Chapter 7:

Luck And Misfortune

Black and White

(Scene one: Mistake)

On the next day as promised, Whitney woke up soon, to meet Brian. She went to her home’s stable to meet Luna. “Good morning Luna! Oh sis!? Good morning.” she greeted. “Good morning.” Serena replied. Serena saw Whitney feeding Luna a mixture of oats and barley from both of her hands. “Grains? You aren’t feeding hay today?” she probed while petting Swifty. “Nope. Today I’m going on a field trip with friends. To the green peaks.” Whitney answered. “Hmm. Well, you have to keep track of Luna’s diet. Or else she won’t be in good condition to…well, whenever you need her in full energy.” Serena advised and put a pitchfork and a full stack of hay into Swifty’s pen. Then she went inside for breakfast which she was late to get. Whitney, without hesitation, mounted on Luna and headed to Brian’s house. She almost over-prepared Luna for the day. Luna was so clean; it was glistering in white.

Meanwhile, Brian was at the ranch helping a few other ranchers shearing the sheep, to supply the cotton to tailors, to make winter suits; though it was too early. But on one hand, it was efficient because after a few months another batch can also be taken, later when closer to winter. All Brian had to do was hold the sheep. He called James about his and Whitney’s plan for today and James replied to tag along. But he didn’t expect Mr. Paul’s wife would ask him to learn to cook breakfast for ALL ranchers. In fact, James was outstandingly terrible at cooking.

 After preparing the table for the ranchers to eat, James hid in the attic of the stable. Brian came all soaking with sweat and mud. (He had to drag through the mud to stop a runaway sheep). “The hero of the day. Please sit here.” A rancher pulled out a chair and offered. Brian tried to enter the room, but Mr. Paul’s wife stopped him. “Hero or not, you have to be cleaner than THIS to eat on my table.” “Thought it was ours” Natasha tried to back up. “It’s mine because I made it.” Mr. Paul’s wife said. The whole table went speechless. Brian went to take a shower. While on it, none of the ranchers ate, until Brian sat in his chair. He came after a couple of minutes. “Please welcome the day’s hero! Showered version.” The same previous rancher said. Brian sat to eat while being nervously proud. “Bon apatite!” everyone on the breakfast table said and took the first bite. Next, several things happened simultaneously: some suddenly started gulping milk, some ran outside, some were coughing and two went to the washroom. “Who the…calm down…WHO MADE THIS?!” Natasha yelled. “JAMES!” Brian figured out it was James. Brian excused himself and ran directly to the stable. Whitney arrived there, after a disappointing detour to Brian’s house. “Oh, hey Bri…an?” Whitney couldn’t call out after she saw Brian rolling up his sleeves with an annoyed face and going to the stable. She and Luna also slowly came to the stable. On the way she heard, buckets smashing, throwing sounds, and door slamming sounds. “What’s all this?” Whitney asked while entering. Brian replied while wearing off his exhaustion. Same with James, after dodging attacks on Brian. “What are you two even doing here?” Whitney questioned. “This guy made breakfast!” Brian complained. “DID NOT!” James lied. “So what?” Whitney didn’t see the problem. “Be my guest.” Brian offered a plate of breakfast, that he was about to throw at James. There was an egg omelette on the dish. Whitney took a triangular-shaped piece and ate. “Mmm…MMM. It’s actually not bad. Gimme a minute.” Whitney pushed and held the food inside her cheek and ran outside and spat it all out. “Mai tung pheels lile a sans paper.” Whitney said while scratching her tongue. “SEE! Proof.” Brian criticized. “I told you I didn’t make the breakfast. It was…” James couldn’t finish because Paul’s wife interrupted saying; “Oh there you are James. Well, you have a long journey ahead of you to be a master cook. No one actually enjoyed your breakfast, to be honest. Sorry. See you later.”. Then she left, leaving Brian blazing in metaphorical flames of desire to knock off James. “Brian, I know you are upset. But we’ll talk about this…” “Oh, we know the reason.” All the other ranchers showed up at the stable entrance. “You three have a trip, right? THIS GUY, can’t go after he wasted our breakfast. Paul is mad so we are punishing him for bad food. You two can go.” Natasha said and the ranchers rounded up, around James. Brian and Whitney nodded to each other and smiled. “Good luck James. Meet you in the evening.” Whitney waved to James and went with Brian, Phantom and Luna. “Ga…Guys!? GUYS!” James yelled. “Forget it James. You have a lot of chores to do now.” Natasha said and winked.

