Through These Dying Eyes
I don't know this place. I don't understand why I am so far from home.
When I was once surrounded by excited clamor and cheers, now ear-splitting sounds send harsh impulses through my tired body.
The dark impoundment of my box is no longer what confines me, but a narrow passageway formed by tall and cold walls. I don't know what lies ahead; I only follow the horse in front of me. Even then, I know something is not right. My unacquainted herd-mate warns me with his worrisome head and ears, and though he doesn't want to go forward, neither of us or the others have much choice.
The sound shakes my bones; I can feel tremors on the hard ground through my hooves. What is it?
Instinct locks the muscles in my tired legs, filling me with the insatiable urge to run far away. I have done so much running in my fledgling life, in a circular pit of soft dirt, surrounded by other horses; usually a few. It was such a short time ago, really. Then, I was run so vigorously, I would only run faster so the trivial activity would end quicker, and I could return to my stall box for a rest.
Now, I wish I could be running that way again, to anywhere but here.
My head and neck are tired from all the turning to gain sight, all the pulling against predatory force. My hooves ache from the metal implanted on them; I have not lied down for what feels like an eternity. It's been even longer since I've had a bite to eat. Is there not any forage here? Can't I find just one blade of grass?
No. This colorless, unnatural world holds no sustenance.
It's getting louder now, getting closer. I must run away from here, get away from the danger. But I am weak and cold, with no strength left in my deprived, aching body to do nothing more than move forward.
I can see something now; a horse is herded into a box. A human approaches the trapped horse, and hoists something long and dark up toward its head. He does nothing but stare at the human, as if it were there to slip on a head contraption and lead him out to the running pit.
The horse falls to the ground, as if a predator even larger than he leapt onto his back. But there is nothing on him. His legs quiver, and then he lies still. The box is opened, and two more humans appear; they tend to the fallen horse, similar to what I've seen at the racing pits after an accident.
I watch in puzzlement as the limp horse is dragged away and into a tall, dark metal cave. Why is he not moving?
Winter's breeze saunters through us, bringing with it an alarming smell—the essence of death. If I stay here, death is what awaits me. I must leave! But where can I go? There are barricades on either side of me! Perhaps I have just enough strength to leap over one…
Lifting myself onto my hind legs, I attempt to throw myself over the barricades, but I cannot go onward; my front leg is trapped somewhere. It's keeping me from my escape. My survival depends on these efforts; I use my remaining strength to thrash myself free of this trap, helplessly finding a way to be free.
A shattering pain shocks my leg. What is wrong? What's happened?
Another human appears before me, and with a long stick he begins to strike at me with it. The sensation I receive is unpleasant; it fills me with a current of sheer pain, rendering my body numb. When I finally shift free and return to my stance, I cannot bear any weight on the one leg.
I can no longer feel my leg, but I am aware of how my body is quivering now. The smell of dampness, rotting flesh, and imminent death overwhelms my senses, but the pain is now overdriving my instinct to escape. I cannot move—backwards or forwards; there are horses behind me and in front of me, and the number dwindles by the moment.
Why was I sent to this place? I don't understand why my humans would let me come to such a dreadful, dreary place.
I am separated from the horse in front of me by a sold wall. The barricades shake and tremble with his movements.
The barricades rattle deafeningly as he drops to the ground, legs entangled in the bars. In moments, he is dragged away. I am overcome with dismay upon the sight of his empty, glossy eyes. Fear is choking me now; it holds me firmly in its remorseless clutch, and soon even breathing becomes difficult and unpleasant, for all I inhale is bloodied, terror-stricken demise.
The wall in front of me opens, and I feel a harsh prodding by my back legs that ushers me forward. Although instinct is screaming inside me to run the other way, I go onward.
I am in a constricted box, just high enough to where I can lift my head over the barrier. This is worse than before; I have no space at all to move one step, let alone turn my body.
Before me stands a human, and there is something abnormal about it; as it stares me down, the eyes are vacant. No joy, no assertiveness. The long instrument I'd seen from afar is pointed at me now. The thunderous noise will strike any moment, and I will fall to the ground.
This I see with these dying eyes, rather than the rolling hills of valley grass where I'd dreamt of spending my days since the moment I took my very first breath of life. Instead, I am to settle with this monotonous, comatose realm of a casual death.
© Jordane M. Arnold 2013
A/N: A rather depressing result of an even more depressing epiphany when I was brainstorming. In case the theme/picture isn't clear enough in the story, it's a horse (ex-race horse) being sent to slaughter. I was shown a video by a fellow horse person (part of a group/community on Facebook) and it exposed the slaughterhouses where unsuccessful race horses are sent to be killed. The footage showed horses being shot individually with a rifle, and the sight of them falling to the ground and their body convulsing/shaking before they finally died was... well, other than that sight, the biggest thing that stood out to me when watching the video-or even thinking of horse/animal slaughter in general-is the fear they must experience; seeing and smelling others being killed in front of them, wanting to terribly to flee but being unable to...
But yeah... Just a shorty to take the morbidly inspirational edge off. Wanted to try and see how I would do with writing with the narrative/POV of an animal, so hopefully it isn't too bad.