Hello Devout Worshippers and Horrified Newcomers!
I hope you have your heads bowed and your minds untethered from reality. In light of what happened last Saturday on the stream…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
The Flesh Horse
RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!
It all began one April afternoon last year, when Arith Winterfell graced us with a story of a dream, a hallway, and a horse made of flesh. Not to be confused with ordinary horses—this was something far more spooky and sinister; dead flesh crawling along the floor, coalescing into the form of a horse. A dream. A vision. An eldritch revelation. (Here is the link to that story: “At the Nexus,” written for the End of the Hallway—the first Flesh Horse story. And the second canon story Arith wrote about The Flesh Horse for Hour of the Wolf “Things Unseen“).
I don’t remember what got us all attached to the idea of the Flesh Horse, but we certainly did, proceeding to mention it in subsequent streams, and the streams after that, until we mentioned it almost every stream. All the while adding to its lore, creating stories about The Flesh Horse, and terrifying the new arrivals with our devotion.
I’ve been talking about making it a prompt, and better yet an April Fools prompt, for a while now, and it’s finally here! It’s time to pour all your admiration and horror into your stories this week.
Now’s the time to write those stories you joked about during the stream, about the Flesh Horse fending off lag goblins, of watching our streams, or flitting in and out of universes to dine on the best of BBQ, roasts, and human sanity.
If you are someone who writes all their stories in the same universe, you could have The Flesh Horse grace your universe—whether as something canon to your world, or an AU. I’d love to read about how your personal characters would react to the character we’ve been collectively discussing and joking about all these months. The Flesh Horse is an eldritch being after all; it might not even appear in the fleshy, horsey form we’ve come to know and love. You’ll just have to make it clear it is The Flesh Horse somehow.
If you find yourself completely at a loss for how to use THE Flesh Horse in your story, you could easily write about a generic horse, or generic horse’s flesh. You could even make the joke we often make on the stream “Aren’t ALL horses’ flesh horses?” in your story. Or you could write about a dead horse, such as one who fell in a battle. Or you could write about a place where horse flesh is considered a delicacy. Perhaps a talking horse gets hurt during a race and tells their jockey “Tis but a flesh wound!”
You could even write about flesh and a horse as separate things, but together in one story, finding some way to connect them. Such as a horse getting disgusted by seeing the flesh of a dead animal on the side of the road. Or a horse bucking off a rider, and the rider saying something like “You cut my flesh, Horse!”
Now, do keep in mind that The Flesh Horse was Arith Winterfell’s original idea, and ultimately belongs to him—our stories are more like fanfiction of his character. If you are concerned with making sure the Flesh Horse is accurate to canon, or simply want to make sure you are being respectful of his character, you can feel free to contact Arith himself.
I do also want to call attention to something The Flesh Horse itself mentioned last Saturday: we do still have guidelines. This prompt very much lends itself to gore, horror, and death, but your stories are still meant to be “safe for work” and will still be disqualified if they break this rule. If you are ever unsure if your story breaks the rules, don’t hesitate to contact me to give it another look.
Also, if you decide to create art of The Flesh Horse, especially this week, tag me!
No challenge for this week. I think this prompt is challenge enough.
Now, go forth, my friends. Run to the edge of the known universe, fall into another. Gaze into the abyss. But don’t be surprised when gazes back. Or tries to eat your fingers.
—Kaylie & Paul
Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.
Tune into the stream this Saturday at 3:00pm CST to see if you made the cut!
The whole purpose of this is to show off the creativity of the community, while also helping each other to become better writers. Lean into that spirit! Get ready not just to share what you’ve got, but to give back to the other writers here as well.
Rules and Guidelines
We read at least five stories during each stream, two of which come from the public post, and three of which come from the much smaller private post. Submissions are randomly selected by a bot, but likes on your post will improve your chances of selection, so be sure to share your submission on social media!
Text and Formatting
- English only.
- Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
- Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
- Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
- Use two paragraph breaks between each paragraph so that they have a proper space between them (press “enter” or “return” twice).
