|The Transformation Story Archive||Horses and Doggies and Cats, Oh my...|
"I'm getting too old for this," grumbled Bill Harrington. Seventy years of hard work had bent his back, but he wouldn't give up the one of the two things he had left to live for.
As the horses crowded around the coral gate, a squeal and a nip from an aged mare reminded the younger horses to take their places near the end of the line. Bill took each horse in turn, picked it's hooves clean, and turned it out to pasture. He pushed a Percheron gelding back from the gate, it would have to wait. The sand cracks in it's fore hooves would have to be gouged out, and filled with epoxy.
The day was hot, and the work went slowly. Bill heard the crunch of bicycle tires on the gravel driveway long before he felt his grandson's hand on his shoulder.
"Hi gramps! How's the Romeo doing?
"He's going to be fine, Travis. I just wanted to patch up these cracks before I shoe him. You have to take the strain off the hoof, and distribute the weight, if it's going to mend."
"Sorry, I over slept. Is there anything you want me to do?"
"That's O.K.. The stalls still need mucking out, and while you're doing that, you can tell me all about summer camp."
"Hey! Where's the little guy? Are you already letting him out in the pasture?"
"I'm sorry Travis, he didn't make it. I had the vet come out and put him down. The cleft in his palate was too severe."
Travis bit down hard on his lip, and turned away. "I've got some money. I've been saving to buy a car next year. I would have given it to you. You should have at least waited until I got back from camp!"
"He couldn't nurse, and both of us together couldn't afford the surgery he needed to fix it. He was wasting away, and I couldn't stand to watch him starve to death. I thought it would be better if I had it done while you were away. I had him buried in grandma's flower garden, I don't think she would have minded. I'm sorry, Travis."
"Yeah, I know."
Travis continued with the chore of cleaning the stalls, and putting down fresh straw, without saying anything, until he reached the last stall. Looking down at the stain on his overalls, left there from the foals birth, whispered, "I have to get these washed." Then, leaning against the door of the stall, where earlier he'd expected to see the foal, be began to sob.
"Travis? Hey, none of that!" His grandfather embraced him. Then he took out his handkerchief, and wiped the tears from his face. "You know that nature is hard on the sick, weak, and injured. We do the best we can to help, but sometimes there's nothing we can do. Now, I need you to help me with Daisy Mae. She's taken the loss of her colt really hard, and now we have to milk her, since her colt is gone."
"Milk her? I hadn't though of that. Were is she now?"
"She's probably doing what she'd been doing every day since I had the colt put down. Searching every square inch of the farm for him. She runs the fence line from sunrise to sundown, and she's lost a lot of weight. When her teats are full she'll come back to the barn, and check the stalls one more time. She could be back anytime now."
Bill and Travis sat down on some hay bails and awaited the mare's return.
Finally the old man spoke. "So how was summer camp?"
Travis grimaced. "I hated it! Still, baseball camp was better than that swim school dad sent me to last year. Why can't I stay with you all summer gramps?"
"Well, you know your dad is only trying to do what's best. He's worried about you, you know, with his job taking him away so much, and your mom leaving. You're here almost all year. I guess he wants you to be with outer boys your age at least some of the time."
Their discussion was interrupted by Daisy charging into the barn. She made a quick search of the stalls, and was on her way out, when Bill whistled to her. She spun around and started to approach the two when she spotted Travis. Her nostrils flared, and she froze in her tracks. She regarded the boy with curiosity, her ears forward, and eyes wide. She could smell her missing colt.
Bill snapped a lead on her halter, pulled up his farrier's box, and sat down. "Travis, hand me that bucket!"
"Here you are gramps." Travis watched as his grandfather first pushed up on the mare's teat to start the milk flowing, then stripped out on the downward stroke. "Uh, what are you going to do with the milk?"
"I'm going to feed it to the hogs. Milk and me, well, we just don't get along. Why? You want to try it?"
