Become a Fan
By Anna K Stein
Sunday, July 01, 2007
Rated "G" by the Author.
Boy verses the bull and nature. Who will win?
by A.K. Stein
A storm was brewing. Tim could feel it in the cooling breeze. Dressed only in jeans and T-shirt, he shivered slightly. A smell of rain hung in the air, more unusually sweet with the mixture of freshly mown hay than he could remember in all his eleven years. He paused at the cow pasture’s main gate and glanced to his left at the old weathered barn. It looked ghostly in the growing greyness. His grandfather used it only for storage now. His new one was much farther to the left.
From the barn his eyes wandered upward to the dark, rolling clouds and he thought surely
it must be six o’clock, supper time. He looked toward the woodland which occupied the one corner of the pasture to his right.
The grove was near—just eighty yards away—and it had swallowed up his favorite frisbee.
With a sigh he hesitated as his grandfather’s words echoed in his mind, ‘Don’t go in that pasture. Hades don’t like strangers in his territory.’ Hades was his grandfather’s Black Angus cross-bred bull.
Tim looked out over the roller coaster hills to where he could see in the distance the black paint spot of the herd covering the crest of one of them. Surely, he thought, Hades is with them. He won’t know I’m in there. Tim looked to the woods again and whispered aloud, “Yes. I can do it.” In a flash he was over the gate and scurrying like a little mouse along the path to his right.
In a breath, it seemed, he reached the grove, or maybe he’d been holding his breath, he didn’t know. He only became conscious of breathing again when he reached the first tree. He leaned against the old oak to calm his racing pulse, then spied his frisbee.
The white, plastic disc lay nestled beneath a shrub near another tree but he could see it clearly against the shadows. He went to it, snatched it up, and quickly returned to his supporting oak.
Carefully he looked out over the pasture. The cows had not moved so he took a deep breath, listened, then headed out under cover of the distant, rumbling thunder.
Behind him came a noise. It made him stop in his tracks. He listened and thought surely he hadn’t heard anything, but there it was again—a distinct snort behind him.
He quickly glanced over his shoulder and froze. Hades was standing at the edge of the woods, facing him. The bull bellowed his challenge and lunged forward.
Tim’s stomach lurched as he gathered himself and ran for the gate, stumbling over rocks and tree roots that suddenly sprang up from nowhere. Hades’ snorts behind him gave him speed but the gate looked impossibly far away. To his right was the barn. He focused on it and unconsciously, it seemed, his feet turned toward it.
Rounding the corner amid gushing gales, he cried out as he hit something. He didn’t know what it was until the wind let go of it and it fell. It was a rope dangling from the hayloft.
Instinctively he grabbed for it but the wind had other ideas and whisked it out of his reach. With a tiny cry of frustration, Tim jumped for it. The wind took pity on him and he started climbing just as the big angry bull came bellowing around the corner to catch the toe of Tim’s left boot with its right horn. The jolt gave Tim the strength to climb all the way up the rope.
The dry, sweet hay inside the loft beckoned as Tim reached it. He swung his leg up over the edge and rolled onto its softness. He lay for a long time in relief, catching his breath and listening to the bull below, stamping and blowing.
Suddenly, all was quiet. Tim raised his head to listen. Not the wind nor Hades’ blowing could he hear so he raised up on his hands and knees and crawled cautiously to the loft door. He peered over the side and saw the bull below, standing still and gazing out over the pasture. The wind began again. It grew to a whistle and started blowing dust and leaves around the dark image below.
Tim lay on his stomach to watch and tried to think. No one knew he was here and he wished they did, even if it meant more trouble from them for not staying out of the pasture. His parents or his grandfather would know how to get him out of this. He wished they would start missing him and come looking. The wind was starting to blow the hay. It was getting cold, too. And damp.
Suddenly Hades took off around the corner of the barn. Tim couldn’t believe it. He listened to the disappearing hoofbeats, thundering through the whistling wind, then scrambled for the inside ladder.
He reached the floor of the barn amid a crash of thunder and thought he heard the bull. He shivered as he listened but all he could hear was the now howling wind and the beginnings of the gathering raindrops.
In the dim light his eyes swept the eerie shapes of the old machinery scattered around, ghostly beneath their blankets of dust and cobwebs. He shivered again but reasoned that it was from the cold wind blowing through the barn.
The wind made a dustdevil and Tim followed its dancing form to the huge, sliding front door. The door was ajar a trifle. Through it the wind whistled, bringing with it biting sprays of rain. Tim sneezed, then peered out into the darkness, wiping his nose on his shirtsleeve.
The rain began coming down in sheets. The wind changed directions and was blowing through from the back of the barn. Tim barely gave the wind a thought until it brought with it, around the corner of the barn, the bull from which he was hiding. Like the devil himself, Hades swept into view, looming large in the darkness, sleek and gleaming from the torrent.
Tim jumped back, his eyes wide with fright, then in aggravation he banged his fist on the door and said, “What is the matter with that bull? Why doesn’t he stay with his cows?”
He immediately regretted his actions because the door shuddered and raised a dust cloud which made him sneeze again. Hades let out a bawl and tried to come through the door. Tim made two jumps backwards.
Hades’ head didn’t fit—at first—but Tim watched wide-eyed as the single thrust the bull made knocked four boards loose from the door and they went clattering to the floor.
The noise startled the bull. He jerked his head up and backed away, but a moment later he tried it again and this time he made it. It all seemed in slow motion to Tim when he saw the rest of the door go crashing to the floor. Hades stood snorting on the pile of rubble.
Tim ducked behind the old combine and frantically looked around for another way out. There was no back door. All he saw at the back wall was an old pushbroom leaning head up against it, cobwebs draping from it and blowing in the wind. The sight of the broom gave him an idea.
Tim knew the wind carried his scent to the bull so he quickly took off his T-shirt and held it ready in his hand. Then, taking a deep breath, he made a dash for the broom. Hades bawled and followed.
In one sweeping motion Tim reached the broom, flung his shirt over it, then jumped behind an old tractor, dressed now in only his jeans and boots and shivering in the cold. Hades bawled again, made one lunge, and rammed his horns through the broom and into the wall against which it was leaning.
Tim gasped at the ferociousness of the bull’s attack, then turned and sped for the gaping front door.
His right boot thumped hard against an object in his path and Tim saw a large metal bucket go sailing out in front of him, making the loudest clattering he believed he had ever heard. Beneath his breath he cursed it, then hiccuped in panic when he heard Hades bawl again behind him.
Thundering hooves began to follow as Tim shot through the yawning hole that was once the door and he flew for the gate. He heard the crunching of rubble behind him but he didn’t look back. All he wanted was the gate.
Lightening flashed. By the time it flashed again, Tim reached his goal. He leaped. His hands and then his left foot found their quarry and, in a motion too slow for Tim’s fevered brain, he began climbing. Hooves thundered behind him.
It seemed forever before Tim reached the top of the gate, but in giddy relief he swung one leg over then felt his jeans snag on something. Through frightened tears he looked behind him and in the glare of another lightening flash he saw Hades. Tim turned and pushed off the gate, feeling a wrenching at his leg and hearing the tearing of heavy cloth.
The next thing Tim knew he was lying on his back in the mud and the rain with the air knocked out of his lungs. Dazed, he raised his head and, when the lightening flashed again, he saw Hades standing on the other side of the gate.
With a long sigh of relief he lowered his head again, letting the rain beat down on his face. Then he began to wonder how he was going to explain a missing shirt and torn jeans. And he had no idea at all where his frisbee was.
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