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Clip Clop Magazine story contest Enter stories here - get paid if they are run in Clip Clop Magazine. Stories should be suitable for all ages and have a horse, pony, donkey or other animal in it.

Atteindre les étoiles

There once was a horses named beauté élégante. She was owned by a French chevalier. Or cavalière we should say. She lived on
Ombre Stable farm. The most prestigious farm in all of France. She always had a shining coat and silver shoes . Until three years after they got her the Germans invaded France and the farm was destroyed the germans liked beauté élégante so much that they took her back to Germany and kept her to breed to Adolf Hitlers horse Nordlicht. She fought them and ran away and she went and joined the wild German horse herds. She has foaled many foals and if you ask any French or German to this day they will be very proud of beauté élégante.

The End

( This is a work of historical fiction)

linusthegreat & featherheart
2024-02-18 16:10:36
Twister & Tristan - Killer Whale of a Tale

“First you go south until you hit a big, long island. That’s Cuba. Follow its coast southeast, then turn southwest to go between Haiti and Jamaica. Once you’ve passed Jamaica, head due east, and that’ll get you to Dominica.”

The young sperm whale clicked her appreciation. “Thank you so much. You’re such a nice fellow. What was your name again?”

“Twister,” her guide said.

“Oh, thank you, Twister. I’m sure I won’t forget the way next time.”

Twister waved with his webbed foot as the sperm whale swam out of sight. He was a hippocampus, a sea creature with the front of a horse and the tail of a fish. He was blue with a sand-colored belly, a wispy green mane, and a clear, glasslike horn protruding from his forehead. As he turned to head back into shallower waters, he spotted two of his best friends, Flash and Sunny, swimming out to meet him.

“Is it gone?” Sunny, the Galapagos penguin who had moved to the Caribbean for “climate reasons,” was suspicious of anything bigger than her. And sperm whales were the biggest predators in the sea.

Twister smiled at her. “Yes, Sunny, she’s gone.”

“Phew,” Sunny said. “Good riddance. The last thing we need around here is more deadly predators.”

“She was only lost, Sunny,” Twister protested. “Not all whales are murderous hunters.”

“Easy for you to say,” said Flash the dolphin, who didn’t care much for big predators either. “You like everybody.”

“Not everybody,” Twister protested. “There’s Captain Washbuckler and his crew, you know, and…” He trailed off, then shrugged. “Eh, never mind. Come on, let’s go to Paradise Reef. Maybe Tristan will be there with his ball, and we can play catch.”

“That would be a wonderful change of pace,” Flash observed as the trio swam off.

><> ><> ><> ><> ><>

“Hey Sunny, go long!”

Tristan, to the delight of his marine buddies, had brought his football. With a great swoop of his arm, the boy hurled the ball as far as he could over the rolling blue waters above Paradise Reef.

“I got it! I got it!” Sunny shouted as she plunged through the waves to catch it. Midway through a bound, she rolled over, caught the ball between her flippers, and splashed back into the sea.

“Twister! Catch!” Sunny bopped the bright-colored ball over to Twister, who caught it with one webbed foot.

“Nice catch, Twister!” Tristan exclaimed. “You’re a regular Dan Marino!”

“I don’t know what that is, but thanks all the same.” Twister placed the tip of the football on his nose and spun it like a top. This trick always delighted his human friend. “Anything interesting happening at Key West?”

Tristan scratched his head, ruffling his blonde, sun-bleached hair. He lived with his dad in Key West, and since Twister didn’t like to go near other humans, Tristan’s bits of news from the land were often useful. “Captain Washbuckler is up to something. I saw Barb and Bootleg loading a big net onto their boat the other day. I think they mean to go looking for you again.”

Besides Tristan, Simon Washbuckler and his crew were the only humans who knew about Twister. The portly, bad-tempered captain was dead set on capturing the hippocampus, whom he had chased all the way from Hawaii. He had three shipmates: Bootleg, the strong but dimwitted giant, Barb, the wiry tracker with a hawklike face, and Jessica. Jessica was Washbuckler’s niece, although she was more of a sulking passenger than a real poacher. They had arrived at Key West a few weeks ago pretending to be marine scientists. Tristan was the only human who knew their true identities, and he was still trying to think of a way to expose them without endangering Twister. After all, he’d promised to keep the hippocamp’s existence a secret.

“Well, we know how to deal with them.” Twister flicked the ball off his nose and caught it again. “Any idea where they plan to search?”

“No. I didn’t want to raise suspicion by eavesdropping.”

Flash splashed impatiently. “Come on, Twister, throw me that ball! I want to try hitting it with my tail!”

Twister raised his chest out of the water and threw the ball at Flash. Tristan admired how smooth and controlled the hippocamp’s pass was. Because he was the only one looking at Twister, he was the only one who noticed the change.

