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It was the next day, and Scot was pacing about the desolate plains. He was weary and deprived from sleep, and his energy was siphoned out of him by the chilling torrent of rain. Fortunately, the temperature had diminished slightly since the storm front passed through; the sun was blushing lightly over the horse’s tan hair and dark mane and tail. Scot immersed himself in the benevolent light, and the light in turn evaporated the water off of his damp body.
He was in much better spirits, having survived the night and the potentially fatal situations of the previous day. He realized (as he informed me) that each day brought with it a chance of death. From one moment to the next, he could have drunken impure water, been attacked by carnivorous animals, slipped on a insecure rock thus fracturing or bruising a limb, or died of various internal ailments or failures, which can occur quite unexpectedly.
Each day bore with it the risk of a sudden and unanticipated death. As Scot informed me on the matter of this subject, “To live is like running in the midst of coyotes, and like such does one live, but death is death. There are not risks there.” In other words, death kills.
In my mind, there are always those (coyotes appropriately) who desire to sway one from the strait and narrow path and bring victory to the prince of darkness. To do good is to walk though the lines of wrongdoers and sinners waving a flag with God’s name written upon it in silver ink and golden embroidery.
Likewise, death, the indifferent assassin, lies lurking in the shadows, but always within feet from the living as they tread unwittingly through its path. In this way, Scot’s relation between life and coyotes pleased me. At least we come to an agreement whether expounding upon death’s ever poised attack or the cunning and hidden malice of infidelity.
To continue, life is indeed like running in the midst of coyotes, and if this does not prove true universally, at least it did for Scot on this particular day. The morning progressed quite uneventfully with no particular detail of great interest.
The horse had found a minute trickling stream from which to quench his thirst, and since grass was plentiful in the region–though frequently withered or heat-baked–he had little struggle in obtaining the necessary nutrients for him to maintain his health as far as a horse is concerned.
Running was a staple of his morning routine as it was quite entertaining and decent exercise. I cannot claim that this is as great a diversion for me, but, then again, I am human. Of course, it not so easy for me now in my frailty.
In any case, Scot proceeded to do what a horse does. That is, after he had completed his–dare I call it–breakfast, he went quite deliberately into his search for others of the same species so that he could form a herd for mutual protection and the benefit of the race.
This proved to be a fruitless endeavor. Discerning an individual trail was particularly difficult as he detected so many paths that horses had trod. If I had to surmise answer as to why this might have been, my best theory would be that he had come across the diverging paths of the former residents of Parken, Montana–about 6000 total.
As the horse confessed, he still could detect a lingering death in the air. It was not so much a smell, but a feeling. The malignant force was biding its time for some reason, and Scot was compelled to distance himself from the town as much as possible.
In light of this, he became lost as to whether his search for a herd was genuine or just a subconscious impulse. The reason behind this is that as he explored, the distance between him and Parken increased until it became a mere speck upon the horizon. It had vanished, but still he continued in direction that never varied from its course away from the town.
He told me that the true motive behind his search remains inconclusive even though it was he who was conducting it, and it only ever was an impulse. This has been paraphrased from his actual speech. It seems that communicating the point was particularly challenging for him during our discussions. I would attribute this to a lesser capacity for reason, especially abstract reason.
God gave man reason in order to for them to be capable of faith. It is Scot’s lack of trust in the unknown and even the known that presents itself most noticeably. I am beginning to worry, nevertheless, that I might be basing my ideas on the original fear that Dr. Doyle’s soul was lost to the body of a beast. Perhaps, this is only a passing feeling, and I will recover from it soon enough. Let me proceed with the account.
Notwithstanding the difficulty of communicating this particular idea, he resorted to a metaphor yet again, giving his meaning some clarity. I will include an excerpt of it here:
“When thinking back to that event with me fleeing the place, I realize that I did not exactly know what I was fleeing from. It was as if commanded by being–like the sun rises and the moon falls without any thought on the matter. It was ever since I saw the corpse that this feeling planted itself within me. I cannot, however, make what it was that I was looking for–my herd–stand for moving so far from the place, and this was looking into a pool of water and seeing oneself rippling without telling what picture of oneself appeared and seeing only the blur of the bottom because of the picture on top. I don’t trust my reasons for leaving...”
I will also note that at roughly this point in time, people began to curiously venture away from the local towns and residential areas some fifty or so miles away. This wasn’t a mass desertion but was more or less individuals deciding that they suddenly and desperately had to be somewhere else. To this ends, they packed their bags and vacationed to highly remote areas, more remote than Montana.
Of course, most of them stayed, but the number of those who left was great enough to attracted the attention of the media. This (as it later proved to be) was the first information I had heard with regards to the catastrophe. The media could fabricate no reason for the sudden increase in the tourist industry and the sudden decrease in the population of Montana, but it was curious and thus was their duty to report even if it proved to be utterly useless.
It did prove to be utterly useless mostly due to the how late everyone realized that vacationing to remote locations was indeed a very good idea at the time, but I will not expound upon this at the moment. The desertion was just curious and nothing more than that.
Needless to say, Scot continued with his search for a herd even if he wasn’t looking for a herd to begin with.
The weather was eerily clam by midday, and minute clouds suspended themselves in the sky, which was a pail blue, darkening as one looked from directly up to parallel with the earth. The air was calm and not a single breeze dared to interrupt the absolute stillness which had settled upon the region. Silence was all that existed. The absence of noise became noise itself.
