TITLE: A SHIVER OF BLUE
GENRE: Young Adult Historical/Paranormal
A shimmer streaked from the edge of my vision, and Cloud reared, bunching up his hind legs so that I locked my knees and drove the length of my arms into his neck. For a second, we froze, suspended in space as his white forelegs arched and the cold air gushed across the empty paddock.
Then the grass came up at us, and he pounded his hooves into it. Again and again, kicking up clumps of green and brown--and then pink--and I realized that his swift reaction had just saved my life. He jabbed a last time, snorted against the bridle, and backed up across the paddock in a trained procession of muscle and movement. I leaned forward to pat his neck with one hand, talking to him while I regained control of the reins and maneuvered him back to see the ground ahead. It was a mash of bits. A long tail, paisley orange and brown, emerged from the mess.
I let out my breath with a hiss. "Copperhead!"
I never was any good at spotting snakes, but a copperhead shouldn't have been this far west. I'd only seen one once, last summer, in a fine wire cage coming off one of the first steam trains to arrive in our town, and that one had been half dead. I tried to suppress a shudder as I imagined the snake stealing through the grass and hiding its russet body in among the sunburned tips. Until it was startled into attack.