Twister’s ears shot up. He raised his head high, and his nostrils flared. He didn’t even notice as Flash batted the football with his tail and sent it rocketing straight into Twister’s head.

“Ow!” Twister exclaimed as the ball slammed the side of his face.

“Oops, sorry Twister,” Flash said.

Twister acted as if he didn’t hear. He rubbed his head and grinned at his friends with the most awkward smile Tristan had ever seen. “I, uh… just remembered I have a very important thing. To do. Now. Cheerio!” He splashed out of sight.

Sunny honked in confusion. “What was that about?”

Flash looked worried. “Is he mad at me?”

“I don’t think so,” Tristan told them. He didn’t know that horses behaved that way when they were nervous, but he sensed something was amiss. “We’d better follow him and make sure he’s alright.”

Twister was a fast swimmer, so Sunny went after him to determine where he was going. Behind her, Flash towed Tristan’s dinghy to help the boy conserve fuel. They pursued the hippocampus all the way out to Twister’s Key, a small remote island where Twister had made his home in a sea cave.

“Tow me to the leeward side, please,” Tristan said to Flash. “I’ll walk from there.”

The leeward side of the island was calmer because the land blocked the path of the sea. The opposite side, which faced open ocean, was much rougher, with swift currents, giant waves, and sharp rocks that made it dangerous for swimmers and small boats. Tristan had discovered that he could moor his dinghy on the leeward side and walk through the palm trees to get to the sheltered lagoon. Flash and Sunny were waiting for him there.

“He’s inside,” Sunny said, pointing her flipper at the mouth of the sea cave. “I think.”

Tristan held his breath, ducked under the water, and swam through the tunnel that led to Twister’s cave. He didn’t make a habit of swimming through sea tunnels, but he had been through this one before and it wasn’t very long. He also had Sunny and Flash nearby to help him if needed. Inside the cave, blue light danced on the domed walls, and small shafts of gold filtered in through holes in the cave roof. It was like a cathedral in here, and Tristan loved it. But now was not the time to admire its beauty.

“Twister?” Tristan called, scanning his surroundings. No Twister was in sight. “Are you in here?”

“Shh!” The reprimand bounced off the walls. It was Twister’s voice. “Did anyone follow you?”

Sunny and Flash surfaced behind Tristan. “It’s just us,” the dolphin said.

A patch of cave wall rippled as Twister shifted color. His scales abandoned the color of the rock for his usual blue and sand. He’d discovered that he could change the color of his scales a few days ago, and Tristan was still getting used to it.

Is it my imagination, or does he look paler than normal? Tristan thought. “Twister, are you okay?”

“Me? I’m fine! Everything’s fine. Why wouldn’t it be fine?”

The words came so fast, Tristan could barely distinguish the sentences. Sunny folded her flippers over her chest and frowned. “Twister,” she grunted, “you’re a terrible liar.”

Twister’s head drooped. Tristan gave the penguin a look that meant, “You’re not helping.”

“What Sunny is trying to say,” he said to Twister, “is that if there’s something bothering you, we want to help.”

“Yeah,” Flash agreed.

Twister sighed and made a small but fully genuine smile. “Thanks, guys. I really appreciate it, but… I’m not ready to talk about it right now.”

Tristan really wanted to know why Twister was so upset, but he couldn’t force his friend to talk. He’d have to be patient until Twister decided to open up. “That’s okay, Twister. Whenever you’re ready, we’re here for you.”

Twister looked sheepish. “Can I… ask you guys a favor?”

“Sure,” said Tristan, Sunny, and Flash.

“Could you keep an eye out for a sea creature that’s, um, really big and really out of place?”

Tristan blinked. What could that mean? “Of course, Twister.”

“Thanks, you guys. I appreciate you, I really, really do.”

><> ><> ><> ><> ><>

Tristan, Flash, and Sunny left Twister alone a few minutes later. Flash towed Tristan back to Paradise Reef and left him there.

“Sunny and I are going to ask around, see if anyone’s seen anything ‘really big and really out of place,’” he’d said.

“I’ll be on the lookout, too,” Tristan replied. “Come get me if anyone needs me!”

As he motored back to Key West, he worried for Twister. He’d only seen Twister like this one other time: when Washbuckler and his crew had arrived. Still, he’d been willing to talk about how they had accidentally discovered him and attempted to capture him multiple times. What, then, could possibly be so bad that Twister didn’t want to talk about it at all?

So preoccupied was he that he didn’t notice the dark fin slice through the water beside him. Not a shark fin, but something blacker, and bigger. Much bigger.

Something slammed the dinghy from below. Tristan was flung into the air, landing in the water with a jarring splash. He fought to the surface, trying to suck in the breath that had been knocked out of him. A huge black shape floated ominously before him.

Tristan gasped. It was an orca! He had never seen one in these waters. It looked at him balefully, and suddenly… it charged!