"No, that's O.K.. I was just wondering."
His grandfather handed him the bucket. "Go on, try it. It won't hurt you. You're not squeamish are you?"
His grandfather might as well have called him chicken. "Uh, squeamish? No. Sure I'll try it."
He took a sip from the bucket. The milk was hwarm and sweet, the high fat content made it taste like heavy cream. "It's not bad...really! How come no one ever drinks mare's milk?"
His grandfather chuckled. "It sure would take a lot of mares to give you the amount of milk you can get from a cow, wouldn't it?"
"Oh, yeah, that figures. Too bad, cause it tastes better than cow's milk."
"Well, take back to the house with you! I hated wasting it on the hogs anyway. Now pay attention! You'll have to do this several times a day, whenever her bags are full. If you wait too long it'll be painful for her, and you'll run into problems. She's a pretty smart old girl. Once she figures it out, she'll let you know when she need milking.
After taking about a pint of the creamy yellowish fluid from the mare, Bill slapped her on the rump, and told her to go. She turned and nuzzled Travis. Her nostrils quivered at the strange mix of scents. She could smell her colt, the boy that took care of her, and the musty barn, where she was raised. It was all jumbled together, but the smell of the missing colt was strong. She regarded the boy for a moment. Then she wandered out into the pasture, and began quietly cropping grass. For the rest of the day the mare was contented to follow Travis around the farm as he worked.
That evening she was waiting in the barn for him, her teats distended with milk. Travis, milked the mare, as his grandfather had shown him. He was surprised to find that he was more than slightly aroused by the time he was finished. Taking up the pail he headed for the house, where his grandfather would already be preparing supper. As he closed the pasture gate the mare unleashed a blood chilling scream. Travis had just finished locking the gate when she threw herself against the steel panel, it bent under the force of her attack. The startled boy was thrown backwards, the impact with the ground knocking the breath out of him. Dazed, he lie on the ground looking up at the head of the mare as she leaned over the gate to nuzzle him. His grandfather stepped out onto the porch wondering what had caused all the commotion. When He saw the boy on the ground he ran to his grandson's side.
The old man helped his grandson sit up. "Are you all right, anything broken? What'd she throw you over the gate?"
"I'm fine. I just tripped over my own feet and got the wind knocked out of me. She never even touched me. I don't know what happened! She just blew-up when I started to leave."
Bill helped Travis to his feet and they started for the house. Once again the mare screamed. Later that evening, before he went to bed, Travis watched the mare from his bedroom window. She paced the fence line, trying to get as close to the house as she could, and called softly for him to return.
The next morning the mare was waiting on the barn. As Travis milked her she nickered and nudged his shoulder, pushing him closer to her flank. When he was done he had finished all his chores for the morning and decided to try his luck as fishing in the stream that cut through the back pasture. The mare followed him and was content as long as he was within sight.
The fishing was poor that day and Travis lied down for a nap in the warm summer sun. The sound of the water cascading over some stones in the stream, and the drone of cicadas quickly lulled him to sleep. He awoke as the mare nipped him on the shoulder, it was milking time.
Travis sat up and brushed off his shirt. The mare turned and pressed her flank against his shoulder. "O.K. Daisy! I get the idea. Just let me get my fishing tackle and we'll be going. The mare nudged him closer with her muzzle, pushing his head against her flank.
She thinks I'm going to nurse from her like a colt, he thought. He had to admit that the idea appealed to him. Just handling her in the barn as he milked her had been the most stimulating experience of his life. Travis was torn by his desire to indulge himself by satisfying the mare, and the feeling that it was wrong for him to want the mare in that way. The mare's insistence finally induced him to try suckling her.
He gripped the mare's teat between his lips, trying to manipulate it was he had with his hands, the mare grunted with satisfaction. He butted his head into her loins so she would let down her milk, and the flow began. He drained first one teat, then the other, and as he did he felt the crotch of his dungarees tighten. When he had finished draining the mare she turned to nuzzle him and lick his face. While she washed his face, he gasped as he felt the tension in his groin released.
