Passage. 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 3. Passage

When I began this story a couple of months ago, it all started because when I saw the bulls on the ranch, with the owners and his shepherds, I could have sworn that the white horse of the owner was somehow communicating with one of the bulls, the superbly polished black one, the one young Paco calls El Pulido. It was the way they looked at each other. As I said at the time, it must have been the effects of a rather liquid lunch.

Or was it? I’ve been back a couple of times since, and I swear there is something going on between horse and bull. It’s the way they look at each other. It sounds strange, I know, but…it just is.

Just the other day, the most extraordinary thing happened between one bull, yes, El Pulido, and the ranch owner and his horse. I had been invited along to the rounding up, to see how the owners and his herdsmen got those bulls that had been selected for Pamplona onto the truck for transportation, and was privileged to witness something that could have come straight from a film.

And that horse, and that bull, I honestly think…

************ *********** *************

We selected Miuras have spent the last couple of months being prepared by the humans. Not just those of us selected for Pamplona, but all of us bulls who have been chosen to fight, and die, somewhere in this Iberialand. As I said, we have been chased, and harried, and given the runaround by those human on their horses. We have had to say goodbye to some of our brothers, too many, actually, and I know our time is coming soon.

We are fighting fit, and we feel fantastic. And I think that today is the day when we will leave Patureland forever, because human and their horse have all come down to our field, and something is ahoof. Our passage to Pamplona is upon us.

Pamplona! And our horns feel like they are made of rock…

The señor rode towards us on his magnificent white horse, accompanied by many other human and their horses, and stopped. They were talking in that strange way of theirs, while the horses observed us, and looked, well, sad. Especially with that long face of theirs…

“It’s today, isn’t it?” I said to the white horse.

“Yes, I’m afraid it is”, he replied, and he looked a little unhappy, yet so majestic.

“What’s your name?” I asked him.

“Human calls me White Star, but to my family I am White Lightning”.

“Wow!” I said. “Our messengers from the Celestial Pasture are called Lightning. It’s a beautiful name”.

He smiled that funny long faced smile, and said “Thank you. I know. We are all connected, you know, but our masters, human, don’t know it”.

We passed a moment in silence.

White Lightening then said, “As you probably know, you will be rounded up in threes’, and put on to the chariotruck, but how about you and I have a bit of fun first?”

“Oh, yes!” I said.

“Ok”, he smiled, “My señor is a superb horseman, and he can control me like I was a part of him. It’s as if I have wings, like our ancestors did so long ago, but eventually what will be will be, and they will get you into that truck. It’s just the way of things”.

“It just is” I said.

“Yes”, he said, sadly, “It just is”.

And then it started.

************** ******************* *****************

Human and their horses came into our land, our beautiful Pastureland, and somehow seperated three of my brothers from the rest of us, by some magic and manhorseship that was amazing to behold, and no matter how my brothers tried, they were chased and brought together and run together towards a wooden enclosure that human calls a corral. Just when they could have made a break for it, instinct took over, (it’s just the way it is), and my brothers kept following the lead human on his horse, not noticing that behind them came more human, herding some cows and steers so that any escape route was closed. And they were driven into the corral. At least they were together.

“Right”, said White Lightening. “Are you ready? Do your best to avoid being rounded up, and then we can play a bit”.

Well, when the señors’ men tried to get the next three of us into the corral, I was able to avoid the inevitable, and managed to stay apart from my brothers. Just for now.

Try as they might, the ranchers couldn’t coax me away from my beloved Pastureland. Finally, the señor said, “Enough of this! I’ll have to do it”. And he, alone on his white horse, rode out towards me.

And the young one, Paco, looked at me like Sunfather and Moonmother look at us. His eyes were shining. We animals don’t cry, but we feel, and I swear Paco had a tear in his eye.

***************** ***************** ******************

“Well”, said White Lightning, “Are you ready?”

“Yes, Horse, I am ready”.

The señor looked at me, relaxed and at one with his horse. Horse and I both looked at each other.Then I gave a small flick with my head, and charged. Horse reared up on his hind legs, and the look on the señors’ face was like that of a calf when he has just been born into Pastureland. It was that priceless look of “what the…?”

But the señor was a superb horseman, and it was as if horse really had grown wings…man and horse flew around me, and although I gave them the mightiest of runarounds, (I even got the señor to lose his hat under the branches of a tree), he got me towards the corral, and, on his own, despite the help of the cows and steers behind me, I was finally driven into the corral. To be with my brothers, together as always. As it should be.

Well, we were loaded onto the chariotruck, and jammed into our own individual space. Although it was uncomfortable, I understood that it was so that we couldn’t injure ourselves on the journey through Iberialand.

The chariot roared and began to move. A couple of the human had got inside, including the one called Paco, who had looked after me ever since I could remember, and I could see some of my brothers and horse, yes, that horse, looking at us. We all said goodbye to those we loved, and the last thing I heard was White Lightning saying, “Hey, Miura?”.

“Yes?” I said.

And I swear he did have a tear in his eye as he just said…”Good luck”.

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Our passage through Iberia really was another world. We had left in the early evening, after the heat of the day, and although we couldn’t see much, and it grew dark, we saw enough of HumanWorld to be staggered, and amazed, at the strangeness of it. And we also saw, and smelt, the wonderful beauty and diversity of this great PastureWorld. What a wonderful place it is, despite humans attempt to kill it.