- Include a submission title and an author name (doesn’t have to be your real name). Do not include any additional symbols or flourishes in this part of your submission. Format them exactly as you see in this example, or your submission may not be eligible: Example Submission.
- No additional text styling (such as italics or bold text). Do not use asterisks, hyphens, or any other symbol to indicate whether text should be bold, italic, or styled in any other way. CAPS are okay, though.
What to Submit
- Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
- Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
- Write something brand new; no re-submitting past entries or pieces written for other purposes
- No fan fiction whatsoever. Take inspiration from whatever you’d like, but be transformative and creative with it. By submitting, you also agree that your piece does not infringe on any existing copyrights or trademarks, and you have full license to use it.
- Submissions must be self-contained (everything essential to understanding the piece is contained within the context of the piece itself—no mandatory reading outside the piece required. e.g., if you want to write two different pieces in the same setting or larger narrative, you cannot rely on information from one piece to fill in for the other—they must both give that context independently).
- One submission per participant.
- Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
- Submissions close at 12:00pm CST each Friday.
- You must like and leave a review on two other submissions to be eligible. Your reviews must be at least 50 words long, and must be left directly on the submission you are reviewing, not on another comment. If you’re submitting to the private post, feel free to leave these reviews on either the private or the public post. The two submissions you like need not be the same as the submissions you review.
- Be constructive and uplifting. These submissions are not for a professional market, and shouldn’t be treated as such. We do this, first and foremost, for the joy of the craft. Help other writers to feel like their work is valuable, and be considerate and gentle with critique when you offer it. Authors who leave particularly abrasive or disheartening remarks on this post will be disqualified from selection for readings.
- Use the same e-mail for your posts, reviews, and likes, or you may be rendered ineligible (you may change your username or author name between posts without problem, however).
- You may submit to either or both the public/private groups if you have access, but if you decide to submit to both, only the private group submission will be eligible.
- Understand that by submitting here, you are giving us permission to read your submission aloud live on stream and upload public, archived recordings of said stream to our social media platforms. You will always be credited, but only by the author name you supply as per these rules. No other links or attributions are guaranteed.
Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.
A Real Horse
Amelia couldn’t sleep. She wasn’t scared of the dark. No. She just had too many thoughts in her head, trying to figure out how to convince her parents to get her a pony for her sixth birthday. She squeezed Astrid, her favorite plush pony, ran her fingers through its yarn mane, and looked out the window.
“Look, Astrid, there’s the wishing star. Maybe if I wished you were a real horse, the Blue Fairy could help!”
She hugged Astrid to her chin and closed her eyes. “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight. Please make Astrid a real horse!”
A breeze blew. A cloud of lime green glitter drifted in, forming the shape of a short, round woman with tiny wings. She lost her balance and fell, landing on her bottom with a soft bump.
“Oof!” said the fairy.
“Who are you?” asked Amelia.
“The Green Fairy.”
Amelia frowned. “I thought the Blue Fairy granted wishes.”
“She’s on vacation. I’m filling in.”
“A substitute fairy? Never heard of one.”
The fairy snorted. “Right then.” She swirled her wand in the air. “Wishing stars are real of course. Make this toy a full-size horse!”
Green glitter surrounded Astrid. She grew to the right size but was still fabric and fluff.
“Not like that!” Amelia protested.
The fairy tried again, “Now I come to grant your wish. Turn this animal into flesh!”
The glitter returned. Astrid’s plush exterior morphed into a grotesque, slimy surface that was not quite skin, but not quite meat.
Amelia screamed. The fairy gasped.
“Turn her back!” Amelia shouted.
With a flick of the wand, Astrid returned to normal.
“Third time’s a charm,” the fairy mused. She raised her wand again.
“No!” Amelia interrupted. “I take my wish back. I like Astrid just how she is!”
The fairy, head hanging low, dematerialized back into glitter and drifted toward the window, leaving a small bit behind. It formed into a small leather saddle and bridle, just the right size for Astrid.
