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The Ark of Hoof Prints: Tale of a Herd - Book two

The Ark of Hoof Prints: Tale of a Herd - Book two

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The Ark of Hoof Prints: Tale of a Herd - Book two

Länge:
375 Seiten
6 Stunden
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Jan 22, 2015
ISBN:
9783738690194
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

Normal life was to end on 'The Day'.
Horses had been working with humans for so long!
No one remembered not doing so. From that day on those that had not been evacuated have to find a way to overcome the strange results of the experiment in their Closed lands.
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Jan 22, 2015
ISBN:
9783738690194
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor

Evelyn G Lohmann was born in London 1955. She was given up for adoption. Years later fund her roots in the south Americas. The love of horses and painting brought her to write and illustrate the Ark of Hoof Prints -Ark of Hoof Prints- Travelers From the Plane. A Tale of a Herd. A Twist in the Tale. Tail of Tales. Amber Ark. And underway 'There is no future without a past.' Evelyn did not start writing till she was forty five, but where was a dyslectic wall in front of her to climb. As the book one and two in the saga of Ark Of Hoof Prints grew into a saga of six books; she wrote down all the dyslectic mishaps and transferred her mistakes into the illustrated Dyslectic Support Dictionary. Witch/Which she is planning to share in the near future.

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The Ark of Hoof Prints - Evelyn G. Lohmann

The beach was deserted; its white sand ruffled by many feet, and the sea was trying to whip away the marks. There had been so much shouting and many men running and splashing through the shallow waters to boats, grabbing with hurried hands rifles and packages lifting them clear of the waters. They were packed on carts and waiting ponies.

Then dawn came and in their haste two ponies had been left behind!

Well! Drummond, what are we going to do now?

It was Hay that asked. Drummond looked up the beach and then down the beach.

We seem to have been left behind. Said Drummond,

I see what you mean, nodded Hay, What are we going to do about it?

Now you come to ask I am not sure.

Drummond was in his eighth year, did a good job when it was asked off him, and he kept on eye on young Hay.

Hay was just living his third year, his training had been hasty, lead out of his field, a pack thrown on his back, then been tied to Drummond’s harness, even if Drummond was a field brother to Hay, it was not so easy to follow in step at first! But after the first night of to-ing and fro-ing they had got on well enough.

Hay was a bay youngster that asked a lot of questions of Drummond, they matched in size but not in colour, Drummond’s coat was dun, but their black full manes and tails, along with the tips of their ears made telling them apart in rainy weather difficult for those that did not know them well.

There was no rain that night only the seas’ spray to dampen their coats.

We can not stay here all day long! remarked Hay again. Drummond was thinking the same. There would be children to give rides to, maybe take the lady shopping in the buggy, but he was rather surprised that no one had come for them. The last human had said, Stand and he had! You could depend on him to do as he was asked.

Hay lay down, it had been a long time since he had been fed and his tummy was rumbling uncomfortably; he muzzled through the sea grasses for a snack to tide him over to midday grazing, making himself comfortable as much as he could do tied to Drummond.

Right! said Drummond making Hay jump. He had also noticed his tummy had missed something that a good feed would put right.

Let’s take matters into our own hoofs! I suggest we wander back to our stable yard, get someone to take this lot off and get the feed we have earned!

Sounds like a good idea to me! replied Hay.

Hay missed the juicy blade of grass he was trying to grab as Drummond moved smartly forward jerking his open mouth away from his chosen mouthful.

They made their way up the track. The track that led from the deserted beach to the little hut that sold ice-cream and sweets to the kids.

Drummond always looked hopefully for icecream that had missed children’s mouths and landed on the ground. All riding ponies enjoyed this stop, before taking kids along the ragged cliffs to the headland, to breathe in the fresh sea air, feel the sea’s spray dampen their coats and here the children screech as the waves washed over the rocks and splashed at them.

Then they were doodled back to the stables for a mouthful of oats before taking the next group.

