User:Eirik/Dead Horse Point

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Dead Horse Point

Author: Eirik

Click.

Click.

"Good lord, this is beautiful."

Click.

Vincent lowered his camera and took the full view in. The sheer rock walls of the mountains, carved almost delicately by the waters of the Colorado River and the winds that blew across the Utah landscape, were simply breathtaking.

After living in the wasteland of Los Angeles for so long he'd forgotten that something could be this breathtaking. He couldn't remember ever seeing anything so dramatic in his life. He was glad that the waitress at the coffee shop in Moab had mentioned this place when he told her he was going out to Arches National Park.

"A little vacation?" she'd asked, pointing at the travel brochures he had read over breakfast.

"Research, actually," he said with a grin. "I'm writing a book I want to set out there."

A light had dawned in her eyes, "You're Vincent Musk! I read your last book! Strange stuff," she added the last with a smirk and shake of the head.

Vincent had bowed his head a little at her recognition. Even if he'd been on the bestseller lists over a dozen times in the last few years, painfully few recognized him on sight. "Thanks, I do try." He waved a hand out the window at the landscape. "I saw some pictures of this place and thought about writing a story set in the old west."

"A horror story? Here?" she'd asked. "I guess I could see it. It's pretty barren." She seemed to think a moment as she poured his mug full. "You are going to Dead Horse Point, aren't you?"

Click.

Dead Horse Point. The name was a perfect title. He could see it already on the bestseller lists. It had been easy to find on a map, a state park about twenty miles from Arches. He'd almost considered not going, it was out of his way and he was behind schedule, but somehow he felt drawn there.

Click.

Right it was. He'd had the feeling ever since he pulled up to the ranger station, a strange sense of dread and unease. It was like when he'd found that small, abandoned airport he's set his last book at, only here it was almost felt real.

The short history of the place, a small mesa that was ideal for corralling wild mustangs in the 19th century, fit nicely with his books outline. The point itself was only connected to the rest of the mountain by a narrow band of rock. In years past, it had allowed settlers and cowboys to build thirty feet of fence and have an inescapable corral. It was a desolate, almost barren place. Save for some mesquite thickets and scraggy bushes, it could have been the surface of the moon.

It was quiet here, too. Disturbingly quiet.

He had come on a day when there were few other visitors, and his every step on the gravel pathways sounded loudly in his ears. The slight wind did little to lessen to oppressive heat that bore down on him, either.

The quiet, the heat. It was perfect.

Click.

Whirrrr....

As the camera rewound the film, he leaned against the small rock wall that overlooked the two thousand foot drop to the ground. In his minds eye, he watched a rider and mount fall to their deaths. A perfect scene for the climax of his novel.

It even seemed familiar, somehow.

Clip, clop.

Vincent jumped and turned at the sound, but nothing was there. A shudder ran up his spine. Writing a horror story set here wouldn't be a problem, he reasoned. It feels like death.

He shrugged it off and loaded another roll of film.

Click.

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The sky was dark with clouds, so dark that it almost seemed like night. The bolts of light that flew across the sky were shocking in their brilliance, and bone rattling in their sound as they struck the ground all around him.

He tried to run, terrified by the sound, but he had no where to go. A cliff there, a barrier there. There was no where to go.

Even as he raced around trying to escape, he felt the hope for water. The dark clouds meant water, didn't they? They always meant wat....

The ground vanished beneath him, and he let out a strangled cry that barely escaped his throat as he plunged down... down... down...

"Ahh!!" he screamed as he bolted straight up in bed, breathing hard. His heart was pounding, he could hear it in his ears, so he knew he was still alive. The sheets were completely soaked with sweat. He sat up like that for a long time, but his heart wouldn't settle down. Vincent was breathing so hard that he could feel his nostrils flare.

Water. He got out of bed and made a beeline for the kitchen. He really needed to have a drink of water, now. He grabbed a glass and started pouring it from the tap, sucking down as much of it as he could. Slowly, his panic left him as he refilled the glass.

