A/N Greetings Folks. This story has been a long time coming - literally and figuratively. It's been bouncing around in my skull for a couple of years now, and I finally decided to put on paper. Cyber paper. Whatever. It's longish, so I'm going to try posting it a little at a time and see how it goes. Feedback - the good, the bad, and the ugly - is welcomed and appreciated. Thanks to my beta team - Bethy & Lisa. Without being shown my wordy ways or my fluent grammar mistakes, this story would never have left the depths of my hard drive.
As always, I don't own any of the characters or places seen on MacGyver. I just borrowed them for a while. I'll put them back when I'm done. I promise.
Bull Demon aka Bandersnatch
A picturesque spring day had fallen over the lush valley and forest. The air was perfect; not too hot, nor too cold, and a light breeze kept the invigorating scent of pine filtering through the dense trees. A shallow brook gurgled and sputtered between its banks as it flowed lazily over polished stones and submerged logs. For anyone lucky enough to be out exploring, it would truly prove to be a memorable day.
With a gentle nudge of his heels, MacGyver urged the large, gray mare he rode onward. She was a good horse: strong, intelligent, and kind. With a mixture of draft and racehorse blood, she could carry her rider over many miles of rugged terrain with ease. He was lucky to have her, and even luckier to have such a beautiful day to ride.
The pair traveled on at a leisurely pace for some time; the winding trail weaving in and out of the thickly foliated forest. During their moments out in the open, Mac marveled at the clear sky, the deep-sea blue unblemished by even a single fair-weather cloud. Off in the distance slept a small chain of mountains, their craggy faces glowing in the warm sunlight. It was the first good day of the season, and he intended to make full use of it.
As they approached the edge of the forest, Mac felt the mare's stride start to change, shifting from a relaxed, ground covering walk to a more energetic gait. Experience told her what was coming, and she was eager for a chance to stretch her long legs. The tree line abruptly broke into an expansive valley that bordered the base of the mountains. Here the land was flat and the footing good, the perfect place for an all out gallop.
MacGyver smiled at his mount's anticipation. He knew the big gray loved to run, and wide-open spaces would have her dancing like a filly until he gave her permission. Adjusting his feet in the stirrups, he moved his right hand forward to slacken the reins and signal the excited horse to go. The mare's response was immediate, lurching forward with enough force to unseat her rider if he hadn't been prepared for such a sudden acceleration.
Mac's smile grew as they picked up speed, the scenery around them rapidly becoming a smear of greens, browns, and reds. The wind tangled his hair and whistled loudly in his ears as they flew across the open valley. The surging power beneath him was like nothing he'd ever experienced before, not even in the flashiest racecar or the fastest bike. With thundering hooves and short gasps of air, the mare was in her element. This was what true horsepower was all about.
The pair made short work of the valley traveling along at the mare's easy gallop, Mac asking her to pull up just as the mountain path came into view. Yielding to the gentle pressure on the reins, the big gray snorted with pleasure as she dropped from a gallop into a lope, a trot, and finally a brisk walk. Her breathing was hard, but not labored, and Mac knew she'd be ready to go again after a short rest.
"Good girl," he said, patting her sweaty shoulder. He let the reins slide through his long fingers, allowing the mare to stretch her neck out as much as she wanted. She clanked the bit playfully between her teeth and settled into a more relaxed pace. Sitting back in the saddle, MacGyver let his thoughts wander at random, content to let his four-legged partner lead the way for a while. Confident and trusting, the mare escorted her rider through the remainder of the valley and onto the narrow path that would take them up into the great mountains. Mac picked up the reins when the plush footing of the meadows turned to stone. The big gray was sure-footed enough to make it on her own, but he wanted to be ready to offer his guidance should she ask for it.
The seldom-traveled mountain trail dipped and wove between large boulders and heavily gnarled shrubs. Mac enjoyed exploring the rugged beauty of the mountains the most. It was a different world up here, climbing around on the backs of sleeping stone giants. The air was cooler and tainted with a sense of unpredictability. One never knew what they would find around the next turn or behind the next stony outcropping. It was this mystique that kept drawing him back, keeping him young and recharging his passion for life.
Not long after passing through a rather steep and narrow passage, the ground leveled and rocks parted to reveal a secluded pocket of bushy trees. Picking her way deliberately along the stony ground, the mare stopped when she came to a wide, shallow stream flowing across their path. She lowered her long neck and tentatively sniffed the water before submerging her lips for a long drink. Mac sat back and allowed her to have her fill, listening to the soft slurping sounds coming from the large beast below.
The large gray had been only been drinking for a short time when a rustling in the nearby scrub caught her attention. She lifted her head and cocked her ears in the direction of the sound, water dripping from the corners of her mouth. Surprised by the normally calm mare's behavior, MacGyver shortened the reins and took hold of the saddle horn with his free hand. When the bushes rustled again, the startled horse snorted and suspiciously stepped back.
"Easy," Mac uttered, stroking the mare's tense neck in an effort to calm her down. Her body had gone ridged, and he could feel her heart thundering against his leg where it rested at her side. She was poised to spring, terrified by whatever was lurking in the scrub. He gave her flank a nudge with his heels. "Come on, let's go," he urged, hoping to snap her out of her trance. Ignoring her rider, the big mare stood her ground and stared into the bushes.
He booted her sides a little firmer, getting the barest of ear flickers in response. He was about to try again when movement up ahead caught his eye. Frozen in the saddle, Mac held his breath as a very large, muscular buck forced its way through the tangle of shrubbery and into the clearing. Easily weighing in at over 200 pounds and sporting a massive rack of antlers, he was a formidable creature to come across. Stomping his foot and snorting, the deer's piercing black eyes seemed challenge the intruding horse and rider.
MacGyver couldn't believe what he was seeing. Deer weren't known to confront horses, typically preferring to run the other way than cross paths with the large, strange smelling beasts. The antlers bothered him too. Bucks were supposed to shed them after their breeding season was over. For some reason this guy still had his, and by the way he kept lowering his head, he knew how to use them. Mac jiggled the reins to get his mare's attention, hopeful the buck would leave them alone once he saw them leaving his territory. "Let's go, girl," he said quietly, preparing to turn her around and head back down the mountain.
The moment he took his eyes off the large deer he knew he'd made a mistake. A high-pitched snort was the only warning he got as the buck lowered his head and charged. Panicked, the mare wheeled around and bolted for the trees, her abrupt motion throwing her rider forcefully from the saddle. With no time to recover his balance, MacGyver fell, the sound of his head striking the rocky ground chasing him down into darkness.