(Scene two: Trails)

“So, are we going back to your house?” Whitney asked. “What? Oh no. Let’s just go to the mountains. I’ve never been there.” Brian said. “I went sometime back when I was little. Sis, me and Swifty.” Whitney said while recalling her memories. Both of them mounted on their saddles. “You ready boy?” “Shall we?” they spoke to their horse buds; Phantom and Luna neighed in agreement. Next, they jumped over the ranch’s fence border instead of taking a small round trip via the entrance. Then they rocketed to their destination; the green peaks mountain range, which was situated toward the east of the town. To the school, the dawn looked delightful. Sun rising in between the two peaks of the two tallest mountains in the mountain range. There’s no way to explain that feeling when a person gets to see that spectacular view.

Minutes later while on the race to the mountains, Brian saw Luna getting faster and faster. “Whitney, be honest. You fed the grain mixture I told you about, to Luna, right?” Brian probed in confidence. “Yeah but, how did you know?” Whitney asked. Then Brian hinted from his eyes that her Lipizzan was speeding up. “Oh. Take it easy Luna, Let’s slow down a wee bit okay?” Whitney spoke to Luna and it slowed enough to stay parallel with Phantom.

After about a quarter an hour later, they came to the foot of the mountain range. From there, they saw the clouds in the sky float about a couple of yards below the highest point of the mountain. Since it was close to midday, they could see the top of the peaks, which turned to bright orange colour due to maple trees. The view like the top of the peak was covered by an orange cone. “We’ll go over there. We can still get a good view there.” Whitney pointed to a place on the ridge and suggested. It’s in between the two tall mountains. In other words, the place people see the sunrise. “I’m fine. But I think we should head to the top, like one or two yards below the clouds. The place you suggested is too perfect. And the fact gives me a creepy feeling.” Brian suggested. “Nonsense! I’m the one who invited you. So, I’ll guide.” “You really don’t gimme a choice, do you?” Brian asked, in reply to her austerity. “Nope. Let’s go.” Whitney said and lead the way. Brian sighed and asked Phantom to follow Luna. On the way, Phantom struggled multiple times to go past Luna because it wasn’t enjoyable going behind and following. He liked to lead. Kind of same thoughts as Brian but impatient and as said, vigorous. A couple of tiring hiking minutes later, they got close to the place suggested by Whitney. The more they get closer, the more the horses acted uneasily. But they still continued without any hard troubles. Finally, they reached their spot. But it was more stunning than what they expected. There were rocks that looked like benches, but they laid a mat on the nice firm grass. Phantom and Luna sat down beside Brian and Whitney. For the spot, the town looked beautiful as ever, all ranches, warehouses, and race tracks. And not to mention the market area, which looked like an irregular grey spot in a cream-coloured dish. By enjoying the view too much, they eventually, fell asleep on the mat but Phantom and Luna had enough energy so they stayed awake.