“Wait!” Tristan cried. “It’s okay! I won’t hurt you!”

The killer whale checked herself and poked her head out of the water. She looked surprised, but still very angry. “Impossible!” she said fiercely. “A human who speaks the language of the seas? How?”

“I learned how to speak whale from—“ Right at that moment, Tristan remembered Twister’s words: look for something really big and really unusual. An orca fit this description perfectly. And if this was what Twister was worried about, it probably wasn’t the best idea for Tristan to announce that they were friends.

But the orca guessed his thoughts. “From Twister, that wretched hippocampus!” she finished. “Only he would be so foolish to share the secrets of the ocean with humans!” She continued to circle Tristan, tightening her turns each time. “Where is he?” she demanded.

Tristan swallowed. “I— I don’t know,” he lied. “But— why are you so mad at Twister? He’s not a bad guy.”

“Oh, really?” the killer whale snarled. “Then who do you think did this?”

She rolled over so Tristan could see her milky white belly. Discolored patches marked old wounds that had healed long ago. Some were long and thin, as if made by a spear. Others were perfectly circular, the size of a golf ball. Tristan’s heart lurched. These scars had been made by Twister’s horn!

How could he do this? Tristan wondered disbelievingly. He’d never seen Twister use violence, not even against Washbuckler. “What happened?”

“None of your concern,” the orca snapped. “Now leave! I have a score to settle with your rotten friend. And if I see you in the ocean again…” she slammed her huge jaws together to make her point and swam away, a giant dark shadow in the blue waves.

Tristan didn’t know what to do. He needed to warn Twister that the orca was here, searching for him. But what if the orca found him before he got to Twister’s Key? Or worse, what if she followed him, and he led her directly to Twister’s doorstep? He was so concerned for his friend that he didn’t realize the trouble he was in. Then it hit him.

“Oh no!” His dinghy was putt-putting through the ocean without him. Tristan swam after it frantically, but it was useless. The little boat struggled to make progress against the surf, but it had enough of a head start that Tristan would never catch it. What would he do?!

Another dark fin rose out of the waves. Tristan nearly panicked. Was the orca coming after him? As he stared at it some more, he realized it was too small to be a killer whale’s. Besides, it wasn’t swimming towards him. It was chasing his dinghy. The rubber boat was suddenly bumped, and it turned back towards him.

“Oh, thank goodness!” Tristan scrambled into the dinghy and turned off the motor.

“Are you alright, young man?” a sweet old voice inquired.

“Mrs. G!” Tristan exclaimed. Mrs. G was an elderly nurse shark who had raised Twister. “Thank goodness! I thought I was stranded!”

“What ever happened?”

Briefly, Tristan told her about his encounter with the orca. “She told me she’d hurt me if she saw me again,” he said with a shudder. “She wants revenge on Twister. You have to warn him, Mrs. G!”

The nurse shark looked very grim. “I was worried that Skylar might show up one day,” she said.

“Skylar?” Tristan queried. “The orca? You know her? What happened? Why did she and Twister fight?”

“Slow down, Tristan,” Mrs. G waggled her tail. “I need to think. I can’t explain now, and you should get yourself to safety.”


“No buts. Don’t concern yourself about Twister. I will warn him.” She disappeared under the water without another word.

><> ><> ><> ><> ><>

On the deck of a big white boat, a short, fat man grinned with delight.

“I have a good feeling about today,” he declared, rubbing the scraggly red hair on his chin.

Behind him stood a very tall, muscular man with a perpetually confused expression. “Uhhh, that’th what you thaid yethterday, Captain,” he lisped.

“And the day before that,” added the sarcastic voice of a teenage girl. “And the day before that, and the day before that.”

Captain Washbuckler glared at them both. “Well, this time I mean it,” he huffed. “I have discovered an island that is a sure hideout for the Sea Unicorn. By my assessment, he must be there!”

“My assessment, you mean,” a skinny man with gray hair muttered from his position on the bow.

“What did you say, Barb?” Washbuckler growled at the hawklike figure.

“Nothing,” Barb said dismissively and kept his eyes fixed on the ocean.

Jessica, Washbuckler’s dark-haired niece, pulled out her journal. A smile threatened to smother her usual sour expression as she admired her sketch of the Sea Unicorn. She’d first encountered him in Hawaii, but a few days back she’d been able to get a really good look at him. She chuckled at how the odd animal had evaded any attempt to capture him, even humiliating her pompous uncle in the process. Secretly, she hoped he would never be captured. A creature as clever as that deserved to be free.

“JESS!” Washbuckler’s unpleasant voice snapped her back to reality. She slapped her book shut and frowned.

“What?” she said rudely.

“Stop dabbling with that silly sketchbook and help Bootleg with the net!” Her uncle jabbed a finger toward the big man, who was fumbling around with the huge net they’d just bought. Jessica’s lower lip stuck out in a pout, but she did as she was told. She and Bootleg set up the net and its tackle.

