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“Of life, death, and change, change is always the hardest in its uncontrollability, and life is her brother.”
Part 1: Catastrophe
I am currently writing this piece on the behalf of a horse by the name of Scot, who specifically requested that I record his story and recount it to his children should they prove to possess the ability to converse with me as Scot himself is capable of doing. This, of course, is in preparation for the future because, as of yet, he has not sired any foals. I am, however, sure that in due course he will, which is a duty he will commit himself to as long as he is a resident on my farm. Elsewhere (if he ever does live elsewhere), he will consent to the duties commanded by whomever is his owner as is right. This may or may not include such stated duties as are present on my farm.
The account itself is a retelling of his most prominent memories. It consists of experiences that are both disturbing and amusing. All of these, though, bear a single relation. They are all extraordinary despite their sometimes mundane nature. Perhaps, this is due to the perspective from which they are told. Perhaps it is the events themselves. All I know is that to me, they are extraordinary.
The setting of this work takes place in to definite locations that are quite remote from each other. The first of these, I am not familiar with as it is a place that I have never happened to visit. This little town of Parken, Montana and the surrounding area constitutes for the setting of the first half of this tale. It was here that the peculiar events leading to Scot’s ability to converse first occurred.
The second half of this account takes place in Louisiana, my home state. It is beautiful and perfect.
As the reader, at this point, is most likely puzzling over the unusualness of the horse’s name and under what circumstances he obtained the ability to communicate, I will work to shed some light on this matter. On one hand, the reader will discover in the progression of this work said circumstances, so I will not expound upon them at this particular moment. I will, on the other hand, attempt to inform the reader as best as I can to the horse’s name and its origins.
Scot, in terms of what most owners call their animals, is a rarity, but it only seemed fitting to me–Lisa Amnerson–considering the events under which we first became acquainted. These mostly are the moments when he began first to vocalize within my presence. I gave him a more human name because he could speak.
Scot is unable to remember his original name as far as he has expressed, but he assures me that it began with the letter “p.” This he reiterates quite often to no end. I do grow tired of it. I cannot, however, justify becoming irritated because I know of his true identity and thus, would only be irritated by this fact.
It is most understandable that the horse does not possess any memory of his former life aside from the fact that he was. The trauma he experienced in the past must have erased all knowledge of it. Should the reader come across this work while Scot is still living, I do ask that he or she never informs him of his true name. He has already suffered too much at the hands of an unworthy equestrian, who could not possibly know how to take care of such a fine animal as he.
I presume that it is only right for me to be patient and attempt to piece together a history of his life up until our meeting. It would be a small consolation after much suffering. Anyway, since it was he who requested it, pleasing him would surely be a more profitable endeavor for me.
The horse’s thoughts, I might add, do spark a tingling curiosity within me. It is my wish not to bring forth memories of his past before the trauma because it would not be in either of our best interests and would surely lead him into a less than functional frame of mind. I do stress, as is a reason for the former statement, that it is my least desire to have him suffer more than he has.
Now that the reader knows Scot at least partially, I must properly introduce myself. As is right for the narrator of a story, some details and credit is due. The reader might have already discovered from the renown of my name that I am a 60-year-old wealthy, widowed lady descended from a very long line of horse breeders, raisers, and trainers. These well-to-do ranchers inhabited an extravagant farmhouse in Louisiana and presided over a vast amount of pastureland.
Thankfully, all of this never left the family’s possession and currently is bequeath to me. I suppose I will eventually pass my inheritance along to my much younger sister, but I assure you, she will have to wait until I kick the bucket, so to speak. Besides, she is not nearly as great a horsewoman as I and does not know the proper way to treat these animals.
I, myself, am also somewhat of a literary enthusiast and writer. For this reason, I found it more appealing to undertake this account of Scot’s past than most would. I will note here that I insist no one reads my work before it is completed. This is something that I particularly cannot bear. It infuriates me when a passerby glances over my shoulder in curiosity. A work is of absolutely no one’s concern except for mine until it has reached what I deem is its final form.
Getting away from my writing habits, I do want to make three things clear before I continue with Scot’s accounts. Other ranchers have made it to my attention that I am particularly fond of spoiling my horses. I wish to inform those who might partake in this notion otherwise.
All in all, I am a strict disciplinarian. None of my animals walk or step out of line, but they do receive extensive care–my affection and what my funds can purchase or provide. Scot, in comparison to the others, is an exception. Had he not the ability to speak or reason, I would not consider him above the level of a common equine. In consideration of this, it would be inappropriate to assume that he deserves the same as the others or that the others deserve the same as him. In this way, he attains the most of my attention, especially for the writing of this narrative.
Secondly, I am Scot’s owner. A more keen reader might make a point that since Scot obviously possesses a phenomenal talent, I would have made the existence of a talking horse known publically should this have proven to not simply be a farce. I keep this knowledge to myself not for selfish reasons, but for my principles and aspects of my personality.
I am dignified and do not wish to become a target of mockery and/or ridicule. Unlike some, I value my solitude. If asked why, I would mostly attribute this to a portion of my being; I simply cannot endure such publicity and company. It is because of this, as the keen reader should note, that I have decided to put my knowledge to the pen and not to the mouth. Is that necessarily selfish?
Lastly, I would like to indicate, more specifically, the exact moment under which Scot was prompted to share his first words with me (indeed I was quite surprised, but it did not strike me as completely absurd as it might have for some others). After I had purchased him from his inept owner, I began to notice a decline in his health and inconsistencies in his behavior. This is usually the first sign that a horse has gone lame, and the reader should already know what happens to lame horses. In case the reader doesn’t, usually the horse is put down (as is the term). I definitely did not desire to undergo that experience as it is both remorseful for the owner to see through and, more or less, a disgrace in the high circles of which I am a part of. And so, by chance, I informed him of what would happen to him while in the midst of speaking to myself.