“The Sanguine Peaks Pooka”
By Hemming Sebastian Bane
The carriage came to a sudden stop on the perilous mountain road, the torrent casting a mist over the conifers. The dunnie in the driver’s seat pulled the goat fur raincoat to his face and cursed his luck. The driver dismounted and approached the dog team that had frozen in their tracks. Grass knotted around the dogs’ paws, holding them firm. Their hackles raised in alarm as they both stared into the mist. Lightning flashed and the dunnie swore he could see something standing in the road.
The door to the carriage flew open with a bang that rivaled thunder. The driver whipped around as a squat dwarven man with slick red hair and a braided beard poked his head out the carriage doorway.
“Fatmir! Why have we stopped?” shouted the passenger, his eyes piercing the driver with an impatient glare.
“I don’t know, viscount,” Fatmir replied, his equine hoof pawing the muddy ground. “This rain is taking a toll on my dogs unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Perhaps we should—”
“We should what? Make camp in the pouring rain? Head back the way we came?”
The dwarf continued to speak, but the roar of the rain against the forest floor boomed in Fatmir’s ears. The driver looked at his passenger with concern, but the viscount seemed ignorant of what was happening.
“Faaaaaatmiiiiiiiir,” a voice came.
The dunnie felt a chill crawl down his spine. With a start, he turned to see who was speaking. The thing standing in the road walked closer, still shrouded in mist. The dogs began to howl and growl and bray and whimper.
“What is it?” Fatmir asked them before turning to the mist. “Show yourself!”
The dunnie reached for the pepperbox gun on the back of his belt. The figure trotted into view. Four blood-covered hooves and legs of bone strode proudly into the opening. Gore seeped from the road and fell up into the wet sinewy body and pulsating organs. Its equine head cleaved itself in twain in the mockery of a sideways jaw.
“Faaaaatmiiiiiiiiir, you trespass. Leave me an offering or die.”
Jynn swore that if she had to remain in this land for another minute, she would vomit all over it.
Nothing made sense here. Nothing had could calm Jynn’s nerves when even the air seemed to wriggle.
So many things were writhing in Jynn’s vision that she nearly believed herself to be hallucinating. But her other senses backed up what her eyes told her: the land was moving.
Desperately trying to hold back the motion sickness, Jynn knelt down, doing what she could to attain a point of meditation despite the world undulating around her. The violet firmament she knelt on even seemed to breathe. Jynn had to collect herself.
Before she could even achieve the meditative headspace, the ground rumbled and bubbled, as if it were boiling. Ahead of her emerged a beast, as if it had been inside the earth the entire time and merely had to shed its disguise. Jynn tried to look at it, but her brain refused to categorize what she was seeing.
It had the shape of the most slender racehorse, and yet it possessed silky wings as graceful as a butterfly. The face remained hidden behind a veil, and it was the same indigo hue of the land around it.
All of these were simple enough to comprehend, but no part of the creature was ever still. Every part of it wriggled and writhed in such ways that added to her growing nausea, and yet she could not look away.
Or she wasn’t allowed to…
Jynn now comprehended who she stood before, but no legend could accurately capture this monstrosity. What stood before her was both horse and horseman, and yet reflected the likeness of a dragon. With every blink, it seemed to shift and transform between the three, sometimes even appearing to hold swords or scales.
And for the first time, Jynn’s senses and comprehension had to decide which was lying.
Though she could not see its mouth move, a voice smooth as silk, but powerful as thunder, rang through her entire body, “I wonder why you aren’t dead.”
A Gift Horse (Chronicles of The Dragon)
The universe is unfathomably huge to the minds of mortals, and seemingly always expanding. Yet so few are able to grasp that their own reality is but a small bubble in a far greater ocean. Bumping among other realities, other possibilities budding off. Entities small and large existing in the space between. Some that can barely be said to exist. Others that feed on those budding realities. Growing stronger on the pure possibility.
Some becoming what these mortals call gods.
Others of us, are wiser.
Some of us, are older.
We seek not to create, or to be worshiped. But to seek knowledge, true answers, and things that cannot be taken. To guide those that seek wisdom.
For a price.
