THE STORM

THE STORM

© Mary M. Cushnie-Mansour

 

What a miserable day. The rain wouldn’t stop, and the temperature was dropping rapidly. That meant everything would freeze, and the roads would be extremely hazardous to drive on.

            My cat was acting downright weird today, too. Not that she isn’t naturally weird, but today, she just kept running from one window to the next. She even knocked over the one and only houseplant that I have managed to keep alive. Oh well, the poor plant was on its way out anyway.

            Lightening flashed across the sky, and thunder boomed on its heel. The phone rang. Who the heck would be calling at this ungodly hour of ten o’clock at night, I wondered as I checked my watch. Everyone I knew understood better than to call my house past nine fifty-nine.

            “Hello,” I said, picking up the receiver.

            A raspy voice was on the other end of the line. “Did you check your barn in the last couple of hours?”

            “Who is this?” I demanded to know.

            “Just answer the question lady.”

            “Not until you answer mine,” I insisted.

            “What a pretty horse you have, lady,” the voice rasped on. “Is he still in the barn?”

            I plopped down in the chair beside the phone. I started to shake. “What do you mean … is my horse still in the barn?” I shouted, fear welling up in my throat.

            “Look lady, get the picture … I have your horse, and I want you to put one hundred thousand dollars in a sealed envelope and drop it off by the old mission cross out on West 99th street. Do you know the place I am talking about?”

            “Yes.” I was too dumbstruck to say anything further.

            “Good, have the money there by six p.m. tomorrow, or you will never see your horse again!” The receiver clicked shut before I could declare poverty.

            I stood up and began to pace. Where the hell was I going to get one hundred thousand dollars by tomorrow? Who was playing this sick joke on me? I had sunk every penny I had into buying the beautiful Arab stallion, Alehandro, and I was hoping to earn back some of my investment by studding him out. He had a pedigree as long as my arm.

            I wondered if it was Mr. Gunner. He had wanted Alehandro for himself, but I had outbid him at the auction. I remembered the ugly look on his face when I had led Alehandro up to my trailer.

            “Too much horse for you, missy,” he had shouted at me.

            “We’ll see,” I had retorted back. I had never liked Mr. Gunner. No one actually liked him. His reputation in the horse world was not a particularly respectable one. He was mean to all his horses, so the stories were told.

            I picked up the phone to call the police, but I hung up before dialling. I needed to check out the barn first. I grabbed my coat and headed out the door.

            The wind hit me hard. The rain, which had turned to sleet, burned my exposed skin. I was running in the direction of the barn, but it wasn’t there. I became hysterical, running in circles. It started to snow. Drifts were appearing everywhere, surrounding me, encircling me in. I tried to make my way back to the house. I couldn’t find it.

            Then I heard a loud crash. I slid on some ice, and I was falling … falling … bang … bump … meeeeooowww!

            My eyes opened. I was on the floor beside my bed. The cat was charging out of my room. I picked myself up off the floor and headed to the bathroom. I was sopping wet. I took a towel and wiped the sweat from my face. 

            “Thank God it was just a dream,” I mumbled to the empty room.

            I went to the window and looked out at the weather. Looked like the rain was turning into sleet––we were most likely in for an ice storm. I turned to go back to bed.

            The phone rang. I let it ring seven or eight times before picking up the receiver.  After all, it was after ten o’clock.

            “Hello,” I said, slowly.

            A raspy voice was on the other end of the line. “Did you check your barn in the last couple of hours?”

            The receiver crashed to the floor.

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