It was funny that humans were not keen to go out in rainy weather, but it was fun to splash through puddles with the kids. He did not mind taking kids which were happy to sit on his back, holding on with their hands in his mane; those kids that can ride were a fun, you did not have to watch out that they fell off! Well! Not so much anyway! When they think they know all about sitting on a horse -, Drummond’s daydreams come to an abrupt stop!

The ice-cream hut was just a pile of wood, its sign hung lopsided on its post. Deep motor tracks had cut into the sandy car park before the shattered kiosk.

Mind what you are doing? grumbled Hay as Drummond pulled him away from the scene.

Both, Drummond and Hay were feeling uneasy, this uncomfortable feeling was not eased as they rounded the corner of the bank that hid the pub from the winter’s pounding sea. Its door was open, just swinging on its hinges; the smell of stale beer and stale cigarette smoke met them, other than the sound of the door’s hinges, no other sound was to be heard.

Look! said Hay as Drummond jerked him again in his haste to get away from the empty pub.

Could we get this rope untied or something? You keep trying to pull off my head! There must be someone at the stables to see to us.

They reached the stables through the twisting lanes; their hedges brought pleasant smell from the flowers entwined in its length, the pleasant smell of late spring, it was not yet summer.

Neither spring nor summer was there to greet them in the stable yard. The order of an everyday working stable was thrown apart. Wheelbarrows upturned, the contents spilt on the usually swept clean yard, gates were open;

Stable doors were open! No one, no horses or ponies were to be seen anywhere, it was altogether too quiet! Not even a dog had anything to say, there was not even the usual cat draped lazily over hay bails in the open barn.

For once Drummond did not have anything to say, he just stood in the middle of the yard till Hay could not stand it any longer and broke the silence by saying:

What are we going to do now? I am not going to be tied to you for the rest of my life! How do we get out of this harness?

Luckily for Drummond, he did have an idea, a good idea as to how you can get yourself out of a harness! He told Hay to lie down beside him.

It must have looked funny, to see two ponies rolling, wriggling, manes and tails swishing over the grass, legs in the air waving, sending bits of grass into the air! The funny scene took some time, as the rifles they were carrying got in the way and had to be first shaken free, before the real business of wriggling out of the girths and balancing could really begin!

Drummond stood with only his head coiler swinging on his left ear; breathing rather heavily; as for Hay, he had managed to get his girth over his withers and now lay with his head tucked under his chest, he had tried to get the balancing band to slide over his mane but it had got tangled in it.

Could use a bit of help here?! Hay managed to mumble, while Drummond was fascinated watching.

It took him a moment to react to the struggling Hay’s plea. Calmly Drummond took the girth’s flapping strap between his teeth and gave it a sharp yank, freeing it from holding Hay’s head. The balancing strap pulled his mane painfully. On shaking it out another got caught under his tail. Hay showed his displeasure by bucking it free in an urgent manner across the field, leaving it in bits and pieces, scattered all over the place.

They heard someone laughing! That someone turned out to be a crow!

I do not know what you find so funny; about two ponies freeing themselves from their tiresome harness? Drummond would have gone on but the crow only laughed more loudly. She seemed to think it was a great joke watching them struggle out of their harness.

You only have to ask, I could have pecked you free from those things. She said when she could speak.

Thanks for the offer after we have done the job ourselves! Drummond managed to say he was annoyed at being laughed at, and by a crow!

Mind you the crow was the only living thing he had seen for quite some time; other than Hay; who was rubbing himself on a post by the open gate.

Have you noticed that things where not as they should be?

Really! she said, I can tell you what I saw!

Drummond waited for her to smooth a feather before she began to tell him what she had seen that very morning!

They came with large trucks, the sows, their piglets and the old bore were harshly loaded into them and the next I knew, they, were gone! All gone! Even my Flight of Crows have disappeared! I had only flown down to pick up this shiny ring. The crow produced a little ring from under her feathers and dropped it before Drummond’s hoof, When I took to the air again - not a sight, not a sound, not a feather, all gone!

She closed her bright eyes!

Then I flew here thinking they had to come here, but no horse, ponies, no cat or dog, no humans, till you came. I have been sitting here till you made me laugh taking those things off.

