Progress – Fiction

She came out of her deep sleep very slowly. It seemed to take ages. She stretched and yawned, shook the sleep out of her bones. She pawed her hooves on the rock floor of her cave, gave a whinny as if to call the others. She looked around the dark cave trying to see if anyone had been there. Her silver horn gave off enough light to just see the walls around her. No one had disturbed her with their presence in hundreds of her years.

Then she recalled what had prompted the deep sleep in the first place. She was the last of her kind. She had hidden herself away in the cave deep within the ancient forest until a better time came, when she could emerge, and possibly find another to help her make a child. What then had awoken her from the deep slumber? Perhaps the time had come to look around. Things could have changed. Maybe the humans were gone now, or had become less warlike, with their fierce swords and bows, clubs and fire.

She walked for a long time, picking her way through the rocks and debris in the anciant cavern. Streaks of gold in the walls glittered back as they picked up the light from her horn. At some point she crossed a small underground stream, stopping for a long draught. Little sightless fish scattered as she dipped her head. She lifted her head as she felt a breeze in her mane. Close to the surface now.

She galloped quickly as the cave widened out, became less sloped. She started to see a bit out light up ahead. She could see the mouth of the cave. She slowed as she got closer. The smells were different. Bad. Diseased. As if something was dying. As she emerged from the cave she was shocked. Most of the ancient forest was gone. There were trees, mostly new growth, less than a hundred years old. She could see the river several leagues away, and long ribbons of rock through the forest. And the noise. It was deafening. In the sky, and in the ground. Everything vibrated with it.

She gingerly picked her way down the face of the mountain she had emerged from. She was having trouble hearing the forest with all of the distraction. She could not tell one smell from the other. She noticed that she was trembling from fear, and forced herself to stop. She went in the direction of the river. It was slow going, as she stopped every couple of minutes to lift her head and listen.

She emerged at the riverbank, and stooped to take a drink. A loud noise, as if from an avalache, startled her, and she felt a great pain in her side, then another in her head. She slowly toppled over, crying out. Blood ran out of the wounds. The light from her horn went out as it dissapeared from view. As she lay dying in the light of the afternoon sun, she decided that maybe things had not changed after all.

Footsteps crashed through the underbrush, Then stopped. “Goddammit”, said the human in the bright orange clothing, “I could have sworn it was a three-pointer. Just another fucking horse”.