The winter storm had been short but vicious, its chaos however had left behind more than bitter cold and windswept drifting snow.
"There's someone else in here." A whinny.
The first words heard since I had dragged myself into the safety of this stable. At least I was warm now, the stinging bolts of ice that had preceded the storm had more than hurt. Bruises marked sore spots on my body, pristine white now with ugly areas of blotched yellow / black. A snort breaks my concentration.
"Can you see anything, Socks?" A second voice.
"It's in the next stall, Minx. I'll have a look."
A pause, then a click of a latch. The tread of hooves, I waited. A head appeared over the stall door.
"Well, I never?"
"What, what!" Minx was frantic.
The head disappeared, more steps another click. The sound of more hooves, in the dark.
Another smaller head now looked in. Best for me to say something.
"Morning ladies, sorry to intrude the storm...." I winced in pain.
"You understand us?" Socks was surprised.
"Why shouldn't I?" Another wince as I moved.
"Where are my manners? The little fat mare is Minx, and I'm Socks, and you are?"
I struggled to translate, had a common language changed so much since I was last here? "Prancer, is the closest word I can find that you would understand, my language is far older than you would comprehend."
Socks, snorted. "I will have you know that my knowledge is as impeccable as my breeding."
"My apologies my friend as one Stallion to another...."
Minx burst out laughing, which made me feel uncomfortable.
"Gelding you mean!" More giggles.
"What? That's barbaric, what monster did that?"
Never tempt Fate, her sense of humour is as twisted as the threads in her looms of life. A bright Sun burst overhead, blinding me for a split second.
"What's all the racket about, I'm not late with your breakfast. Why are you two out of your stalls? If you've raided the feed store again Socks, I will not be...."
Her face appeared at the door, eyes wide in an expression of wonder. I whinnied softly to her.
"Why are you saying hello to her?" Socks looked shocked.
"Worth checking if she understands my equine voice, oh well it was worth a try." I hate telepathy, gives me head ache.
"Morning young human, I mean you no harm. Only I was injured in the storm and so lucky to find shelter."
The girl collapsed in a heap, but soon came around when Socks splashed her with water from a bucket. Spluttering she got up.
"You can speak? Words in my head, can you read...."
"Your thoughts? Fear not, your darkest secrets are safe. My name is Prancer, who do I have the pleasure of addressing?"
"Hunter.... I mean Sophie."
"Well met, Sophie who hunts."
"It's Sophie Hunter, never mind. You're hurt, what happened?"
"The storm, I hit a violent downdraft. No altitude to play with and gravity is unforgiving."
I manged to get my legs to co-operate and stood up. A gasp from Sophie. She may have spotted them before, but the human brain is a funny thing, it frantically ignores anything that should not be. Horses in this time frame don't have wings, I had not asked Socks or Minx where theirs were as not to upset them.
"Wings.... You're a...."
I thought she was going to faint again, but it seems she was made of stronger stuff.
"May I come in?"
I nodded. She approached carefully, as any knowledgeable person who has worked around horses would. From there an extended hand, a gentle touch as if to prove once and for all that I was real.
"You're right you've got some nasty bruises; I don't know much about wings."
I swept mine forward. There was no way I could fully extend them in here, but enough to check nothing was broken. Sophie still had that look of disbelief that would not rest until she touched the feathers in them. I smiled; she was well proportioned. A teenager, certainly. Not yet a woman though, much like my groom at home. The work ethic was similar, once over the shock of discovering me, went about her morning routine.
"Sophie, will others be coming here today?"
"Not today, I don't live too far away. Mum dropped me off to check on these two, what with the storm and everything. You’re worried about getting home and where is home exactly?"
"Same as here, we never left. Only the magic faded, the stone circles still contain enough for us to cross dimensions. The storm disrupted the magic field and dumped me here." I stomped a front hoof in annoyance.
"There is more than one Earth?"
"Many copies on different levels, even ones where your kind did not destroy it. Sorry that was unfair, you cannot be accountable for the folly of previous generations."
"All the same, you cannot stop here. You would probably end up in a research lab or something as horrible."
It was true, our kind left for a reason. Just as all the others had, your species did not know how to share. The Unicorns were the first to relocate, followed by ourselves. The Centaurs had the last outpost in what you would call Greece, until your heroes killed them.
"Sophie, you wish to take my likeness?"
"A photo to prove I'm not dreaming?"
A thin flat device appeared, she seemed pleased with the result. But time waits for none. Feeling better after some food and water, Sophie agreed to walk with me the short distance to the stone circle in the wood. As I neared it, I could feel the pull of magic, yet Sophie felt nothing. I hate goodbyes, yet I sensed something special between me and this young human. On soft wings I rose into the air, crossed the stones, and vanished.