As he told me later, this is what, in essence, rekindled his lust for life out of the apathy that had developed in his heart–a cataract which threatened to blot out all light for him. This festering despair griped him with each passing day, and he knew from whence it came. Perhaps, it originated from the shear neglect of his former owner. I, however, would vouch for a different cause, though the it would only be a subconscious impression to him.
He was once a man, and who, anyway, could truly degrade oneself to continue living in the body of a mere animal? Could you–the reader?
During Scot’s period of impassiveness, he must have felt the bitter pangs of a torn soul, which had no business existing in a nonhuman being. Even if he was not consciously aware of the severe breech in God’s divine providence, his being must have sensed the searing flames of His wrath in that Scot had unwittingly allowed himself to be cast from a chance at heaven. Scot brought this upon himself, but I pity him greatly as no one deserves to be forsaken as he is. He is even forsaken from knowing that he is forsaken.
Unfortunately for him, there is no hope–no assurance of a future after his death. One cannot expect him to dwell among the souls of those who have passed. This would not be possible. And yet, he is a martyr because he brought this spiritual death upon himself in hopes of preventing a catastrophe, which will be explained later. Can one really expel someone or, in this case, something from a blissful existence if that blissful existence is rewarded to those few who have sacrificed themselves for the good of others? Could one ostracize a soul at his or her moment of beneficence?
For this reason, I have taken up the notion that the man died long ago, and this Scot is not the human whose body he took over and changed. The real man is already passed on and is dwelling with those blessed few. The horse whom I talk to is human no longer and is an animal. A horse simply is a horse. The reader might ask why I choose to believe this, and the only answer I have to return is that the alternative would be too terrible. As Scot himself later told me, he understands that “to believe otherwise would be to forsake one’s beliefs and it is perfectly reasonable for one to not desire that to happen.” He also adds, “Amnerson, you are in a bit of a pickle, if I recall the use of that phrase correctly.”
As I have already stated, Scot no longer can recollect his true identity and name, which supports my notion as to the true man having died. The simple fact still remains that Scot was not always a horse, and he realizes this to some degree. In this way, his past remains shattered like a mirror blasted upon the floor for him to glance at occasionally and view the shards of his former humanity. This is primarily the reason (as Scot has stated in accord) that he is able to converse with me in the first place.
Had he not fragments of his memory, he would be unable to recall human words or phrases, so he would have no language or speech from which to order his thoughts. His semblance of a memory, however, does not prevent him from behaving as perfectly as a horse should. He eats, sleeps, relieves himself, and acts as a horse. He sniffs my hand to discern that it is me. He bobs his head when he walks. He scratches himself against fence posts. Believe it or not, he even neighs like a horse, which I have witnessed when I was around unnoticed. I do not need to go further; the reader realizes that Scot is a horse. To this ends, a stranger would not be able to discern any abnormality just by watching him, unless of course, Scot vouched for human words.
In consideration of his behavior, Scot seems to be at ease with the other horses, and sometimes he (as he has stated after a few heated arguments) prefers their company to mine. In truth, I believe he always prefers their company to mine.
I gather this from his speech. He always says that “their words are more fitting, considering the proper situation in light of the current situation.” In this manner, however, his speech sometimes loses its coherency. This only occurs when he attempts to communicate something about the other horses. Human words are too elevated for the petty thoughts of a horse. Humans possess superior reasoning. This, at least, is how I and many others view it.
Scot, however, betrays a small sadness of his own, which I have detect, though he hides it well. I believe that his apathy and depression has never truly left him. At least, it no longer hinders him physically. He needn’t worry about being put down.
Although this account is entirely Scot’s, my sources for writing it have come from a variety of places. Included within this narrative is information obtained from interviewing several relevant persons. I sought to peruse these individual’s memories so that to fill in certain pieces of information, which the horse couldn’t have known. This includes such details as events that occurred while Scot was not present. Otherwise, certain aspects of this account would not make as much sense.
Scot, although once human, does not understand or recall all human institutions or devices and their functions. Some of the objects that he refers to would not be clear to the reader if I did not translate them into a intelligible form. An example of this is what Scot describes as “a tossing wind from a floating fan”–in other words, a helicopter. The reader might be vexed that I have not kept more of his speech intact.
One must realize, however, that writing this account is a tedious and perpetual task, drawing on through countless evenings, colorless sunsets, and empty, void-like nights. At the latter part of my conversations with Scot, I was often weary beyond tolerance. My limbs barely held fast to keep a pen upright. I am not of the best heath. For this reason, The first hour of our conversations would usually be a recapitulation of the former nights proceedings. Aside from this, I have often had to ask Scot to expound upon an object or idea further because the words he uses are sometimes not direct or improperly used. In a few cases, I was completely unable to translate his words. Alas, I tried as best as I can.
Before this account continues, I must also note that I came across a number of documents, which informed me as to the period during which Scot suffered extreme trauma. These were not easily to acquire and I only succeeded in gaining one of them from interviewing one of Scot’s previous colleagues, who was exceedingly difficult to track down. This, of course, was under the guise of a journalist attempting to stem the public’s consternation of the catastrophe that had occurred in Parken, Montana–Scot’s birthplace, so to speak.