Mortal souls are such a curiosity. So full of potential and possibilities. So full of desires.
Wishes to be granted.
They don’t realize how bound they are. Bound to “reality”, to “rules”, when they could be bound to nothing but their own will.
Jonathan poked his head into the stable, before walking further into the dark building. He squinted at the many empty stalls as his eyes adjusted to the lack of light. Suddenly, his eyes widened and he took a step back. Then he blinked, and leaned forward, not sure he was seeing what he thought he was.
He walked back out and called, “Hey! Mira? What’s up with this weird flayed horse lookin’ thing? It’s given me weird vibes! Reminds of the fuckin’ meat dragon Keres made!”
“Oh! That’s Imogene’s!” Mira called back from across the grounds. “She wanted a horse for her…300th birthday? But there weren’t any where we lived at the time so I made her one! You can feed it if you want! There should be a fridge with snacks in it!”
“’Flayed horse thing?’” Jostica asked, setting her tea down.
They truly don’t understand the vastness of what lays beyond. Their puny minds would reel at the mere thought of it, sending them into gibbering insanity, while wetting their appetite for knowledge and understan-
by Lee Strangely
He was only just over a year old. The unicorn’s body was still so, so small. His horn little more than a conical nub… Far too young to see such horrible things.
The unicorn lay there, helpless, quietly crying in fear and pain as the creature’s hoof slowly pressed harder on his horn. Cracks grew along it like branches, the sound so sickeningly loud that the young unicorn heard it from where he stood.
The thing that stood over the unicorn clearly had hooves, even some teeth poking out…but those were the only features he could clearly see. The rest remained unseen underneath a tattered, once-white cloth that clung to its vaguely equine form like wet leaves, hanging down like a cloak. Three ragged, black birds sat along back. Two perched close to the neck, one atop its head.
“Let him go!” the young unicorn shouted.
The two birds in the back turned to him.
Each one seemingly continued the other, cawing, “Turn back to the field…”
“Go, while you still might…”
“…slumber in peace…”
He began to trot into the water, “Leave him be.”
“I-I’m not a child!” he shouted with as much conviction as he could muster.
“…you?” the two crows jeered.
“…I … I-I… I’m a stallion!”
“Yes, a big powerful stallion!”
The two crows looked at one another.
“A stallion?” the third muttered in a deep rumble, “how odd… You don’t sound like a stallion.”
The equine creature’s head turned.
Stained cloth. Crimson flesh. A dead white eye peered through. “You don’t look like a stallion… You look like a little lying foal… Do you have a name?”
He tried faking assertiveness, “Do YOU?”
“I might’ve… Not one that I remember anymore…”
“W-what are you then? What, do others call you?”
“There is something… A word you Houyhnhnms use… a Nihtmær, I believe…”
Chills crept along the young unicorn’s mane.
“You should’ve listened to the birds’ warning.”
The trembling young unicorn took another step forward, stomping his hoof into the ground, “I’m not, a-a-afraid of you.”
An Unexpected Visit
Nabiki frowned as she read over Derek’s shoulder. “What the heck is a Flesh Horse?”
Derek jumped as soon as he heard her voice. “Don’t do that! When did you get here?”
Nabiki shrugged nonchalantly. “Just now. So, uh, Flesh Horse?”
“It’s, uh, it’s kind of a meme on my writing group stream. Like an, um, an inside joke.”
“So, what is it? Is it a horse covered in flesh? Because, you know what I call those?”
Derek kept looking at Nabiki with apprehension. She had never just appeared in front of him before. He usually invited her to talk to him. It took him a few seconds to realize she asked him a question. “Sorry, ummm, what?”
“I call it a horse, you idiot. All horses have flesh.”
“No, it’s kind of uh, it’s an eldritch being that one of the other writers came up with. Like a pile of rotting horse meat that assembled itself back into a horse.”
“Gross!” Nabiki wrinkled her nose. “So, uh, these other writers? Do they also have characters that know about them?”
“What? Umm, no. You’re special that way.”
“So they don’t know that some asshole is making their life terrible for them behind the scenes, huh?”