“We’ll circle this island,” Washbuckler stated. “I’m certain that the Sea Unicorn will be here!”

><> ><> ><> ><> ><>

Two miles away, Twister gasped indignantly at the news his nurse shark had brought him.

“Skylar attacked Tristan?!” he fumed.

“Calm yourself, Twister,” Mrs. G said evenly. “Tristan wasn’t—“

“Calm? How can I be calm?!” Twister’s brightly colored tail thrashed with anger. “I’m not going to float here while she swims around threatening my friend! She’s gone too far. I’m going out there to finish what we started!”

“Twister! Stop!” Mrs. G tried to block the way out, but the hippocampus rushed past her out into the lagoon.

“Oh, fishsticks,” the old shark grumbled. “He’s so mad he can’t think straight!” She tried to follow him, but he was too fast.

Twister, meanwhile, swam furiously. He wasn’t scared of Skylar anymore. He was determined to protect his friends… at any cost!

“Skylar!” he shouted as he went. “You want me? Come and get me!”

A fuzzy dark spot soon appeared in the bright blue of the ocean. Skylar clicked and squealed as she homed in on her rival. Twister gulped, his anger subsiding. Even as a full-grown hippocampus, he was barely half her size.

“So here you are at last!” she growled. “Now I can take my vengeance for what you did to me!”

Twister set his jaw, trying to be brave. “Bring it,” he snarled.

Skylar opened her huge mouth and shot forward. Twister twisted out of her way and took off at full speed. Now that he wasn’t so angry, he was wishing he’d planned a little bit better. He would have preferred shallow water, where he could twist and dodge among the coral reefs. Out here in open sea, Skylar had the advantage.

“Coward!” she roared as she gave chase. “Come back here and fight!”

Twister whipped around and zipped beneath her. He shifted his scales to match the color of his surroundings. His camouflage wouldn’t help him if Skylar used her echolocation, but it might catch her off guard and buy him time. He needed to think.

What island am I closest to? I’m certainly not going to lead her back to my key, Twister thought. But perhaps… He knew of another island nearby with reefs and sand banks. It wasn’t too far, and he’d have a better chance that way.

Skylar paused as she lost sight of her opponent. Furious, she whirled around, accidentally smacking Twister’s side as she went. Twister dropped his camouflage and barely avoided being snapped up in the orca’s powerful jaws.

“Catch me if you can, blubber-guts!” he taunted before rocketing away towards his destination.

><> ><> ><> ><> ><>

Tristan was stewing. He was frightened for his friend and frustrated at not being able to help.

I can’t just go back home and sit, he told himself. Not while my best friend is in trouble! I have to do something!

He turned his dinghy around and headed back towards Twister’s Key. He could help Twister think of a way to defeat the orca. He could rally the other sea creatures to help fight. He could radio his father, who was in the Coast Guard, and see about removing Skylar.

Tristan shook his head. Don’t be silly, he scolded himself. Dad wouldn’t just trap a killer whale. He’d say she got separated from her pod and needs to get back to them.

He paused. Where was Skylar’s pod? Killer whales didn’t usually travel alone. And if it was revenge that Skylar wanted, it would have made more sense for her to bring her pod along to help. Had she come to Key West just to wreak her vengeance on Twister, or was there something else? It was all a mystery.

Presently he spotted Flash bounding swiftly towards him. The dolphin looked terrified.

“Flash!” Tristan called out. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s Twister,” Flash said breathlessly. “He’s fighting an orca! And they’re headed straight for Captain Washbuckler’s ship!”

><> ><> ><> ><> ><>

Twister knew his chances were improving when he saw the seabed. The depth went from a hundred feet to fifty to thirty. Here, in the water close to the island, he could use his agility to his advantage.

Good thing too, he thought. I can’t outswim Skylar forever.

He began to shift the color of his scales from Caribbean blue to bright pink and eye-burning green. Practice had given him mastery over his chameleonic skill, which he now used for distraction. He could sense Skylar’s bewilderment and continued his colorful display until he came to a sandbar. He turned sharply, and Skylar torpedoed into the sandbar with a furious scream.

“Had enough?” Twister shouted at her.

“Of you!” Skylar roared, snapping her jaws at him. They barely missed.

Twister was off again, looking for another obstacle to trick Skylar into hitting. As he rounded the tip of the island, he spotted the white ship that was all too familiar to him.

“Washbuckler!” Twister growled. “Great. Just what I needed.” He dodged behind a reef to hide. The orca barreled past him.

What to do? What to do? He peered over the reef at the ship and spotted the net. It was big enough to catch a whale.

Hmm, Twister thought slyly. Wouldn’t it be ironic if my two worst enemies ended up fighting each other?

