Two horses walk into a bar… I know, it sounds like the beginning of a crappy joke, right? Well, it wasn’t a joke at all. I don’t know why they did, but it quite literally saved my life.
It had been several weeks since the blood had been any good. I was completely full when everything went wrong, so I noticed nothing at first. The Man had stopped moving, and his body became hot, then cold. I remained lodged in his armpit mostly of sheer sloth, and slept peacefuly with my head lodged fully into the clammy flesh. It was not until I sucked absentmindedly at cool and congealing blood that I noticed something was amiss.
A distant creep of worry began to tingle up my carapace, the subdued fear that only the engorged glutton can know. What would I do the next time I hungered? Why had this Man abandoned me?
Still, I was unwilling to abandon Him and remained in his armpit until the smell became unbearable. I retracted from his flesh, head glistening with rot (and tears? I shall not say), and made the slow, sad trek to the barroom floor.
I waited there, marking the passage of days by the hideous burning of sunlight crawling across the floor again and again. That, and the shrinking of my belly, were the only indications that anything was happening at all. Once I heard the loud booms and smelled more men, but by the time I got outside to the parking lot, the blood was cold.
I’m still not sure why, but rather than head for a nearby rhododendron bush, I made the vast and vulnerable journey back to the bar, where I waited, crouched between the pinky and ring finger of the Man’s putrid left hand. It made no sense to me. To be fair, most things don’t make sense to me.
But there I stayed, until the day I heard the unfamiliar clip-clop of hooves, first on pavement, and then more slowly on linoleum. The floor shook with each hoofbeat. Hoof-boom, more like. The horses moved closer. There was a stainless steel sink behind the bar, and the riderless horse made a beeline for it. The dripping sounds had ceased several weeks ago, but from the sound of it, the sink was still completely full. The horse lapped noisily away with audible satisfaction. The other horse, burdened with a dead and bloated rider, shifted hooves impatiently and whiskered. When she had drunk her fill the first beast methodically backed out from behind the bar. Her companion took up the same position, his rider slumped over and motionless.
Now was my chance. I scurried out from between the dead Man’s fingers. It was a short distance for the four-legged monsters, but respectable eight-legged creatures like myself have only one speed; steady, implacable. And at times like this, slow.
I could hear the demonic sounds of a greedy horse tongue lapping up impossible draughts of water. Would I miss my opportunity? I thought of all that cool water, tried to imagine it as delicious dark blood. I scurried forward, feeling the inexorable mechanics of my eight legs propelling me forward.
And then I was there, at the base of a rear hoof.
Now, I’ve done this enough times to know that looking up is a bad idea; the distances and scale are too daunting. One finds oneself making calculations about how much of a brief lifespan is spent crawling and climbing, as opposed to feeding and laying eggs. That sort of thinking is self-defeating, however.
I began my ascent, therefore, without even a moment’s pause. Suddenly I was vertical. Somehow I felt more exposed while scaling the hoof than I had during my long treks across the barroom floor. But in a few short seconds I was into the bristly thicket go the horse’s legs, and not a moment too soon. The horse began to move almost the instant I reached its fur.
I was for the most part concentrating on the slow, steady climb, but I could feel the horse moving, could hear the other horse thunderously clip-clopping nearby, and saw in the distance the faint outlines of ruin. Several times the horses stepped over motionless Men, or trotted carefully around piles of them. I wondered distantly if I would ever taste Man blood again. Horse blood was not nearly so sweet. But it was plentiful, I reasoned, as I nestled into a fold of flesh, and bit through the skin. Hot, delicious blood began to flow, and I lapped it up greedily. I imagined how my drinking must sound to the mites undoubtedly buried in my exoskeleton. Probably much like the lapping of water had sounded to me in the bar.
I felt myself growing full and complete again. Nestled in the shadow of a titanic horse cock, I sighed and grew sleepy. Horse blood was thick and a bit bland, but it would suffice.