You are quiet. Softer than usual—the edge is there, but your eyes sag with exhaustion. You’ve none of your usual confidence, none of the venom that has vanquished so many foolhardy critics. When you enter your new temporary residence (though a voice in my head says prison instead), you do it in shambles. You only brought one bag, and I can see the papers and garments stuffed hastily inside as you set it on the table, head bent, sighing heavily. You walk to the tiny window over the empty writing desk.
Examining his brothers with a watchful silver gaze, his stomach let loose a startling grumble. He swayed lazily in his spot a moment, then rose up on his massive paws and stretched his rear up high. He lumbered slowly forward, holding his head high and keeping his gaze cold and steady. The rabble, that insatiable frenzy continued as he came to a stop, observing the scene again. They paid him no mind, until a low growl undulated in his throat—and then they were melting away, ears flattening, bloody jowls frowning irritably.
Hal the bus driver quickly noticed something was wrong.
I push through the doors. They squeal, then die. Overhead the rafters groan, heaving sighs. The cows are asleep, the horses are asleep, the crows in the rafters are asleep. In the corner, there is a fat coil of rope. Taking it up in my arms, it is heavier than bricks. I cross the hay carpet. My feet are noiseless, but the animals sense me nonetheless. The cows murmur, the horses scratch the wood halfheartedly, the crows ruffle their wings, then settle again.