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Cropped comic panel.

Martingale

By Mark Abraham · May 09, 2013

Title: Martingale
Author: Achilles Juno Maud
(Surge Porter Publishing; 2003; ISBN: 438-75344X93)

Hullabaloo the horse had spent his entire life training to show jump. Under his racing name Sparkplug he had mastered the bounce, the sunken road, the Normandy bank, the trakehner, the bullfinch, the shark’s teeth, and all kinds of oxers. From humble beginnings in Hopeulikit, Georgia, Hullabaloo had ascended to the “A” rated circuit. He had been famous.

…until he had an accident and hurt one of his legs. Now, he and his partner Sam Barbaro spend their time show jumping on the carnival circuit. It wasn’t prestigious or challenging, but a horse has got to make a living, right? Oats aren’t free, after all. Or carrots.

Hullabaloo had always felt like he was missing something. Even at the height of his fame the routine of show jumping never seemed fulfilling. It was a feeling that was hard to pin down, like his life was just training for something else.

Things were going swell by Hullabaloo’s estimation until one day outside of Toad Suck, Arkansas, he missed an easy oxer. He had been distracted by a woman standing in the crowd with tears streaming down her face. What had made her so sad?

Hullabaloo wandered over over to her and neighed inquisitively. What happened next would change his life…

Martingale Alydar had never been to a show jumping competition before. Hell, she had never thought much about horses at all, outside of those generic fantasies all young kids have about having a horse. But now, at the age of 17, Martingale could hardly indulge in fantasies. Both her parents had just died in a car crash, and she was all alone.

She wasn’t even sure why she’d come to the fair. Why had her parents left her that note in the will? It had simply read, “Watch the horses. It will make make you feel better.” So far it wasn’t. How could it? How would she ever feel okay again?

She barely noticed when Sparkplug stumbled in front of her. When the crowd around her gasped she barely heard. It was only when things got eerily silent that she noticed the horse standing right in front of her. It wasn’t just the crowd; it was as if the horse’s presence had changed her ability to hear. She could barely see his rider who had been thrown in the fault; he was slowly picking himself off the ground and looking in her direction. She blinked. Why did he seem so far away? It could only be twenty feet or so.

Almost unconsciously she reached out to touched the horse’s concerned face. Could horses even look concerned? She didn’t know. It didn’t matter. The moment her hand touched Sparkplug’s face the world seemed to…shift, she guessed. A sound like water and lightning surrounded her. The lights dimmed, and then spun.

…and then everything was fine again. Except the fair was gone, and when she looked back towards the place where Toad Suck normally stood, there were no lights.

Confused, she looked back at Sparkplug. He neighed softly, than looked her directly in the eyes.

“Why are you so surprised, Martingale? We’ve simply gone back in time.”

It wasn’t the fact that the horse spoke that snapped her out of her revery. It was the feeling that washed over her that she was whole again. Ready for anything. For adventure.

They both heard the yelling at the same time. Martingale lept onto Sparkplug’s back as he wheeled around to face their destiny.

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