Instantly he formed a plan. He turned his scales bright pink and shot upward. When he broke out of the water, he let out a trumpeting whinny that was sure to catch the attention of everyone who was after him.

“Come and get me!” his laugh seemed to say as he did a backflip and landed with a splash.

><> ><> ><> ><> ><>

Simon Washbuckler was midway through a nap when a wild neigh pierced his ears. His eyes flew open.

“The Sea Unicorn!” he exclaimed. He leaped out of his chair, tripped, and fell flat on his face.

“Uhhh, Captain! Are you okay?” Bootleg asked worriedly.

Washbuckler didn’t hear him. He scrambled to his feet and shoved the bigger man aside. “Barb!” he bellowed, “have you got him?”

“He just surfaced,” Barb replied, pointing. His grey eyes glinted fiercely. “He won’t make a fool of me twice.”

Washbuckler followed Barb’s bony finger and spotted a blotch of bright pink in the water. The blotch leaped out of the water and took the form of the Sea Unicorn with his diamond horn.

“It’s him!” Washbuckler cried. “The Sea Unicorn! We have him at last!”

Bootleg scratched his head, doing a very convincing impression of a baffled chimpanzee. “Uhhh, but ithn’t the Thea Unicorn blue?” he lisped.

The other men ignored him, but Jessica held up her journal. “He can change the color of his scales, Bootleg,” she said in a not-so-sour voice. “Like a chameleon. I took notes. There are these tiny crystals that change the wavelength of the light reflected off the scales, and that’s what causes the change in color.”

“Stop your useless blathering!” The irritating voice of Jessica’s uncle cut in. “Go mind the net! And tell me when we’ve caught him!” He went to the ship’s bridge to steer, humming to himself about all the money the Sea Unicorn would bring.

From the bow, the very front of the boat, Barb watched as the hippocampus bounded straight towards them.

“Bold move, you slippery sea beast,” he muttered. Then he saw a huge dark shape following in hot pursuit. What was it?

“Captain,” Barb began.

“Silence!” The captain bellowed. “I am thinking about being rich!”

><> ><> ><> ><> ><>

Twister had it all figured out. The moment he hit the water, Skylar was on him again. Still bright pink, he raced straight for Washbuckler’s boat. The orca was too angry to pay attention to the oncoming vessel.

Twister zoomed ahead and stopped, floating right in the net’s path. He made a silly grin at his attacker.

“Come on, Skylar, can’t we just talk?”

“NO!” Skylar thundered, reaching for him with her teeth.

But Twister was already gone. Like a bullet, he shot straight up into the air. He locked eyes with the astonished humans on the boat and flicked water at them with his tail. Then he dived into the water and took off.

Meanwhile, Skylar had become hopelessly entangled in the net. She shrieked wildly, thrashing, and trying to get out, but the more she fought, the more entrapped she became. Finally, she was so exhausted she gave up and floated on the surface where she could breathe.

Washbuckler was in a rage. “Don’t tell me you lost him!” he stormed at Barb.

Barb shrugged. “He’s gone.”

The portly captain hurled his cap to the ground and stomped on it. “Arrgh! This is all your fault!” he snapped at no one in particular. “I spend a fortune on a net, and now what do I have to show for it? A useless bag of blubber!”

Jessica stared over the side at the trapped animal. “It’s an orca,” she declared. “They’re not usually in these waters.”

“I don’t care what it is!” Washbuckler bellowed. “Get rid of it! We have more important things to do.”

“Captain,” Barb said, “you forget that an orca will fetch a handsome price on the black market.”

Washbuckler’s fierce scowl instantly inverted into a greedy smile. “Good point,” he said distinctly.

><> ><> ><> ><> ><>

Twister rounded the point of the island before he stopped. Skylar’s cries still reached his ears. He felt a pang of guilt, but he shook himself and hardened his heart.

It was her or me, he thought coldly.

He began the trek back to his key, but no sooner had he started than he heard the putt-putting of a dinghy’s motor. He gasped.

“Tristan!” He swam up beside the little rubber boat and peered at the boy. “What are you doing here?”

“Flash told me that Washbuckler was here,” Tristan replied, looking concerned and determined all at once. “Are you alright? And… why are you pink?”

Twister remembered that he hadn’t yet changed to his original color and quickly shifted back. “I’m fine.”

“Where’s Skylar?” Tristan asked, looking around.

“At present, she’s in a net attached to Washbuckler’s ship,” Twister said indifferently.

“What?” Tristan gasped. “That’s awful! We better go help her.”

“Help her?” Twister scowled at his human friend. “Are you crazy? She wants to kill me. She almost killed you. Now you want to help her?”

“Yes!” Tristan shot back, a little mad. “Washbuckler will probably sell her into captivity. And knowing him, Skylar will have a terrible life if we don’t free her. Don’t you understand?”