Derek tried to swallow the lump in his throat as he stared at the short teenage girl. “Is this about, um, is this about your mom dying?”
“You mean is this about you killing my mom for narrative reasons?” Nabiki growled. She glared at Derek for several seconds. “Not today. But I should try to see if I can get back here and brain you with my guitar. But not today.”
That didn’t make Derek feel much better. He could feel a cold sweat along his back and his fingers trembled on his keyboard.
“All this talk about horses, I’m thinking I’m going to go back to my world and see if Ayase will let me ride Sugarbutt for a while. Have fun with your weird writer friends and your rotten flesh horse.” Nabiki sneered and walked back out the door.
Your Story Is In Another Bar
By Taja DaLeen
“You know, there’s been rumors, almost legends boutta strange horse that’s wandering the plains of Ba’al.
And I’m not talkin’ bout wind horses, those are common ’nuff. This’s one with four legs, apparently it used to be a completely normal horse of This World, ‘fore it got cursed.
Or rather, ‘fore that dude got cursed.
It’s said it all started with some landlord or somethin’. Apparently there was this witch among those workin’ for him, and she liked one of his horses in particular, befriendin’ the beast.
Maybe ’twas even a pooka, livin’ there in the guise of a horse, who knows.
Anyway, it’s also said that this landowner was really into that witch, but she ‘dismissed his advances’. Didn’t like him back at all. So to get revenge, he skinned her horse friend.
Prolly would’ve done more to the corpse, but that’s pretty much when the curse hit. She bound his soul to the beast, so he’d hafta walk the world as some weird skinless horse zombie forever.
Or ’til the curse is broken, dunno. Don’t even know if the curse can be broken at all, or if the poor fella really has to live like that ’til we all get swallowed by the sun.”
“This is not what I was inquiring about.”
“What else could you be talkin’ bout? Other than that there’s no story of a flesh horse. Or at least none I’d know ’bout.”
“So you were indeed the wrong person to approach. I apologize.”
“Yeah, yeah… you still gonna pay for my drink?”
“Certainly; a promise is a promise after all.”
Leaving more than enough money on the table, the stranger stood and turned to leave the bar. It seemed he needed to look somewhere else to find those who called him here, into this reality.
He could hear their voices loud and clear. Their belief was strong – strong enough to be magic.
An Equine Reaper
by Exce, Edited by Skeleton Prime and Luna
Mattis felt lost. A thick mist filled the air about him, and a sharp, spiking pain flowered outwards from his abdomen. Had he been stabbed? Punched? His memories were slick with vibrant pain and the details fled his grasp.
Pushing off a chunk of shattered masonry, Mattis looked around. The city was gone, something had come from the great portal and destroyed it. Had he been injured in a battle, or by the destruction of the city—he couldn’t be sure.
Staggering through the mist-choked debris, he could feel his thoughts spill away like sand.
So he didn’t react immediately when the mist parted around a towering creature. Powerful, muscle wrapped legs crushed a wall into dust before a long neck slowly turned around to face him. As its black eyes met his bloodshot ones, thoughts momentarily fell into line. It was an enormous horse, taller than even northern shire breeds; Mattis had to crane his neck slightly to even see the curve of its back.
Looking along its motionless flank, he was reminded of some taxidermist exhibition. Dead animals, skinned and prepared to show off their musculature. But this being wasn’t some exhibition piece, as its thin mane shifted with a sudden motion that broke their eye contact.
A tall figure, entirely clad in black cloth and an armor of dark gray steel, broke from the mist towards Mattis. Its arm was raised as if to strike, utterly ignoring the skinned horse.
The beast’s jaws opened up, wider than should be possible, and with a single sharp snap, it took off the figure’s head. Instead of blood, there was only another burst of mist as the body toppled out of view.
With its maw trailing wisps, the horse grabbed hold of Mattis’ collar and the man found himself placed atop the blood warm,raw back. Almost immediately his body slumped, strength flowing out as heat flowed in. He didn’t even notice the other motionless figures in front of him, all tattered and blood stained alike.