 But the unexpected scene gradually led to something uncalled for. The sky turned darker and darker, thunderclaps started to rumble. Lightning started to appear at random in whitish red colour, forming weird patterns in the sky. The sound of the thunder woke up Whitney and Brian. But at the moment Phantom and Luna’s faces looked confused and worried and they kept moving backwards. And time after time, they kept standing on two legs and neighing as if to attack something. Brian and Whitney went to their horses and tried to pat and calm them down but it didn’t work. For a moment Phantom stood on its hind legs, and Brian was thrown away. That made him see the obvious reason. “Whitney, calm Luna. And don’t do any hostile behaviour. Not even yelling.” Brian spoke slowly and almost silently. “What Is It?” Whitney whispered while calming down Luna. “Adders!” Brian said. “Don’t bring up maths, Brian. I’m serious.” Whitney said. “I’m not talking about math. Adders; meant adder snakes!” Brian detailed. “No no no no.” Whitney got scared and started supporting Luna and went backwards. Phantom on the other hand tried to defend itself and Brian. It used its forelegs to warn the adders not to get close. But the place was their territory and the two horses and the two riders were the actual intruders and enemy. The adders successfully trapped them inside a poison circle. One hostile movement, you are done for, at the moment. Luna, Phantom and Brian understood but Whitney didn’t. She kept moving back and got too close to the circle’s edge. Though she didn’t, Brian did, notice what was about to happen. Adders behind Whitney started to coil up to their defensive position, which was also their attack position. Brian jumped on Whitney and threw her away. But five adders near him attacked and only three were able to strike because of the distance, and luckily enough and unfortunately, one was able to deal a successful death bite into Brian’s unguarded area in his left leg; because the two attacked with it struck to the hard-woven boot. “BRIAN!” Whitney worried. “DON’T move. NO. Get on to Luna. Hurry.” Brian said. “What if they…” “They won’t. don’t go closer to them. Put your eyes, face, and legs toward Luna and mount up.” Brian said in confidence. Whitney did as he instructed. Brian almost fell when he tried to mount using his left leg first. The pain was unbearable. But he overcame the pain and mounted up. He signalled Luna and Phantom by sliding and tapping using a finger to their necks. He signalled to attack or stomp and quickly retract the forelegs and jumped. And it worked. “Take…us home, boy.” Brian asked Phantom without hinting any tiredness. But it felt the pain that Brian’s trying to hide. Phantom and Luna did a feint attack, so adders attack was belated by small seconds. And that moment before they recoil back to defence position jumped over and whooshed to the mountain foot. After they ran through and came to the flat land it started raining. Whitney rode closer to Brian. And she felt awful about herself. And started blaming for her actions. The symptoms started to gradually grow abnormally. The poison was stronger than an ordinary adder. He started swelling, and gradually became hard to breathe. He felt dizzy and also felt like he was about to faint. So, he hardly made two simple and strong knots from the rein and tied both his arms. Then he kept trying as hard as he can to stay wakeful. ‘Mind controls the body. The mind controls the body. The mind controls the body.’ Brian kept thinking about the thought and gave it his full concentration, so he can stay awake as intended.

(Scene three: Stay)

A couple of minutes later, Whitney brought Phantom toward the infirmary. But still, the bad weather was the same. Phantom started to make loud noises. Stomping and neighing. Three medics rushed out of the infirmary. Mr. Bolt heard Phantom’s neighs so he also came to see. He went into shock, seeing Brian unconscious. “What’s going on! Why’s my son like this?” Mr. Bolt was interrogated. “You might be his father. Stay inside the infirmary please.” A male medic said and the other two medics carried Brian inside. “Mr. Bolt…It…It was my fault.” Whitney started to cry. “I asked Brian to have a trip to the mountain today. And when we…tri…tried to come home, we got surrounded by adders. And…and…” Mr. Bolt pat her on the head and stopped Whitney’s whines. “All of it is in the past.” Mr. Bolt said. “Since it’s your fault…” Whitney started to get shivers from what would Mr. Bolt say as a punishment. “…would you look after him until he recovers? Adder venom can be cured in here, and I’ve got a ton of work to deal with. Beside this isn’t the first time of his.” Mr. Bolt winked and asked. “I WILL” Whitney replied. “I’m counting on you then. See you later.” Mr. Bolt said, paid the infirmary for their charges and left. Whitney stayed next to Brian. ‘I won’t move until I see him open his eyes she thought to herself. Jane and Jessica saw the incident too. They directly went to meet James.