Thus, the concreteness of the sky seemed more of a surreality then a realness entirely. It was nothingness in a physical form. Then, for a moment, a tiny cloud blotted out the sun, bathing the earth in shadow, but it quickly passed. For Scot, this was a wondrous effect.
As time progressed and noon turned to evening, the horse happened upon a bush that was rustling peculiarly. Upon nearing it, a medium sized coyote leaped dextrously out, carrying a dead hare between its jaws. The blood of the recently killed prey was dripping slowly where the coyote’s teeth had penetrated the flesh. As Scot added on the matter, “a coyote is hungry and eats because the coyote is hungry and knows that the coyote is hungry.”
The coyote glared at Scot but was also curious as to this new and sudden arrival. This is what the horse observed. Scot, however, was not particularly interested the coyote’s existence aside from the fact that he posed a threat to his life. Thus, the horse barred his teeth aggressively with his ears back and head low, conveying all possible levels of abhorrence and menace so that the coyote would not think it a greater prize having come across a much larger prey.
At this point, the coyote’s stoic, almost inanimate stance faltered. Scot’s interpretation of the events concludes that apparently, the animal did not expect such a sudden display of aggression. For this reason, the coyote felt a need to retaliate. This proved to be difficult; he had all intention of barking at the horse, but could not do so as his jaws were locked around his previous quarry.
So, as to be expected, he did the sensible thing considering his desire and let fall the hare in order to voice his hostility towards Scot. The horse lunged at him, and the coyote retreated hastily, not wishing to be fatally trampled by a enraged stallion. He left the dead hare where he dropped it. It sat there motionless, and Scot looked upon it with pity.
He also pitied the coyote because he would soon suffer from the same pangs of hunger he had suffered from, and this was–to say the least–entirely Scot’s fault for coming across the animal in the first place and displaying such aggression. I asked him why he should feel such remorse for an animal to which he did not comment.
In truth, it was a necessary action, for the horse himself was threatened by the coyote equally. Thus, Scot decided, despite his remorse, that there was nothing to be said for the event. It happened, and it was Scot who was fevered with regret. No doubt (according to the horse) the coyote felt similarly in some way. There is nothing to conclude except that we are all herbivores grazing in a field of life, and death is the hunter.
This having been accepted, Scot proceeded about his life as was his manner and took to grazing lightly in the faded evening glow. The heathenish light from the sun danced in dazzling flames upon the horse’s coat. It gradually grew redder until it simply vanished, and then it was nighttime.
Scot felt the tug of sleep upon his weary eyelids, but he knew that the forthcoming watch must remain as vigilant as the previous night. As long as he was alone, he would not allow a lapse in his guard, and this proved to be most beneficial to this account. I say this because had he not sacrificed his peace for the steadfast protection of his life, the work simply would have never existed.
For several long periods of time (Scot does not state units) he remained silent and still–a mere silhouette upon the moonlit backdrop. He stood nervously, poised to investigate the slightest disturbance or sound. His vigil might have been easier had their indeed been a disturbance or sound, but the region remained resolutely noiseless.
The absoluteness of the silence was profound. It instilled upon Scot, a feeling of nothingness yet also a feeling of anticipation–almost as if in a moment this temporary limbo would be settle into a heaven or be shattered into a raging maelstrom of hell. Scot waited. He continued to wait.
A cool zephyr passed over his hair and fluttered his mane, but it did not create the smallest sound. In pertinence to this, Scot was determined to combat the will of nature. If nothing else was going to disturb the peace with even a minute noise, then he wouldn’t either. He and nature would see who falters first. It, of course, was a contest of pretend nonexistence–hide-and-seek in essence.
Scot waited some more. The stars were twinkling through a transparent and thin horizon. They glared with blinding brilliance, and Scot watched them not move. The infinitely distant suns struggled to show there true light upon the earth, and the nearest of them only managed to appear indirectly off of the moon’s glassy surface. The stars formed various shapes, which Scot was playing with in his mind. One line here, another there, and soon an ideal picture of the most beautiful mare was illustrated in the sky. There was no mare floating in the sky.
Scot waited a tad more. Another zephyr passed over his head, and this one did not emit a single sound as well. Scot snorted quietly but restively. He had lost the competition.
Yet another zephyr passed over his head, and as if to exclaim Scot’s defeat, it too did not emit a noise. It was relaxing, though. It skipped like a ballet dancer across the air and barely touched his mane, dogging all the tiny shrubs and only contacting the largest object–the horse. The wind was very skilled at this game, and Scot waited some more...
And then, all hell broke out. A ravenous carnivore leapt from the nearby bushes and sank it fangs into Scot’s flanks. The horse went mad with fear and let out a high-pitched squeal, which shattered the delicate silence of the night.
More figures paced about him, calculating the precise moment and angle in which to attack the herbivore so to avoid injury by his flailing motions and deal a mortal blow.
In a moment, Scot had thrown the coyote from his hide with the shear force of sporadic movements and of his powerful muscles. Even with his acute night vision, he could hardly make out the black shapes converging on him poised for the fatal attack which would bring him down upon the dirt floor and cease his life.
