On the Moors

by Chrissie Loveday

Chapter One

The pony stopped. Something had moved suddenly. It made a shrill sound and reared in the air. The girl slipped off and hit the ground. There was a loud bump. She lay very still. The pony, very frightened of what it had seen, galloped away. The girl lay still. Very still. Her eyes were shut. Her riding helmet was pushed to one side.

Jane watched it all. There was nothing she could do. She was too far away to help. Very scared, she rode over to her friend. She pulled her feet from her own stirrups and slid off her pony. Jaz gave a loud neigh. She blew the air from her nose and stamped her hoof. Jane led her to a tree stump and fastened the reins to it. Calling the name of her friend, she ran over to her. Kate lay very still. Her face was white and her eyes were shut tight. Jane felt scared. Was she dead? What had scared the pony?

She knelt down on the ground beside her friend.

'Kate,' she called softly. 'Kate. Wake up.'

But Kate lay quite still. She did not even open her eyes.

'Kate. Please wake up.' Jane felt like crying but that was not much use to anyone. She looked around, hoping to see someone. She could see for miles over the moor but there was no-one in sight. There were only a few trees, like the one she had tied Jaz to. Kate's pony, Flick had disappeared. Maybe, he had run home. Jane hoped he had. If Kate's Mum found him, she would know something was wrong. Help would soon be on the way.

She felt for Kate's pulse. She liked watching medical programmes on television. Doctors always felt in the neck for a pulse. She pressed her fingers all over her friend's neck but she felt nothing. Kate was dead. She must be. There was an awful bang when she had hit the ground. Jane felt like crying again. She knew that would not help. Then she felt round her own neck to see if she could find her own pulse. Nothing. She knew for sure that she was alive. It was more difficult than it looked to find a pulse. She put her head next to Kate's mouth. Thank heavens. She felt a little breath against her cheek. Kate was still breathing. But how cold she felt. Icy cold. Jane pulled off her anorak and laid it carefully over her friend. She saw a trickle of blood coming out of a cut on Kate's head. She undid the riding helmet and gently took it off. She had a tissue in her pocket and began to dab at the blood. It seemed to make bleed even more.

'Oh Kate. What ever should I do? I have to get help. But I can't leave you alone. We are miles from anywhere.' Jane stood up, still trying to make a plan. She could ride off for help or stay here and wait for someone to find them. Flick was sure to have gone home. He was a greedy pony and always looked for something to eat. He would be ready for his feed. She looked at her watch. It was nearly four o'clock. They should have been riding home by now. In another two hours, it would be dark. If she set off for home now, it would take two hours. How would she be able to get back to Kate, in the dark? She couldn't leave her friend. Not leave her alone. If she came round and was alone, she would be very scared. She would be too cold.

It was at that moment, a flash of lightening lit up the moor. The crash of thunder followed soon after. Jaz reared up in fright. As she pulled her reins from the dry old tree stump, it snapped. Jaz was free. The next flash of lightening was enough. She gave a loud screech and ran off over the rough ground. Jane yelled after her.

'Jaz. Come back. Jaz. Jaz. Jazzy. Come back.' But the terrified animal ran and ran until she was out of sight. Jane ran after her, still yelling her pony's name. Why hadn't she been more careful? She should have fastened her better. She had been so afraid for her friend. The old tree stump was rotten. It wasn't strong enough to hold the pony. She ran back to the spot where Kate lay, still and silent. The thunder and lightening crashed around the two girls. The sky went blacker and blacker. There was no rain. When it did begin, Jane knew it would be very heavy. They were both out in the open with no shelter. They would be soaked to the skin. If Kate wasn't dead already, this could finish her. Jaz wasn't usually afraid of thunder. Flick had been scared by something before it thundered. Maybe, Jaz had seen something else as well. Something neither of the girls had seen. Very odd.

They both loved the moors. They rode over the moors almost every week. Today, the moors were no longer friendly. How could this ride become so awful?

