© Victoriano Izquierdo. Encierrillo.

Pamplona. Bullseye by Tim Pinks

See the Part One. Pastureland
See the Part Two. Preparation
See the Part Three. Passage
See the Part FourPamplona
See the Part Five. Pandemonium, and the Passing

Part 4. Pamplona!

So, here we are in Pamplona, finally. We were unloaded from the chariotruck, and put into a corral. There is not much room in here, but thank goodness it’s not like the truck. At least we can move. But we are in a different world now, one so far removed from Pastureland that we might as well be like the sliverfish in the river back home.

All day human have come to look at us, and they talk and talk, while all we want is some peace and quiet. But we have to accept how things are in this new world. Our old world has gone now, forever, and will never come back. It’s how things are. It just is.

So my brothers and I wait all day in this corral, and we have the company of some cows and steers from another pasture. They tell us what will happen when morning comes, but also tell us that we cannot control our destiny. What will be will be, they say, what will pass will pass. Our taurine instinct will take over, we are told, but then they add, when you run, it will be spectacular. And our horns begin to burn again.

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Well, night time has come, just, and the noise and smells of humanworld have lessened a little. It is cooler now, too, and I and my brothers are more or less silent now, on this last night we’ll have together. We glance up occasionally, hoping to see our ancestors in the celestial heavens, but it is nearly impossible. Human, with his cursed light everywhere, has managed to block out even this. Do they have to ruin all that is beautiful?

Human begins to be active, things are happening, but the cows and steers with us have already told us what is going on. The gates to the corral are opened, and though it has only been dark for a little while, we are forced out of this place, to run a silent, nightime run up a steep slope to the corral where we will be kept until morning. All along the short route, and lining the steep banks above, are hundreds and hundreds of human, watching us, but at least, finally, they are silent now. We are herded into this other corral, which is at the beginning, the steers tell us, of the run we will begin tomorrow. Slowly, human drifts away.

Eventually, nearly everything is silent, and there are no human, except for one or two from Pastureland, looking over us. There is just the faintest hint of mountain, somewhere, in the air, and we like this.

Suddenly, I see something up on the wall. Human! And another appears, and another. They arrive as silently as Sunfather does in the morning, or Moonmother at night, and with the same magic. They are like human, but there is something strange about them. And our humans from Pastureland, Paco and his friends, don’t seem to have noticed them.

“Hssst!”, I whisper to my brothers, “look!”. And my brothers look, and we are almost tongueless.

“What are they doing here?” whispers Cosmic.

“I don’t know” says Plutoro, “but they look, different”.

“They’re moving!”, says Moonshadow. “What do we do?”

“Don’t move!” I can barely talk. And I shudder. “They’re coming down…”

And the most amazing thing happens. Human joins us in the corral, but they don’t jump, they float, gently, as a feather might fall to the ground, and then they are in the corral, and on the sand amongst us.

“Holy cow!”, I croak, ” what’s happening? Do we go for them?”, I ask my brothers. And then…

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And then…”Go for us if you like, Miuras, but you cannot hurt us”. One of them speaks, and we can understand him.

And this is the final proof that this legendary town of Pamplona really is magical, in both our world and humanworld, as the impossible has just happened. Bull and human understand eachother. There are a few of these human with us now, but only one is talking.

“You can understand us?” I ask, incredulous, and for the first time in my life, I am frightened.

“Oh, yes,” he says. “And don’t be frightened, we will not, and cannot, hurt you”.

Not hurt us? My brothers and I are rooted to the spot. We couldn’t move if we tried. And still our Pastureland human have noticed nothing.

“Who, no what, are you?” I manage to ask.

“My name is Esteban Laborra, and I am the oldest member of the group”, he replies. I don’t know what to say, or do. “In fact”, he continues, “for a while I was the only member of the group”.

“Move your hoof ” says another one of them to me, and I do, and the sand moves beneath me.

“Now look at me” this other one says, “while I move my foot”. So I look at his foot as he moves it, but no sand is shifted under his foot.

Comet manages to croak, just, ” None of you are touching the ground. How is this possible?”

And then it comes.

“We are the GhostRunners. There are 15 of us, and we were all killed here doing what we loved, bullrunning. We are dead now, but every year we can come back to this fabled town, and complete the run we were never able to. And, we can do every run, everyday, every year”.

The GhostRunners are moving amongst us now, talking to us, and their voices are like the sound of the river running back home in Pastureland. It is a beautiful sound, and it calms us, and gladdens us. One of these GhostRunners is not saying anything, though.

“We killed you? Our kind, Taurus, killed you?” I mutter.


“I’m sorry…we don’t mean, I mean, it wasn’t on purpose, I…” I try and explain, but can’t.

“It’s okay”, Esteban replies. “We hold no grudge. You can’t help what you do, as it is instinct…”

“It just is” we both say at the same time.