He kicked and spun in a berserk rage, hoping against all hope that it might fend off the aggressors. He reared into the air as one particularly bold coyote sprang forth to claim his prize. The hunter narrowly avoided an instant death under the hooves and weight of eight hundred-pound animal.
The attack was relentless. Scot was in terrible danger. He could feel the bite marks of the coyote searing his flesh and burning through the body, but this only served to fan the flames which coursed though his soul and increase his fury.
He could see such passing glimpses of white fangs, pointed and razor-sharp as the light of the moon shown upon them. They flashed like bodyless jaws, floating in the darkness and lunging upon him only for the sake of appeasing a voracious hunger. Cold sweat turned though his coat and body, which sent shivers of terror along his spine.
Scot could sense his death was imminent. It was drawing around him with each circling of the carnivores. He had only seconds left, and then, it came. The coyotes rushed in unison. Scot leapt in one final effort, envisioning the ruthless meat eaters tearing flesh from limb as he remained barely enough alive to feel his body being devoured. He landed with sickening crunch upon the dirt. And as soon as it all came, it was over. The threat vanished; the coyotes retreated.
It took a decent amount of time for Scot to calm himself after the horror and stress of the high stakes battle. Sweat was still dripping profusely though his coarse hairs and had foamed into a sort-of lather. He breathed cold air quickly through flaring nostrils. Gradually, he nerves relaxed, and he decided to reflect on what had happened–particularly what had inspired flight in the aggressor.
He looked upon the ground where the battle had occurred and saw a limp body sprawled upon the dirt. Its left paw twitched slightly. Its rib cage was shattered and compressed, and a few of the bones punctured the flesh where Scot’s hooves had landed. It wined pitifully for a brief moment and then shut its eyes–dead as dead can be.
Why the coyotes retreated is not entirely evident, though I do believe that Scot must have killed the alpha male, the pack leader. Scot informed me that he believes the dead coyote was the largest of the bunch, but one cannot be sure in such an emotionally charged situation.
In fact, one can never be sure in any situation as long as there is a situation. Even with the likely reason that the coyotes retreated upon their leader’s death, this is not typical behavior for these carnivores.
First of all, they are not pack hunters and generally rely on individualistic cunning. Coyotes have been known from time to time to conjoin forces into a single hunting machine, but this occurs infrequently. A single coyote would not be a great threat to a large herbivore like Scot, but a pack is extremely dangerous. Also, it must be noted that pack hunters do not usually retreat upon the injury of a member, even the alpha male.
My personal theory on the matter is that the animals were behaving more aggressively due to the catastrophe which had occurred and was still occurring.
During disasters, living beings tend to become more belligerent as they brace themselves for the survival of the race. I know this is even true for human beings, who are above the level of common animals.
One such example is during the aftermath of a hurricane. People in the midst of flooded streets can be seen to loot stores and various other businesses in hopes of obtaining the necessary (and sometime unnecessary) requirements for continued living. Killings also increase, which is a result of aggression but is also contradictory because in a crisis situation, people should be supporting one another in order to insure the greatest number of survivors. Murdering each other surely won’t achieve this and yet, murder occurs frequently.
Perhaps this is directly related to the proportion of those who work towards the benefit of a race and those who counteract it. I am, however, not sure on this matter and so will not proceed further. Instead, I will continue with some of my discussion with Scot at this point in the retelling of the account.
I asked him if he felt remorse for having killed a coyote–a much greater transgression than simply scaring one off as is what occurred before. Scot told me that he did greatly–unbearably for that matter. He also said that he must avoid dwelling on the matter. “Death is death, and the coyotes ran to me knowing that they were running in the midst of death, and I was in the midst of death. I regret it, but regret is suffering. And suffering is life; grieving is not...” Thus, life is all about coyotes.
That same night, Scot did sleep, though he didn’t necessarily think it prudent at the time. He was, however, weary from the previous battle and sleep deprived to begin with. The horse figured that if he didn’t rest at some point, life would become increasingly difficult, and he would eventually die.
Though awareness while not sleeping proves to be a great protection, but it eventually takes its tole when the living being is no longer able to function at standards during the day. Death will come then instead of at night. To me, this was all very acceptable and logically sound in the way Scot described it. Unfortunately, he continued his description into a realm that instilled an uneasiness upon me. This was mostly due to what it implied.
Scot did sleep, and he also (as he suggested to me) dreamt. At first, he stood with his legs locked and his eyes shut into a black absence of thought. Then, after several minutes, a picture manifested itself which was vivid and possessed a concreteness as if it was simply another reality.
I sat before him dumbfounded and silent. I could not control myself enough refute anything he told me but instead, listened ever more intently with an ever growing fear. At the same time I was being enticed by my curiosity, I was also experiencing a burning pain which yelled for me to stop and which I ignored. My curiosity was too great to be wavered by these prickles of forebodance.
Scot continued by describing the setting of the place: “A bright bush that glowed yellow and then blue was hovering in the air, and next to it was a little island just big enough for a patch of grass and a small tree. The tree grew up out of the floating dirt, and its branches arched over me.”
“Then, a small human foal rode past me one some strange object with two spinning circles. He stopped some ways under the tree with the arching limbs and pointed to a small rock barely the size of a hoof. And that rock moved and fell.”