"What is wrong with me?" he asked quietly to the empty kitchen. The nightmares hadn't seemed all that strange at first. Vincent had told interviewers over the years that he commonly got them whenever he started a new book. These were no different.

No different at all.

No different other than the screaming, the cold sweat and the unending thirst, of course. He was at the point where he couldn't remember the last time he'd slept a full night, or even a couple hours. All that, and he had started the book more than three months ago. He hadn't had a single night of rest since then.

Once his breathing was back to normal, he went back to the bedroom and laid on the damp, cold sheets. He didn't want to sleep, to dream again, but he was so tired. So very tired.

Slowly, his eyes closed and his body relaxed.

Now the sun was beating down on him relentlessly. There was no shade here, no water to take cover in. No mud to roll in. He worked his mouth, but it was so dry... So dry...

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"You look like crap, Musk."

Vincent took the offered glass of water and sipped it, "Thanks, Phillip. Nice to see you, too."

Phillip rolled his eyes, "I'm not your friend, Musk, I'm your publisher. I'm worried about you."

"You're worried about your half mil advance is more like it," he muttered as he fished a pair of aspirin out of his pocket.

Phillip leaned across the desk, "Look, let me level with you. I've thought you were a hack job from the moment I read your first book. If I'd been in charge of this place then you'd never have gotten published, but I overestimate the intelligence of the public," he leaned back and sighed. "Your books sell well, very well. If something is wrong and keeping you from writing, then I want to know about it."

It was Vincent's turn to roll his eyes, "Why would I tell you if I was having trouble?" he asked. "You're my publisher, not my friend." He sighed and rubbed his face, "I'm just a little stuck on the book right now, but I'm working through it."

"Ellen tells me that you're not sleeping well," he said flatly. "She's been your editor for a long time, she knows you. Something's wrong." He leaned back in his chair, "If you're not going to tell me, isn't there someone you could talk with about this?" he asked. "Friends? Your family?"

Vincent started to answer, then stopped. His family? He hadn't even thought about them in... had he ever really thought about them? He tried to search his memories and came up strangely blank. He couldn't remember his mother, father, anyone. Why couldn't he remember? Vincent finally shook his head and smiled. "There's nothing wrong, Phillip. I'm having some trouble writing this book and it's getting to me. All my other ones flowed out pretty fast. This one is like pulling my own teeth out with a pair of rusty, bloody pliers."

The publisher winced at the image. Vincent had learned a long time before that it took little to upset the sensibilities of this man. "Fine, but if you don't get a handle on things, I want you to go see a shrink."

"A shrink? What are they going to do?" he asked with the first genuine laugh he'd had in weeks. "I'd get one who's read my books and they'd have me committed."

Phillip didn't laugh. "Fine, but if you don't start doing some writing soon, this company will want to have its advance back. Got it?"

Vincent glowered at the man, but didn't press the issue. He was frankly too tired and worn out to try and argue the point. He turned and stalked out of the office, his head low and working his mouth slowly.

He turned down the hall and went straight to Ellens' office. "How could you?" he shouted at her as he barged in.

The gray haired woman almost dropped the phone in shock. "Call you back in a minute," she said quickly. "How could I what?" she asked in a shaky voice.

"You told Phillip I was having trouble sleeping!" he yelled, "Christ, what are you trying to do to me?"

Ellen stiffened in her chair. The woman was far from used to confrontation, "I'm sorry, but I had to tell him something! He was wondering why you hadn't delivered the roughs of the first..."

"I know that!" he yelled again. "You could have warned me!"

Slowly, the woman regained her composure. "What is bothering you so much, Vincent?" she asked. "This isn't like you."

Vincent seethed, but he suddenly felt drained. All at once he came crashing down to earth. The adrenaline he'd built up when he was called into Phillips office was gone. He almost felt his knees buckle out from under him and he fell hard onto the small sofa in her office. "I'm sorry," he said slowly, like the words were foreign to his mouth. "It's been a rough few months."