Since the general public was aware of the catastrophe and what it had resulted in, the colleague had no reason to withhold the document from me. As he stated, “perhaps the way to go about preventing a wide scale panic would be to just give the people all the knowledge they want. This journal might stun the population into submission. Who knows? You seem trustworthy enough...” I think he only considered me trustworthy because of my frail complexion and body. Alas, I don’t entirely believe he ever contemplated how much damage the documents might do if they fell into an opportunist’s hands. They would spark public outrage–the reason: the documents are a first hand account of Scot's experiences while he was present at the catastrophe. They are written by the man he was.
Of course, the public already knows of the incident and what happened to the victims of the catastrophe. Disclosing this particular information, however would ignite the fuse of the public, which until now has remained a silent, but ever waiting, unstable bomb. The public is in a state of alarm.
Initially, the authorities tried to conceal the catastrophe’s occurrence as much as possible, but it is not as easy of a task when an entire town vanishes in an instant, even if it is in the middle of nowhere. Of course, the people found out. Of course, they are scared. How could a person be expected react to the physical evidence of an event that is unbelievable and, moreover, utterly absurd? What if that event could potentially threaten one’s life? That fear, though, does not need to manifest itself into unchecked bedlam. When I first heard of the catastrophe, I was also entirely shocked. Everyone was in disbelief.
The journal is wholly disturbing and grotesque but entirely true. I have included the journal in its purest form because it is an integral part of Scot’s life experiences. It is, in essence, the beginning of his story, and so it lies at the beginning of this account. I must warn the reader, however, that this journal might repulse him or her to some degree.
The journal depicts the struggles of the former man of Scot as he comes to grips with the catastrophe, and his involvement in it. It is also very detailed and scientific, almost as if, in his last moments of life, he was attempting to latch on to something human, to contain some breath of life. This is why he resorts to a very accurate and disgusting description of the events which resulted from being a victim of the catastrophe. It is his will to survive, which comes through most in these pages. At least, this is how I view it.
(Narrators note: this journal is copied verbatim from its author's notes. All erratums present within this chapter were also present within the journal)
Dr. Frank T. Doyle, Epidemiologist, Center for Disease Control:
Day 5 of our investigation - Sunday, July 2, 2---:
It must be noted that this journal is intended purely as a scientific documentation pending an investigation of an outbreak that occurred in Parken, Montana, June 25, 2---. Upon our arrival at the site (June 28), my colleague and I discovered the town to be devoid of all population. This includes the medical practitioner, Dr. Micha Wysocki, who first reported this outbreak to the CDC. As of yet, we have found no viable explanation for the town’s disappearance, but this is worrying because the pathogen might induce exotic symptoms. The desertion of the town might be a result of delirium or hysteria.
In light of this, my colleague has contacted the CDC to present all of our observations to the head of the department of epidemic control and containment, and we have concluded that the site is to be placed under strict quarantine until further information has been obtained. For the moment, we have taken up temporary residence in an abandoned medical facility. We have no concern as to becoming introduced to the pathogen as we follow strict decontamination procedures when returning to the building and wear protective suits during our investigations into the town. My colleague and I have been speculating on the symptoms, means, and communication of the pathogen, but without a sample, this has proven to be highly inconclusive.
The next day, June 29, we located a sample of the pathogen from dried saliva along the rim of a glass. At the time, we had ventured into a number of vacant homes. Further testing confirmed that the sample was a virus and the primary cause for the outbreak. Over the next couple of days, we introduced a live virus to a tissue sample, extracted from my colleague’s skin. Initially, there was no change in the sample, but on the third day of introduction, the tissue sample’s genetic structures began to deteriorate. The virus appears to be cancerous in nature, causing increased replication of cells with dysfunctional DNA patterns. This is hardly a cause for comfort.
At the rate the virus incubates, fatality must occur in only a number of days. Considering that we have not encountered a single individual during the entire time that we have been here and that the outbreak was reported three days prior, the fatality rate must be close to one hundred percent. Likewise, the epidemic spread rate is approximately 2000 cases/person days. I will not pretend that panic isn’t justified. A rough extrapolation shows that in a matter of months, a significant portion of the United States would be devastated. In only a few years, the human race will become an endangered species. I am, however, less worried due to the high fatality rate. This is because the virus will be easier to contain if none of the hosts exist to spread the disease. I personally believe that the government will resort to nuclear sterilization once they receive the data, but this virus must be contained before we can resort to that.
Due to the urgency of our situation, my colleague has left to deliver samples of the virus to the CDC personally. I volunteered to stay and further the investigation, for there are several questions which have yet to be answered. I do not doubt that it will be some days or weeks until he returns.
First of the issues that were puzzling me was the fact that no bodies were found within the premises of the town. According to our data collected from the viral test, the break down in genetic structure would have resulted in the deterioration of cells, but unless the deterioration progressed to protein structures as well, some corpse would have been left behind. Even with protein or catalystic deterioration, we would have found organic residue, and the intact saliva samples we obtained earlier prove against such deterioration.
The next major concern of mine was how the virus is communicated, and upon contraction, how the virus affects the host. This would shed some insight on the apparent disappearance of the victims’ bodies and how quarantine is to be conducted.
This brings me to the most pressing matter and reason for starting this journal. Today, July 2, 2--- at 7:15 PM, I became aware that I had an elevated temperature. Upon inspecting my suit, I discovered that it had been breeched infinitesimally either before or during our occupation of the medical building. I prayed that it was breeched today in the morning or else my colleague would have been contaminated, thus perpetrating the epidemic by leaving the quarantine zone. Thankfully, I checked the control samples collected from his arm. Yesterday’s samples gave no indication of contamination. It is both fortunate and unfortunate that I am alone in this matter. At least now I know that the virus is airborne.