“It land upon mare in center of the tree, and the branches unfolded to reveal her. The rock merged with her back and was absorbed. I could smell her. She was beautiful like a morning breeze just before one is awake but is waking. But then the child’s face went bad, and he frowned, becoming something dark and mean. And he menacingly point a finger at the mare again.”
“From his finger and the surrounding area erupted black shapes with blood soaked fangs, and they dove at her. I watched helplessly, bound to the floor as my hooves melted into the dirt. I watched as each black shape tore a section of her body off until all that was left was a putrid skeleton whose blank eye sockets stared at me imploringly but also in anger.”
“Then, I smelt it–a reek of death and her former smell changing into something horrible–something that drew me in and tore apart my body in sadness. And I saw the human foal, who was now a man but ugly with hate. He grinned at me for the smell was now his. Then, he pointed a long black stick at me. And there was a horrible crack and fire–oh fire that burned! I woke up. The sun was hot on my head...”
“I do not know why I dreamt that, if dreamt is the right word. I guess I dreamt that because of what had happened with coyotes. I also hoped to some day establish a big herd for the good of all like me. I cannot be sure this is why I dreamt it. I only think I know it. This is my idea. I know there is some human who likes to think of dreams. I don’t bother. It gains nothing but confusion and no good answers because there are no answers. I think his name was Sighhiieh Fraud, but I cannot be sure. The name is hard to say right...” and Scot continued apparently unaware of the ghastly expression which had engrafted itself upon my face.
Or perhaps, the ghastly feeling was so profound that it remained internally within my heart and mind and was too painful even to define itself with physical gestures. It was a seed which had planted itself within me and could only grow until its roots had dug into my intestines and its angular branches sprang forth through my skin. It was a seed of doubt–the doubt I had experienced ever since I had come across Scot, but now I had felt it for some reason gnawing in my gut.
Scot described a nightmare to me. I don’t believe that horses dream during sleep, nor do I believe that they have long term dreams for the future. Animals only exist in the present; they don’t think in the past of memories or in the future of dreams. The horse’s evidence proves against me. Unless his recount is true, Scot would have had to fabricate the story entirely. I absolutely cannot believe that he would do that, so this isn’t an answer for me either. Lying is a sin.
“Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor.’ for we are all members of one another.” -Ephesians 4:25
I don’t know what is wrong with me. What am I becoming? Last Sunday, Father Heinrich preached a sermon on the nature of the human soul being constant and either under His light or the devil’s dominion as determined by God at birth. The significance of the catastrophe and its involvement of everyone at this point had provoked the religious community into a fanatical two color spectrum–black and white, good and evil.
I confess that during the sermon, I could not control myself enough to keep my seat. Instead, I stood up and contradicted the Father in the middle of his preaching, professing that the soul changes over time and that the individual is capable of change. There was a hushed silence and stifled gasps at such heresy, but still, I could not bring myself to stop. The father looked down upon me from his pulpit and stared half out of anger, half out of shock by my sudden effrontery, and half out of a righteous pity. My words did not cease with the contradiction, however, and I continued by incensing the already baffled congregation to a further degree of horror.
I preached that the soul experiences the life of the body it inhabits, and this alters it over time. The bad are shaped into bad through their life experiences and how they reacted to these particular experiences, and since the bad did not choose what occurred in their life and might not have been instructed on the ways to a morally right path, they deserve pity. They cannot necessarily be considered bad either mostly due to the fact they fell to the uncontrollable nature of change and were blown around like leaves in the wind–God’s wind–His creation, mind you. Anything that experiences life also experience life’s changes, and this determines the nature of the soul.
Once I had finished, it took a couple of moments for my audience to realize that I had ceased my calm ravings. I do believe that they were still fixed back at the point where I first spoke out against the priest in such a rude fashion. I felt terrible, but I had lost control entirely. My doubt was gripping me, and I could do nothing as hundreds of eyes stood blankly fixed upon me. I stood erect and frozen in the center of the church, positioned upon an invisible pulpit. The priest was the first to speak.
“Mrs. Amnerson, I cannot justly deny anyone admittance to a house of God–the almighty whose arms are open to all those who would open their hearts to him–but might I suggest that you not stay here right now. I would hope that you’ll reflect on what you have said. It is quickly like this that the devil so deftly takes hold of those thought most pious when they let their minds stray. They start to believe that the world is all good or all bad, and soon they fall prey to the dark prince himself who is ever waiting. I hope that you will come back later to see me when there are less ears to be injured. If you will allow it, I can steer you back to the righteous path, but I will not let you corrupt innocent souls during you time of ignorance. I hope for your sake that you will return. I pray you will.”
“Father Heinrich,” I replied, “I was not hailing those who seek to injure others. I was just explaining that the humanity, in essence, is not evil and that goodness and evilness are not present within the living. The living only experience that which is around them, and this influences them. It is all the same...”
“Go!” he interrupted with a sudden eruption of stoic forcefulness and finality, which gave the impression that he was the process of performing an particularly strenuous exorcism. I walked as quickly as my worn body would allow me through the rows and across the blood red carpets. I felt the painful jabs of a thousand staring eyes upon my back, and upon leaving the church, I felt the needle-like pricks of a frigid wind in my face. I was wretched for having questioned the words of one of God’s voices on earth, but also aggrieved for having been persecuted for saying that which I was unable to restrain myself from saying. Then again, God doesn’t lie or speak; only men do. What is wrong with me?
