This story was inspired by a picture I found on the internet. It is -not- a fan fiction, nor am I saying that the picture is my character. It just reminded me of one of my character's situations, and so I took the liberty of writing a wee fic. I take no credit for the picture, I give that all to the artist, but I do take all the credit for the story, save for the character of Razounizas Feywilan (Zas) and the horses. They all belong to my darling Mike. Enjoy!

The clouds were looking ominous in the sky, and as Sam glanced up that evening fulfilling one of his last jobs before he could go back indoors and curl up with the kitten he'd found, deep in his soul he knew that it would be pissing down tonight. Hence why all the animals were indoors. The sheep were in their barn, the cows in theirs. He'd spend half an hour chasing all the poultry into their coops, and been laughed at by Zas in the process. Now all he had to do was open the corral gates and let the horses wander in to their stables where there was full hay nets and water buckets. Then he'd struggle with their heavy buckets of feed, and after that, only after that, could Sam go back indoors and feed his little tortoiseshell kitten her milk. Currently she was snug and warm inside his jacket pocket, napping with a loud purr.
Sam had named her Frizz. Opening the gate the horse that led the way was the Arabian Stallion, Sultan. Head held high he trotted out and into their barn, sniffing the stables, selected his and trotted in. The four quarter horses did the same. Little Moon, the appaloosa selected hers, pulling a face at Sam as she went by, and then the two palomino's sauntered lazily into their boxes. Sam got their feeds and threw them in, dodging a lunge from Little Moon as he opened her door and gave the mare her dinner. Then onto the second corral where the two heavy horses were grazing lazily.
Opening the corral gate he whistled to them, and Boxer the stallion raised his head, cocked an ear and stared at Sam for a few moments. Then went back to grazing. Shavara didn't even acknowledge the skinny youth's presence.
"Come on you two! Grubs up!" But apparently there was enough grub there to do them, thank you very much. And neither was too interested in coming in. Frowning at the heavy horses, Sam closed the Corral gate and headed to the feed store, where he threw a handful of feed pellets and a few stones into the bucket. Returning to the gate he open it, and shook the bucket. This time both of the horses heads came up and they ambled over, giving Sam enough time to throw out the stones - they had after all only been added for sound effect. Then he turned, and continuing to shake the bucket, led the two of them into their stables. Each got half a handful of that snack as a grateful thanks from Sam for actually coming in.
As he struggled with their heavy feed buckets, thunder clapped, lighting struck, and the heavens opened. Talking torrential downpour here. Sam glared at the rain, and that's when little Frizz poked her head out of his jacket. She eyed the rain for a moment as Sam stood staring opened mouthed at it.
"Mew." She protested, head ducking back into his jacket and curling up. Sighing, Sam opened the stable doors and fed both Boxer and Shavara, before sitting on a little stool and eyeing the rain. Rain that heavy surely couldn't last more than.say. an hour could it? No, not much more than that. He'd just have to sit in and wait out the storm. Sam didn't mind too much - he liked sitting about and listening to the horses eat, the sound of their slow munching soothing him.
Suddenly cold he moved and got one of the spare blankets from the tack room, and wrapped himself up in it, sitting hunched on the floor leaning against the wall. Idly his mind moved back over the situations that brought him here, and it drew forth a shudder. Sam didn't want to remember the horrors. All he wanted to remember was the fun he was having here, looking after the animals, talking philosophy and life with Zas. He liked Zas, Zas was gentle and didn't like people in general, but for some reason had developed a sort of brotherly affection for little Sam. It was wonderful being this far away from the city, from all the people and all the panic that they caused in Sam whenever he sat and thought about them. Even now there was a lump in his throat that he had to swallow down.
At that point he was aware of a snuffling at his shoulder, and glanced around to see Shavara, snorting down her nose and having an experimental nibble at Sam's hair.
"Shouldn't you be in your box?" Sam told her, gently patting the huge soft muzzle. He got a snort in reply as the mare moved around so she was in front of him. Head turning she glanced out at the rain too, then back to him.
"See, if I hadn't tricked you, you'd be out in that." The mare seemed to ignore Sam's statement of the blatantly obvious. Instead she fixed him with a 'well, since you're here, tell me what's on your mind' type look. Sam frowned at her. "No. I don't want to talk about it." She snuffed some, and nudged his blanket with her nose.
"No!" Protested Sam, and then he tried to do the stupidest thing in his life. He tried to outstare a heavy horse. Naturally he lost, and sighed allowing his hazel eyes to stare out at the rain.
"I can't talk about what happened at VelKlam. All I know is that it ruined my life. At first. The first time when we escaped it was all ok. You know? They weren't pursuing us, even though they should have been. Zaile just left us. Probably pre-occupied with other stuff to go about chasing a muse and a wee scientist who wasn't very good anyway. Then I went back you know, looking for Cookie. my hamster. And all hell broke loose."
The mare just seemed to stand there, and Sam wasn't sure if it was because she was listening, or she was just enthralled by the sound of his voice. But something possessed the boy to go on, to tell her all about what happened in those horrible dark cells. The beatings, the rapes. He'd been injected with whatever formula Zaile had been experimenting with on a whim that day, just to see what happened. Sam had been nearly killed by diseases, his body had deformed and then reformed. He'd lost count how many times he'd died and been brought back.