Ellen didn't get up from her desk, but her face took on a concerned look. "When was the last time you slept?" she asked.

He shrugged. "I dunno," he lied. "A couple weeks? Months?" Even as he said it, he felt his eyes slowly close on their own.

With barely a sound, Ellen got up from her chair and walked over to the dozing writer. With just a few gentle pushes, she had him laying out flat on the sofa and then she tiptoed out to let him sleep.

He was back on the mesa again, the sun was relentless, it felt like his whole body was afire. He'd tried rolling in the dust, but it didn't help. The ground was like fire, too.

If only he could get some water! The shrubs here were too dry, they had only a few sips of water in them. There were none left to eat, anyway. His mouth ached from the sharp spines of the cactus where he'd tried to eat one. He felt his entire body tremble uncontrollably from the thirst and pain. Water! There had to be some here! Desperately, he used the last of his strength to try and dig a hole into the ground! He kept hitting the hard earth, pulling the dust back, and back...

"Vincent!" he heard screamed. Suddenly, he was on all fours in Ellens' office. "What are you doing?"

He stared up at her with wide eyes, then slowly looked down. He looked down at his hands, seeing that somehow he had dug so hard at the carpet that his fingers were raw. "I don't know," he asked, feeling how dry his mouth was.

"What is wrong with you?" she asked, more incredulous than angry.

He looked at her desperately. "I don't know." Without another word, he bolted past her and out the door.

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The hammering of his heart hadn't stopped since he had run out of his editors office. He was still soaked in a cold sweat and could feel a sense of panic and dread that he couldn't shake. No matter what he did, he couldn't shake this feeling of dread.

Now he paced back and forth in his living room, his shoes echoing loudly on the wood floor. What the hell is going on? he asked himself over and over again. He hadn't slept in weeks, hadn't eaten much either. He was losing weight like crazy, and he was thirsty all the time. What was happening to him?

His knees buckled under him, and he fell exhausted onto the rug. He was so tired he couldn't even sob, but he didn't want to fall asleep. He didn't want to dream again. He couldn't take another nightmare. He sobbed slowly on the floor. He couldn't take another...

He paced back and forth on the rocky terrain, wearing a furrow into the earth. He was tired, thirsty and angry. Every muscle in his body ached and strained, but he didn't stop. He couldn't stop. He needed to keep moving, to run, lest that be denied him as much as water.

Water.

He could smell the water. It was so close. Carefully, he walked to the edge of the cliff and looked down at the greenish brown water of the river below. The wind carried the tantalizing scent of clean, fresh water. So close, but so far.

Desperately, he tried to take a couple of steps closer to the edge, tried to get closer and get more of the smell. The rock under his feet suddenly gave way, and he screamed as he fell, striking the rock wall over and over as he tumbled to his...

"Nooo!" he screamed, thrashing and toppling the coffee table as he bolted awake. He shivered, unable to control himself. He had died again, just like in all the other dreams.

Vincent tried to remember the details. His memories of the dreams were fragmented, there were things he just couldn't remember. But somehow they all seemed to be taking place at the same spot, the same setting. A desolate mesa. A dry, arid place that felt like death. A place with water so close, but oh so far away.

He sucked in his breath suddenly. Jumping to his feet he ran to the bookcase and yanked the photo album off the shelf, knocking the other books to the floor near it. He flipped through the book as fast as he could, going through pages and pages of photos of the southwest until he turned to the first picture that showed the Colorado River only a short distance away, but thousands of feet down a seemingly endless cliff. "Dead Horse Point," he whispered.

He hadn't slept since the night before he went there, and he had been having the nightmares since then. He could remember the feeling of dread as he stood on the edge of that cliff. The feeling of dozens of eyes boring into him.

The feeling of... hate? Did they hate him?

Who were they?

Suddenly, Vincent knew that he had only one chance to explain this, one chance to end the madness. He had to return to Dead Horse Point.