After a few days, I did contact Father Heinrich as he had prayed I would, but only to ask him how horses played into the grand scheme of existence. He was, to say the least, puzzled by my inquiry and for what reason I found the world of horses so urgent in current state of my soul. I cast aside his questions and insisted that he answer me promptly.
In summation, his response was that God’s will does not apply to them aside from the fact that He created them to serve man to whom He bequeath reason. “They were created simply like God created rocks or twigs–animate, yet inanimate.” In other words, they do not fit into the scheme of existence. This is, of course, how he and many others view the matter, but if it is true, then doesn’t animals’ existence contradict his argument? How can it be true if animals with feelings and desires exist? This troubles me greatly because if we look down upon animals, how could...yes and I will say it!... how could we ever treat them fairly?
It seems as though humans find it easier to justify to themselves taking advantage of animals as much as they do by not acknowledging their anima. How much does everything change, when suddenly we must value a bird, a rat, or a bull as much as ourselves–not in a mere materialistic fashion, though some view love, marriage, and other humans in such a way. Oh, and how easy does it become to oppress once something is considered not human or inhuman!
This was entirely evident in the concentration camps of World War II. Need I explain further than to simply mention what the Nazis’ views of the Jewish people were at the time–how they were considered to be the heathenish downfall of the German people–how inferior their race?
This is also evident from the slavery in United States, and in Saudi Arabia, England, China, America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Slavery persists today. We have not yet abolished it.
Not considering animals in religion, philosophy, and morality makes humans’ lives much easier lest other animals appear too human. This is understandable to some degree. We silently whisper to ourselves how ignorant all other life is–how inanimate. Yet still, life is life. Animals feel pain and pleasure, sadness and happiness, rage and infatuation, apathy and contentedness, depression and jubilance, fear and resolve, anxiety and excitement, sickness and healthiness, life and death. There is one that I did not mention, which I personally feared should prove true, but I will not expound upon it now.
Now it must be know that these events occurred all of last Sunday. On the current Sunday, I skipped church altogether and instead spent my time with the horse, gathering notes for his account. I am so curious, but at the same time I enjoy it, I am also tormented. Is my immortal soul suffering from this? Am I being profaned by giving into my desire which is to hear an animals thoughts?
I can feel myself slipping under the corruption of an animalistic passion–curiosity. More accurately, I am slipping under a drive to rid myself of habitual thought. Certain things which I have never questioned before I am now questioning with the algorithmic precision of a machine. Quickly, I move in a progression of thoughts; one uncertain idea leads to another. If one is questionable, then the rest are equally questionable.
It hurts so terribly, but I must listen, write, and ponder. I hope to God that each stroke of my pen is not subjecting my soul to blows by the devil himself, each strike chipping off a piece of my being. This is such a horrid thing to have befallen me as old as I am and nearing death. I will be forsaken after such a long life’s devotion to chastity and righteousness, yet I must write. I am compelled to write. God forgive me.
I will resume the account after Scot had spent several more days in much the same manner as he had up until this point.
The horse woke early before dawn to a slightly colder air, which had settled upon the surrounding area and seemed to cause even the spears of grass the shiver soundlessly. Scot glanced up at the stars and saw the feeble and oblivious moon hanging pointlessly above a patch of clouds. Every now and then, a lumbering whiff of vapor would blot out the pale light, and the witless moon acted in nor accord to prevent it. The opportunity to stifle the moon’s reflected light was limitless, and thus, malicious cloud after malicious cloud took advantage only mere seconds between departures. The foolish orb let the clouds block its gentle shine and was ever unaware of its plight.
This proceeded for much of the remaining morning hours until the sun finally brandished its sword through the open air and scorched the sky like a fiery brand upon tough hide. And yet, the clouds continued to humiliate even the lordship of that golden speck. Of course, the light was always present by its shear intensity, but it did not care whether or not it was dimmed by vapors. This is, more or less, what I have gathered from Scot’s descriptions. I wonder, is the horse is capable of sarcasm, or is he, perchance, trying to communicate an idea?
Now that the morning had taken a firm hold of time, Scot ventured across the grasses, pursuing the same goal he had committed himself to a week ago. Surely after no success in finding a herd or even a herdmate, he would have given up, but against all reason, he proceeded in his endeavor, searching to fulfill his particular dream, if I dare call it that. Scot commented on the matter, “they are there, so I walk and look, but I do not know they are there, so as long as they can be there, I walk and look.”
Thus, the horse dedicated himself to walking and looking, but even with such determination, he was unable to gather any of the information or companionship which were his affairs to seek. The concept of a herd remained an always possible, but ever distant prospect. It was a image of desire and an image of expectation–hope, none the less– but it stayed clouded in the back of Scot’s mind because he could not physically have what it was that he pictured. In short, he dreamt of having it.
After a period of time, Scot discovered that a fierce itch was developing alongside his back. This simple backfire of nerves became unbearable, and the horse attempted to arch his neck beyond comfortable range so he could use his teeth to scratch it. The attempt, however, proved to be an unsuccessful endeavor as much as the search for a herd.
Having failed once but not given up, he instead laid his breadth and length upon the floor and began to roll around vigorously in the dirt. This movement kicked up so much dust and debris that it clouded the air and stifled the lungs.