Day 6 - Monday, July 3, 2---:
I awoke this morning with an incredible soreness in my muscles. To go along with this, my senses were also acutely disorientated. I could detect the scent of an otherwise sterile room down to the minutest detail: the metallic tinge of surgical instruments, the crisp smell of paper and wood, the sharp, piercing odor of rubber on my pencil’s eraser. The smell of antibiotic was nauseating, almost unbearably. Aside from my sense of smell, my vision seemed slightly odd. I believe it was difficult to place because my nervous system has become accustomed to the irregularity. From what I could tell, though, light appeared much brighter that before, but the colors were more solid–concrete–possessing less distinction between different shades. I felt like I was viewing the world through a cubist painting, each item depicted with a single, dazzling block of color. My hearing was also painfully augmented. The natural ambience of the room rattled my brain. I had to strain to focus my thoughts amidst this new bombardment of sound. Also in accordance with this, my sense of touch has become extraordinarily sensitive. It seems as though my skin has coarsened and become less pliable, taking on a rough, leathery surface, but I can now detect the smallest air disturbance in the room. I was even able to kill a fly before landed upon my body.
All of these, however, did not contradict my implications of the virus. Such muscle soreness is understandable for a weakened immune system. The senses must have been altered due to the structural change of my cells. None of this shocked me, but I was horrified when I examined my body for the first time.
Sensorial changes were not the only symptoms fo the virus; there were physical ones as well. Scrutinizing my eyes, I discovered that the pupils were enlarged and partially oval. The color was darkened and the general shape broader. My ears, were located about a half centimeter above their former position and had grown pointed near the tip. Most startling was a protrusion near the base of my spine, which can only be described as the beginnings of a tail. It was hairless. I could sense and twitch it as if it were simply another appendage. I even noticed that throughout the day I might absentmindedly move it when I experienced and extreme emotion such as agitation, nervousness, or excitement. This worries me greatly because if the virus can alther my motor neural system as well as my perception, then my mind is being affected. I do not know how long it will be before I lose myself cognitively or physically. Although all of this is a most fascinating discovery in genetics and virology, what cost will it be to me? Will I live to see this knowledge bring about new changes and advances in medicine? How long do I have before the virus kills me with its alterations?
In light of this new, somewhat unusual development, I have had to change to course of my speculations. The vanished population is probably dead, but before they perished, they must have deserted the premises. The only other explanation is that the population is not deceased as I suspect, but our former tests disprove this notion. I am, however beginning to have doubts about the validity of our tests. I plan on reviewing the infected tissue samples tomorrow. At the moment, I am to incapacitated to leave the room. Perhaps after a little rest, I will feel more apt to move.
Day 7 - Tuesday, July 4, 2---:
This morning, I awoke to extreme physical agony. My boDy burned and tingled while every muscle contracted beyond reasonable range. IT is difficult to describe exactly how this experience felt, but I fear that the next time will be worse. During this brief wave of pain, I felt my spine elongate, pushing the underdeveloped tail further out, which prickled as small, dark brown hairs grew in. These hairs soon filled out into the long strands of a whisk, such as those of animals in the Equidae family. My chest expanded slighly and forced my ribcage to crack open and become filled with stronger lungs. My posterior and abdomen suffered a similar fate; my internal organs readjusted themselves. I doubt they are in their final configuration. Also, the muscles around my buttocks, thighs, souldiers, and arms gainded significant girth. From what I can tell, they and my feet and hands have elongated about an inch each. The most sickening phase of what I now call my transformation occurred in my face. My head felt as though it dropped into my spine, but in reality, my neck attached itself closer to the back of my head, pushing my skull forward. My face itself also pushed out several inches during which, I almost fainted from intollerable pain. IT is now more snout like, similar to the muzzle of a grazing animal.
Upon inspecting myself, I discovered that the front six teeth of my upper and lower jaws have broadened and become the incisors of an herbivore. Since they are longer, they protrude from my lips visibly. My ears have become noticeably higher up on my head and now have a pronounced pointed-oval shape. Also, they have become slightly flexible, and twitching them is a cognitive action. My voice has become more guttural. As I noticed in practice, if I am not careful in concentrating on the enunciation of words, an occasional animalistic grunt works its way into my speech. The only change that seemed to spark remorse in me was that of my eyes. They have become entirely dark and wide, bearing no resemblance to their former shape and complexion. I am much more glad to be able to see all around me, but there is no sign of myself beneath the black pupils.
I am now thoroughly convinced that the virus is changing me into another animal, most likely some breed of horse. The virus itself seemes highly adapted by changeing the host in such an order to ensure maximum chance for survival. This explains why my senses were the first to alter, and in the second phase, I grew more muscle mass, a tail, and more suitable internal organs/facial features, while retaining my feet and hands in a functional form. For equines, the tail and facial expressions are a primary form of communication. A virus bent on ensuring its host’s survival would want to adjust the senses and then secure the communication of that animal–I mean host. I have found that I have grown more giddy, curious and quick to startle by ordinary occurrences, which must be behavioral and instinctual imprints, definitely important traits to survive in the wild as a prey animal.
Just in case these changes could be attributed to insanity, I checked the infected tissue samples as I had planned on. I am not insane. The genetic structure of the tissue samples appears to have become equine and alterations in protein sturctures, etc. have caused physical change in appearance. This is all correct; I checked. Plus, the town was deserted, which also supports this. The scans of the samples indecated that they was most definitely equine.
