I’m delighted to participate in Jennifer Walker’s blog tour. Below is an excerpt from her book “Bubba to the Rescue” from Chapter Two. Read an enjoy Jennifer’s delightful story.
When they emerged from the woods and turned down a service road on the Bakers’ property, they could see the flames licking the sky just a few hundred yards behind the rickety old barn. The property was surrounded by trees, and Leslie had learned at school that the dry grass that covered much of it would provide ready fuel for the fire.
“Can you see the driveway?” Alex asked. Leslie could barely hear him, even though he shouted over the sound of pounding hooves.
“I think it’s over there,” Leslie shouted back, pointing toward the house and the main driveway. “Looks like the whole road is on fire!”
“They’ll never be able to get in. We’d better do something, and fast!”
“Let’s turn the sprinklers on in the arena and put the horses in there. The footing is sand, so they should be safe.”
“Good idea. You go turn them on and open the gate, and I’ll start pulling the horses out of the barn.”
When they reached the arena, they jumped off their horses and tied them to the fence. Leslie cringed at having to tie them with their reins since they could hurt their mouths if they got scared and pulled back, but she didn’t see any other way. Alex ran to the barn while she ran around the perimeter of the fence until she found the valve to turn on the sprinklers. Once they were on, she ran to the barn to help Alex.
Thankfully, each horse had a halter and lead rope hanging by their stall. Leslie and Alex worked quickly to halter the horses and lead them out, each leading two at a time, to the arena where the sprinklers and lack of fuel would keep them safe from the fire. Some of the horses balked at going into the arena with the spraying water, but Alex and Leslie led them with a firm hand and encouraging words, and eventually they got them all into the enclosure. While they worked, bits of ash fell around them and the sky, which had been blue when they left the ranch, was completely grey.
When Alex latched the gate after the last horse was safely inside, Lucky snorted and whinnied. He and Fred arched their necks and danced, eyes large and round with fear. “We’d better get out of here, Leslie. That fire is getting really close!” Alex grabbed Leslie and pulled her with him toward their horses, and she ran to keep up.
By the time they untied and mounted their horses, the fire had reached the barn. Between the hay stacked inside and the dry old wood, Leslie knew it would not be long before it was completely engulfed in flames. She and Alex kicked their mounts into a gallop and headed back toward Green Meadow.
The air around them was thick with smoke by that time, and Leslie’s throat burned from her efforts. She coughed over and over again, and she could faintly hear Alex doing the same. She tried to put her discomfort out of her mind so she could concentrate on getting through the woods and back home before the fire reached them.
While they ran, Leslie could hear the horses calling frantically in the arena behind her. “Do you think they’ll be OK?” She shouted to Alex.
“It’s far enough from the barn that they won’t be in danger there, and since there’s no dry grass around it, they should be fine,” he yelled back. Leslie took her eyes off the trail to look at his face. It was covered in grime, and his brows were furrowed in worry. She imagined her own face looked much like his. “We can’t worry about them anymore, Leslie. We have to get home and make sure Green Meadow is safe. If we wait any longer, we could be trapped.”
Leslie’s stomach lurched; she knew he was right. She looked back over her shoulder and could see flashes of orange through the trees. She pushed Lucky to go even faster, although his breathing was labored and his neck was soaked with sweat and covered in froth where the reins rubbed it.
“Lucky, I’m so sorry, but we have to keep going,” she breathed into his mane. “I promise, if you just get us home, you can have a nice, long rest.” Silently, she prayed to God to get them home safely.
While they ran, Leslie could hear the roar of the fire grow louder, accompanied by the pops of sparks and the breaking of branches. She could feel the heat increase on her back and knew it was getting closer.
They were almost to the property line for Green Meadow when they heard a crashing in the underbrush to their left. Lucky and Fred jumped to the side, stopping to whirl and face the brush. Leslie nearly lost her seat, but she clung to Lucky’s mane and managed to hang on. She looked up, and a horse leaped out of the bushes. Its eyes and nostrils were large and veins stood out on its neck.
Lucky snorted, his eyes large as he stared at the strange horse. Leslie could feel him trembling beneath her, so she stroked his neck and told him, “You’re OK, Lucky. It’s just a horse.” Her voice sounded shaky and strained to her own ears.
“Whose horse is that?” Alex asked. His voice sounded as shaky as hers.
Leslie did not have time to answer, because a tree branch fell behind them in a shower of sparks. Beneath her, Lucky screamed and bolted forward.
Jennifer Walker is a freelance writer, editor, and novelist living in Northern California. Her two books, Bubba Goes National and Bubba to the Rescue, are both available in print or digital editions from
http://www.twintrinitybooks.com and other online retailers. Learn more about Jennifer at http://www.authorjennwalker.com.
Be sure to leave a comment for Jennifer below. One lucky person (chosen at random) will win a free copy of Jennifer’s short story Leslie and the Lion http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/127795.