For the horse, though, it was well worth the effort and sacrifice since the tingling sensation became agonizingly painful. He twisted back and forth, and if viewed from the unsuspecting eye, he would have simply appeared to be frolicking in the dirt. He was, however, committing himself to a task, not just for the sake of caprice or enjoyment, although the itch itself was capricious and its banishment would be joyful.
As the itchy area frictioned against rough stones and prickly shrubs, the intensity began to diminish until the feeling was almost entirely obliterated. The horse returned to his hooves and sneezed an tremendous equine sneeze, spewing phlegm and the rust-colored dirt from his sinuses in a puff of mist. All in all, he had thankfully overcome yet another life threatening situation to add to his daily routine of life threatening situations.
Now that this pressing irritation was abated, it was time to cease a much more painful and threatening loneliness, which plagued the horse and stifled his life. As long as the wretched disease remained within his body–his very cells–he would be incapacitated, unable to live as much as he could.
Loneliness is a walking death, and it is not the physical absence of another like being that is the great symptom of pain. Rather, it is the physical absence of an intangible thought. The true absurdity is that the thought is both the disease and the relief. It both fills in the void-like emptiness and creates other pits of desire.
In this way, it spreads like a pathogen, enveloping whole towns, always exponentially growing. It compounds itself until all that remains is hope, and all other feelings like contentedness, enjoyment, and the like are extinguished. And hope resides, not so much an emotion but an absence there of.
According to Scot, there are really only two cures for loneliness. They are “the real being of the need (the physical presence of the desired person or object) and the sudden thought that it might never be there without giving up trying.” Like diseases, the first of these–the antidote, if you will–may or may not actually expel the contaminate. It depends on the disease and the host. The latter allows the disease to go into remission on its own. This does not always work either, and sometimes the host dies of it. Only the realization of loneliness’ fatality will suppress it entirely in whatever organism it afflicts. Yes, loneliness is indeed fatal.
Needless to say, a combination of both antidote and remission in an amalgam of remedies is sometimes required as in the case of Scot. Even today, he remains bedridden with loneliness. It is in light of this that I have finally realized what it was that always grieved him–his need for companionship of his own kind.
Still, I don’t fully understand it since he has many more alike to him on my farm. He himself has even stated that “they are same as me in all way, and my human speak does not matter to me.” I must say that it does not appear to be the same disease which Scot originally described his loneliness to be. He does not speak of it, so I must guess.
Of course, his time with the inept owner compounded his grief, but the disease itself can be traced back much earlier in Scot’s account. Perhaps, it is a want to share his memories with another being not of the same species and he is fighting the disease as I speak. His statement contradicts this in a way, though. I shall not think more on this subject until he is ready to confide more to me.
He might never be fully rid of his disease of loneliness–the same loneliness that we all possess. Nevertheless, I won’t know until he is purged or he dies, if I don’t die first. I pray he will be banish his pain for his sake, and for this reason I attempt to maintain a daily regiment of company of his kind and myself. This is all I can do. I don’t know enough about the disease to cure it besides to maintain his healthiness.
Now that I have strayed greatly from his actual account, let me retrace my steps back to where I had left off. Ah yes, it was at the moment of the horse’s first administration of antidote, so to speak...
After having grazed and found a trickle of water along a wall of smooth stones from which to drink, Scot came across a scent that he recognized, but to which he did not immediately react. The primary reason was that it seemed too good to be true. There it was, the most beautiful scent in the world, floating like a bodiless fragrance upon the undulating breeze.
I gather that Scot had bent his thoughts on maintaining the image of a herd so much that when he finally came upon the actuality of it, he was startled into disbelief. He couldn’t fathom the actuality of the scents existence. Realization, however, slowly began to draw upon him as his ears perked up in curiosity. He began to pace in small increments towards the scent’s origin. Then, as if suddenly let loose from his restraints, he broke into a full gallop, not wishing for the moment to be lost in circumspection.
As he trotted, the scent gain potency until it became an overwhelming force upon his body and mind; it seeped into his blood and warmed him out of his grief. In essence, he became the scent–the ever compelling force which demands, or rather, forcibly takes another’s heart. He submitted to it fully and irrevocably. He would never again be able to live in absence of that scent.
As his pacing slowed, he happened upon the source of his obligation for the first time. She was a lovely, crimson horse similar to himself but, according to Scot, all the more beautiful. Upon sighting Scot, she became inquisitive. Her ears rotated forward telling the horse that she was not feeling at all threatened and desiring to investigate this new appearance of a like being. Scot stated on the matter:
“I would think that she felt the same as I had whilst searching for her. She nickered to me and said that she had been searching for so many suns and moons. She also stated that she ‘was hesitant for not seeing what it might be not within that which now she sees.’ I sorry, it difficult to say in human speak. This is why she did not right away come accept me. In truth it is the same reason why I did not accept her, although I felt so jubilant for her being and me finding her. We did not come to each other right away...” and so forth. Even after they came across that which they were searching for most desperately, they couldn’t even believe their senses upon discovering each other. It took more than a moment for this confusion to disperse. The Universal Law of Animal Life dictates that you must hesitate for a 5.83 seconds before embracing another as your own.