“I think you don’t understand.” Twister’s tail thrashed angrily. “Washbuckler’s doing me a favor. One less murderous hunter for me to worry about.”

“She’s more than a murderous hunter, Twister.” Tristan’s voice had fallen into a pleading tone. “She’s a living creature with a family that needs her. Imagine if your situations were reversed. You know Washbuckler well enough to know what he’ll do to her.”


Twister fell silent. That one word drained him of all his anger.


That one word reminded him of the family he loved but didn’t know. The family he missed, but never met. He remembered nothing about them, but he’d always imagined what it would be like to have other hippocampi just like him, who loved him and cared for him.

Then there was Skylar. She had a family too. Besides, he hated to think of any creature being kept in a tiny tank at a two-bit amusement park.

“Fine.” Tristan’s frustrated voice shattered Twister’s thoughts. “You stay. I’m helping her.”

“No, Tristan, you’re right,” Twister said repentantly. “I’ll help you. No one deserves to be taken from their family. Not even Skylar.”

Tristan leaned down and hugged Twister’s powerful neck. “Thank you, Twister. I knew you’d do the right thing.”

“You got it, buddy. So, what’s your plan?”

Tristan pulled out a set of wire cutters. Since many of their previous adventures had involved cutting through nets, Tristan kept a pair on hand. “I’ll cut Skylar free,” he said. “I need you to provide a distraction.”

“Can do,” Twister said, “but don’t let Skylar out until you’ve made her promise not to hurt us.”

“Got it. Let’s go.”

Tristan moored his dinghy out of sight and strapped on his diving equipment. When he was ready, Twister took him in close, and they parted ways. The hippocampus swam around to the back of the boat some thirty yards out, poked his head out of the waves, and neighed.

“Uncle Simon!” Jessica’s voice exclaimed. “It’s him! The Sea Unicorn!” Her call instantly summoned the three men. Twister began to splash and change color in a dance he invented.

“He just can’t help himself, can he?” Barb said.

“Weigh anchor!” Washbuckler commanded. “Bring the spare net! I’ll have two prizes today!”

The ship’s motors grumbled to life as Tristan reached the side of the ship where Skylar was imprisoned. He stayed deep, trying not to blow too many bubbles, until he was right below the net. The orca shrieked at him.

“Go away! Leave me alone!”

“It’s okay! It’s okay,” Tristan calmed her. “I’m going to get you out. But you have to promise not to hurt me or Twister.”

The orca snarled at the mention of Twister.

“Skylar, look,” Tristan said firmly, “I don’t know why you two were fighting, but that doesn’t matter now. You don’t want to be left alone to these people and whatever plans they have for you. And Twister isn’t a bad guy; he’s risking his freedom right now so you can have yours.”

The killer whale’s features softened. Apparently, she hadn’t considered this. “Alright,” she said through clenched teeth. “I promise not to harm you. Now get me out!”

Tristan grabbed hold of the net as Washbuckler’s ship turned and moved towards Twister. The fastest way to get her free would be to cut one of the bigger cords that held the net closed. But to reach those, Tristan would have to climb up the net, out of the water, and in plain sight of anyone who happened to look over the side.

Twister, I hope your distraction is really distracting, Tristan thought.

Tristan didn’t have to worry. With Washbuckler steering the ship, Jessica and Barb watching Twister, and Bootleg staring off into space, everyone had forgotten about Skylar. Twister continued his watery jig, watching the ship carefully as it crept towards him. Just as Barb was about to pull the trigger on the net launcher, Twister dived, swam another thirty yards, and began again.

Tristan attacked the rope with his cutters as the ship began to move again. The thick cords were hard to cut, but hopefully he’d only have to break one.

“What’s going on?!” Washbuckler barked after Twister had moved a third time. “Haven’t you caught him yet?”

“He keeps moving, Uncle Simon,” Jessica replied, trying to hide her laughter. She liked it when the hippocampus made her uncle mad.

Barb growled in realization. “He’s baiting us, Captain!”

“What?” Washbuckler gasped one of his high-pitched gasps.

At that moment, Tristan cut his rope. He let himself fall as the net yawned open. Skylar accelerated, wiggling free of her prison. He felt his back hitting hers and managed to grab her dorsal fin as she thundered past. Remarkably she made no protest, and soon they were both out of sight.

“My whale!” Washbuckler shrieked again. “My Sea Unicorn! It’s escaping!”

“Time to go,” Twister chuckled. He ducked underwater just as a net tried to close over him. Skylar was almost to him.

“Quick! This way!” Twister called. His great tail pumped dramatically, powering him forward.

“Take this human off my back,” Skylar commanded. They transferred Tristan from her back to Twister’s. Immediately, the killer whale turned around.

“Skylar, no!” Tristan shouted. “What is she doing?”

“Getting revenge,” Twister said grimly.

