life

Hail Ancient of Days

Hail Great Mystery

As if everyone was deserting him, the drum and flute again went silent.

Ever so gently the Mare’s head bumped against his shoulder. He almost flinched, but a real warrior would not flinch even in the jaws of death. Twisting her head, she nudged him toward her glistening flank. To keep from being pushed over, he rose and stood beside her.

Was she telling him to mount her? He looked back at Ee-shee-nah for guidance.

She nodded and mouthed, “GO.”

His heart hammering, he climbed onto the Mare’s broad back. She stood. Dizziness overtaking him, he clung to her abundant mane and wondered what was happening. Perhaps this was normal for sacrifices. He glanced back—everyone was bowing to her, to her holiness, to his coming sacrifice.

She strode out of the cave into the night. He was high enough to rub his head on tree limbs. A fat moon smiled down on them as if the Lady of the Moon approved of sacrifices.

Then it hit him—she was taking him to a sacrificial altar. It was better that his family and friends did not witness his sacrifice.

The Mare leaped high into the air and over the creek.

Then she galloped as fast as a shooting star. The wind whistled through his hair.

This was dying in style. So be it. Oh-see-rah yelled, “AAAAAY!”

TO BE CONTINUED Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

Rockin’ Town

Osgood, Indiana is in the southeast of the state. Os is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning God, so the name means God-good. Osgood’s Damm Theatre is thriving. The town once had a Ripley Hotel—Ripley’s believe it or not?

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