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User:Eirik/The Beast Within
The Beast Within
Eric looked back and forth down the barn. No one was about. It was still too early in the morning for most people to be out, so he had the place to himself. He felt a little silly trying this and didn't particularly want an audience.
A whinny greeted him as he stepped up to Prophets stall. Reaching in, he rubbed the horse on the nose. "How you doing?" Prophets answer was to try and grab the sleeve of Eric's shirt in his teeth. "None of that now." He said laughing.
Eric reached into his pocket and pulled out slip of paper. He didn't know where it had come from, it showed up in his mailbox without a return address, unsigned, and a postmark from somewhere in upstate New York. The note was simple. "If you want to know the truth about the horse you own," it read, "trace these symbols onto his forehead." The bottom of the page had a series of five designs, each one simple enough but they seemed meaningless.
He did the first one, barely expecting the horse to stand still for it. By the time he finished it, though, Prophet was standing almost perfectly still. He didn't move as Eric proceeded to the next one, and the next. As he finished the fifth and final tracing, Prophets head suddenly jerked backward. "Yes! Finally!" he heard the horse shout as it stumbled to the rear of the stall.
Eric took a step back himself. Prophet suddenly had a bridle on, one that he'd never seen before. The horse regained his footing. "More than ten years." He muttered. "Ten stinking years, and ‘‘finally’‘ someone figures out that this isn't a normal horse."
"Excuse me?" asked Eric. He hadn't really expected anything to happen, much less ‘‘this.’‘ "Who are you?"
The horse looked at him. "Oh, yes, you. Thanks for the help, but can you take this damn thing off my head?"
Eric stood his ground for the moment. "Who are you?" he repeated.
Prophet walked to the front of the stall. "I'm Dr. Kyle Yeats, from Lester College in New York. Now will you take this thing off me?" He demanded.
Eric took a step forward. "You're a person?" he asked, still a little stunned.
The horse hung his head. "Christ, I'm dealing with an idiot." He looked up again. "I think that should be clear by now, friend. Now hurry up and take this thing off!"
"Wait. I want to know what's going on before I do anything. How did this happen? Where'd you get the bridle?"
Yeats rumbled a bit. "Look, it's not all that important. Let's just say that if you're ever going to cheat on your wife, don't have an extensive collection of books on magic and legends from the British Isles just laying around."
"So what happens if I take it off?"
Yeats shifted impatiently on his hooves. "Then I turn back into a person. Why do you ‘‘think’‘ I want it ‘‘off?’‘"
"And the bridle?" asked Eric hopefully.
The horse looked at him oddly. "The bridle? Who give a flying…?" he paused and collected himself. "It'll fall apart once the spell is broken. So what?"
"So why didn't you ever say something? Trace something in the dirt?" he asked.
Prophet kicked the stall door once with his foreleg. "This is the first time I've had any control in years!" he said angrily. "The damn spell put the brain of this crummy animal in charge. Best I've been able to do is confuse him, but even that's been hard."
Eric stopped. "Confuse him? Wait a minute. Last week…"
The horse chuckled. "Yeah, that was me. I'm sorry, but you've gotta admit it was pretty funny watching you fly off like that. Now take this damn thing off. I'm sick and tired of being this stupid animal! I was a professor for God sake! I'm not supposed to be subjected this the indignities of being a beast of burden! Hell, I've been gelded!"
Eric shot the horse a dirty look. He took a couple steps over toward him and gripped bridle. "Fine. Stand still." He started to reach for the clasp, then stopped. With a quick motion, he traced his finger across the horses forehead again. Yeats started to pull his head back, but just as before, seemed to fall totally relaxed. As he repeated the figures, the bridle started to fade out and vanished altogether when he was done. For a moment, Prophet seemed confused, but that passed quickly enough.
"You know Yeats." Said Eric quietly, "I think you make a better horse." After patting him on the neck, he walked back to the tack room to pick up his saddle, pausing only to crumple the paper up and toss it in the trash.