Skylar hurtled straight towards the ship. Then, just before impact, she swerved, smashing the side with her flank. The boat tottered like a palm tree in a hurricane, spilling Barb and Bootleg into the ocean and knocking Washbuckler flat on his face again. She was gone before anyone knew what had happened, so she didn’t hear the fat captain stomp about and scream at the sky.

><> ><> ><> ><> ><>

Tristan had never felt more awkward in his life. They’d been swimming in absolute silence for nearly ten minutes. He kept trying to signal to Twister to talk to Skylar, but the hippocampus didn’t take the hint. He seemed to be doing some serious self-reflection. So did the orca.

“Ahem,” Twister said presently. “So… what’s next for you, Skylar?”

The orca made a noise that was probably a sigh. “I suppose I will leave,” she said briefly.

“You didn’t come just to pick a fight with Twister, did you?” Tristan blurted.

Skylar gave him a hard look. “No,” she said. “I’m came looking for Baleria.”

Tristan’s brow furrowed. “Baleria?”

“The daughter of a friend,” Skylar explained. “Baleria is prone to wander away from her pod. She is a very naive child.”

Twister’s ears pricked up. “Baleria wouldn’t happen to be a sperm whale, would she?” he asked slowly.

Skylar stared. “How did you know that?”

“She might have asked me for directions to Dominica,” Twister replied, his tone suddenly warm. “I’ll show you which way she went.”

Skylar nodded, and the two old rivals locked eyes. Tristan felt new understanding and admiration pass between them. Skylar was doing a favor for a sperm whale, an animal her kind usually hunted. There was more to her than Twister had thought. And Skylar had certainly learned that Twister was much more than a vicious gladiator. This day hadn’t made them friends - they’d probably never get that far - but maybe they were no longer enemies.

“Great,” Tristan piped up. “But could we go back and get my dinghy afterwards? I need to get home sometime today, or my dad may think I’ve wandered off too.”

Twister grinned. “You got it, Tristan,” he said. Then everything was silent again.

Horse Gentler & West Australian
2024-03-16 02:04:42
A Dream Covered In Dust
"Wherever you go"

Paisley was taking her horse Cowboy to his first barrel race today, and she couldn't remember the last time she had been this nervous. Her aunt Sam had told her she needed to relax several times, but Paisley couldn't forget all the times that Cowboy had taken her on an "uncontrolled joy-ride". This consisted of the fiery five year old taking off at a full gallop, skidding to a complete stop, and then bucking Paisley off into the nearest fence or building. It had been several months since Cowboy had attempted a stunt like this, but Paisley was still nervous. She knew that she needed to relax, so she put Cowboy's halter on and took him for a walk around the property. It was the middle of spring, and Samantha Davis's ranch was at its best. Purple, pink, white, and yellow flowers were scattered around in the grass. There were horses of almost every color grazing in the pastures, and Paisley's dogs were running here, there, and everywhere while playing with one another. The trails were lined with purple wisteria and multiple other kinds of flowers and plants that made you feel like you were in a dream (until you got bit by a mosquito of course). Paisley stopped at the top of the hill for a while and admired the beauty of God's creation, then continued her walk. She took Cowboy down to the creek so he could have a drink. The distraught girl couldn’t help but admire the way that the crystal clear water rushed over the smooth rocks that lined the creek bed. It was almost as if the cool water helped to wash away her nervousness.

Paisley stayed at the creek for a little while, and then reluctantly left to go load her equipment into the trailer. She had already put most of her tack into the trailer the night before, but there were a few things that she had forgotten. Cowboy stood patiently as she tied him to the trailer so she could run into the barn to grab a box of brushes and some sport boots for him. The tack locker was already full, so Paisley simply tossed the items into the back seat of her truck. After making one more quick check to see if she had everything she needed, Paisley loaded Cowboy into the trailer and started the truck.

Just as Paisley was about to leave the ranch, her Aunt Sam ran up and handed her a slip of paper, wished her luck, and ran back to the barn. When Paisley opened the note, she saw that it was a bible verse and read it aloud to herself.

"'Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid nor dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go' Joshua 1:9" Paisley smiled, then suddenly realized that instead of asking God to help her face her fears, she had tried to avoid them. Paisley prayed right then and there.

"Dear God, I’m sorry that I didn't ask you for help earlier. I know that you can do all things, and that you love your children dearly. Please help me to stay calm and help Cowboy understand what I am asking him to do. In Jesus name, Amen." As Paisley prayed, she felt a sense of calm come over her.

When Paisley and Cowboy arrived at the arena, Paisley jumped out of the truck and unloaded Cowboy. She double checked to make sure that he was securely tied before walking to the sign up table. She had to sign up for at least three classes to earn points, so she chose cloverleaf barrels, Texas barrels, and pole bending. On the way back to the trailer, Paisley stopped to chat with some friends.