"Do you know what it's like to die? To be in so much pain only for it suddenly all to be lifted. You faded away and touched a distant shore. I tired a hundred times to run along that shore, away from the ocean because within seconds of that new hope, within seconds of touching that beautiful shore and seeing all those people waiting for me. A great monster would rise from the sea behind me, reach out with it's tendrils and drag me back kicking and screaming into the ocean of life. One time I nearly made it off the beach. after all, what ever was over that dune had to be better than that dark cell. With that hard thin bed.
"Eventually I took to letting my mind wander from my body. I don't know how it happened. I don't know if my mind left my body and wandered else where, or it retreated so far back inside my thoughts that physical pain couldn't affect me. I found a place. It was a garden, where the sun shone, and everything was beautiful and soft. It was so calm. and so safe, because it was surrounded by huge high walls, and growing on top of these walls was a huge thorn bush, that no-one could get through. And above that there was a beautiful dome made of thick glass. I could see rainbows in it. For hours and days I lay there, not knowing or caring what happened to my body. I didn't want to know. I knew I was slowly dying, but I knew that if I stayed here and didn't go to the shore, Zaile could never touch me. He couldn't get to me there, my special place where I was safe.
"Sometimes night would turn up there, and I could see the stars and the moon. I'd try and count the stars, but there was so many. You see I grew up in a city, and then I moved to another city, so due to pollution and so much lighting I couldn't see the stars. But I could see them there. I didn't know any of the consolations, so I just looked for the shapes and they became my friends. I'd talk to them, whisper to them that I was scared and lonely, even though I was safe. I was horribly lonely there. I missed Noel. I missed Hiro and my mum and dad. I missed Taki and my brothers and sisters.
"Then one day someone came to see me. I don't know how he got there, and I don't know how he knew I was there. I was ready to run, ready to run away and hide in the thorns. But then he spoke to me, and something about his voice told me that if anyone was going to come and hurt me, he'd fight them. Not only fight them, but he'd win too.
"He was dressed like a jester. You know, the multicoloured tights, the funny bell trouser things, a tunic that was black and white and insanely patterned. Shoes with bells on them, and a big ridiculous hat with bells on it too. He said his name was Harlequin, and that there were people around who missed me horribly. They wanted to see me back, but didn't know where I'd gone so they couldn't find me and bring me home. Harlequin told me that my friends of the abstract were crying - especially Noel.
"I asked if Noel had rescued me. Harlequin shook his head and said it was Jericho. Jericho? Jericho had been another muse at VelKlam. He'd betrayed his people and worked with someone that wanted to dissect them. Not to mention he'd always teased me horribly. I know it was childish. But it still hurt me. At that point the jester smiled and petted me on the head, and then went on to explain that muses are like people, and can change. Jericho had repented, and his gesture to prove that he had changed for good was to rescue me.
"I didn't really understand it, but I took his hand and left my little place of safety. I don't really remember the journey back to my body. But I remember waking up. I knew I was in the Abstract because of the tickling sensation on my skin. Noel was sitting by the window in his flat, staring out at the rest of the abstract. Everything felt different. Instead of wanting to leap up and run into his arms, I wanted to lie back down and never move. Which was strange, because I love Noel. I really do. I just want. I want nothing to do with muses or VelKlam any more. Because every moment there reminds me of what I went through. Every second of that tingling upon my skin. Every time I look at one of the muses and see that strange un-human glint in their eyes. Oh sure, so many of them try to appear human, but when you spend enough time with them, you spot the difference. You see they are consumed with what they inspire. You can taste it in the air about them. You can feel it at the back of your mind. It's. painful. So I had to leave, and I think I've broken Noel's heart. But I can't stay there. I can't help his people any more. It hurts too bad. I can't go back there. And I don't know what I'd say to Noel if he came right now and asked me to go back. I'd say no obviously. but if he wanted an explanation, I know it would near impossible to explain to him because I love him so much. But I can't go back. I'm happy here. It's safe. It's simple. There's no war, there's no side to be on. There is no risk."
Sam was surprised that he hadn't cried. His heart felt horribly heavy, yes, he knew that. It felt like a dead weight and he could feel the tears prickling at the back of his eyes. It hurt to recall it all. It hurt to think about Noel and how things had changed so terribly between them. It hurt that while he loved Noel, he would never be able to truly escape what had happened in VelKlam. There was no other explanation for it.
But what also hurt was that Noel wasn't around. Sam didn't know if this was Noel's choice, or he'd been called away by his people. Sam didn't know if this was because he'd broken Noel's heart by asking to be returned to the material world and left alone. Which in Sam's eyes. was the most likely.
As Sam bowed his head and wept, Shavara moved forward and gently nudged his cheek, the hot air from her nostrils comforting him a little, the nuzzling and little cuddles from Frizz helping too. Sam cried and cried and cried, the tears unstoppable.
Just like the pouring rain.