Well, when you have to do the job of taking things off yourself, and there is no one to organize anything - talking of feeds, I could do with a snack! he turned to Hay who was with some skill taking his head collar off by rubbing his right ear against the gate post, letting the head strap drop onto the rusty hinge of the post. The trapped strap enabled him to duck away from the constricting collar neatly.

As Hay had never said no to food, he trotted after Drummond. The crow went and sat on the water-butt by the feed room as Drummond popped his head over its lower half door. Here it was, as it should be, feed buckets, scrubbed and neatly stacked, feed charts hanging on the walls, each horse had their name listed along with their working schedules, body weights and other relevant information.

The first problem was to get the door to open, that was solved by rattling it till it shook the latch free.

Drummond had to draw back his fore hoof to let the door swing into the yard wide enough to allow a pony slip in! The next problem was to open the feed bins, they were refilled from larger stores above the stables feed room. The lifted lids did not help, as what feed there was, was too low down in the container, for a pony of his size to reach. In fact every bin had only a small amount in its base!

Hay pushed into the confines of the feed room, the prepared feed buckets scattered under the hooves of the two of them, making moving a hoof or leg without disturbing them, impossible.

The situation was making Drummond rather cross. He had been standing all night on a wind swept beach, with water splashing over him, making him shiver with all those rifles piled on his back.

Then he and Hay had been forgotten, left for the dogs for all he knew and now he was hungry. He turned to go swishing his tail so that all the small bottles and packets of worming powders flew into the air, whether it was a bottle or Hay trying to get out made him kick, he could not say, but his hoof broke the wall of the feed container. That hole let crushed oats spill out on the floor! Before long the two of them had cleared them away! The next container had maize corn in it, they crunched their way through them and they even ate the rest of the ‘Horse and Pony mix’, all those tasty cubes that rolled about the feed room floor.

The crow was just as hungry as they were, she was long before them finished with her feeding and was now sitting on the roof opposite the feed room as two happily fed ponies tried to get out together of the door and got stuck! Their plight made the crow laugh, it could have been the fact they had eaten too many oats or the door was too small, either way the idea of one animal holding back to let the other one go through first just did not occur to them.

The crow had to peck an ear to hold Drummond up long enough to let Hay fall through the gap into the yard, upon which Hay had hiccups and was laughing at the same time as he was trying to tell them what he found so funny:

She would take a whip to our backs for upsetting her feed room, and she well want to put medicines down our throats for just thinking of feeding ourselves

But she is not here! said Drummond.

Nor is anyone else! pointed out the crow but that only made them both laugh. Hay started to cough to ease his dry throat went off to the water trough.

Are you stupid? asked the crow.

Why? retorted Hay, as his muzzle was waving over the water trough’s inviting surface.

Eat oats, drink water, they well swell in your belly, till you pop!

The idea of popping ponies set her and the two ponies off laughing.

Pop! Pop! said Drummond, away from the water. She is quite right, you know! he said looking at the crow. Do you have a name?

Cola she said, that only made Hay laugh helplessly again, making Drummond laugh with him. Hay said without thinking:

Was she Coca Cola or Pepsi? Those remarks did not please Cola, she turned her back on them and flew to where a wheelbarrow was resting against the wall of a stable, and she parked on its broken handle.

They saw she was upset, that gave them a chance to sober up to think she was quite right not to let them drink, but Hay ruined their attempt of apology by saying:

Rum, Rum as he bumped into the post of the hay-barn door. No hay, no Hay! That would be too much after such a large feed! Drummond wanted to say, but there was no hay there! Or straw! Nor were there those large rolls of silage rapped in plastic, he had seen the grass cut and was looking forward to eating it over the winter months.

The three of them searched all of the stable’s yards, the indoor school and the place where the last of the last season’s silage had been stored; the new delivery of bedding straw had gone! Leaving only old and stale straw in the deserted stables!

