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Billy The Horse

          Halfway up a lonesome trail to the peak of the largest mountain in the territory of Hawaii is a pause. In happier times it was a tourist destination. You could see the entire breadth of the island laid out before your eyes—a sea of trees and fields and frozen lava turned into an ever-growing pile of tourist bait. As Joshua Brooks reaches the lookout point, he reflects with a heavy heart at all the memories of all the videos he had seen of that gorgeous view. What lay before him now is mystical in its own way, but only to untrained eyes. The same graveyard he sees every day greets him with an unwavering solemnity. In the far distance the frozen ocean grows until the horizon swallows it: an undeniably fresh piece of paper. Of course, he’d never seen paper so fresh. With the lack of trees, no physical paper had been printed in centuries. At the closest end of that infinite sheet of paper sits a great lump of increasingly tall frozen snow, ensuring the ash of that final volcano eruption is lost beneath the tide of atmospheric drift. As the mountain starts to rise, occasional spikes stand defiant where the last palms had chosen to freeze rather than die. Finally, at the lookout point there stands a vicious, clever, wavering, and regretful oligarch.

          “Hello old friend,” he says to the horse skull at his feet. The lookout point had been cleared with flamethrowers of the all-consuming snow for his pleasure, and beneath it all laid the body of an old stallion who decided that was a good view to die with. The bones were a perfect white, minus a slight bit of charring from the flamethrower. “I got a letter today,” the old man tells the bones. “From my old boss. He said he was sorry, if you can believe it.” The horse cannot, in fact, believe it. All the stories made it sound like Lopez was an uncaring jerk. “He said he-” the old man cuts himself off. There’s a sniffle. Crying? Joshua? Impossible, thinks the skull. “He said he was proud of me, and that he believed in me.” A tear rolls down Joshua’s cheek inside the surface suit covering his body. The skull looks at him with a peculiar sense of understanding. “He said… he said that everything he did was to forge me into a weapon.” The skull imagines that time he got stuck in Maddy’s barbed wire. “That in the end he knew what I was going to do-” He trails off again, and the turrets of the frozen battleship Carter in the distance salute him mournfully. “He forgave me.” The skull knew forgiveness too, once. “And he asked me to use these final months to forgive myself.” The skull had never heard such ridiculous words from Joshua, but it seems to be proud of him regardless. “And to use the company to make my city a better place.” 
          He pauses and looks at the skull. It smiles back at him like a good servant always does. “I see. Thank you, friend. I will heed your advice.” The skull watches as Joshua puts away the letter and hobbles back up the path towards his home.


For obvious legal reasons, don’t steal this. © Samwiz1 2022

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