Debra and the Pony
*Editor's Note: This was first published in Virginia Commonwealth University's Poictesme in 2008.
Champ was my first friend, Debra thought, as she stroked the cool, gleaming barrel of her shotgun, with a sense of duty and fear. The graceful creature whinnied and blew hot gusts of air out of its nostrils. The poor guy, trying to get a little buzz the only way a horse can. Deb smiled as she remembered the harness they put on him when he was younger, to keep him from ruining his lungs.
The waves of the ocean crashed, and water slid up around her heels. The fire from the engine felt warm, even from ten feet away. Deb took some time filling up empty sandbags at the beach before she started the engine. She saved the business with Champ for last.
The bite wasn’t bleeding, but the infection had spread noticeably. Champ’s skin was already decaying. The poor thing. Debra gripped a shotgun shell between her index finger and thumb, and slid the shell in. There weren’t too any shells left: she’d have to make sure Champ was put down in a single shot. She might need to shells later.
Champ lowered his massive head, and nudged Deb in the stomach, pushing her back a bit. Maybe he was trying to tell that he still had strength, still had fight left in him. She couldn’t imagine how much strength he would have, when he became one of them.
She lifted the heavy barrel to just under her horse’s jaw, and hesitated. The guy at the store had mentioned she wouldn’t have to aim very hard to get a kill. Debra teared up a bit as she though of overweight Dan, full of comic relief and pick up lines. She remembered how he had guaranteed even a horse would fit (somehow) on the basket. How the balloon would be their way out, and how if he had just aimed a bit to the left, those things wouldn’t have torn him apart. Champ can’t become one of them, Debra growled.
“Damn you all!”
She pulled the trigger.
Champ’s head popped up a bit, and then his legs tripped out from under him. He fell to his side, kicking up sand from the shore. Deb couldn’t cry.
Debra brushed the sand from her blouse, took a last, wistful look at the now putrefying horse, and stepped into the basket of the hot air balloon.