Cola flew into the hard food store, empty except for crumbs. Oats, nuts, maize corn gone, everything gone! She herself did not rely on corns, for her main meals she relied on scavenging extras from the pig’s rations. Cola thought, if she knew where the pignuts were stored back at the pig farm, she would have flown to have a look. But something told her that as the pigs had gone so had their feed, just as the feed here had been cleared out of the stables; cleared out you could say and the only living creatures where those two drunken ponies!

Cola took to the air; she did not tell them she was going up to do an aerial survey. There were strange things happening! As they saw her spiral overhead, Drummond said:

She did not like your Rum and Cola jokes! Hay, you have annoyed her, and now she has gone. I think we need all the friends we can get.

You laughed too! grumbled Hay, he was standing beside Drummond in the middle of the strangely untidy, empty yard. His head was low.

What is there to do?

Well! Old boy, I am not sure!

Cola was back over the pig farm; its field dotted with huts for the sows to overnight in, seemed normal even with no sign of pigs! In the lane before the group of buildings used by the humans a small truck lay on its side, the smell of a burnt out engine reached her, she could see the doors of the place where the people came in and out, and they were open, swinging in the breeze, curtains flapping through the open windows.

Cola landed on the windowsill, looked into the room where order was disturbed as in the stable yards. Books, chairs, definitely not where they should have been!

A small golden heart caught her eye, close to the windowsill, she dropped down to get it, the window banged shut behind her; she rose with alarm to face the now closed window. With the golden heart in her beak she flew through the house, it was as disturbed as the first room she had flown into. It was as if they had left in a great hurry.

There on the table were some tempting baked rinds; normally you did not have a chance if there were cats about! It was easy enough to steal pignuts from under the snouts of the sows than to take a titbit from a cat. Cola put down the little heart, looking at it as she enjoyed the unexpected meal.

With the heart in her beak she hopped to the nearest open window, flew out into the warm setting sunrays that striped the deserted yard with contrasting shadows.

Darkness meant humans turn on lights, lights meant there were people about! On other farms, animals to feed, lights! Thought Cola! All she had to do was find a perch with a view, wait till the daylight faded and pick out the farms or houses that would offer the best all-inclusive living!

Living with pigs was a good existence, the sows didn’t mind nor grumble at you for taking advantage of their feed, not if you were willing to take care of their tiresome parasites! The other crows of her flight had not been troublesome; there were the usual squabbles at nesting times, treetops, mates, and the usual ruffled feathers! Sitting on her chosen perch waiting for darkness to fall Cola felt a sadness drop over her like the coming darkness.

The idea that all she had known had gone, and all those, she had known, too! She tried to hear the normal sounds that should have surrounded her, her feathers at least made a familiar sound when she was flying. She only found darkness stretching over the land below her. Where there should have been lights there were none! From where there should have been a small town to where the large old house on the hill stood, there was still no sign! The light house, a still point before a moving sea, no light! No sign of life!

No electric lights blinking like stars, not one to break up the landscape. I am not an owl that can survey at night, not with all the usual marks gone! Cola told Drummond and Hay as she was sitting on the gatepost the next morning. She didn’t really want to return to them; there did not seem to be an alternative other than to hang around alone. As for the two ponies they were pleased to see her, they had felt so uncomfortable! And not just due to overeating! All they could do was wander around the unusually empty field!

I suppose we could wait around here till someone turns up! Or we can go and see if we can find out what happened. People and animals don’t just disappear! As usual Drummond was thinking of food so he added: And we have eaten all the feed we could find, there is only grazing left and we can find that anywhere! The countryside is full of grass.

He was trying to convince himself, of what he was not sure of, but just standing around feeling sorry for themselves would do no good.

Are you coming? he didn’t wait for the others to answer instead he marched up the field to the back of the indoor school, it was then he smelt or felt the tickle of smoke in the air! He turned around to try to find out where it was coming from? His nostrils could pick out the smell of burning straw, plastic and wood shavings. The stable’s bedding store was on fire! Smoke was beginning to build into clouds; clouds that filled the stable yards as Hay joined Drummond, pressing close to his flanks. Then it happened, the barn where the humans had been stabled exploded! Debris rained down into the yard! Had they not been in the protection of the indoor school, they too, would have been hit by the storm of materials that used to be the human’s barn.