This virus is far to specific to be taken lightly. It is far too specific. I don’t know of what origen this virus first came about. Perhaps, it was a mutation of another strain, but it is so radically different than any yet encountered. It is awso possible that because the pathogen has lain dormant until this point. Maybe nature has something to do with. And to what end this? I think I will pick this up on tomorrow. It is becomeing increasingly difficult to focus on a subject. I want to sleep, but I can’t. There is no one around so I must keep watch.
Day 8 - Wedday, July 5, 2---
No change this morning. I awoke and found myself hungry. Unfortunately, my altered organs has made me lost the desire to eat most of what is in the building. When I tasted meat, my mouth burned, and I vommitedd. I found some crwisp lettuse leaves and bread, which seemed to abate my hunger, but It Sceems like I am always eating After I ate several times, I went down to the lab room with a Idea.
I decided to test my breath for traces of the pathogen. I was hopeful that the virues had embed IT self within me and no get out of my breath. I was happy when I found not trace in my breath. This means that no breath has virus in it. So virus cannot spread from those affectedive earlier. I was pleased with myself. Very happy.
Not strained from a new phase in this changeation, I go outside to look around. The dust gets in my nose and makes me sneeze. Also the grass looks sonice. Like a change to what I have been eatin. Oh, and by the way, My see a first living being since my herdmate and I came to this place. She was nice, her scent appealing me. I wanted to go rub against her. She looked at me strange. For a moment. I could tell that she was warningin me. Why? No not warning, sad–Why Sad? She stopped lookingin at me. No not sad, but confused. She was confused. Then It go away and she leave.
I came back to the builid later to see what happen. There be blinking dot on responding machine. Must be my colleague. I hav been waiting for responce. I pressed the button and listened. He asked if an everything alright. I said yes. He said that they will send people to pick me up in to days; that I should hold out until they come. They are finisin some tests of some sort. Then they have permission to use nuclear sterilize on town to stop virus. Smawl sterilize. I think I know what he mean, but I am not positive. It seems foggy. He dOesnt make muc sense.
I find it important to talk about the changeation that happened latter. My neck grow longer and my head. Hard to see strait to wite on paper. My toes get merged into hoofs. So much more comfortable then earlier. No like toes. My butt is bigger too and I have hair all over. It is ruff but keeps me warm, but this is good. It is hard to stand on two legs so sometimes I use four. I don know why I uses two legs sometimes. I have completely lost to ability to speak. My speak is whinnies and neighs. I ame sad for some reason. But I don see wy. It go away tomorrow, I think. I now like stallion and can mate wit mares. Reproduction is important to virus to survive. It fell different but good in sheath. I feel great urgas. Must be testosterome changes. I feel sensul an want to run ad fid my herd. It drives. But I still think, but different. Cannot understan wy here in buildind, better outside. O, well. I hurt during but it gow away, no problem. My back is longer and me much bgirr. I have nice hair on my neck. I like to flick it. It is fun and sit around and gaze. I sleepy.
Dy 10 Tus, JuL 5 2--
Had wiT No FinGrs. No Not MoV gooD. No geT wY wIt muts do it. I can do it. Mus for Hrhsses. Wit yeses. Now me Hungr com BAK in Bit...
Fid pAper in buld. ViruS no is a nature thing. Hrd read. So MaDI lettr. I Fid. It Ned chAng. Men mak in RoOm. No is naturl. Fid Anti-thing But it brOk in My Hof. I smel mySelf. It me. I hrse no duth. Ned fid hrd. Com bak ltr Primisse in howr...
11 Ju 2--
MUS RIT> AlmOT FiNIS. Dom alMot Hr Wit. HRt. MEy Hrt. AHH HuR. Hrhryyh. HRHYSHHRR HY
(indistinguishable scratch marks)
As the reader can see, Dr. Frank T. Doyle was a martyr. Even in his last moments, he was searching for something to give humanity–some glimmering hope to cease a scourge of mankind. Alas, it was to no avail. In the process of searching for insight, he came across the cure itself.
Unfortunately for all of us, he inadvertently destroyed it. Still, his intentions were for the good of everyone, and his thoughts were inspired from the unity of humankind–a motive for the mutual benefaction of the race–the survival of the race–though he might have doomed us all.
It is also apparent that the virus was not a natural phenomenon. As the doctor stated in his second to last entry, “ViruS no is a nature thing...Men mak in RoOm.” Who made the virus and under what intentions remains a mystery. I would guess that the virus was not designed with the motives for changing people. One cannot be sure, though. What the reader can be certain of is that the virus was airborne. This would play a significant and devastating role in later events.
The information that Doyle discovered concerning the virus was never unearthed by any of the CDC epidemiologists, who returned to the site after Doyle had failed to give them some word as to his present state and condition.
They did find a shattered vial upon the tiled hospital floor and a brief memo, which had dissolved in the vial’s contents. The liquid evaporated, and no evidence was left to confirm that these were the objects Dr. Doyle had described in his journal. All of this I gathered from my interview with the doctor’s colleague. In spite of not having any evidence to support my claim besides what is evident, I do believe they were the objects that Doyle referred to. There isn’t anything standing against this notion.
Also, it must be apparent that this journal is a written record of Dr. Doyle’s untimely end. The reader can see the regression of thoughts from a human to a horse. Certain details that no rational human would include in their last entry are present. This supports my belief that Dr. Doyle died, and his soul left the changing body as Scot was coming into existence. Therefore, Scot has no immortal soul because Dr. Doyle’s left at the moment I presume he died.
