Microfiction #writephoto: Pandora

This is for Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt


There was something strange about the couple at the house on the hill. They had been in the village no time and already their names cropped up everywhere: he on the board of governors of the local school, though they had no children; she as president of the local historical society, even though the old one had not wanted to retire; both of them opening the village fête, though no one could say who invited them; and now it was rumoured, he was standing for mayor and she as parliamentary candidate.

A lot of land went with the old house, and they kept horses. The woman from the cottage at the other side of the lane liked horses, had done ever since was a girl. But horsey stuff had been for rich kids and she’d just admired them from afar. The horses on the hill were beauties, such a brilliant chestnut they were almost red, with long, golden manes. They were wild though and rarely came close to the fence that ran along the lane.

That day, the day it happened, she had thought she heard the horses crying in distress. They weren’t in the field. The whinnying came again, louder, more like a roar. After a moment’s hesitation, she climbed the fence and hurried up the field to the barn. The sound of hooves clattering was clearly audible. She flung open the door and caught her breath. The stable was a mass of dancing shadows thrown by a huge fire. Flames leapt to the beams, but there was no smoke, no smell, no heat, and no sound, except the wild calling of horses. In consternation, she took a step backwards as the fire surged towards the open door. She cringed, backing away from what she saw now were not flames but horses with flailing hooves the colour of red gold, an image she took with her into eternity.

The wall of flame divided and multiplied into a vast herd of fiery horses that galloped through the village leaving black ash in its wake. It would have gone down in history as the beginning, except that there was no more history to write. This was the beginning of the end.