The indoor school was also beginning to burn! A part of the roof fell in and they were still standing there! Cola couldn’t believe her eyes, swooping down and screeching in their ears, pecking at their stunned faces. She managed to drive them forwards.

The way to the open field became blocked as the long side of the indoor school had started to buckle and folded down, sinking in flames.

Suddenly another explosion raked the air! It must have been the place where the family kept their car, as the smell of petrol became very strong! The smell in the air told Cola that the fire had taken hold of the stable block. Driving them as fast as she could she steered them through the smoke filled yard, past where the human barn had been and out through the gates into the lane leading them on to the top of the hill. The hill was normally a place which humans visited to see the bay and the stables nestled in the folding green land and the lighthouse that lit the teeth-like cliffs marking the headland that met the blue sea filling the horizon. But they were not taking any notice of the view; they were watching the scene below.

What exploded next they could not tell! They could only watch the flames devour the building, the wind was now driving the flames furiously through the riding stables, and all was so bright down there, the smell of fire and burning, dominated the rising air. Hay said as they stood watching:

We can not go back there! That’s for sure.

There was no point in waiting: said Drummond, shocked by the strange events.

So what shall we do now? asked Hay, in that moment another louder bang rose out of the stables, followed by pops and cracklings like those of a fun firework show! There were other bangs ringing loudly. They did not want to hear or see anymore! They took to the lane that ran down the opposite side of the hill; they could not help keeping half an ear out for the dreadful sounds coming from their former home.

Two ponies with a crow were trotting briskly to cover as much ground as possible to distance themselves from the horror of what they had seen.

If they had thought about it maybe they had entered the town with more care! The town was not really much bigger than a village, with its one long street of small shops. There was the baker’s shop, where if you were lucky when a visitor rode through the town, a fresh bun would be offered as a treat, or a sweet at the sweet shop, where the kids were bound to stop, it was so easy to get the kids to give you a titbit!

Drummond was going to ask Hay if he liked lemon sours or that strange space dust that made your lips curl! He turned his head to ask him and then remembered Hay had up a till now spent most of his short life in a field! And now he had come to a town for the first time and this town was not as it should be, it was Cola that said:

No people! No cars or vans were to be seen.

The little group were the only living beings there!

This town didn’t have a market square. On market days the stall tenders spread their tables along the long street, it had a stone statue to guard a useful water trough, it was as usual spilling fresh water into it, but the shops, the small café were definitely not as they usually were.

The café’s door was open, most of the tables were up turned, and the usually gleaming cups were hanging up like broken teeth on their hooks.

Drummond turned to look into the bread shop, almost willing the fresh smell of bread to come to him. Here was nothing, only its door banging in time with the playful breeze. He never liked the meat shop, he just walked past it. But he did stop to look into the shop that sold bits of paper and tobacco; it was as it should be only unusually empty. The shop next door had a smell not unlike vet’s car, now here was something to see!

It was as if they had tried to take it apart! Who ever they were! Someone had tried to take every pot and every packet out of the shop at once. There were cupboards open and draws hanging like gaping mouths, their boxes pulled out and lying up turned on the floor and discarded packets were lying around.

A large cardboard box was standing by the door, the contents reminded Drummond of wash day, when kids laughed and screamed as bubbling shampoo and jets of water sprayed everywhere.

Drummond hung his head low as he turned away to walk back to where Hay and Cola were waiting for him by the water trough. Hay could see Drummond was upset by what he saw, as he himself had not been on a visit to town, he couldn’t say what was wrong. As for Cola, she had flown over the small town many times with her flight, they had even explored its more interesting eating possibilities, but they had preferred the ease of life with their hosts the pigs.

They did not have to speak to each other to know it was time to leave the ghost town. Drummond led the way along the street. He didn’t look either left or right he could leave that to Hay!