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Vincent nearly bowled Ellen over as he raced out his front door. "Sorry," he muttered, but his pace didn't slow.

Ellen chased after him. "Vincent! where are you going? What is the matter with you?"

He stopped at the door to his car and looked at his long time editor. It had only been a few hours since she had seem him at the office, but his appearance was even more shocking now. His hair was a mess, matted down by sweat that soaked his shirt and slacks. His eyes were wide, his face pale. "I've got to go," he said quickly. "I've got to figure out what's going on. "

"Wait!" she yelled as he climbed into the Volvo and started the engine. "Vincent! I want to help you!"

He looked at her through the closed window and mouthed the words You can't. Before Ellen could say another word, the car screeched out of the driveway.

As he steered the car onto the nearest highway, Vincent realized that he didn't remember exactly how to get to Dead Horse Point. After a moments though, he pointed the car toward Las Vegas. He gunned the engine and felt the surge of power from the eight cylinder engine. He could make it there in just a few hours.

As he passed through the desert, he tried to fight his growing terror at the same time as his fatigue. As much as he felt drawn toward the Utah desert, it terrified him all the more. He searched his mind for anything that happened there. He hadn't spent all that much time at the overlook, he hadn't strayed off any of the well marked paths. Did he anger someone there? Something?

What didn't he remember.

He allowed himself a humorless chuckle. He felt like he was trying to set up the plot of one of his books. For the last three months he had certainly been living in one. Somehow he wouldn't be that surprised to find a bloated, slavering monster waiting for him under the rocks of that mesa. Or a space alien from Io that wanted a host. Or even that he had simply snapped and gone insane.

He stopped in Barstow for gas and coffee and hit the road again. He checked the clock and knew that he would make Vegas before dark. He wiped the sweat off the steering wheel. The coffee did little to make him more alert, nor warm him of the cold shiver he hadn't been able to quell since he left Los Angeles. At least it helped keep his mouth wet, if only for a few moments.

As the car rose and fell over the rolling hills of the Mojave, his mind kept drifting. Phillip had asked him about his family, and he truthfully couldn't remember them. He couldn't remember who they were, where they were from, anything. For years he always had written Los Angeles down as the place of his birth, because he couldn't remember ever living anywhere else.

It wasn't like he had suddenly appeared out of the mists yesterday, he had solid memories of his life going back decades. He could remember his loves, losses and his many careers before he stumbled on writing horror novels a few years before.

As he searched his memories, though, he found he could remember things that he couldn't possibly remember. Things that had to have happened long before he was born.

Shaking the thoughts off, Vincent concentrated on his driving. One mystery at a time today.

The bright lights of the Strip visible for miles before he made it there at dusk. Even if he was tired and hungry, he couldn't pull himself off the highway. He passed through the glittering city without ever taking his foot off the gas or coming close to an exit.

He clicked on the Volvos lights and kept going. The answers he was going to find were not going to be found at the Craps table or the buffet. A good nights sleep wasn't in the cards, anyway.

He made it to the Nevada state line before he needed to stop for gas again. While the Volvo was filing, he grabbed a soda and hot dog from the mini mart. Checking a map, he figured he could be in Moab by dawn.

He refolded the map and slumped in the front seat of the car. Did he really want to keep going? Even though his fuzzy brain he could see that this was some kind of folly. What was he expecting to find on the mesa? It was a slab of sandstone in the middle of nowhere.

It wasn't the first time that he thought about that, but even when no answers came, he decided to keep going. Irrational as it was, irrational as he was, Vincent knew that the answers were all there. He stretched in the seat, feeling his aching muscles relax a little. All the answers were there.

All the answers were on Dead Horse Point...

Even through the thirst and pain, the loneliness was killing him. The others were all gone, their bloated bodies decaying all around, a swarm of vultures were gorging themselves, and the smell of blood and decay was all around. Why had he been forced to be the last to live? He laid to the ground, feeling close to death himself. In his final breaths, he felt the piercing of his flesh by an eager vultures, and he lacked the energy to fight them off...