I prefer that the body lost Doyle’s humanity and gained the identity of a horse. God does not punish those like the doctor who do work for good, and He would never give unreasoning animals a soul. This isn’t because animals are wrong. It is simply because He created man in His image as a being to do His work in the world. Animals were not created for the same purpose. Thus, they do not require an immortal soul. This is, at least, how I perceive it.
Scot’s story picks up where the doctor’s journal leaves off. He recalls being severely frightened, but without knowing why. Questioning the unknown is always the most fear inducing especially when one is questioning oneself. After several moments, he realized that he was alive and had not to worry.
Puzzling still was that he could not recall his foalhood to any degree. He could procure from his memory images of a human child or a human man but could not piece together his own life up until this point. He looked himself over. Everything appeared as it should; he felt as he should; he behaved and thought as he should. Why were their memories from another being’s existence present within his mind?
These were the first thoughts that Scot experienced as he stood in the surgical room, which he described as “a white, bare, unforgiving, enclosed package.” He did not (as he indicated to me) feel at all comfortable in that environment. It confined him, inducing a state of extreme claustrophobia. It was not at all the natural color a place should have been.
He did realize that this was because he expected something more earthly, being a horse and being most at ease in such surroundings. Still, he irrationally felt as though someone was aggressing against him by denying him a place to run–a place to escape. If the reader can imagine it, he was experiencing a terrible conflict of emotions and thoughts. At the same time he was questioning his thoughts and memories, he was also experiencing the terror of a assumed threat to his life.
Scot decided, at this point, to venture outside of the medical facility under the assumption that clean, wholesome air would alleviate his somewhat disjointed thoughts. Leaving the building, though, proved to be a slight difficulty. It was more than simple enough to exit the surgical room, but Scot could not recall the layout of the floor and thus, couldn’t recall exactly how to get out. To this end, he paced along the vacant corridors, hoping that he would come across the exit by chance.
He expressed to me that he distinctly remember how his hooves resonated with a crisp, hammer-like noise upon the tiled floor. It was not at all pleasant to walk atop a floor that was so hard. His hooves were not soft like flesh and contacted the tiles in such a way as sent chills along his limbs. But still, he never ceased his search, deliberately exploring each entrance, and so he happened upon the very threshold he was searching for.
In the evening air, Scot felt a little more at ease. A strong breeze was turning up the dust from the street. This, he described as “an obnoxious wind.” He caught of whiff of it in his nostrils. It had a acrid tinge, which diffused itself upon his tongue and in his sinuses, and settled in his eyes.
Such is the dust in Parken, Montana. It is unlike that of other towns in the western United States. As opposed to fine grains, which float subtly in the air, this red tinted dirt needs to be blasted by high winds. It gets all over the body and sticks resolutely but, despite its pungent flavor, is somewhat pleasant. It has an earthen, coarse, unbridled quality about it. This is, at least, what I have gathered from Scot’s musings on the matter. Needless to say, it allowed him a greater clarity of thought compared to that while he was in the sterile hospital room.
The horse made another attempt at conjuring up some idea of what had happened to him in the past. Human words flittered through his mind, but equine gestures of communication did so as well. He could picture human actions and objects. He could not, however, discern any reason or motive for them. Nothing of human behavior made sense to him. Why did he possess these memories–these images of a life that was not his own? He was a horse, though, and that was entirely undeniable. He could smell his own scent–his own identity– his name. It made him placid and even gave him a sense of security. He was who he was.
Still, there was this matter of a memory not in accordance with his current existence and life. The period during which the human memories ceased and his current life began was an utter void in his mind. No information of the sort presented itself to him; he could not draw upon a single minute image of that particular time. How then (as he thought) could he possibly know what had happened? How could he even trust that these recollections as another living organism were of his own past?
The reader must note at this point that, had Scot possessed the former reasoning capabilities of a human, the answers to his uncertainties would have been readily apparent. Of course, something had to have occurred in order for him to cease existing as a human being and suddenly become a horse.
All that he could conclude, however, was that in the past he was a human and was, at this specific moment, equine. I inquired once during our many conversations as to why he might simply accept that nothing of any significance occurred during the period in which his memory failed him.
His answer was this: “I do not accept that thought, but I do not accept that anything happened. I cannot accept either. I know what I know, and I think I know what I think I know.”
“But what do you believe?” I asked him with a slight tone of impatience. In our frequent conversations, I attempted to create some semblance of tranquility even when I was agitated by a seemingly irrational remark. It is not always possible for me to maintain a controlled and ordered complexion. I am human, after all, and so am prone to such lapses in restraint. “Can you believe?” I added.
“Believe? Believe is mask. I only think I know.” This last comment of his summed up his power of faith. It is most understandable that a horse, even a horse with superior reasoning, wouldn’t be capable of believing in something as profound or abstract as God. For what purpose, anyway, would a horse need to believe in something that transcends itself? God does not require the faith of animals.
Animals are not good or evil. They do not possess the ability to exceed themselves beyond their concrete existence and so could not possibly be able to contemplate a majestic, mysterious, omnipotent, and omniscient God. These thoughts are only in accordance with what others and I have observed. I apologize for these tangential thoughts. Perhaps, the reader will benefit from them, or maybe he or she will not.
To resume the story, Scot, who’s name I had not granted him yet, decided that the matter wasn’t worth so much time spent on meditation. More pressing on his mind was the fact that he was hungry and dehydrated. This I personally would attribute to the trauma of change itself.