The mare gradually eased out of her frozen stance and stepped towards Scot until she was able to sniff him up close. She moved her flaring nostrils along his neck and flanks as if scanning every fiver of his being. The stallion did likewise to her. After several moments in such a manner the mare placed her head over his neck in embrace–the equine equivalent of a hug. Scot was overjoyed.
Even still, he feared that she could vanish out of concreteness at any moment for any reason. How did he know she was not just a figment of his mind which spawned out of shear want? He assured himself that nothing could break the bond which they had so strongly formed–a bond of friendship, a bond of trust, a bond of...and still he was doubtful.
He could not dwell on these thoughts, however. He had to live and not succumb to the inconclusiveness of thought versus feeling. At least, he would use his feelings to assume she was there with him, even if she wasn’t.
Scot expressed to me that the mare did not have a name in the sense that humans name each other. He knew her by her scent–an identity that was bequeath upon her by birth and not by any sire or parent. In a sense, she was born and suddenly alive, suddenly herself. The name just popped out of nonexistence. Thus, to call her by something was shear absurdity. He could for instance, whinny in a certain wavering pitch and then cadence down to a low nicker every time he wanted to attract her attention, but in truth any sound he could produce would in turn train her gaze upon him.
As Scot wittily put it, “if I wanted to get her to see me, I would get her to see me. If I wanted to talk to her, I would talk to her. If we always said the same thing to each other, how can we learn to say other things?” In conclusion, names are little mice that scurry out of one being’s mouth and into another’s ear for reuse later. Eventually, the mice grow old and die somewhere along their journey. And sometimes they are even too fat to get out of the beings mouth in the first place. And there are too many of those who are poor and do not have enough mice.
Scot and the mare, who I will call Laila for the sake of reference, traveled and grazed together under the golden sun, which smiled outwards. Perhaps the sun was smiling upon their union. Perhaps it wasn’t and with no particular reason. It does not matter for the horses were inseparable, joined by invisible bonds of mutual benefaction.
Each, in turn, watched over one another with no hesitation. Scot was finally relieved of his solemn watch. No longer would the stallion have to stand alert and awake within the black abyss of night, calling silently for someone, anyone to fill his empty solitude and coalesce some felicity from the nothingness that absorbed the very air. They were together, and that was all that mattered. Life is life and unity is unity. Sometimes they overlap.
The bond, which joined their lives, was so strong that neither could be called an autonomous being. They existed as components of the same organism. And yet, they were both individuals, freely thinking whatever thoughts they choose. It was a unique relationship to say the least, not one that I can say readily exists in humans. This bond I suspect can only occur within a herd. It is that fellowship which links herbivores’ lives together such as in the case of Laila and Scot. They were united and only in death would they part from each other, or so they thought. That, however, is another matter, reserved for latter in this account.
Upon one particular morning, Scot caught a scent from Laila that was altogether different from any other one she had diffused in the past. It was more compelling, more invigorating. It surged through every microbe of the stallion’s being. He felt drawn to her, gradually coming closer as she drew him in with an invisible line, his every fiber wound upon a spindle of adamantine thread. Each twirl drew him around the mare until every minute weave became taught and secure. Laila was at the height of her estrus, and Scot was caught upon her scent. Needless to say, I will not continue on to describe the details of equine reproduction.
Instead of listening further to Scot’s vivid descriptions, I quickly changed the subject, thus avoiding the overweening awkwardness of the situation and my own personal embarrassment. Oddly enough, my self-consciousness also included a tinge of anger–anger which seemed to have no origin or any particular reason for being. This anger was in all earnestness directed toward Scot himself, but deeper within me I did not wish to be irate with the animal.
So, I presented a question, which of course, was not asked entirely in want of an answer. Indeed, it came out rather bluntly, more so than it needed to be, however, my anger was gradually bubbling–frothing up from my bowels. Alas, I was not at all tactful in what I asked as to be expected. It was with good intentions that I questioned the horse so rudely, for I did not wish for my anger to increase at him.
The emotion that surged through me was of a disquieted rage, and it was not only unpleasant but potentially destructive. My question might have hurt Scot, but it probably afflicted less pain upon him than if I had not released the unvented steam building within me. It was a necessary circumvention of his story.
Daresay, I implored him as to whether he felt any tinge of indecency having been aware that he was once human and having just copulated with a common animal.
“What is copulated?” he witlessly asked. Rather, it came out as “Whhuyyht hyyhys ceyyhperheiteeih?” which it hardly ineligible to hear let alone inscribe upon a page. This was to be expected considering the fact that his vocal chords in their current orientation were not designed for proper speech.
Oh, but this did not excuse his lack of knowledge! I took a few moments to enlighten him of this apparently new concept, which required a bit of ingenuity on my part, though it should have been a reasonably simple notion for him to comprehend. I beg that the reader does not inquire further as to my methods. My descriptions were, let’s say...creative.
“Oh, you mean merging of body,” was his response, unarticulate, and obviously dumb. “If indecency means not feel good, then I don’t feel indecency.”
“But it was an animal!” my irritation building further.
“Do you feel bad when you merge with another animal?” he calmly asked of me. I looked at him perplexed. I could not believe he was implying that I have coupled with an animal. How repulsive! I quickly voiced my indignance, and upon hearing me, the horse’s ears turned back, and I knew that I had over stepped my bounds.