Fading from consciousness, each quaking step rocking him into a strange, painless sleep, Mattis smiled.
[DM me on discord for details!]
Revelations in Visceral Majesty
I was lost. I walked those endless tunnels, prompted by calls to write, for what seemed like countless lifetimes, and I don’t remember ever coming to an end or exit from them. Why did I walk? Why did I write? I do not know, but I think I was always searching. Search I did, but it was not my motion that brought me into the cathedral. Suddenly, I was there.
I didn’t find it.
It found me.
All was dark, but in that darkness I could see. My eyes were useless, but I didn’t need them. Four titanic pillars rose from the abyss and met the ceiling, making an irregular vault. From it, two large structures shoot out even higher, and a series of what seemed like marble spikes jutted out and tried to find each other in its center.
Only it was not marble, but bone. Those spikes were giant ribs, jutting out from exposed flesh. All was bone and flesh, tendons and sinew. It pulsated, and the flow and shedding of its blood sounded like a holy chant.
The Cathedral was a place, but also a creature. Something so enormous and magnificent I was unable to grasp all its visage. It was impossible (and not only in size), but nonetheless it was true. That flesh was truer than mine, and that unreal place more real than any existent place.
Another sound joined the chant of flowing blood: a tired, slow breathing. It sounded like a horse of incredible proportions after a gallop. But the cathedral didn’t move (the cathedral was always moving): maybe reality itself ran through it.
The breathing didn’t form words, but I uncovered a message in it.
There were still stories to be told, stories about unknown truths and its visceral majesty. I was to compose a prayer, a hymn. The way to the cathedral, in written form. That long, eternal corridor would finally have an end. I needed to find it, so that I could create it. It has always existed, but now it needed a beginning.
So I wrote it.
Be not afraid.
The Lady in Red
by Gerrit (Rattus)
The Poppy Queen rode through the ruins of the city, the evening sun casting a long shadow before her. All around her was quiet, the air filled with silence not in absence of sound, but in fear of it.
Her mount snorted beneath her. It was hungry, and grew angrier with each passing minute that it wasn’t fed. Knots of flesh twisted and tensed, bursting through the skin in patches across its body. Its long, whiplike tail flicked in the space behind her.
A tumbling rock betrayed a survivor, and her horse charged. Before the person could react they were pinned to the ground beneath a hoof, drool dripping down onto their clothes. The horse opened its too-wide mouth, rows of sharp teeth glistening in the half light, and chomped down. In an instant, the cries for mercy were cut off, along with everything above the waist.
The Poppy Queen stroked her steed’s neck, looking around her as it ate the other half of its dinner. A human stood in an alleyway beside her. Not hiding, as the others tended to. He even had the audacity to lock eyes with her.
She held the reins tight in her hand, preventing her steed from making another quick meal. There was something different about this one.
In seconds the distance before them was gone, cleared in several long strides. He only looked up at her, wordless. At first she thought him to be paralyzed, though the fire in his eyes killed that notion. As she towered over him, her approximation of a horse licking its lips, the human surprised her.
He bowed his head.
A smile turned up the corner of her mouth. It was about time one of these insects showed her the respect she deserved. She extended a hand, which he took hesitantly. With some assistance she helped him into a seat behind her atop the beast.
One way or another, she would make use of him. Such reverence deserved reward, after all. If nothing else, she was long overdue to find herself a consort.
The Flesh is Weak (The Will)
“Judging by the design, it appears to be a blueprint or construction manual for a Forebearer vehicle.” Eymir watched as the white dragoness paced back and forth in front of the diagram as she studied the newly acquired information with paramount intrigue. “I don’t understand it at all,” she admitted. “All of this tech is way beyond our understanding… and yet it reminds me of…”
Eymir rolled his eyes, a smile working its way onto his lips as he watched his wife dive through the impossible amount of records she was forced to keep. “Another diagram?” he guessed as Remianna resurfaced from the sea of books and notes.