Half an hour later, when the rain just slowed for a moment, James arrived running, worried sick. “HOW IS HE!?” James slammed open the door and shouted. The doctors looked at him in a scary impression; hinting him to stay quiet. “Sorry.” James said with a nervous laugh. “May I know who you’re looking for?” a nurse asked. “Oh. His name’s Brian Bolt…guy bitten by an adder…” James put up the information he received. “Brian Timber Bolt?” “Yeah!” “He left for his home a couple of minutes ago. After we done treating…” nurse said. James was disappointed; about all his running to the infirmary straight from ranch, even came passing Brian’s house. “Then I’ll leave. Thanks for telling.” James thanked the nurses and left the infirmary. He was out of strength to run back to Brian’s house, so he walked. Then few long minutes of walking in the showering rain, James arrived at Brian’s home, soaking wet as a sponge. Emily opened the door and gasped and screamed saying, “RIVER MONSTER!”. Then Whitney came running down stairs to see. “Oh Emily, it’s just stupid James.” Whitney said mocking. “Excuse me! I ran all the way to the infirmary to meet you and Two-B. Yet a nurse came and told me he left. I was disappointed.” Then James started to sing a poem he just made, “…There I was, under a black sky, getting wet from drizzling rain clouds, coming…” “Yeah yeah stop the drama. You wanna see him or not?” Whitney stopped him from singing and Emily threw a towel to James before he entered the house.

Whitney showed Brian sleeping in his bed, to James. “He sure was lucky.” James said. “Uh James, can you come over here…” Whitney took James out and closed Brian’s room door. “I knew it is restricted going there. To the place where adders we met, live. I didn’t know about a specific reason so I insisted on him. Even though he asked me to go to a different location.” Whitney said. “YOU KNEW!” James asked surprisingly. Then Whitney started to cry for her wrongdoings. “It’s actually okay. I bet my big brother will say the same thing he said to me.” Emily said. “What are you talking about?” Whitney probed while wiping off her tears. Emily gestured to come downstairs. “There was this occasion. When I was five or four years old, I played around almost anywhere. One time, for the first time, saw an adder snake, and I tried to play with it. I didn’t know it was dangerous. The adder kept moving its head when I tried to poke it from a stick. Big brother was trying to hang up the washed clothes and he dropped them to a chair and ran toward me. The adder was coiled. Brother quickly lifted me up. If he was seconds late, the adder could’ve bitten or even killed me. The adder actually bit brother’s leg. But his actions surprised me. He bent down and rubbed the snake’s head and squeezed its cheeks or beside its mouth. When the adder stopped biting, he pulled and slowly kept it on the ground and quickly retreated, to show he was not a threat. The adder hissed and slithered away.” Emily told a story. James and Whitney gasped. But not for long. “Then he fainted on the spot. Luckily our dad was at home and took him to the infirmary.…” Emily continued. “So that’s why Mr. Bolt said ‘it ain’t the first time’.” Whitney recalled. “…after dad yelled at me and Brian saved me from it too.” Emily finished the story.

Seconds later the story finally ended, and a large bang came from Brian’s room. The three downstairs rushed and James opened the door. They saw Brian trying to crawl under the bed. “Big brother!? What are you doing? You need to rest.” Emily shouted. “I need to feed Phantom.” Brian said wearily. ‘he recovered this quick!?’ Whitney thought in astonishment. “Under the bed?” James asked. “I need to find the coupon.” He said while struggling to find the slip of paper that Emily won from fall fest; about the two years' worth of hay. “But why under the bed? You said you kept it in the second drawer of your table two weeks ago.” Emily remembered. “Wow, Two-B. your sister has a good memory than you’d ever had.” Whitney complimented. “Of cour…Ouch!” Brian tried to get up but he ended up getting his head hit on the bed’s side rail. “Man, that hurts than knock on the head.” He said and stood up. He picked the slip from the drawer and went outside whispering only to Whitney and James, “Tomorrow morning, practises in the ‘place’.”. But Emily ran and blocked the stairway. “Get back to your room or I’ll tell everyone about how you…” “Okay okay; sheesh.” Brian had to go back. Emily was grinning about how the last words always work with him. “I’ll get the hay, gimme the coupon.” Emily borrowed the coupon and went downstairs. “Hey Emily, I’ll give you five silvers for the secret.” James tried to make a deal. “Not for a million gold James!” Brian yelled from inside of his room. “Sorry, but secrets exist only when not shared.” Emily said and opened the front door. “James, you stay here, I’ll go with Emily to get the hay.” Whitney said and went with Emily to the marketplace.