Thea Campbell's horse has been stolen and although she has found him she's also found something else more sinister...
"Are you okay, buddy? We're going home. I won't let anyone drive off with you again. I'm so sorry." I kissed his nose once more, and gave him a cursory nose-to-toes examination, checking for any obvious signs of injury. He looked okay. I stroked his neck.
"Come on, Blackie. Gate. Let's go home." He heaved a sigh and moved off in the direction of the barn.
I grabbed a halter and lead rope out of the truck, and dialed 9-1-1. As I walked I explained the situation to the operator and gave her Valerie's address.
"Has the horse been injured or abused in any way?" she asked.
"Not that I can tell right now, but I haven't had a chance to thoroughly check him." I reached the gate, my attention divided between managing the latch and the phone call. "I'm—" I stopped. Something was wrong. Where was Blackie?
The wind shifted, blowing my hair across my eyes. With my hands otherwise occupied, I turned my face into the breeze to clear my vision and inhaled stench so dense it had weight.
A thousand spiders crawled up my spine.