Chapter Two

It was nearly an hour before Kate opened her eyes. Jane was still trying to decide what to do. She had laid down on the ground beside her friend, trying to keep them both warm. She worked out that if they lay close, they could warm each other. The sky was very black but the rain held off. The thunder had moved away but she could still hear it in the distance. Then Jane heard a little groan. She pulled herself up to rest on her elbow.

'Kate? Kate? Are you awake?' All she heard was another moan. 'Kate. Are you all right?'

'Jane? Oh my head.' Kate tried to move.

'Keep still,' Jane ordered. 'You fell off Flick. Don't try to move. You've hurt your head. I don't know if you've hurt anything else.'

'Everything hurts,' said Kate softly. 'I can't move.'

Jane bit her lip. Things were going from bad to worse. It was vital that Kate kept still until help came. She knew that you must never move anyone after a fall. If bones were broken, it made it much worse.

'I'm so cold,' Kate said in a voice so small that Jane could scarcely hear her. Not a bit like her normal loud voice.

'I'll lie beside you. We can keep each other warm.'

'Where are the ponies?' Kate whispered.

'They ran off. Flick ran off right away. I expect he's home by now and your Mum will have started a search for us. It won't be long before someone finds us.' Jane crossed her fingers as she spoke. She knew she was telling a fib. But it was to help her friend.

'Jaz? Where's she gone?'

'Ran off as well. The thunder scared her. I expect she will go home. Our parents will look for us soon. Don't worry. It won't be long now.'

Jane wished they had something to eat. And drink. She felt very thirsty. Her tummy gave a rumble. She thought of the hot fish and chips her Mum was getting for supper. She looked at her watch again. She could only just see it. Five ten. The storm made the sky even darker than usual. The rain still held off. What if no-one found them? How could two girls survive out on the moor for a whole night in January? Even if the weather was very mild in Cornwall, it was still winter. The moors were very open and bleak. Kate was injured, possibly badly injured. They had no food or shelter. They wore only riding clothes and were miles from anywhere.

'My leg hurts,' Kate said. 'Everywhere hurts but especially my leg.' She tried to move but the pain forced her to keep still again. 'Ouch,' she said before her eyes closed and she slipped away again. She was unconscious. Jane began to feel panic. She had to find help. If only she had something to light a fire. But everywhere was damp. Even the old, dead wood or bracken was wet. It had rained for days. When they had left home this afternoon, it was sunny. The first sunny day in ages. No-one had worried. The two girls were always together. They went riding nearly every week. They knew the moor well. The two girls were safe together. They had reliable ponies and nobody worried.

Jane sat thinking. She knew that their parents wouldn't miss them for maybe another hour. At first, they would be cross because the girls were late for tea. They might go out to the field to see if the ponies were back. But not yet. Not for some time. Whatever she said to Kate she knew it would be a long time before help came. How would anyone find them anyway? The moors were huge. Miles and miles with no roads. Nobody could drive to look for them. Even a landrover couldn't drive over this ground. Even if they knew where to go, the land was too rough. It was a perfect place for riding. Until today. She didn't even know what had frightened Flick in the first place.

'Kate? Are you awake?' The girl groaned again. 'Kate? Talk to me.' It seemed important that Kate stayed awake. Jane kept squeezing her hand and talking to her. She crept under the anorak that she had given to Kate. Anoraks always seemed to be so warm when they were worn for riding. Too warm for some of the time. Now, the jacket was thin and useless against the cold of the early evening. Luckily there was still no rain.

Jane sat up and looked around. She heard a sound. Maybe someone was coming to look for them. She leapt to her feet and called out.

'Over here. Over here.' But everything was quiet. If she had heard something, it wasn't people. There must be all kinds of creatures on the moors, even in winter. She heard another sound. This time she was certain. She called out again. The noise stopped. Apart from the wind, there was nothing.

Suddenly, she remembered. Her blood ran cold and she fear crept into her whole body. The Beast. The Beast of Bodmin.