The Quagga


Chapter One

My heart pounded in my chest, threatening to burst out with every slam it made. My hooves stretched out, devouring the ground underneath me. The stick and leaves under foot cracked as I galloped on, making dangerous twists and turns, trying to put off my pursuer. I spin past a prickly tree, its long spiky branches leaving a gaping wound on my shoulder. But I kept on going. My shoulder ached with the pain of galloping for so long with no rest. Blood trickled down my leg rapidly. I couldn’t go on any longer. I fell to the ground, my head slamming on a strong, thick tree. The last thing I saw before slipping out of consciousness was the hunter, sitting atop of his mighty steed, grinning a sickening smile showing off his putrid black teeth.


Before you can understand what’s about to happen next, I need to tell you about me and my life. My name is Marley Rylance, and I am a shifter. Yep you heard me right. I can change into animals. I don’t know why I have it, I just do but I’m not complaining. Yet. I found out I had this power when I was three years old and I had just got a puppy for my birthday. I was playing in the backyard with him, rolling around on the floor, when I wished I was a dog so we could have even more fun. And then it happened. I was amazed and a little scared at first, but then Ranger invited me to play and it just felt natural, like I had been a puppy my whole life. But somehow, I knew that my parents couldn’t find out. When my Mum called me inside I sprinted to the leafy bushes and willed myself to become human again. Then I walked out of the bush and smiled at my Mum like nothing had happened. And it’s been like that ever since.

So, you might be wondering how I came to be in the bush being chased by a Hunter. Well, in school the day before we learning about extinct animals, and I chose to research the Quagga, a type of Plains Zebra that lived in South-Africa. I decided that it might be fun to try to turn into one. So, when I got home from school I ran into the bush behind my house. There I closed my eyes and pictured a Quagga running across the dusty, never ending plains of South Africa. Slowly I felt my body transforming, my feet turning hard and round, Long hairs falling against my body. I opened my eyes and marvelled at my rolling white stripes and stumped rough mane. I swivelled my head around and checked that no one was watching, then broke into a gallop, running around the bush, exploring its secrets. The days that followed were much like this. Every day after school I would turn into a Quagga and explore the bush. Until one day it all changed.

I had been in the bush when I reached the end of it. The tree’s shallowed off and I stood at the edge, peering around the branches. Before me had stood an old house, dusty and crumbling. Overgrown weeds stood in front of a battered porch with rotten wood planks. A washing line minus the line stood in the back, with an old shed beside it. But I knew that someone still lived there, because there was a paddock fenced with barbed wire that had two magnificent horses grazing in the tall overgrown grass. One was jet black and the other was a classy bay. They had both raised their heads at the sight of me and I prayed that they would not raise the alarm to their master.

Something was drawing me to the house and I knew that I had to go there. A strange force drew me to the house and I had followed my gut and walked out of the safety of the trees. As I had neared the front of the house I noticed something that I hadn’t seen before. Two dogs, Rottweilers by the looks of it, were chained to a post out the front of the house. I had taken a deep breath and sighed. Things were not going my way.

I creeped down the side of the house, hoping to sneak past the dogs, up the stairs and into the house. The dogs kept their eyes trained on the road ahead so they didn’t notice me. It was only when I put my hoof on the first step when I realised how impossible my plan was. The sound of my hoof hitting the wood echoed dangerously in the air and the dog’s necks snapped around. I bolted into the house without looking back.

Thankfully the door was left open so I didn’t need to struggle with the handle. As I entered the house it became clear that it wasn’t an ordinary house. Heads of stuffed animals hung on the wall and on the table sat a gun and bullets. It was a Hunters house. “Wraf, Wraf, Wraf” the dogs started barking. I knew this couldn’t be good. SLAM! I had spun around just in time to see the door being kicked off its hinges. Standing there in the doorway was the Hunter. He wore ragged clothes and a cigarette hung out of his mouth. He held a gun in one hand and it had been aimed at me! Not hesitating, I turned and fled, ramming the back door open with my body and galloping into the bush. And the rest you know.


So, back on track, when I finally woke up I was on the tray of a rickety old cart. I was surprised I wasn’t shot yet so I raised my head in the air. The Hunter sat at the front of the cart, holding the cart reins attached to the bay. I looked at my shoulder. It had stopped bleeding, and the blood that had once ran down my leg had dried solid. What was I going to do? Suddenly an idea began ticking in my mind. I slowly and carefully rose to my hooves, being sure not to make the tray floor creak. My luck had run out though. The Hunter spun around just in time to see me preparing to jump. He dropped the reins and charged at me. In my frenzy, while trying to rear in terror, I dropped my guard and wished that I was a girl again. Oh no.

As I began to transform I hoped and wished that I could erase my thoughts. It didn’t work. I felt my head and fingers return to normal and then it was over. I was human now. “Arggg!” the Hunter screamed and he collapsed, clutching his heart. He’s having a heart attack! I quickly called triple zero on my phone and told them that a hunter was having a heart attack and that we were in the bush next to Tompsons Drive. But when they tried to find out more information from me I dropped the phone and ran, praying that they will find him in time.

You might be wondering why I decided to try and help a Hunter who tried to kill me. Well, I have three reasons: One: he technically wasn’t trying the kill me, he was trying to kill a Quagga that was supposed to be extinct. Two: If he was really trying to kill me, why did I wake up alive on the back of his horse and cart? And three: I would never be able to live with myself if I knew that I had the chance to save someone’s life and didn’t take it. So now that you know why I did what I did I better continue telling you what happened.

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Apr 06, 2020
Love It
by: HorseLover

It's so good. I really want to know what happens next. I can really see that book being published. I love the name. Please keep writing.

Jan 29, 2020
Nice job!
by: Warhorse

This is an awesome story and I can definitely see your talent as a writer. I mean a girl who can shapeshift?! Totally awesome! Keep on writing!

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