"Mister?"

Vincent startled violently, slamming his hands against the steering wheel and his head into the roof of his car. With a jerk, he tried to force himself away from the window, away from the danger, when he realized that it was just the gas station attendant. He stared at the kid with an open mouth, unable to speak.

"You okay?" asked the kid. "You were asleep."

Vincent nodded tiredly. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine." He yawned. "How long was I asleep?" he asked.

"A few minutes, I guess. Why?"

Starting the Volvo, he shook his head. "No reason." In moments, he was back on the empty highway.

Vincent focused on the dark road ahead, staying awake from caffeine and the occasional noise as his tires crossed over onto the raised dots that marked the highway. He tested the cars handling more than once as he passed through the northwest corner of Arizona and into southern Utah.

Swirling thoughts clouded his mind. Exhaustion, combined with fear and terror and his attempt to remember his past collided in his brain, allowing him to only focus on the unending white stripes in the road and the occasional taillights of trucks and cars as he passed them.

Dawn rose across the stark Utah landscape, and the light of the early morning sun seared his eyes. It was the first time since Nevada that he took his foot off the gas, but only until he recovered.

Under the light of day, Vincent suddenly felt stupid. What was he doing here? Maybe he should have taken his publishers advice and seen a shrink. A shrink would have asked him about his mother, though, and he couldn't remember his mother.

He pulled into Moab a little after ten in the morning and stopped. The town looked much like it had a months before, an old boomtown that had gone bust and was on its way back after decades. Like a lot of similar western towns, it was a mixture of old Spanish buildings built by the early residents and stark, sterile modern monstrosities built by McDonalds and 7-11.

He got out of the car and headed into a restaurant. He wasn't going to go up to the mesa without at least having some food in him. That, and enough coffee to make him alert, even if it took every bean in Columbia to do it.

A waitress seated him and he asked for a glass of water. He gulped it down immediately and asked for another. "You're a really thirsty one, ain't ya..." she stopped and looked at him. "You're Vincent Musk, ain't ya?" she said in a chirpy voice that trailed off in concern.

He glanced at the woman again through bleary eyes, recognizing dimly the woman that had served him the last time he was here. "Oh, yeah. How are you doing?"

She smiled, but there was concern in her eyes. As bad as Vincent felt, he looked worse. He hadn't showered in two days, hadn't changed his clothes in at least that long, and smelled like sweat. His hair had to be matted down terribly and he hadn't shaved in almost a week. "I'm good. Can I get you some breakfast or lunch? We're between meals right now."

"Uh, Spanish omelet," he said quickly. "Coffee, too. And can you just leave a pitcher of water?"

The waitress nodded and left to fill the order. He gulped down he water and looked again out the window. Slowly, deliberately, he forced himself to focus again. Just as deliberately, he came to a conclusion: For better or worse he had to settle this today. He couldn't keep living like this. If he couldn't find the source of his nightmares, if he couldn't find peace on top of the Point, he would find it the only other way he could think of.

He would find it at the bottom of Dead Horse Point.

One way or another, this ended today.

"Here's your coffee and water," said the waitress. "Your omelet will be right up."

He acknowledged her with a silent nod, then turned back to the window. As he watched the traffic pass slowly by he realized that he was relaxed for the first time in weeks. His heart had stopped pounding. The tension almost seemed to be draining away.

"Here ya go!" he heard as the waitress set the plate down.

He looked up at the waitress, "Thanks." He grabbed a fork and started to reach for the plate...

The plate was covered in rotting flesh and blood, bits of hair and bone mixed in the disgusting mass. A vulture sat at the end of the table, staring at him, as if waiting for him to take his share. Screaming, he threw the plate away, hitting the vulture and upsetting the coffee mug that spilled out a black, disgusting mass onto the table and floor...

"Mr. Musk!" the waitress shrieked.

