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Part Nine - A Place to Sleep

Chaphar waited as Tom finished his food. “So, what next?”Chaphar waited as Tom finished his food. “So, what next?”

“Well I don’t have anything to do,” Tom answered folding his arms. “I guess I could try and sleep. Unless,” he said looking serious at Chaphar. “You could send me home now?”

“Talk to Aetos about that. I personally would like it if you stayed,” Chaphar answered.

“Is that the ‘he’ you mentioned?”

“Yes,” Chaphar said nodding.

“Where is he?” Tom asked looking around.

“Somewhere else and…yet here at the same time.”

“Now how do you expect me to believe that, huh?” Tom said putting his hands on his hip.

Chaphar lifted his head as high as he could and laughed with a big smile. When he was done he said, “I don’t know how to explain it, I just know it’s true.” Tom released a breath, deliberately making it audible. “Oh, don’t get that way. Come on, I’ll find us a place to sleep.”

Tom followed Chaphar toward the edge of Ciphrah. The streets were emptying fast as it was now after nightfall. This made the trip a whole lot faster. When they reached a small barn, Chaphar stepped on a small lifted board near the ground.

The board slid down to the ground easily. The barn door then swung open about a foot. Chaphar then used his nose to open the door wider before stepping inside. Tom looked around for a few seconds before dodging inside. “Won’t we get in trouble?” he asked.

Chaphar gripped a rope with his teeth and pulled, causing the door to swing shut again. “No, these barns are for creatures like me to use when they visit. We don’t usually have money on us or anything to trade so…they provided this.”

Chaphar began folding his legs under him when a voice said, “I figured you end up here.”

Three eyes turned in the direction of the new voice. They saw a white ghost in the back shadows. It stood and sauntered into the light. “Shehleg! What you doing here?” Chaphar asked.

“I didn’t trust him,” she answered staring at Tom.

“Well, I’m glad you’re here anyways,” Tom answered.

Chaphar looked at Tom in surprise as Shehleg said, “Why?”

“You are a beautiful horse. You haunted my dreams for months after I first saw you,” Tom said looking her from head to foot and from head to tail.

She stared at him for a while, keeping perfectly still. “Great,” she said turning to Chaphar. “I have an unwanted admirer.”

“Does he really look as bad as you say?” Chaphar asked peeking at Tom. “I personally think you’re exaggerating.”

“That may be, but I don’t like hardened people,” she said pointing her nose at Tom.

“Well, at the moment,” Tom said stepping toward her. “I’m just glad to be able to see you again.”

“Would you quit that? Tell him to stop,” she said to Chaphar.

“I say we all try and sleep, continue this tomorrow,” he said folding his legs under him.

“You are going to allow him to talk to me as if I was attractive?” she said lowering her head to Chaphar’s.

“Uh, yes,” Chaphar answered. She snorted. “It’s past my turf-time and,” Chaphar added looking at her. “You are attractive.”

She snorted loudly and raised her head. “I am going back to my quiet corner,” she said flicking her tail at them.

“Tom, you can lean on me to keep warm,” Chaphar said looking at him.

“Yeah, um, is she always like that?” Tom asked.

“Not always,” Chaphar said looking in her direction. “If she likes her first impression, she’s nice, but otherwise, she can really be a fur-knotter.”

“I heard that,” she said disgusted.

Tom nodded as he sat down. He sighed a relief as he leaned against Chaphar’s side. “Ah, this feels good after hours of standing or sitting on a bumpy horse back.”

“I’m bumpy?” Chaphar said turning his head all the way around. “That’s strange. I don’t feel the bumps.”

“You wouldn’t.” Tom said turning his head to look at Chaphar, while not taking it off of his side. “It’s the same as when I run, I don’t feel the bumps, but put someone on my shoulders, they’ll feel them.”

“Oh, I never realized that,” he said looking away slightly. “Is this something they teach in your world?”

“Yes, in a way,” Tom said shrugging. “It’s called physics, but it should be able to be known even here.”

“I’ve never heard of ‘physics’.”

“No, probably not, but it looks like it’s the same here as in my world.”

“Okay,” Chaphar said slowly. He added after a moment’s thought, “So, you don’t like my physics?”

Tom snickered. “I wouldn’t have put it that way, but yes, I guess you could say that.”

“I’ll have to work on that then,” Chaphar said in a low voice. Tom snickered again. “What?”

“I don’t think you can. Physics is…” Tom sighed. “Just forget it. You can’t fix it so forget it.”

This time Chaphar sighed. “I have I feeling I’d never survive in your world.”

“I’d bet you ten horse-lengths of grass you wouldn’t,” Shehleg said laughing.

“I don’t bet,” Chaphar answered. Tom smiled as he closed his eyes.

Copyright © 2010 C. L. Richardson, All Rights Reserved; "Untamed Picture" © Nathanael Eisner