Lydiana’s love of horses seemed to have always been a part of her being. While in high school, most of the others in her birth group couldn’t care less about these long-ago legendary creatures that were often in stories from the Before Time. Her birth-groupers were passionate only about the latest tech inventions created for “Get-Aways,” where they could virtually exist as if in a real world without real world consequences. Admittedly, “Get-Aways” were tempting, but then, her birther group members hadn’t experienced anything else, so who could blame them.
Lydiana, however, did experience more.
It all started on a stormy summer day between high school graduation and starting university. She had driven to Main Street, parked her hover car, gotten out, and closed the door. Before she could take a step, a bolt of lightning struck near her. All she remembered was the flash of lightning and the enormous clap of thunder and then…nothing.
She opened her eyes slowly and was greeted by an eerie silence. She pushed herself into a sitting position. The sun was rising. As the pale dawn light grew brighter, she saw her hover car had vanished. How could that be, she thought. She was sure she drove to Main Street. She simply couldn’t remember anything after the clap of thunder.
As she looked around and took in her surroundings, she realized that they were familiar, yet changed. What she was seeing was Main Street as she had heard it described in the stories about the Before Time. Raised stone walkways accessible with stairways of stepping stones and stepping stone walkways that reached from one side of the street to the other materialized before her. There were several buildings marked with signs that read Feed Store, Grocery Store, Pharmacy, and Bank. She thought, what had happened to her? Had the lightning knocked her unconscious? She didn’t feel different. She wiggled her limbs, stretched, and stood up. Nothing broken. Was this real? Was it a simulation or perhaps a dream? She gasped, as the next question formed in her mind. Or, however impossible it seemed, had she traveled back to the Before Time? She shrugged and then, curiosity overwhelmed her. She decided to explore.
She walked along the stone walkway carefully observing everything. She stopped abruptly when she saw the hitching post. She had seen pictures of these in her local branch of the Planetary Library when she was granted access to the archives for a special research project in her senior year of high school. As she stared at the hitching post, her logical brain told her that where there was a hitching post, there were horses, but she knew horses no longer existed. After the Before Time, horses had become legendary creatures of transport. She pondered. Finally, she concluded that despite all obstacles of science as she knew it, she had been transported back in time. She figured it was probably a result of her body’s interaction with the quantum energy contained in the lightning bolt that had struck near her.
She closed her eyes and shook her head to see if she were hallucinating. She was not. When she opened her eyes, the hitching post was still there, but now there was a beautiful black stallion flicking his long tail standing at the hitching post. The horse whinnied, tossed his head revealing a white star under his forelock, and stamped his right front foot as if offering an invitation to approach. She accepted the invitation. She greeted the horse softly crooning a calming tune to it that she had learned as a child to use when greeting an unknown, potentially friendly, entity. It worked.
The stallion stopped stamping. He bent one leg and knelt down so she could climb on his back. He rose when she was seated. She ran her hands along his neck and gripped his mane and waited. She mentally communicated her readiness to the horse. He twitched his ears as if she had actually spoken out loud and began walking down Main Street away from the hitching post. He continued walking along the street and out of town. After a while, the dirt road narrowed until it ended at the edge of a wood. A path appeared that led into the wood. At the entrance to the wood, the horse stopped. She slid down from his back and stroked his neck, moving slowly until she faced him stroking his velvet nose and looking deeply into his liquid brown eyes. The stallion whickered softly and pushed her with his nose toward the path into the wood. He did not follow as she stepped toward the entrance to the wood. She took one more step and looked back. The stallion was gone. Her experience of this beautiful but brief equine contact was seared into her memory.
Lydiana knew she had crossed some kind of boundary from one reality to another. Both were real but separate. On the path at the edge of the wood, she tried to turn around, but she couldn’t. She could only face forward. She took a couple steps into the actual wood, and then, a great swirling wind energy engulfed her. She closed her eyes and surrendered to that force.
She opened her eyes. She was sitting in her hover car with her hand about to push the “open” button when rain began pelting down outside and a flash of lightning struck a few feet from her hover car followed by a riotous clap of thunder. She trembled, safe in her hover car. The living memory of the stallion’s breath, the feel of his velvet nose, the wisdom in his liquid eyes, and the image of the hitching post where they had met were seared into her mind ever after.
For Lydiana, what began with a hitching post turned into a decades long career. She went on from that experience to study energies and realities at the prestigious Quantum University. She became a leader in the field of quantum-fueled time travel. She was Academic Consult to the Planetary Government and helped establish safe protocols for time travel. The main protocol was that under no circumstances should the timeline be manipulated. That was a great challenge, because the temptation to do so was great. Ultimately, however, under her excellent leadership, the Planetary Government adopted her proposed protocols, bringing about an entirely new era of time travel.
During all her years of study and service, Lydiana always remembered her experience of the hitching post, and she immortalized it for future generations in her autobiography entitled The Hitching Post: A Life Devoted to Unraveling Quantum Time Travel Science. You can still find that book in libraries today throughout the galaxy under the author’s name of Dr. Lydiana Rhodes. Look for it. You’ll be glad you did.
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Hi Julia, Loved this story, great job!
Thank you for reading my story. I am glad you loved it, because I loved writing it. Smiles, Julia
Hi Julia, honored to be in your critique circle this weeks! I wondered when I saw the title if this would be a Western. And it is - but combined with a super clever futuristic society! I loved that even though horses are extinct to the point of legends, Lydiana still manages to be a horse girl at heart :) thank you for sharing!
From one horse girl to another, thank you for reading and appreciating my story. Your comments showed you got what I was writing and that is very meaningful. Thank you.