Vincent startled and stared at her. She was standing shocked at the end of the table, her apron and blouse covered in eggs and salsa, her skirt soaked in coffee. She was holding her arm in pain where the plate had struck solidly. "What...?"

The waitress took a couple steps back, never taking her eyes off the famous writer in the booth. A large man in a white shirt came running out from the kitchen and stood behind her. "What the hell is going on here?"

Vincent tried to answer, but before he could the waitress started sobbing, "He threw the plate at me!"

There wasn't time to explain, there wasn't time to wonder what was happening. The big man simply reached over and grabbed Vincent by the shirt. "Get out!" he said even as he dragged him to his feet. "Get out and stay out!" he thundered.

The door of the restaurant shuddered as he was thrown against it. The moment he recovered from the slam, he raced out the door and straight to his car. The nightmares were getting worse, if that could be believed. They had never spilled so strongly over into his waking moments. And before, they had all been on the mesa, never anywhere else.

He pulled out of the parking lot gripping the steering wheel as hard as he could. He would be at Dead Horse Point in less than an hour.

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The morning clouds had burned off by the time that he made it to the base of the mountain, leaving behind a brilliant blue sky. The morning sun still glinted off the quartz heavy rocks along the road. The glare was enough to hurt Vincent's eyes. He passed a brown State Park sign. Dead Horse Point, 12 miles.

It would all be over soon.

The closer he got to the state park, the more he shivered. Every inch seemed to be like a torture to him, and he had the pedal down as far as he dared. He didn't even stop for the red and white barrier at the ranger station, and only momentarily heard the cries of the ranger behind him as he blew past her.

He had to get to the point, and it was only a mile away.

He raced past startled late season campers and mountain bikers who had to wonder why he was driving like a man possessed. The car roared over the top of a low hill, and suddenly it came into sight. Almost unwillingly, Vincent slammed on the Volvos breaks. He felts the ABS kick in as he brought the car to a dead stop. In careful, deliberate actions, he turned off the car, opened the door and stepped into the blazing sun.

The gravel crunched under his feet as he walked the last few yards. His heart pounded harder than ever, his breathing was shallow and ragged. Somewhere in his mind, he had the horrible feeling that he would die before he could even get to the point, and he didn't want to die without finding out.

Behind him he could hear the sound of a rapidly approaching car, probably the rangers looking for him, but he ignored it. He paused only a moment at the edge of the mesa, on one side of the crude fence that the cowboys of the 19th century had constructed to keep the horses in, before closing his eyes and taking a final deep breath and stepping onto Dead Horse Point again.

Silence.

A moment passed and Vincent first felt that nothing had happened at all, but suddenly he realize that all the human sounds were gone. The car revving behind him, the sound of campers, all gone. And it was hotter. A lot hotter.

Slowly, he opened his eyes to a scene of horror, like some long abandoned abattoir. The rotting corpses of horses laid all around Dead Horse Point under a sky that was suddenly far more brilliant than before. A fierce, hot wind blew across the canyons, sending the foul stench straight at him.

Vincent wanted to turn and run, but his knees buckled under him as he gagged, struggling for clean air. He was clearly in another nightmare, but what did it mean?

A strangled, nearly silent whinny rolled across the mesa. Followed by another. And another. Vincent shut his eyes tight, fearing what his nightmare would show him now. The sounds of hooves shambling on the rock got closer and closer. Vincent tried to close his eyes tighter.

He could feel them now, all around him. They seemed only inches away from him. The air was filled with the stench of their flesh. They didn't attack him, though. They simply stood and waited, as if they had all the time in the world.

Trembling uncontrollably, he suddenly threw his head back and screamed, "What do you want with me?! Why?!"

You should not have come back, was the quick, curt reply.

Vincent was so surprised at even getting an answer that he opened his eyes to see who had spoken, only to scream in terror at the sight. The horses were surrounding him now in a ring. Their decayed bodies seemed held together by only a few strips and scraps that the vultures had left behind. Their broken skins were stretched taunt over their bones, and most of their hair had fallen out save for a few small patches.