“You see,” he carries on, “in a way, we as bullrunners could also not help what we did. We loved to run, and lived to run, and for a very, very few of us, it took our lives. It took us away from not just what we loved, but who we loved. It’s too late now, but it was a heavy price to pay. However, it is as it is, just as when human took you away, for what will pass, is as it is”.

Moonmother was leaving us, and Sunfather was just beginning to make his appearance now. The GhostRunners gathered together.

“We have to go very soon”, said Esteban. “We cannot influence what will happen this morning, and you will not see us when the madness starts, but we will be there, amongst you. If you feel a soft caress, it just could be one of us”.

They began to float upwards. There was a strange golden red colour amongst them, almost humanshape, as if Sunfathers’ dawn was wrapping itself around them.

“Estebanhuman, wait”. The GhostRunners stopped, and hovered just above us. “Who is the quiet one there, the one who has said nothing?”, I asked.

“Ah, he is new to the group, and didn’t know he could come back until we picked him up a few days ago. It’s all still pretty much of a shock to him”.

I said gently, “Quiet One, who are you?”.

Esteban said nothing, but looked to the silent one and said, “Why don’t you tell them?”.

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The quiet one looked at us, with great sadness, and said, “My name is Daniel, and I was taken away while running these streets just one year ago”. His voice was like the sun warming the dew on the grass.

“We’re sorry…” we started to say, but Daniel said:

“It’s okay, it really is. I don’t hate you, none of us does. I was doing what I loved, and what my father and grandfather before me loved. The worst of it is, for me, I miss my family so very, very much. It may sound strange, because of what we human do to you, but we actually love you, Bulls. You are proud, magnificent beasts, not just taurine royalty, but animal royalty too, and it is a pleasure and an honour to run with you”.

Once again, we were tonguetied. The strange golden red glow around them was intense now, and definitely manshaped. It was alive.

“We really have to go now”, said Esteban.

“One more thing,” I shouted, as they drifted up towards the wall. “What is that goldenred etheral, almost human cape that is surrounding you?”

“Ah”, said Daniel, smiling. “This is San Fermin. You might say that this is his party. He couldn’t look after us on the day we died, because after all, he is a saint, not a god, and he is very busy on these mornings, trying to look after everyone. But he looks after us now, always”. And with that this golden red human shaped, yes, being, left the GhostRunners and swooped over me and my brothers, like a giant eagle, warming us as Sunfather does, before returning to the GhosstRunners and enveloping them again.

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And with that the GhostRunners were gone, except for one final word from Daniel, as he floated back down to the street with his friends, on the otherside of the corral.

“Hey, Miuras?” And we all looked up at him. “Good luck”, he said, with tears in his eyes. And then he was gone.

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We were silent for a long time after that, stunned at what had just happened. Finally I asked one of the cows in the pen, that would run and hopefully guide us when the madness started:

“Did you know about the GhostRunners?”

“Yes”, it said. They’re not very talkative, cows.

“Why didn’t you tell us?, I asked.

“Somethings”, it said, “should just be allowed to happen”.

Something else was happening, too. Time seemed to have flown, and things were definitely ahoof. There were human everywhere now, we could smell them in the street. There were more human around the corral, too, and we sensed our run in this fabled land was fast approaching.

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Our last night together has been an extraordinary one. The impossible had happened, but it seemed like a dream. Time also appears to have sped up, as now the streets were full of thousands of human, The morning was getting hotter, as Sunfather warmed us up for the last time. We are being made ready, and though we want to get out into the street first, human is trying to manouvre us so that the steers and cows get out first. We can smell human, and his fear and anticipation.

Amongst us brothers, there is the knowledge that our whole lives are meant for this. We know what will happen in the afternoon, but for now we are still together, still brothers, still Miura. We are calm. We wish one another well, and encourage eachother to stay brave, true and strong. To honour the name of Miura.

And as human prepares to set us into the street, I have something to say to you, Runner.

I and my brothers have nothing against you. We do not wish to hurt you or harm you, let alone kill you. We are here because you, human, have ordained it so. We have no choice in this. It just is. You, however, do have a choice.

But you must know, that once we are let loose to run through the streets of this Pamplona, this legendary Pamplona, we cannot control what we do. Instinct will take over, and all hell could break loose. It’s just the way it goes. What will be will be. It just is.

So run hard, and run fast, Runner, and if you go down, stay down. Because if my brothers, or I, have the slightest chance, we will have your balls for breakfast.

Oh, and one final thing….good luck.

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Suddenly we hear a sound like the whooshing of air, then a noise like thunder, and the gates are open and we Miura pour out into the dappled sunlight onto the street, and charge like a band of bovine brothers on a bandit bull raiding party. And our horns feel like lightning.

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