Horses are temperamental and do not take well to outbursts, especially outbursts of spite or rage. This expression of turning the ears away is an expression of agitation. This is what he was communicating towards me. My wits came about me more, and I regretted having attacked Scot for no reason. My anger seemed to have been consuming energy from some hidden source. I was so remorseful. It came upon me like a wave upon rock. I apologized, but no apology was enough.
Once again, I attempted to resume the conversation, and having drifted so far from our previous exchanges, I was at a temporary loss. After a moment, I asked, “Did you love her?” I felt the beast that former rage gradually lift its eyes and become aware again. The flame of anger was reigniting as if from ember that was ignore, now rising to scorch the unwary person who had treaded to close. My own speech seemed to trigger this flame.
“Love? I think I remember this concept, but I don’t be for sure. Can you explain?” My anger grew, but I was collected enough to describe the notion.
“If you mean that, then I desired her and she desired me, and we needed each other, so we did love each other.”
“No! You don’t understand me. Here, think of it in these terms. When a man loves a woman, he’ll do anything to please and support her, emotionally and financially. He takes her to different places and cherishes her, consoling her with soft words, embracing her, protecting her. She, in turn, does the same for him in her ways. The man goes to great lengths to have the woman, and she resists at first. In light of his attempt at wooing her, she flatters him but also flirts with him! She will not give over without cautiousness in order to ensure her lover’s chivalry, chastity, and fidelity. Thus, when they finally embrace, the love that is their’s is their’s alone and no other’s. It is deep and passionate, not merely a passing infatuation that only glances at the surface of love. It is for their mutual benefaction.
“Let me not to the marriage of minds
Admit impediments; love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
Oh no, it is an ever-fixéd mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.”
His response was this: “I supported her. We ran across the planes together, and she and I nuzzled each other affectionately. Each day while she grazed I stood over her, eating not. Only in a moment could she have been snatched from me, and so in time she was. I don’t hold it against; life is life. She flirted with me, such as before we had our merging of bodies. I would chase her, and she would cunningly evade. Then, she would pause as if waiting, but after enticing me to join her, she trotted off, and I would chase her again. Eventually, she, after quite some time with our diversion, gave into me, convinced I was of good and true intent. Why did we hesitate before meeting? Would she want me to abandon her and her foal? I loved her. I protected her. I would always be there for her, and I love her still, though she is gone...gone.”
“But you cannot love her! You are not capable!” was my response to his argument. At this moment, I was teeming with agitation. It was burning within my deepest gut. The horse snorted but otherwise remained silent, watching me through his dark, warm eye. “You cannot love because you do not have a soul! God is love, and you have no god. You are an animal!” Though I said this with all intention of provoking him, his response was calm–a highly controlled question in spite of my condescension. His frankness startled me, but I detected a tinge of sadness within his words, which grew as he continued. His oval eyes were glazed with a small moisture.
“Why can’t I have a soul or love? Is it because I am different, or do you not love me? Would it hurt so much for one to say that those who are different can love, have a soul. What could one lose by sharing such a simple thing. All I know is that the grass grows short or tall. The wind blows north, south, east, or west. Life is life. Love is love.”
Now I felt the anger consume itself until it ceased to be. In its stead a wracking pity sunk into my thoughts. It was terrible, wretched, utterly intolerable. I felt my whole body retch in spasms of pity. And yet, the horse continued, and I could but listen helplessly as each passing word fed the sorrow. I was speechless, mute...dumb beyond compare.
“You treat me differently because you think I am different. This is understandable. You think I am different because you wish to not be the same is me? Why?”
“I have been beaten, starved, whipped, spurred, overworked, teased by your foals, pelted by rocks, strangled, imprisoned, shackled. I have experienced more chance at death in human hands than ever in the wild. Why? All I give is my love. I am different, and so I am tortured? Please tell me why. What have I done?”
I could sense it now. The irresistible curiosity I had experienced before was not a curiosity at all. It was something wholly different–something that compelled and did not let go. Change had captured me in its clawed grip and would not release until it had its course, the pointed talons sinking deeper and more painfully with each passing moment.
I felt them fleeing, all hopes and happiness–all that could be called human. I could feel myself being swallowed up by a void of meaninglessness. I knew not what I was changing into, but it was no physical change.
I resisted, but it was not my place to resist. I resisted like the clouds resist a breeze. I resisted like a dropped stone resist the earth. I resisted like the mindless tides resist the relentless tug of the moon. I pleaded in my mind for him to stop, screaming silently with no listener to listen–only my own tormented self which granted no solace. I could not resist. I could not shirk the mental convulsions of change. The horse continued.
“I waked, and I slept. I toiled, and I rested to ready myself for more toil. I did what I did. I did not bite. A man kicks a dog, and the dog likely bites him. A man hits a man, and likely gets hit back. Only the dog can be put down...”
“If I am so horrible, I beg you to kill me now. My sorrow is large, and it only grows. This is not life. I am not alive."
And so I was left with all that I had before but not as it was. Pain, happiness, grief–they were all changed, and upon my completed transformation I drew a single conclusion (life is not without a sense of absurd irony); in the end, I concluded that animals feel pain and pleasure, sadness and happiness, rage and infatuation, apathy and contentedness, depression and jubilance, fear and resolve, anxiety and excitement, sickness and healthiness, life and death...and love.