Phantom Horse

Phantom Horse by Bonnie Bryant Read Free Book Online

Book: Phantom Horse by Bonnie Bryant Read Free Book Online
Authors: Bonnie Bryant
schoolwork. She had expected her memory of the nightmare to fade as the day wore on. That was what usually happened, whether the dream in question was good, bad, or indifferent. Once, years ago, she had had a wonderful dream about riding in the Grand National steeplechase race. She had wanted to remember and savor the dream for as long as possible. But by the time she had finished breakfast, she couldn’t remember what she had been wearing, and by lunchtime she had forgotten her mount’s name and what helooked like. By the next day all she had been able to retain was the wonderful feeling the dream had left her with.
    This time it was different. Her nightmare was just as vividly imprinted on her mind now as it had been the second she woke up, and she had no idea why. The rational part of her mind knew that the dream didn’t mean anything. Obviously her spill of the day before had combined with Troy’s Halloween story to create the scary nightmare. But in the less rational part of her mind, Carole wondered: Was there such a thing as a phantom horse? Was it possible for an animal she thought she knew inside and out to change into another sort of creature entirely? Had Starlight’s sudden outburst the day before
really
been the result of an insect bite?
    Carole knew she was being silly. But she was tired, and as she dragged herself through the school day thoughts of her dream, Troy’s phantom horse, and Starlight kept swirling through her head.
    She had made plans to meet Stevie and Lisa at Pine Hollow after school for a trail ride, but by the end of the day she felt almost too tired to make it to the stable. Then another thought occurred to her. Her two best friends would be the perfect people to take her mind off her strange dream and even stranger thoughts. Lisa was so sensible that she would make things seem okay just by listening; and Stevie, despite her wild schemes and crazy sense of humor, was down-to-earth about the things that really mattered.
    Carole felt relieved the moment she’d thought of this. School was almost over, and soon she’d be with her friends at the stable. All this nonsense would be behind her. Besides, just seeing Starlight himself would make her feel better—wouldn’t it?

W HEN C AROLE ARRIVED at Pine Hollow, her friends were nowhere to be found, so she headed straight to Starlight’s stall. She ignored the slight fluttering in her stomach as she turned the corner and headed down the aisle, and to her relief the sight of his mahogany head peering out at her over the half door of his stall brought an automatic smile to her lips, just like always.
    “Hi, boy,” she said softly, reaching forward to stroke his velvety muzzle. She let herself into the stall and ran her hand down his neck, searching for the insect bite. It wasn’t difficult to find; in fact, it seemed to be larger than it had been the day before. Carole frowned. It must have swollen overnight.
    “Carole? Are you in there?” called a voice from outside. It was Troy.
    Carole let herself out of the stall. The groom was leaning against the wall, chewing on a piece of hay. Normally Carole might have found it an amusing sight—tough-looking Troy, in his leather jacket and earrings, chewing hay like a TV image of a country boy. But today she didn’t feel much like laughing.
    “There you are,” Troy drawled. “I hope I didn’t scare you this time.”
    Carole didn’t bother to answer that. “I think Starlight’s shoulder is swelling,” she said. “He got a bug bite yesterday and it’s bigger now than it was then.”
    “I know,” Troy said calmly. “Max wanted me to come tell you he already had the vet in to look at it. She said it’s nothing serious. You should just keep it clean and keep an eye on it, and call her if it doesn’t start clearing up within a few days.”
    Carole glanced back at Starlight. “What about riding him? Did she say it would be okay?”
    Troy shrugged. “She didn’t say it wouldn’t.”

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