Today was the next big leap forward for my budding little colony. Gigantic leap. Astronomical. Maybe there’s a chance for us. Maybe not me, never me. I can’t. Sky, though. We have a chance. Maybe something of humanity will outlast our demise. See, I’m still human! I use words like “our”. Third person inclusive, that’s how excited I am.
I have to include you. Overwhelming evidence indicates the person reading this is also a horsebeast. Probably me, since I can’t imagine anyone else caring enough. But given the disposition of survivors, I now believe that all the sparse survivors of the depopulation will be horsebeasts.
If the present trend … don’t call … because … sorry. Sky was still up. Heard me talking with the door open. She said I shouldn’t say things like “horsebeast.” I guess this software can’t really handle multiple speakers in the same room. One day I’ll have perfected some kind of hand substitute and I’ll be able to hand-write these again. I could probably finish these in half the time if I didn’t have to stop to fix software mistakes and insert all the formatting stuff.
This rambling would probably make more sense if I waited until after I described the day’s events. Yesterday I encountered some strange markings while testing out the shoes I’d made. They were right in the middle of the street, indicating they had to have come after the depopulation event.
Sky and I agree that we need an official name for the day when everybody disappeared. Right now “depopulation event” seems to work, though it hardly rolls off the tongue when written that way. DE for short, maybe? Just "Event"?
Regardless, I headed towards the south end of town. Didn’t carry much, just the saddlebag I made with some water and snacks. I continue to subsist on a diet of at least 1/3rd granola bars, though if Sky has her way eggs and milk will find their way back in eventually.
I also brought some scraps for Huan. I guess I’ve just come to expect him waiting out there for me after more than a week of his company. Wonder how that dog sees me now. He still hasn’t tried to come inside. I wonder if he walks back to his old house where his human family used to live at the end of every day and sleeps there. Plenty of dogs have been that loyal. Mine was.
I offered to let Sky come, but she didn’t really want to. Apparently the cows “don’t like sleeping outside”, and she’s helping them clear out the discount store’s interior so they can use it sooner than expected. I didn’t ask how she’d learned this fact. Probably she just made it up. God, I hope she made it up. Maybe she’s just used to having her solitude.
Whatever, I was fine with that. I went it alone for a week, I can do a few hours. Besides, I’d have Huan with me. None of the other strays would dare touch me with such a big dog by my side, right? Pity the animal hadn’t been wearing a tag with his name on it. Just one of those pet department serial number things. Lame.
Once I got into the south end of town, I started to feel like I was being watched. You know that feeling, when the hair on your neck stands on end? Or maybe you walk into a dark room, and you just know something’s up? It’s not rational, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it.
Huan either felt it too or he sensed my agitation, because he started getting pretty jumpy too, ears darting around and sniffing all the time. I expected him to find whatever it was before I did. My ears and nose might be more acute than they used to be, but I’ve got nothing on a dog. Wolves, hunting, party. So long as they aren’t hunting me.
No, I was the hunter then. And what I saw wasn’t quite what I expected. It looked like… someone had been around the whole neighborhood with a crowbar, randomly smashing windows and doors and car windshields. A large computer store looked like it’d been recently looted, with broken glass inside and things fallen over. None of the weird circular glyphs appeared again.
I think I’ll dig out my old navigator’s watch, the one with the barometer and the compass and stuff. Solar power should keep it running, though god only knows if the band is wide enough to go around what pass for my limbs these days. Maybe if I wear it towards the bottom of my legs when I’m not wearing shoes…
The damage seemed to be forming a pattern of some kind, radiating out from a central source. I followed the largest signs of it, past the shops and into a small suburban neighborhood.
This was a mistake. Even if Sky wasn’t interested in exploring with me on foot (hoof?), I probably should’ve gone to get her for such a big development as this. We survivors have to have some group solidarity. Under such overwhelming evidence of another survivor (or at least something powerful and determined), I should’ve gone for backup. I did have my radio, but a quick call proved Sky wasn’t listening and I quickly gave up.I couldn’t resist the lure of another survivor.
Wandered past the fashion district and into residential before the signs of “occupation” became most pronounced (walking is really slow, by the way. I’ve got to get driving figured out. For some other reasons that will swiftly become clear).
There was damage to many of the cars and buildings that I couldn’t easily identify. I saw cars that looked like they’d somehow struck large objects while parked (wasn’t there a joke about that once?). Houses with windows ripped right out of the walls. Mailboxes uprooted like twigs planted in the sand.
Who or what could’ve caused all this damage? I learned.
I saw him out of the corner of my eye, first. A pastel orange (I was never really good with colors. What do you call that, tangelo?). Like a traffic cone left out in the sun for a few years. Anyway, he still stood out, because even a pastel orange is way brighter than the other colors all around me.
I didn’t get a good look, didn’t see his mane very clearly or even whether he had wings like Sky does. Mostly I saw his tail and his crazy-too-big pants as he tried to run away from me. He turned down an open fence, and tried to vanish between two houses.
