Horses and Riders

Posted: January 11, 2014 in Flash Fiction, Horror

It was an old barn tucked away on the north end of the island. Rather it had once been a barn, and still remained one of the oldest structures on the island. When the main building burnt to the ground back in the 1920s the original owners had been too impoverished to build a new one. The family moved into the barn, ostensibly as a temporary measure, but everyone had known it was for good. There was much gossip. Fewer people lived on the island back then and lurid talk of witchcraft and eating horseflesh circulated among the neighbors. There was a curse upon the family, someone would say and others would nod sagely. When their fortunes did not improve, the remaining men began work on closing the barn up, making it livable. The few nags remaining in the stable were set free to roam as they pleased. Stalls became bedrooms and the tack room was made a pantry. It was a dry, but drafty home, lousy with mice and the smell of old dung. The Gilberts had owned it then. The Raintrees owned it now. Not much had changed in the intervening years and, though the Raintrees were not poor and spent every possible moment perfecting their little fixer upper, they were soon equally cursed. In their dreams they were horses, brute animals trapped in the stalls that were their rooms in daylight hours. They knew the crack of whips and the muffling invasion of bits into their mouths. During the day they were only half awake, plodding about their tasks with the dull eyes reserved for beasts of burden. At night, beneath the waning moon, ghosts of long dead workers gelded the males and used the women as brood mares. Each morning they awoke and could not remember the horrors they had suffered. What was once interrupted would at last be finished. Soon they would be broken and the Masters would come to ride. For horses were the steeds of men, but men were the steeds of the gods.

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