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The Noble Beast

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The soil of the valley was arid and chalky, with only a few tufts of hardened grass managing to struggle through the rocky surface and feel the hot air . An infinite number of stones littered the surface, some as large eternal monuments to its location, other small and loose, easily carried by wind or movement. The air was still, almost oppressively so. No clouds bothered to form, as if they did not want to even give a momentary respite from the blazing sun above. The few reptiles and insects, with the exception of the flies, that inhabited the valley were in hiding, to escape boiling in the day’s heat. The birds that usually would circle high above looking for an easy meal also stayed away from the valley that day, as if they knew that no meal existed for them.
A solitary horse, riderless, sped through the valley, kicking up dust and rocks into clouds that settled leisurely. The horse wasn’t particularly large, but it was long. Its legs stretched out far beyond its scrunched body, and a single stride could carry it for a good distance. The horse tossed its black tail every once in a while, swatting the buzzing flies that had descended to feed on the warm body. Its glossy brown coat was slick with sweat; its eyes opened wide; mouth slightly agape, with the heavy noise of breathing escaping it. Its hoof falls were swift and sure, easily avoiding any potential pitfalls and dangers. The horse was running alongside a road, a slab of asphalt that oozed like tar into the surrounding valley, making it hard to tell where the road began and the dust ended. The road was wide enough to accommodate two cars traveling in opposite directions, even though none were on it. The sun beat down mercilessly upon the valley, as if trying to scorch everything in it from existence.
The horse continued to gallop at full gait, moving at speeds that suggested that it would eventually tire; that it would collapse out of pure exhaustion. But the horse did not slow. The road seemed as if it were going to bubble and turn into a great liquid mass, which would spill over and swallow the horse. The horse strode firmly. The muscles rippled underneath the skin, and they seemed on the verge of tearing. But the horse stayed its course. The road was fastidiously straight, as if it had been formed to create a line that went on forever. The horse continued to follow the roads narrow path. The hoofs came down solidly, and with every beat the legs looked as if they would break. But the horse remained on its feet.
The horse ran as if it was trying to outrun the flies chasing it; trying to escape the sun’s permeating, omnipresent heat; trying to find the end of the road. But the valley did not care for the horse’s reasoning. And so the valley did not change for the horse’s gait, and did not breathe, as if watching the horse’s progress. The road, where the rare car rushes past burning rubber and gasoline in order to get out of the valley as quickly as possible, was silent. The creatures in hiding did not dare make a sound. The only sounds were the beating of the horse’s hoof, the laboured panting of the horse’s breath, and the buzzing of the flies, creating the impression of a deathly silence, as if the entire valley had been abandoned, except for the road, the horse and its insect companions.
But the horse carried on. Travelling forever forward, mile after mile flashing by, not breaking a step. It had long exceeded its breaking point, and all that carried it forward was pure will. Its muscles had worn; its lungs were breaking. But even that will power eventually ran out. After hours of unbroken running, the front legs of the horse bent and cracked at the knee joint, folding back towards the horse. The horse’s body jerked forward, carried by its momentum. Its head connected with the ground before whiplashing back and ramming back into the ground again. The rest of its body followed, crashing to the ground with a loud thud. The main body enveloped the front hoofs of the horse, while its back legs splayed out uselessly behind it. It rolled to the side, the top of it back touching the very edges of the asphalt. Its tail stopped swatting the flies, who responded by descending on the horse in vast multitudes, and finally taking the meal that they had so patiently been chasing for many a mile. The horse had finally come to a stop.





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