You should not have come back, repeated the voice.

Terrified beyond all reason, he leapt to his feet and tried to run away, but the moment he took a step in one direction, the circle closed and he slammed into the zombies, falling back onto the ground. "What do you want from me?" he screamed.

The horses didn't move, didn't react. They simply stared at him, their empty eye sockets unblinking.

"What did I do to you?" He had barely said it when one of the decayed monsters took Vincents' shoulder in his mouth and started dragging him along the mesa, the rest of the horses in tow. "Hey! No!" he screamed as he suddenly thought that he was heading for the edge of the cliff.

He was dragged over a small hill in the middle of the mesa, struggling against the dead horses iron grip. They stopped long before the edge, though, and he was roughly thrown to the ground next to a decayed, inanimate skeleton.

He recoiled, but the horses legs were right behind him and didn't let him escape. He leaned forward more out of shock than curiosity. Though his terror, a rational moment finally came through. Why wasn't this skeleton moving? What did it have to do with him?

You should not have come back.

"What does that mean?!" he screamed. "What did I do?!"

You should not have come back.

It was as if that was the only reply that they were capable of making, that all of their combined energy was being used to come up with that one simple phrase. Vincent looked at the body of the horse, and back at his shambling captors, but couldn't figure out the connection. His thoughts were too addled by three months of nearly no sleep to figure out the riddle.

One of the horses came forward, then grabbed Vincent's neck in his jaws and plunged him down to the inanimate body. His scream was strangled off as his head connected with the rotted ribcage of the dead animal...

...And it was the past again. And hot. He couldn't remember when he had last had water. He needed water. They all needed it. Ever since the men on horses had pushed them onto this barren rock and locked them in, none had been able to find enough to drink, or shade to stay cool in. Only the smell of water close by, from a river that was close enough to see, and scent when the wind was right, kept his hope alive.

Hope that they all needed.

The Stallion slowly gathered the weakening heard up and selected him. He was the lowest stallion, the one that could be spared. He would be selected to free them, or failing that, to find them water until the men returned to free them.

The choice had been made, and just as suddenly he was a man.

The new man stumbled forth on unfamiliar legs, finding the fence that had barred the heard from leaving. He tried to open it with unfamiliar hands, but failed. He would need time to figure out the gate. As a horse he was too weak to jump the fence, but as a man he could simply climb over it. And climb it he did.

So he left to find water, and finding water, he drank until he was sated.

And sated, he started to forget...

Abruptly he was pulled out of the past. He suddenly understood. He had left them to die when they trusted him to save them. They had all died waiting for him, and had kept waiting to this day. Trapped by a vigil that could never end.

Vincent looked from horse to horse, trying to find the words, when he realized that they didn't want words from him, they didn't even want water anymore.

They wanted revenge.

He tried to make a break for it, deciding that suicide would be more desirable than what these animals wanted to do, but it was not to be. He was knocked to the ground roughly, landing squarely onto the desiccated body they had dragged him to.

This time, he wasn't transported to the past, but instead felt a searing pain in his flesh wherever it touched the horses body. He shrieked in terror as he watched his arm seem to melt, merging perfectly with the bony foreleg of the horse. "No! Please, no!" He tried to pull himself off the body, but couldn't. No matter how hard he tried, he was being slowly, inexorably pulled into the corpse. The human screams faded into faint equine whinnies as his head was pulled in.

The pain didn't stop even after he was pulled all the way in. Every part of his body was seared dry. The torment was unimaginable, and it pressed on him from every side. He tried to escape the pain by running off the edge of the Point, but it wasn't that easy. He couldn't. It was like hitting a glass wall. The only other exit, the fence, was too high to jump. He was trapped.

He tried to plead with the horses of Dead Horse Point to free him, but he couldn't form the words anymore. Even as he tried, they faded from sight. Their revenge finally done, their vigil over, they were freed.

As the last horse faded from sight, Vincent found himself utterly alone.

Trapped.

Forever.