Scot, being a horse and having significantly more mass than a human, must have spent his energy during the period of the virus’ infection of his body. This is why he was famished beyond compare. For him, the hunger was unbearable. Furthermore, there appeared to be no source of nourishment within the premises of the Montana town. All was crimson dirt.
He ventured across deserted roads and trough alleyways, searching for something to abate his insatiable hunger. The dust was worse in the air now; the breeze had increased in strength. Black clouds were moving across the sky at a violent pace. The wind could have, at this moment, been said to be more of a gale, tossing up the coarse powder, which blinded the senses and scorched the throat.
There was now too much of it in the air to have been at all considered pleasant in some way despite its “earthen, unbridled” quality. Buildings disappeared in its wake. Objects lost their substance and dissolved into an ambiguous organism of dust, dirt, and stones. The world ceased to be, and a reddish uniformity became all that was. But still, the horse plodded on–on with some will to survive despite the fact that (as all senses would confirm) the earth had vanished.
Likewise, life in the town had come to a stillness. This, in fact, was not due to the dust storm but was a real and worrisome development. As I found out later from my interview with Dr. Doyle’s colleague, the virus did not discriminate against whom its victims were. All were equal targets in its mind, and so, all were free to suffer equally.
As Scot supposed, all living beings fled out of fear. He felt this same fear within himself–a fear of unnaturalness–a fear of the uncertain duration of their lives–a fear of death. Scot did not know that it was the virus, which terrified him. I would guess, based on this notion, that life in all its forms had evacuated the western town because they sensed something malignant in nature. When a catastrophe occurs, all living organisms are aware of it. Nothing goes unnoticed.
More puzzling was why animals already changed by the virus (ones that were once human) would also possess the same fear of it as the other normal animals. They had already been transformed; what would they have fear from the virus? I did not discover the answer to this until later in this narrative. In fact (as the reader will discover), this fear was a fear of what would happen to the virus further on in this account.
I will not inform the reader of what exactly occurred to the virus to cause it to become so malignant at this particular moment. I will, however, in due course, so the reader must be patient. Alas, I will leave the reader something to ponder. I discovered the virus’ hidden malice from a highly alarming and urgent newsflash.
To return to the story, Scot was far from being out of the water, so to speak. Actually to be more appropriate, he was far from water, and now the throbbing arid heat of the Montana region was beginning to affect him greatly. Its heart pulsated, beating on and on in a perpetual, redundant, wearisome, overpowering, unending, rhythmic figure. At first, the horse did not register how immensely hot the churning dust clouds were, but–as is always true once one is starving and dying of thirst–heat became a much more terrible adversary to contend with.
Wracked by hunger, Scot’s strength was highly diminished. Like most animals, he could sense his imminent death. He felt compelled to find a quiet location where to lie down amidst the chaos of the storm. A brief respite for him seemed so desirable yet so simple. It was something to alleviate his wracked, tormented body. This only proves that death, itself, is not comfortable.
Instead of succumbing to fatigue, however, he continued to plod forward through the dust–delirious yet determined. To rest now would be to drift into death. That tiredness was not a need for sleep, but an impulse to close one’s eyes permanently and not prolong the inevitable. This, of course, would only lengthen the period of suffering. He realized that lying down would mean death, and so he would keep walking–trudging until he collapsed from exhaustion, thirst, or the relentless hammer of the hot dust storm. Only then, would he go to death willingly.
As his pace slowly diminished, he came upon an open door. In reality, he had been standing besides it almost the entire time he had been in the dust storm. Upon entering, he was immediately dismayed. Even with the sudden realization, he was far too weary to turn back and search for another shelter. This was it. He would die, having reentered the medical building from which he had first glimpsed light. His weary eyes was were slowly drawing closed as his last strength–the strength of thought–left him. He had contested against the will of death by not bowing to the dust storm, and now death had come out the victor. There was no chance for survival.
Though this was partially cognitive, it was (as I was informed by him) only what his body believed. In this way, it had fooled his mind into agreeing, for it was indeed his body that desired the peaceful oblivion of death. However resentful, this is what occurs to all living beings whose flame of life is all but spent. If one is to be able to pass on, one must feel a dire obligation. The body provides this obligation. Its whispering promise of a serenity beyond the suffering moments of actually dying allows the mind to finally repose in perpetuity–God’s paradise. At least, this is how I view it. Scot’s mind, however, was not yet ready to be played as a fool by death.
The coolness of the building revitalized the horse’s senses out of a the bewildering affects of heat exhaustion. When he opened his eyes to greater clearness, he realized that the room was not in the same medical facility he had exited before the dust storm. It was all together in a different arrangement. The following is a description that Scot presented me during one of his more articulate moments:
“A long table jutted out from the far end of the wall and bisected the floor into two separate areas. Alongside this oddly oriented table were a series of log shaped objects, which were evenly spaced and placed upright so that they formed a sort of platform. I could see the dust through large panes of glass and besides these panes, were more tables, which were obviously used for discussions as there were chair shaped objects facing each other on opposite sides. Upon the tables sat a pair of two cones. One was white and the other black. Also, there was a small shiny box placed neatly beside the two cones so that they formed something of a face-like shape when viewed from above...” and so forth.
Though I had figured it out to some degree by this description, Scot later recalled and informed me that the human word for the place was “café.” He also apologized for not thinking of it sooner so that the description would have been more vivid and clear.
After Scot had analyzed his surroundings, he recommenced his search for food. He ventured over to one of the tables used for discussions. He overturned the black cone over with his nose and the top came off, spilling its contents over the neatly polished surface. He sniffed the black cone, trying to discern whether it was edible, but immediately recoiled when it scorched his nostrils. He snorted it out and blew a fine mist of powder into the air. Clearly, it was not food.
