After The End

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 19 (v.1) - 19

Submitted: October 10, 2017

Reads: 93

Comments: 1

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Submitted: October 10, 2017





The sun rose the next morning in a cloudless sky. Caelan donned his hat, the brim casting a shadow over his eyes, before mounting his horse, and Mila adjusted her saddle bag a little before following suit, saying nothing.

The bridge was, if anything, even more impressive in the bright daylight. Mila could just see the white slashes of cliffs on the blue horizon, and as the bridge climbed higher the view across the water became even clearer. The breeze from the previous night was gone, leaving the shadowless expanse of road baking in the sun. She removed her jacket, letting the light caress her bare arms.

They rode for perhaps 20 minutes of clear road before the bridge started to show cracks. At one point half of the width of the road was missing and they dismounted, carefully leading the horses past the danger before saddling up again and continuing.

Otherwise, the journey was quite monotonous. Mila was just starting to slip into a warm daydream when Caelan slowed in front of her. She looked up. There was another damaged area of the bridge ahead, much worse than the previous one. Mila thought she remembered it from when she had crossed the bridge before, but in the intervening years it seemed the situation had worsened further - now there was only a narrow strip one side of the bridge where it was possible to cross.

Mila dismounted, cautiously approaching the edge. The water shimmered threateningly hundreds of meters below them.

She tried to ignore her racing heartbeat, taking hold of her horse’s reigns with more conviction than she really felt.

Caelan was looking at the narrow strip of road. He turned back to her. “You’re lighter,” he said. “You should go first.”

She nodded, teeth gritted. Slowly, carefully she led her horse towards the gap, all her senses on high alert for any sign of danger. The tarmac on the bridge suddenly felt like it was made of eggshells and it took everything in her not to make a break for it.

She needn’t have worried. Both she and her horse reached the safety of the other side without incident.

She turned back, projecting what she hoped was a reassuring smile over at Caelan. He didn’t looked entirely convinced, but grabbed Friday’s reigns, approaching the gap with soft, deliberate steps. Friday was clearly spooked, eyes darting nervously from side to side. Caelan paused, stroking her nose gently, speaking to her in comfortingly tones. Mila couldn’t hear what he had said, but it seemed to have helped as the horse let Caelan lead her forward once more.

They were about halfway across when Friday bolted. Caelan let go of the reigns rather than let himself be dragged along with her, but even as he did cracks were appearing under her pounding hooves, spreading much too fast…

A huge chunk of the road tilted and fell. Caelan fell with it.

“Caelan!” Mila realised she was screaming his name even as she ran to where he had disappeared. “Caelan?”

“I’m ok!” He sounded much too panicky to be ok, she thought, but at least he wasn’t dead yet. She peered over the edge, heart thudding like a bass drum. Caelan had managed to grab a protruding metal bar from the bridge’s underside on his way down, but even as she watched his hands slipped another inch.

“Just hold on!” She called down to him before turning away. Friday was still trotting around skittishly further up the bridge, but her horse was waiting patiently, unaware of, or perhaps just uninterested in, the unfolding drama. Mila threw open the saddle bag, her sweaty hands closing quickly around a coiled length of rope.


“I’m coming!” She yelled back. Deftly she secured the rope before throwing it down to him. It snapped taut in an instant and she ran to the edge again, watching him haul himself up with characteristic strength. She reached out a hand as he neared the top and he grabbed it, allowing her to help pull him back to safety.

For a moment he simply lay there on the tarmac, eyes closed, breathing growing gradually steadier. His hat was missing, Mila noticed. Then, he smiled faintly, raising a hand to shield his eyes against the sun as he stood up.

“Are you ok?” Mila asked. Her heart was thudding horribly, but the wash of relief flooding through her made it bearable.

“Never better,” Caelan responded lightly. He looked down at her. “Thank you,” he said. “I… I wouldn’t have survived that fall.”

She tried a smile, small and slightly unsure. “Don’t mention it.”

He nodded before turning back to the horses and the road ahead. Friday had calmed a little now, and he approached her slowly, taking her reigns and patting her gently. She nuzzled at his chest. After a few long moments he pulled away, mounting her and preparing to move on.

Mila followed suit. Her heart was still pounding. It occurred to her that she hadn’t even for a moment considered leaving Caelan behind.

She put the thought out of her mind, urging her horse down the road.




© Copyright 2018 Amy R. Beckett. All rights reserved.


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