You know what sets a predator off? Prey running away. I was probably never much of a predator as a human (never killed anything before), but Huan is. That dog needed no encouragement from me to take off after the fleeing pony, barking and wagging his tail. Honestly, I think he was having way too much fun.
I chased after as best I could, but I hadn’t tried to do any running seriously. It was all I could do not to trip over my own hooves, even with the “advantage” of rubber-soled shoes to grip the ground. I couldn’t keep pace with either one no matter how hard I tried.
Fortunately, our quarry wasn’t much faster than I am. The way he moved looked far closer to my own stumbling gait than any way those real horses moved when we saw them at the farm. Into somebody’s backyard and around the corner, and Huan lept up into the air and onto the pony’s back.
I now know what a bucking pony looks like. The stallion (I guess that’s the right word), started jumping violently around, enough that Huan went flying off his back. I was shouting for the dog to stop, for the pony to stop. Only one of them listened.
The dog. He jumped, got his teeth around the stallion’s neck, then he stopped moving, as if he knew that any pressure might cause serious harm to the pony beneath. I wonder if there’s some pony instinct to make them freeze if teeth get locked around their neck (or if that kind of rational thought came from what I could only presume to be a human inside).
“Don’t hurt him, Huan,” I remember saying that very clearly, along with, “Whoever you are, please don’t move. I haven’t known this dog very long, but I’m sure he won’t hurt you if you stay still.” Thank god I was right about that. Would’ve been pretty awkward if the dog had kept attacking him.
Is the fact he didn’t attack evidence that something really has changed about animal intelligence?
Whatever. Finally, because he had no other choice, the stallion finally stopped struggling and stood there, with a huge dog holding him from the side only a few feet from somebody’s pool. Can horses swim?
I got a good look at him now, approaching within a few paces. His mane was blue, brighter than my coat but not so bright it hurt to look at. He was taller than me by about six inches, and even though he was wearing a pair of backward pants it was obvious from his build I was looking at a male of… whatever our species is.
He didn’t have wings, but as I circled around to look him in the face, I saw what he did have. A horn on his forehead, like something straight off the head of a narwhal, except not like that at all because it was much shorter, probably six to eight inches long and colored similarly to the orange of his coat.
A unicorn, that was the name for the species. I was looking at a unicorn. “Get your dog off of me,” was the first thing he said. “Get him off, or I will.”
That was when something completely unexplainable happened: his horn started to glow. A reddish, pinkish light radiated from around it, not bright enough to overcome the sunlight but easily bright enough to see in spite of it.
“Okay,” I said, or something very similar. “We don’t want to hurt you. There’s no reason to run away.”
“I’d feel less like you were trying to hurt me if you didn’t have a freak dog at my throat.”
I told Huan to let him go, and I was afraid the dog wouldn’t comply. He did though, sliding back with a roll to land on his paws, putting himself between me and the stallion, growling. Only then did the glowing from the unicorn’s horn fade away again. He said something stupid and insensitive, and I replied in kind.
He didn’t run away again. Turns out his name is Joseph Kimball. Didn’t get to learn too much from him; I don’t think he’s got very strongly developed social skills. Can those really start to atrophy in just a few weeks?
I told him that there was at least one other survivor, and we were living together in a house with solar power and water collection and chickens in the backyard. We would be very happy if he chose to come and live with us, or at least near us.
Joseph was not easy to convince. He’d apparently had trouble with stray animals, and hadn’t been able to get very far from this neighborhood. Even then, he said he wouldn’t have made it without the liberal use of his magic for self-defense.
Magic, you ask? Yeah, that’s what he called it. Yeah, I thought it was pretty stupid too. No, I didn’t tell him so. His first impression of me was probably pretty stained after the whole “attack dog” thing. I wasn’t about to make it worse.
Joseph… Joe… can I call him Joe? Course I can, he can’t hear me. Joe proceeded to demonstrate his “magic” for us by lifting a nearby lawn chair over the protective fence around the pool and dropping it inside with a splash, all without touching it.
Yes, you just read that right. He lifted up a chair, all without touching it. Like that X-Men girl, the one that went nuts and killed everybody in the third movie. Only there was this little pink glow around it while he did it, as though the horn was blasting it or something. It wasn’t a heavy chair, but of course he’d accomplished the task from at least ten feet away.
Bleh, this is getting long. I’m gonna have to turn the font size down to something almost illegible to stop from taking way too many pages to fit a year in this book, and I’m not even finished with everything. Not to mention… how late it is… getting tired. Probably wouldn’t get everything right if I forced myself to stay up dictating this. So many more details to write down! Like, did he make the markings I found? Does he know what they are (won't answer that one). Blah, whatever. Tomorrow. I'll just get stuff wrong if I force myself to write it now.
I’ll finish tomorrow.
PS: Here’s Joe. Tried to add a little color so you can see.