Flash Fiction Fridays: The Chase
Parallax the Rogue
By Michael Robb Mathias Jr.
His name was Parallax, and he was a rogue. The horses behind him didn't have a chance. They all still had riders. This wasn't a track race anymore though. This was Parallax's great escape. The men chasing after him were doing so for his own good. He had jumped the fence again, and after crossing the creek on the back forty, he was heading for the blacktop. The other horses had been chasing him for a long time, but they were losing their wind and falling away now.
The one thin cattle fence between the dangerous two lane highway and the pasture was coming up and Parallax was galloping like the wind toward it. They had to stop him or something terrible could happen; and not just to the animal. A sedan full of teenagers or a family minivan could end up a memory if there was a collision.
The distance was closing; a hundred yards, now fifty. The sound of a big truck blasted like a foghorn over the screeching of tires, and the low gurgle of air brakes. The attentive driver had seen the horse, and even with his lightning quick reaction, he doubted he had been fast enough.
Parallax didn't see the careening semi. He was too intent on leaving the others behind. He started into his leap, a leap that would land him on the other side of the fence, right in the middle of the road.
As the truck sounded out its warning, Parallax jumped, but he never had a chance to leave the ground. An eager gray shot across his path, the rider hollering and waving his hat around crazily. Parallax balked and skidded into the barbed wire in a cloud of red dust, not because he had been startled, but because another horse on the grounds had caught up to him. Ignoring the cuts the fence had left in his flank, he gathered his step and charged after the other animal curiously.
Her name was Scoundrella, and she was fast. The trainer was cursing because Parallax needed stitches and was supposed to race the next day at the state track. The assistant riding Scoundrella suggested letting her run in the upcoming event in his stead, and since she had managed to run down the rogue, the trainer agreed.
It was an exciting race and the gray mare won handily, even breaking Parallax's record time on the turf. Rumors began to spread about her. Word was getting around. Soon the talk of the track and stables was all about which of them would win in the upcoming Derby. Parallax didn't seem concerned. He strutted like the champion he was, and as his cuts healed, he seemed to understand the challenge before him. He ran the training oval with alarming enthusiasm, and he pushed himself relentlessly.
Scoundrella trained well too. She took to the turf track like a gambler to a bet. Amazingly, she continued to improve her gait and soon she was posting times that only Parallax was capable of matching in a race. Wagers were placed, some very large. Important people were coming in from far and near to watch the spectacle. Parallax was the favorite of the fans and bettors, and the trainer agreed that he was the faster of the two. But he secretly placed all his money on the gray mare.
The day of the race the grandstands were packed with excited screaming people. The anticipation was so thick that you could put a handful of it your pocket and take it home if you wanted to. At the post parade, Parallax pranced proudly. He had been there before and had won. He knew the cheers were for him. Scoundrella was nervous which caused more people to put money on the rogue, and thus made her payout odds go higher. The trainer gave the mare a nervous glance, but decided that he had made the right choice. When it was time to go to the starting gate, he had to let them go with their jockeys. This left him uneasy, as he watched with his bet ticket clenched tightly in his hand.
There were other horses in the race too, but no one seemed to pay them any mind. Soon the animals were all in the gates. The bell went off and the horses all burst free, each trying to charge in front of the other. Parallax let the gray lead him and just held his pace steady. It was a long way around the track, and he knew that if he pressed her, he might tire her, and then gain the advantage at the end. Leaving the first turn they were neck in neck, and three lengths ahead of the pack. Parallax felt as if he could run forever. He felt Scoundrella lagging and knew he could win the race, the problem was, he could see the open pasture beyond the chain link fence at the far end of the course.
With a snort of triumph, he scoffed at the gray, and lowered his head. He bolted down the straight away with an unimaginable burst of speed. As Scoundrella started into the second turn, Parallax kept going forward. He was going to make a run for it. The six foot tall fence didn't intimidate him in the least. Beyond it was freedom, open field as far as the eye could see.
The crowd groaned as Parallax threw his rider and left the track. The trainer yelled and cheered, but only for an instant. As Parallax leapt for the great height of the fence, another horse leapt beside him. Scoundrella was making a break for it too. She wasn't about to let her stallion get away from her.
His name was Parallax, and he was a rogue.
©2010 Michael Robb Mathias Jr.
M.R. Mathias is the author of the best-selling Wardstone Trilogy and the Dragoneer Saga. To learn more about Michael, please visit his website.
Photo courtesy of www.composing nows.com.