“No. A recorded conversation between two Forebearers named Eregrim and Orlunae. Other evidence suggests they were extremely important figures in their society, as well as at the forefront of their culture and technology. They were proclaimed to be the sons of The Creator—whatever that means.”
“Let’s hear it, then.”
Remianna cleared her throat and began to read aloud. “Orlunae opens: “Are you insane, or just plain stupid, you smear of failure? The Creator—the one who built the land under our feet, the one who sewed the rules that govern our world, the one who created us and tasked us with the divine duty—asks us for a gift, and you want it made of flesh?””
“Eregrim responds: “Yes. The steed is elegant, quick, and strong. Its hair and tail flutter on the wind—a symbol of the freedom he values above all else. The material is readily on hand, it can be self-produced like the servers, as well as aid them in their tasks. He will love it.””
“He will hate it. It requires too much upkeep. Metal is the future, brother, and my two-wheel design will take him much farther, much faster than that… abomination.”
“You’re just mad that you know I’m right.”
Eymir began laughing vigorously, though his lips were sealed. Remianna looked to him confused, to which he shared briefly, wondering why the conversation felt familiar. “Some things never change, I guess,” he reasoned with a ghost of a laugh.
“The Self Unborn”
In my dream visions I reach out beyond my world. I tumble downward into infinity. I feel it reach out to my mind. The angel of flesh, flesh-feather wings unfurled from its inner muscles and organs, and the terrible face of a horse’s skull.
It reaches out and I see things I do not understand. Shining lights of cities with more people than stars in the sky. Men dueling with swords of light and fire. People decanted from dark waters heralded by men and women in white robes. People with strange faces of flesh and steel. I saw towers and tunnels hidden away on airless worlds older than the sparks that birthed our own sun. Inscriptions in long dead alien tongues.
It speaks to me, “Our thoughts are as the waters of the sea. Ever changing. Shifting and becoming. To busy changing to lie. I am the truth. I am the darkness. We bear countless faces.”
Then I looked at myself and I saw what it meant. For I was many faces. Countless possibilities stretching behind me and before me. Born again and again. Like looking into a mirror facing another mirror. I was everyone, learning suffering and compassion. The seed of divinity.
Then I looked deeper and was afraid, for I also saw nothingness. My faces empty masks barely concealing the dark nothingness between the stars. The shadow of myself and all the things about myself I hated and could not bear. I could feel my body and mind unravelling.
But it reached out and I could feel it brace me, and I was whole. It was as a woman with polished marble flesh. A body that was a cocoon with a crack down its spine opening before me. The tendrils of flesh wings unfurled against the night. It looked down at me with eyes made of the night sky. Most terrible of all, it smiled with sad compassion silently weeping an ichor made of darkness.
I could bear no more! It released me with mercy and I awoke to the first rays of the dawn.
Carl’s Story (Students of the DiamondBridge Academy universe)
by Carrie (Glaceon373)
Carl lived in the care of the Vladirin family household, except it wasn’t so much “living” as it was existing in a state that wasn’t life, but wasn’t lifeless either.
Once upon a time, he had lived. Probably, anyway. All signs pointed to that being the case, but Carl couldn’t quite remember it. His brain had been lost somewhere along the way, you see. Same with the rest of his organs.
Carl was a skeleton horse, the best low maintenance family pet in all of Edalynthia. He didn’t need to eat, he didn’t need regular walks, and he didn’t need to go to the groomers every six months. And no one had to worry about what he felt because he couldn’t feel anything at all.
At least, that was how it was supposed to work.
Carl, in his undead existence, could still understand one sensory experience. And that was temperature. He slowed down in the warm summer afternoons, and on winter days he would shiver, his bones rattling so much the Vladirins would bring him in to rest by the fireplace in the living room.
And alongside this feeling of temperatures, there was one almost-thought that accompanied it in Carl’s nonexistent brain.
It was that Carl missed his flesh.
He did. He truly did. He had no memories at all, but he knew he missed his flesh. He missed its ability to sweat in the heat and its insulating qualities in the cold. He didn’t miss his stomach—he didn’t ever feel hungry—but his flesh? Oh, how he missed it.