Once his sense of smell returned after a severe the shock of pepper, he decided to be more cautious when delving into human devices. For this reason, he gave a cautionary sniff of the entire room from a hopefully not so eventful location, equidistant from any human object that might confound his senses. He detected a flitter of water across his wide nostrils. This he followed until he came across a bizarre human object positioned behind the oblong table cutting across the floor.
The horse examined it with uncertainty. He could definitely smell water, there was not question of that, but he had already experienced the effects of tampering with human devices, which were not all that pleasant. Slowly, the device’s function an name floated to the surface of his mind from the depths of his mysterious human memory. The object was a sink, and if he recalled correctly, one of these knobs would cause water to flow from the aching tube. He nuzzled the handle on the right, and a burst of water spewed forth, sprinkling his muzzle and startling him slightly. He drank fiendishly and the crisp liquid revitalized him. His body was young once again, his weariness was beginning to diminish.
It was difficult (as I was informed by Scot) to precisely describe how that drink restored his vitality. His limbs were returned to their former strength and stature, and proudly he stood upon his haunches. Also, his mind, which had burned itself out with the test of willpower felt like it had become as it was before the dust storm–nimble and vivacious. In all aspects, he felt as if he was born again and experiencing the fruits of youthfulness. He was alive.
But he was still hungry. Thus, he explored the building further by crossing a fairly wide threshold adjacent to the oblong table. The room back here was less easy to navigate, and countless obstacles inhibited his path. It was cluttered and chaotic. Various pots, pans, and utensils (“shiny eating and cooking objects”) were tossed haphazardly across the floor–some broken–others dented severely. All looked as if they were suddenly abandoned. A few of the tiles had apparently cracked under the weight of some large animal.
Scot sniffed the air. A wave of excitement rippled through his body. He could smell that others had been here. “Where were they now, though?” he wondered. The horse also smelled food. He navigated through the debris until he happened upon a sack full of nuts and seeds, apparently used in the preparation of some dish. The bag looked as if it had been breeched by an undesired intruder. The top of the container was gnawed open, and some of its contents were scattered along the tiles. It also smelled faintly of like that of an equine. Scot brushed the opening with his muzzle, and rat-sized horse burst from the sack and bolted. As Scot reared his head and neighed in fright at the sudden disturbance, the miniature horse scurried much like a rodent from the room and out of the building.
Scot’s shock quickly subsided as he looked after the terrified animal quizzically, but after a moment, he went back to the food, never giving it another thought until he recounted it for this work. He was about to begin eating, when he detected a new scent–one that sent a tiny shiver of nervousness across his mind.
It was a peculiar and light smell, but now that he had noticed it, the pungency was more apparent. It had a sort of rancid quality about it, but this could not be considered rancid in terms of spoiled foodstuffs. It not quite so horrendously repulsive, but it was repulsive. It also had a tinge of sweetness. Scot proceeded to investigate from whence this peculiar odor was emitted. As he drew closer, however, his nervousness increased as did the rancidness of the scent. His nose detected the odor and transmitted a signal of alarm to his brain–one that suggested he was in extreme peril. His curiosity, however, was immense, and so he proceed forth despite the warning signals.
It wasn’t until he saw the object with his own eyes that his curiosity gave way to terror as he finally realized what the scent was. It was the reek of death that was resent but far enough passed to have fermented into an appalling, yet faintly sweet aroma.
Scot looked upon the corpse, if it could be called such. It was about the size of a rat, but was indistinguishable from anything other than a shapeless, formless blob of puss, blood, and distorted appendages. Parts of it resembled that of the miniature horse he had seen earlier, but it seemed to have been sewed together with those of a rat. This juxtaposition of body parts formed an undefinable creature until the putrid, grotesque mass became simply a gooey puddle of organs, dissolved bones, and extremities thrown together much like a Picasso painting. Scot fled in horror and in fear. Though he did not know it at the time, he was actually fleeing for his life.
When Scot left the building into the outdoors, the wind that had been tossing the dirt was diminished. The dust storm was nearly cleared and the temperature had dropped drastically since earlier.
Scot was still hungry. He hadn’t eaten any of the sack’s contents because he was to distracted by the scent, and later, too afraid to stay in the building. He decided that there should be plenty of grass outside of the town, which he could now access since the dust had settled and his thirst was abated. He walked and did not think as he walked. His only notion was that reaching the edge of the town would mean survival for another day. Thus, he plodded on but not quite so desperately as before.
Once he began to near the borders of the town of Parken, he saw for the first time blades of grass. He continued a little further and then stopped to graze. The grass was dry, but edible. His acute sense of taste told him that it was a decent source of food. It also told him which blades were dead and which were rotting.
Now that he felt satisfied, he dozed lightly but remained ever alert in case of threat. A crack rattled the air, and a heavy shower came down upon the earth. Scot found a small amount of shelter by an overgrown bush, but this proved to only halt the rain slightly. Day turned to night, and the horse shivered as cold droplets fell upon his head. The bush, however, proved to have been more help then expected. It kept the rain off enough so that it did not soak beneath his hair. This would have been disastrous and would have most likely resulted in him becoming sick.
Even with the shelter, he did not sleep at all during the night. He remained ever watchful for he was alone and possessed no herd to watch over him or for him to watch over later when it was their turn to rest. He lay there drenched, cold, lonely, but alive. This was the important thing. He was alive and would be content only with that being known. I asked him as to how he could possibly feel this way with all that had transpired, but his only response was that “to live, one must suffer, not grieve.”