Everything else was not so disturbed except for one small shop! Its windows had been blown out! Blankets of sparking glass were lying in the road and its door had been ripped of its hinges and now resting awkwardly against a lamppost! It was a shop where knives and little boxes could be bought.

Drummond did not like the shop very much. The people that bought such things had the nasty job of hunting rabbits and rodents. He liked it even less now to see the shop ramshackled and empty.

Without a word he pushed Hay into a trot. All he could think of was to get them out of town.

The street of shops came to an end and a highhedged lane took over. It gave way as the communal field opened out in front of them where football was played, fireworks day was celebrated and the travelling circus would pitch a big top.

Cola took to the air to take a better look at the bright big circus top; it was in two halves. One half was strung and pegged the other half was hanging over the common. She knew the common well, after there had been a human gathering there where usually tasty pickings! She liked Popcorn! She remembered she had found an earring like a star! The little heart was still on its chain around her leg, she had thought to take it to her nest, to add it to her collection of shining things, but while she was looking around the idea slipped away from her! As Cola was exploring the big top’s trapeze and hanging ropes, Drummond was standing in the empty car park, and now he came to think of it no circus was without lorries or trailers, and he couldn’t see any caravans the humans lived in, just the big top left to blow in the wind! Hay was happily helping himself to feed he had found on the ground in a square of flattened grass.

Hay called Drummond, feeling guilty to keep this titbit to himself. Drummond on the other hoof was more than pleased to have a taste of his favourite oats so they were really surprised when someone blew his nose right behind them!

That someone was a horse! He had ears that funnily curled inwards at their tips, his face dished inwards on its way down to his muzzle. When he turned his head to look at Cola flying towards them you could see there was an eye missing on his left side. Whatever colour he had been born with was long gone; his coat would have been white only he had been lying in the grass so his flank was marked with green stain. The question of why he was here did not need to be asked, as he stood on three legs, his right-of fore he held in front of him:

Lame, could not be packed away in the trailer with the others, The horse said.

I am Drummond and this is Hay. Drummond introduced himself and pushed Hay to say something, too! All Hay could say was, Hi! Cola was more talkative; her head was still in the clouds though!

I always wanted to swing on a trapeze, never thought I would get the opportunity to do so! She twittered on after she had introduced herself, then she ask the stranger if he had a name?

I am Markus. Marvellous Markus, the star attraction in every circus renown; loved better than any clown. Everyone blinked at him, was he for real? Marvellous Markus! What was that for a name? Wondered Hay, Drummond nudged him to say nothing that would upset the Old Boy!

I am Marvellous Markus, the star attraction! he repeated before saying,

The Master of the circus ring! Just listen to the laughter I bring!

Hay could not help saying aloud: Is he for real?

If you do not believe me, just look at the poster they made for me! They had to follow him if only to be polite, Hay and his big mouth, thought Drummond as they followed him over to the hedge where caught in its base were a pile of discarded posters. Marvellous Markus muzzled the pile apart and then stood back to show his audience. The poster had a horse standing on its hind legs, neck arched, in a glittering harness and a red plume placed on its head! And if anyone was interested and could read, Marvellous Markus had an understanding of some human words, he announced loudly, Marvellous Markus the dancing horse; and where the circus would be giving their next show.

There was not a lot Hay could say to that, nor could anyone else, so they returned to finish the hard feed that was still left in the grass-flattened square. After they had shared what was left, Hay said rather loudly, as no one had spoken for so long:

What do we do now?

The top will be put right for tonight’s show.

Marvellous Markus announced.

"Oh really! There is not going to be a show!

There are no people here, not in this town, they have all gone!" Drummond surprised even himself as he shouted at the two horses with him.

Don’t shout at us, I only asked! retorted Hay.

At the sound of raised voices Cola flew to them with a half eaten worm still in her beak.

What is the matter? she asked.

So what do we do now? We have eaten what we have found here, grumbled Hay.

How could Hay forget his favourite hobby, food! said Drummond as if it was not a hobby of his, too!

Cola still had her worm in her beak so she was a little bit difficult to understand: "We

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