Is it wrong for an undead horse to miss the flesh of the living? Should the horse come to terms with the truth that it will forever be without what it once held so dear? Or should it fight, tooth and hoof, to get it back?
Carl didn’t know the answers to this. Because, of course, Carl was still without a brain.
Horse Around and Find Out
“And then it approached. The very Earth quaked with each hellish step. Those who didn’t know what it was, fled. Those who remained only did so because they knew there was no escape.
“They could only pray, forsaking whatever deity they worshipped for their new overlord. They had to push down the fear and disgust as they took in all the muscles and the sinew and the horror of what was before them. It was their only path to survival. For no one outruns… the Flesh Horse…”
Daisy let out a snort, pausing her intense focus on the tiny jewels she was methodically adding to her nails.
Jasmine sighed, looking at her friend over the book she was reading. “I’m sorry. Is this funny to you?”
Daisy rolled her eyes. “It’s a horse. You’re trying to scare me with a horse.”
“The Flesh Horse is the personification of terror!”
“If you say so.” Daisy focused on her nails again. “How does that even work, anyway? A horse with flesh is just a normal horse, right?”
Jasmine grit her teeth. “It’s a horse without flesh! That’s the point!”
“Why is a horse without flesh called a flesh horse? It should be called a… muscle horse. Or a bone horse. Well… maybe not a bone horse…”
“It eats flesh!”
“Does it whinny?” Daisy asked, looking up with a smirk.
“…no. It talks.”
“So, it’s Mr. Ed without skin. Got it. You may resume.”
“It doesn’t talk with its lips! It talks directly into your mind! Prolonged exposure to its voice drives you mad!”
“Uh huh.” Daisy took a moment to admire the work she’d done on her left hand. “If it drives you mad, how would that part of the story get passed along?”
“…fine. How’s this for a scary story? There’s a breed of spider in Australia that will crawl into your ear and lay eggs,” Jasmine lied as she slammed her book shut. “It’s called the-”
“Flesh Horse!” Daisy cried out, momentarily petrified. “More about the Flesh Horse, please!”
“Psh!” Jasmine slowly opened her book again. “Yeah, that’s what I thought.”
The Appearance of a Flesh Horse – Year 1672
Muscle connected to brawn, tissue, tendons and visceral marrow. Ligaments stretched the viscera of the magnificent creature. It was all at once grisly, and all at once a spectacle.
The Flesh Horse had appeared in town.
There weren’t many witnesses to its ethereal beauty. But those that saw it could not shake the daymares. The sleep paralysis of the equine visitor. Arising from the floor could be classified as night-terrors. If– they actually inspired terror. This was something else. The bowstrings of the local archers nervously twitched against a hidden figure. Something seen only clandestine in the shade.
The village was uneasy. The few who had seen the vision of the horse, beseeched the nervous townsfolk to lower their crossbows.
This was some kind of spiritual visitation. An unworldly apparition all at once intimidating but sacred and divine. The temples in the hills supported their wariness.
Amongst the etchings of things which had passed, passing, and things yet to pass– the so-called Flesh Horse belonged in the latter category. Engravings like a wanted poster. Dead-accurate. The denizens didn’t dare challenge an omen. They knew better than to challenge fate itself.
But many wondered, what did this brawny, taut spirit of cavalry want with them? And why now? Easterfest had ended. There were no significant dates upcoming. And yet, at the stroke of midnight, the “Flesh Horse”, or its true name as it spoke– “flǣsc equinus” reared its head in the market square – bedazzling onlookers who gazed with might and fright.
For the first time it spoke. Not via mouth, as many had expected – but via the collective minds of everyone present. A scholar recognised it as French.
« Salutations, habitants de Kindkerg – tu as ma protection en tant qu’esprit gardien de cette forêt »
The Scholar hurriedly translated. “People of Kinderg, as the guardian spirit of this forest, I am your protector”.
Before he could finish– a blinding light as the Flesh Horse seemed to rend, tear asunder, cleave and reweave. The forest lit up with a thousand fireflies. And the village knew peace.