After the longest day of our lives, which although Moonmother only looked down on us once, seemed to last as long as a season, the great chariotruck, although it had stopped a couple of times, finally pulled up at the side of the road, near a field. A greener field you have never seen, believe me.

This land we were in smelt beautiful, and it had that magic taste of mountain. We thought we knew where we were, because we had heard of this place, but it wasn’t till the chariotrucks heart had died down, and we could hear human speak, that we knew for sure where we were.

Navarra! Human said it excitedly, and we could taste it. The Bulldom of Navarra, that fabled and fabulous land of taurine legend.

There was also something else in the air…the presence of other bulls.

**************** ********************* ****************

“Hello?” we all said.

“Kowxo!” came the reply.

“What?!” we said.

“Cowshow!” came back the reply, but it sounded different this time. “Don’t worry”, they told us, “we speak differently here in Navarra, but we also speak your tongue”.

This was very strange.

“But you are bulls, aren’t you?” we asked. “NavarraBulls? Because we are…”.

“We know who you are, maestros. You are Miura, and it’s our pleasure to welcome you to the Bulldom of Navarra”.

We were almost tongueless. “How do you know?”

“Well”, one of them said, and he was a huge bull “It’s Pamplona-Time, and every year when the Human-Andalus drive up here, they stop by our Greenfield-Land for a final puff on their smokey-sticks, and drink that hot-black-mud they call cof-fee, which smells delicious, by the way, before they go to…” What a strange way they had of talking.

“Pamplona!” we shouted.

“Yes” they replied. “Pamp-lona! Are your horns…”

“Tingling? Oh yes!”.

I carried on. “I am Mercury, and I’m here with my brothers, Cosmic, Sunbeam, Comet, Plutoro and Moonshadow”.

“Well”, said one, the big one, “I am Kali, but as you can see, I am big. A lot of bull. Because of this, they call me Kali-Mucho”.

And the rest of the bulls in the field fell about laughing, as if there was some kind of joke in this. We didn’t get it, though. But we liked these Navarrans, and their land.

The humans noticed something was happening, and began getting ready to leave.

“Who is your friend next to you?” I asked.

“Ah!”, said the bull next to Kali-Mucho, ” I am Patxi. But when I was born, I apparently started running around my mother before I could even walk. So they call me Patxi-Ran”

And with this all the bulls in the field roared with laughter. We laughed too, though we didn’t know why. It was infectious, this Navarraland. Beautiful, too. So green, and with that wonderful taste of mountain in the air.

“Hey!”, shouted another bull, up on the hill. Though it sounded like “Hay!”. It got more magical, this Bulldom of Navarra, with their strange language.

“And what’s your name, you up on the hill?” asked my brother Cosmic.

“Well”, said the lone bull, up on the ridge. “I am Grassi”. And he had that look on his face that all these NavarraBulls seemed to have.

“So, then, Grassi, what’s the rest of your name?” I asked, because we were beginning to understand now.

“Ah!”, he said, with that beautiful look these Navarrans had. ” When I was born, they called me Grassi, but because I kept falling down all the time, onto my backside, they called me Grassi-Ass”.

And even we got this, and the truck shook, and even the field seem to shake, with our laughing.

*************** ******************** *******************

When we had all calmed down, there was one more thing we wanted to know.

“What is this strange doubletongue you speak?” I asked.

“Ah, well there’s a thing” said Kali-Mucho. “Our friends over in the next field there, the sheep, call it Baa-sque, but us cows and bulls call it…”

And the one called Patxi-Ran finished it off. “Mu-skera”

And all of us, Andalus and NavarraBull alike, roared with laughter.

************* *************** ***************

Human were getting nervous now, and were muttering things that, although we only half understood, we could understand.

“This always happens when we get near Pamplona” one said. “Every year it’s the same, wherever we stop before Pamplona, the bulls get fidgety”, said another. “It’s Navarra”, said Paco. “It’s legendary”.

“But you’ve never been here before”, said one of them.

“I know”, said Paco, “but you can feel it, can’t you, the beauty of this place, the wonder…”

“Si, si” they said, and prepared to leave.

**************** ******************** *********************

I looked around this gorgeous land of green, green, green, perhaps the last pasture any of us would ever see.

“We are leaving, I think” I said to the NavarraBulls, “but before we go, we know you are of Navarra, as we are of Andalus, yet are Miura, but Navarrans, what are you called?”.

They gave us that look, with that spark in their eyes, and said, in their strange way,”We are Imp-ekas”

“Impecas?” we said.

“Yes!” they sang, and began to laugh, and we had to laugh with them when they carried on singing, “We are the Imp-eka-bulls”. This was great, too much…

As the truck moved away, we heard them shout one last thing.

“Hey, Miuras?”


And they had that look in their eyes, impossible for animals.Tears.

“Good luck”.

**************** **************** *********************

Soon we entered a world of concrete and steel, chariots of all sizes and more human than you could ever imagine.. But it had something, this place. And although we knew where we were, it wasn’t until Paco and the two other human said together, at one point, “Pamplona!”, that we knew for certain.

Pamplona! Fabled in all Bulldom, mythical town of all tauromania…Pamplona.

As we entered the old part, you could taste the history. The ancient walls kept the sounds of all our ancestors who had ever run, and we could here them, just, amongst the incredible noise that the human was making.

Good luck, they were saying from the walls, good luck, good luck, good luck.

And my horns were on fire.