That night, until he fell asleep, Travis watched the mare from his bedroom window. Then he had the strangest dream, ants were swarming all over him. He was roused by a profuse itching, lifting his shirt, he discovered his belly was covered by a pelt of shiny black hair. Travis lie awake until daylight wondering if he should tell his grandfather about the change.
That morning, as Travis had breakfast with his grandfather, part of him hoped the old man would notice something had changed, and ask the questions the answers to which he would never volunteer.
"How's Daisy doing Travis?" Travis took a deep breath. "Uh, she's doing fine. I think she's all over losing the foal, gramps." The old man smiled. "Yes, I noticed she's been following you around like a dog. Looks like she's decided that you need some mothering. Well, I can't say that I disagree. Give me your plate, and go get your chores done while I clean up. Later we'll go into town and pick up some lumber to fix that hole in the floor of the hay loft." Travis exhaled in relief. "O. K. gramps." Then he bolted from the kitchen.
The mare followed him to the back pasture, nickering in anticipation. Travis dropped onto his hands and knees and began to nurse. She was as close to a mother as he had ever known, he thought, and the act of nursing from the mare seemed natural. The powerful sense of arousal was another matter. But the warm milk, the earthy smell of the mare, and her gentle sounds of encouragement, were so soothing that he didn't want to spoil the moment with complicating thoughts. He closed his eyes and pretended he was her colt.
Something wasn't right. Travis opened his eyes to see a panorama of black and white. He pulled away from the mare, and felt his face with his hands. Even as he did, he could feel the muzzle pushing out of his head and expanding. His hands began to ache. He watched as the fingers lengthened forming a fore leg one finger, longer than the rest, swelled at the tip. The nail turned black, and soon formed itself into a hoof. The change accelerated, so many things happening at once that he felt as if his body were made of clay, and it was kneaded by a huge pair of hands. A tail sprouted from the base of his spine, tearing the seat of his dungarees. The buttons popped off his shirt as it flew open, as his ribs ballooned outwards with a sickening crunch. He felt his groin grow heavy.
Stepping out of the tattered rags that had been his clothes, the colt resumed nursing. For a moment he thought that something was wrong, but his mothers nicker, her reassuring smell, and the taste of the warm milk, quickly dispelled the thought, as the last vestiges of humanity disappeared from his mind.
When Travis failed to show up for supper his grandfather when looking for him. Soon his father and the sheriff were searching for him too. The only clue, the tattered pile of clothing confounded everyone. The dogs could find no trail. In the commotion, no one noticed the mare hiding in the woods with her foal.
Bill Harrington sat on his porch and wept. As twilight approached he went in the house and got his rifle. Then he went to the barn. He placed the muzzle to his head and was about to pull the trigger when he heard a familiar sound, Daisy's nicker. Bill put down the rifle and stroked the mare's neck. "Well old girl, it's good-bye then. Seventy years is enough! I've out lived all of my friends, and I'll be damned before I out live all my family." He placed the muzzle against his head once more, and just as his finger tightened on the trigger her colt stumbled into the barn.
"You," he screamed at the mare. "I don't know how you did it but you took him from me!"
No, that's crazy, he thought, but where did the colt come from? "Travis? Is that you?" The colt heard the familiar sound, he didn't know what it meant but it was good. He cautiously approached the man. Bill looked into the colt's warm brown eyes, looking for something, and for a moment he thought he saw some hint of recognition, then it was gone.
He absent mindedly dropped the rifle, and sat down on the barn floor. The colt nuzzled his ear and Daisy nickerd approvingly. "Well, Your father always said he expected me to live one hundred years. I guess that will be just about right."
The colt wanted to stay, and smell the strange tangle of scents that was man, but he was hungry again, and his mother was calling him to nurse.
The Colt copyright 1997 by Jack deMule.
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