Run The Wild Country
A Lyrics Challenge Story

by Lori Bush (

The triplets send the most challenging lyrics. I took one look at these that Mac sent me, sighed, and put my nose to the grindstone. The first story read that way, too. You could almost read the struggle of the author in the lines. You could see the blood, sweat and tears on the page. The story contained little other drama beside that.

Through a general discussion with someone not doing the Lyrics Challenge, I was given another idea. I didn't like it, but found a way to alter it, and came up with this. I'm still not totally thrilled with this, but I have multiple projects in my inbox to edit, and a Wizard story almost ready to put out, with another that needs to be finished, so here it is.

The story itself will tell you when it takes place. It's fairly obvious.

Usual disclaimers. Not mine, no profit. No sex, no violence. Angst. Archive to your heart's content.

Run the Wild Country
By Louise Taylor, Ben Street, and Dean Sharp
From the CD Ride

Lost in wide country
the sky a line of poetry
map unfolded on my knee
in the prickly pear, in the prickly heat

Cut lean for the dirty ride
the feel of a horse between my thighs
and I thirst for the sound of dry
stones breaking under hoofs that fly

to run the wild country

I swear your ghost rides next to me
over the bleached out bones of the Navajo, the Hopi
and I listen for the past to rattle
with the moon turning big and yellow
and I call myself free

My head to the west, my back to the pain
heal to the steel, hand in the mane
I'm holding on to asphalt reins
and I won't be letting go again

I'm gonna run the wild country

He's dead. She killed him. I have to get away, to think.

I never told him how much I loved him. How important he was to me. And now he's gone.

I have to kick Argo to get her to speed up. She usually knows when I want to gallop, but she's not responding to me like she normally would. Maybe it's because my thoughts are racing so wildly. She begins to move gradually, but soon the road sings with the sound of dry stones breaking under hoofs that fly.

I've been out here, alone for days. I couldn't look at Gabrielle anymore. I had to get away, deal with my pain. Perhaps Argo doesn't want to gallop because she knows how weak I am right now. It's been a while since I last ate, even longer since last I slept. But this has rocked me to the bone, and I can't do either any more.

Solan is dead. Gabrielle's daughter killed him.

My mind spins at that. I feel physically sick. I told her Hope was dangerous. I told her she would have to kill her, never mind that she was her own child. She didn't; she couldn't. And I've paid the price. She'll do no more damage now. But it came too late.

I remember where I was going. I wanted to go to the mountains. I force myself onward. I need a place to plan, to figure out what to do next. My heart went up in that funeral pyre with my beautiful son, and Gabrielle might as well have ripped it out herself. I may hate her.

Can't seem to think straight. It's getting dark, and I talk to my son. Solan, I explain, I sent you away for your own good. I always planned to come back for you, but by the time I made it, it was to bid you farewell. I know you can hear my thoughts. I can feel you nearby. The inner monologue only serves to further stir my fury. It's still a cold hard rock inside me right now, but I know it could easily be fanned into flames. I keep riding.

The moon rises, turning big and yellow. There is no comfort in the moonlight. I can't decide if I should seek vengeance, or sleep forever so I can't hurt any longer. But I can't sleep. I need to ride. I'll decide when I get there, wherever "there" is.

I've reached the mountains. It's cold here, and there's snow. It suits my mood. I keep hoping that writing this down will help me see the way, but my mind is as muddy as ever. I think I'll pull the blanket from my pack and just walk a while.

I'm back, and Ares is right. I cannot atone for my past sins - all it's brought me in trying is pain. He made it all so clear. Gabrielle is at fault. I have to make her pay. I hate her.

If I fail to make her pay the ultimate price, I pray that she will know the pain of losing someone she truly loves, someday, to a betrayal such as this.

Xena looked up from the scroll in anguish, her own words having stabbed her through the heart. Across the fire, Gabrielle sat, staring into space as she seemed to do so often these days. Eve slept, and she couldn't help but notice how the bard had placed herself as far as she could from the girl while still remaining in the campsite.

She had found the scroll in Joxer's tavern, soon after he'd returned Argo to her. She wasn't sure where he had found it, but she suspected he had placed it in her room secretly, so Gabrielle wouldn't come across the painful reminder of a time neither of them really wanted to recall. How could she know that she had cursed both her friends with her rash words, and how much her self-centered pain then would hurt her these many years later?

She had no right to assume her own pain had been any worse than Gabrielle's. Although she had been right about Hope, she could just as well have done the same thing, if Eve had turned out fully evil. And her own unwillingness to kill her child, so like Gabrielle's before her, had cost them Joxer. Ares had used her - the Furies had used Gabrielle. The wheel had turned full circle. Slowly, almost silently, she walked to the fire, and placed the scroll in it. But she would never, could never again forget.