Horse_Stories 1: Hopelessly lost, a businessman…

Allow me to present my newest short story inspiration challenge. The aim is to find a quote from Horse_ebooks (the notorious twitterbot that was recently revealed to be a real person) and use it as the starting seed for a short story. Now there’s already been Horse_ebooks fanfics but this is slightly different. The rule is simple: the first paragraph from your story must feature the Horse_ebooks tweet in its entirety, preferably near the start of the paragraph. And the rest must be original. I just did my first one, it’s tremendous amounts of fun!

Horse_Stories 1: Hopelessly lost, a businessman…

Hopelessly lost, a businessman stumbles through the city’s suburbs. He wonders how he got here, how on earth he slipped through the cracks to the… other side. The only thing he does know is the time. Nine thirty.

Shadowy bodies file through takeaway doors, congregations returning to their oil-slicked, fatty salvation. Air vents whir. Rubbish crackles underfoot. Everywhere, dank, grimy walls muffling far-off drunken shouts and revelry.

He doesn’t know much about the other side, indeed, he has spent most of his life trying to imagine it doesn’t exist. And yet here he is. He tries to ignore the sickening lump rising in his throat and stumbles on.

He turns into yet another side street. The main roads have all but vanished. From beyond an open door a woman calls out an expletive-laden stream of words, he hopes not in his direction, and he hurries past the doorway splashing yellow light out into the street. It’s been so dark for so long now he can’t bear the narrow, sudden brightness.

Ten thirty.

He comes to a wider space that makes him skirt round the edges, frightened as a shrew. A nightclub. People queuing outside. There’s a taxi rank – oh saviours of lost souls on dark nights! – and he approaches. He cannot find his credit card, he was sure it was here a second ago, and so fumbles in his wallet for small change, anything that will get him somewhere familiar. A good businessman never carries cash on his person.

The taxi driver shakes his head. The small change won’t cut it, not for where the businessman wants to go. And no, he confirms, he won’t work for free.

Jeers from the nightclub crowd. They’re out on the prowl tonight, why can’t he be? He retreats further inside his head, backs away and carries on. It’s gotten very crowded. Almost midnight by now, surely? He doesn’t see the shapes of men as he bumbles into another dark alley, and slams hard into one man’s bulky side. A shout of something colloquial he cannot understand, for his rational senses have deserted him by now. He prays they will not rise to attack and his offerings to a fabricated deity he only placates during times of self-interest are, amazingly, heard. He escapes with only the bruise from initial contact to grace his shoulder.

He checks his watch, for it has to be nearly midnight now. But the watch is not there any longer. He checks his pockets but no, it had definitely been on his wrist. He remembers the men and thumps a fist hard against brick. Bones ill-used to such force protest and he feels another bruise start to well up. Too tired to experience the full intensity of his anger, he instead lets the hand drop and puts one foot in front of the other, edging towards a light somewhere up ahead.

The light is a mirage. He weeps. His tie starts to constrict his throat and he loosens it. His fingers, stiff with drizzle and cold, won’t do as he says. With distinct lack of finesse he tangles the slim strip of fabric, panics, paws at it, then the whole length of it breaks free and curls into a puddle. He feels more hot tears rise and bitterly regards the muddied symbol of his lost status. The great works of man are doomed to end in a mere puddle.

It has been too long standing for his aching feet and when he splashes into his next puddle it is his last, for his feet give up and he falls, face first, into what feels like mud. A torn bit of old newspaper flaps against his cheek.

There is the bong, bong, bong of a distant clock. His real, true deity; time. Get the time right and you make money, after all. He greets the sound of the clock with the warm fervour of one returning to Sunday mass after a hard and troubling week. He cannot see the clock tower but that does not matter now.

His face is still squished against the mud for he has no energy to move. He just waits for salvation. Big Ben bongs to twelve but it doesn’t stop there, it keeps on going, counting hours that don’t exist and he wails as he realises that his god has deserted him.

——–

If you have a Horse_Story of your own I’d love to read it! Link me below!

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