08 May Horse/8min
“Horse/8min”Written by Elias Witherow Edited by Seth Paul and Craig Groshek Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek Narrated by N/A
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available
⏰ ESTIMATED READING TIME — 4 minutes
It was an incredibly hot day when I heard the knock on my door. One of those days where you close the blinds and crank the AC, trying to find relief in darkness. It had been like that all week, each day growing more and more unbearable.
I was upset at whoever was knocking at my door because that meant I was going to have to get up and open that door, letting the crushing heat in.
I quick-saved my work on the computer, as I always do before leaving my station, and walked to the door, mind still filled with thoughts of paints and borders. I have the fortune of working from home. I’m an artist and I draw backgrounds for various cartoons and animations both on television and the internet. I had almost finished my day’s work, and so it was especially irritating to be interrupted and break the flow I had been enjoying.
I reached the front door and opened it, raising a hand to my eyes against the sudden sunlight. I felt the warmth of the day drape itself around me like a heavy blanket, and I could feel myself begin to sweat.
No one was at the door. I stared out at the empty street and could feel my irritation grow. Some kind of joke? That’s when I looked down and saw that someone had left me a small package. I quickly bent down and picked it up, bringing it inside. I walked over to my workstation, turning over the small box in my hand. There was nothing written on it. No address, no name, nothing. I weighed it slowly in my hands, and it felt like there might not even be anything inside. Sitting down in my desk chair, I began opening the mysterious package. Inside, wrapped in some old newspaper, was a single DVD. I tossed the box aside and held the disc up to the light. Written sloppily on the disc were the words, ‛horse/8min’.
I wondered what the hell that meant and saw that the disc was really scratched up, as if it had been played over and over again. I sat there for a few moments, figured what the hell, and popped open the computer’s disc tray. I wasn’t sure if it would actually read the DVD considering what poor shape it was in, but after a few seconds, the player popped open on the screen, and the video began.
What I’m about to describe does not give justice to what was on that disc. I’ll do my best to convey what it was I was seeing as the first few seconds ticked by.
The video was grainy and shot in a very dark room with deep maroon lighting pushing only the darkest shadows off the screen. In the middle of the frame was a person, sitting down, with their back to the camera. I could only see from the shoulders up, and the person’s arms were resting on the armrests, just out of sight. The person appeared to be wearing some kind of dark winter jacket. Instead of a human head, though, it was the head of a horse. Its mane was grown out and looked almost like human hair. It was black and greasy and fell down to its shoulders. Its head was turned, looking slightly behind itself, towards the camera. The one eye that I could see was completely white and severely bloodshot. Its mouth was twisted and almost ripped back to form a smile that looked both painful and amused. Its lips were pulled up almost to its eyes, and the gums were black and irritated.
The initial shock of what I was looking at caused me to jump. What the hell was this? What was I looking at?
I sat, captivated, feeling both creeped out and curious. The thing didn’t move; it just sat there, staring, unblinking, at the camera. Its shoulders seemed to heave with almost desperate, heavy gasps, but there was no sound of breathing.
I cranked the volume to max, listening for anything. About every twenty seconds, I thought I could hear a single bark somewhere offscreen. But it didn’t sound like a dog barking. It was the sound a person makes when trying to imitate a dog bark.
It was so faint that I put my ear to the speaker, trying to catch it and decipher some sort of clue as to what I was looking at. Another twenty seconds passed, and something barked again, ever so faintly.
I leaned back in my seat and pushed the mouse around the screen. I was seven minutes in, and nothing had changed. The figure continued to stare at the camera, smiling its sick smile, teeth clamped together. Its shoulders rose and fell, neither gaining nor losing intensity.
I scrolled over to the pause button and clicked it. Nothing happened. I tried it again but got the same result. I clicked to exit out of the video played, but my computer seemed frozen while the video played.
That’s when the horse head moved.
In one terrifyingly quick moment, the thing spun towards the camera and let out one loud bark. It was the same sound I had been hearing on loop, but much louder now. As soon as it barked, the video ended.
I sat, stunned at what I had just witnessed. I didn’t know what to make of it. I realized my heart was racing, and despite the AC, I was sweating. A deep uneasiness filled me, and I quickly stood up and opened the curtains to reveal a setting sun. I turned on all the lights in the house, knowing I was being stupid.
Questions raced through my mind. Who had sent this to me? Why? What did it all mean? Was someone messing with me? Something about the deeply serious nature of the video haunted me. I felt an almost intimate recognition of what I had just seen. I was shaken.
I went outside and sat on the porch until the night put the day to bed. The open air calmed me slightly. I even began to feel rather foolish. Eventually, I went inside and started to wind down for sleep.
* * * * * *
It’s 1:57 AM. Something woke me up a few minutes ago. At first, I wasn’t sure why I was awake. I lay there in silence, taking account of my situation. Then I heard it.
Something was barking outside. One single bark about every twenty seconds. That awful, skin-curling human bark from the video. I lay paralyzed in fear, just listening, hoping that the sound just stops. It’s distant, but present. There didn’t seem to be any other sound in the world. I’m writing this on a pad I keep by my bed in hopes someone finds it. Something is going to happen to me tonight. I know it, and I am so scared I’m crying. The noise keeps repeating. Please. If you ever come across the DVD labeled ‛horse/8min’, I beg you, do not watch it.
The barking outside stopped.
Now it’s outside my bedroom door.
🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available