"Hey Paisley! Watcha been up to lately?" Her best friend Hazel asked

"Nothin' much, just riding horses and giving lessons to the kiddos. What have you been up to now that you've got a job working at B's?"

"Well, I take care of all her horses and exercise them, then go back to the ranch and take care of all my horses and ride them." Hazel said with a glint of humor in her eyes

"You know, I was thinking... since you hardly have ANY work to do, maybe you could take on a few of my chores at the ranch" Paisley said sarcastically

"Whew! That there is a very tempting offer Ms. Davis, but I do believe that if I had any more responsibilities to handle, I might just go plum crazy!" Hazel said with just as much sarcasm. Both girls laughed, but then turned serious.

"So, are you nervous?" Hazel asked

"Very! I’m more calm now than I was this morning, but I get jitters just thinking about Cowboy possibly going psycho!"

"Well, I think Cowboy will do just fine, as long as you relax."

"I know, but I just can’t seem to." Paisley admitted

"I would love to stay and try and calm you down, but I think my horse is trying to destroy my trailer again." Hazel said as she began to jog towards her trailer to try and keep her horse from breaking something.

“Guess I’ll just have to calm myself down.” Paisley mumbled

Cowboy wiggled around as Paisley tightened his cinch. This was a habit that Paisley had been trying to break, so she loosened and tightened the cinch until he stood still. After this, she strapped on his boots and gave him a pat. Paisley switched his bit onto a headstall that matched his saddle, inserted it into his mouth, and buckled the throat latch. She unbraided his mane and tail, and then headed towards the arena.

As usual, the warm-up pen was crowded, so Paisley took Cowboy into the open field across the road. She finished tightening her cinch, and then mounted the big gelding. At Paisley’s command, Cowboy started walking in a large circle. After making a few laps in each direction, she asked him to trot. Cowboy eagerly responded by tossing his head and pricking his ears before starting to trot in a figure eight pattern.

After about five minutes of walking and trotting, Paisley let Cowboy lope in large circles at a relaxed pace. Cowboy’s ears were pricked, and he was thoroughly enjoying himself. Paisley did her best to relax and ride with loose reins, but was having a difficult time in doing so. Once she felt that Cowboy was adequately warmed up, Paisley went to wait her turn to exhibition. She and Cowboy stood next to Hazel so that they could chat while they waited. Cowboy stood stock still with his ears pricked as he watched horses run in and out of the arena.

When it was finally Paisley’s turn to run, and all of her nervousness came back even stronger than it had been that morning. She walked Cowboy through the alley, but didn’t kick him for fear he would act up. Thankfully, Cowboy was being very forward that day, so he started loping without any assistance from Paisley. When they got to the first barrel, Paisley pulled back, causing Cowboy to throw his head up and hit the barrel with his hind quarters. Paisley did the exact same thing when they got to the second barrel. She could hear Hazel yelling at her to relax, but she was too afraid to give Cowboy any slack.

After just barely missing the third barrel Paisley pulled Cowboy back down to a trot and rode through the alley. Hazel rode Kasey up and positioned him beside Cowboy.
“What happened out there?” she asked
“I don’t know, it’s like I just froze and couldn’t relax.”
“Well, in perfect honesty, if I was Cowboy, I would have bucked you off.” Hazel said gently
“I know, I feel awful about making him look bad.” Paisley said regretfully
“Maybe you should go and try to clear your head.” Hazel suggested
“I’ve got a better idea...”

Paisley put Cowboy’s halter on and tied him so she could have some time to herself. She got in her truck and prayed that God would help her overcome all the fear and doubt that she had let take control. She remembered the verse that her aunt had given her and grabbed some tape out of the center console, hopped out of the truck, walked up to her horse, and taped the verse onto the pommel of her saddle.
When it was Paisley’s turn to run again, she rode confidently and quietly. She let Cowboy run at the speed he was comfortable with and gave him plenty of room to turn. She even gave him a kick while they were running home. As they ran through the alley, she patted his neck and told him what a good boy he was. Just as Hazel was congratulating her, they heard the announcer say that Cowboy had run an 18.77 second run. On her way back to the trailer, Paisley thanked God for helping her overcome her fears.

It was dark when Paisley got home, so she turned the flood lights on before unloading Cowboy and turning him out. She got all the buckets out of the trailer because she would need them while doing chores in the morning. Paisley did a quick night check on all the horses that were in stalls before going inside to tell her aunt the good news. As Paisley and Sam admired the two second place ribbons, Paisley told Sam about how she had prayed and asked God for help.
“I’m so glad you learned an important lesson today!” Sam said as she hugged Paisley
“Which one?”
“All of them, but especially that ‘the Lord your God is with you wherever you go’.”

Gabbythehorsegirl & Squares
2024-03-22 15:12:33
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