Several years ago, I began collecting a series of short stories written and inspired by
my travels — not the places so much but as the disconnectedness, that being outside of time sense that’s always there when we cross oceans and timezones and find ourselves completely out of our own context. While the series is slow at coming together, I add a new story every now and again.
The original title I’d planned for the collection was Jet lagged and Lusting that because many of those stories came out of the fevered dream space that in which one finds oneself when trying to recover from a long journey. It’s a space where sleep is uncertain and fleeting and being awake feels completely surreal, almost as though our bodies aren’t quite connected to our minds.
I find that in those times, I’m very open to the Muse, and to strange thoughts and ideas that seem more real than not and that lead me to a different creative space inside myself. Horse Power is one of those tales. I wrote it and shared it several years ago and today felt like a good day to share a free read. I hope you enjoy it.
I didn’t think it strange when I first saw the horse running on the beach in the middle of the night. That in itself was strange … that I didn’t think it strange, I mean. It was a very high tide and the wind was just blowing out the tail end of a storm, which was not going out peacefully. I didn’t think it strange that the white horse, who looked almost silver in the moonlight, was alone, frolicking in the waves. I didn’t even think it strange when I glanced away long enough to pull on my bathrobe and looked up to find a man standing where the horse had been. That he was naked and that the horse was nowhere in sight I didn’t think was really all that strange either. I just figured as jet lagged as I’d been the past couple of days I was dreaming, and a disappearing white horse and a hunky naked man on a midnight beach well that was a helluva lot better than some of the jet lagged dreams I’d had.
I had rented a cottage on the beach near Lincoln City for a bit of holiday and some much-needed downtime from my hectic schedule. I’ve often wondered how different my life would have been if I’d gone to the mountains instead. But hindsight is always better than foresight, and it’s better not to dwell on what I can’t change. I spent a lot of the first couple of days wandering the cottage in the middle of the night and sitting on the deck watching the ocean. That’s what I’d been doing when I saw the horse and then the man. As I watched, suddenly a wave high enough to cover a house swept over him, and I cried out, dropping the untied sash of my robe and pressing my face to the sliding glass door of the cottage. I had no idea what to do. No one could swim in that high sea. I didn’t even know who to call – 911, the Coast Guard, the police. As the wave scoured the beach, I stood nose pressed to the glass, heart racing. I had to do something. But what? And who would believe me? Surely anyone I did call would think that I was on something, or drunk, or … jet lagged. If there had been a man on the beach such a wave would have washed him far out to sea by the time anyone got there to check out my call. Still, I couldn’t just do nothing.
Straining my eyes to make out the darkened beach, I fumbled for my phone on the table next to me. I only glanced away for a split second to grab the device, but when I looked back, as the waves receded, the man was standing unmoved exactly where he had been. No, I think he was even closer. His back was to me, and he seemed to be looking up at the moon, his arms raised, his head thrown back. For a moment the thought flashed through my head that he might have been a marble sculpture standing there on the sand.
But then he turned, and honestly, I forgot all about my speculations. He was magnificent, unruly hair tossed around his head in the wind, water glistened and sheened off his arms and torso and dripped down the curves of his elbows and buttocks. He was muscle and sinew – not like a body builder, more like a dancer. But even a dancer couldn’t move like he did. He moved like the waves and the water. He flowed, muscles undulating beneath taut moonlit skin. I was so mesmerized by the look of him, the move of him that it took me a second to realize not only was he walking toward where I stood inside the cottage, gawping at him, robe wide open, but he was looking right at me.
I should have stepped back out of view. I should have pulled the curtains. I probably should have been terrified, but I just stood there staring. As he moved across the sand it was impossible not to notice his heavy cock becoming heavier with each step until he rested a protective hand against it, a hand that both protected and caressed, and the clench and tremble below my belly was a sign of just how aware of his cock I was. I was far more aware of my body warming and moistening and swelling to the sight of him than I was of the fact that a strange naked man on the beach was watching me with hunger in his eyes. By the time he reached the deck that led to the sliding doors of my room, the arousal I felt was liberally laced with fear, but when he vaulted the railing as easily as if it hadn’t even been there, I let out a shriek, dropped my cell phone on the floor in my efforts to jerk the curtains shut and fled into the bathroom. It was only after I locked the door behind me that I realized I had stupidly trapped myself. There was no window in the bathroom, no escape route if he did find a way in. Every horror film I’d ever seen rushed back to me along with every serial killer tale I’d ever heard. Abductions, tortures, kidnappings and white slavery all ran through my head for a split second. Be calm, Sadie! Be calm. It’s just your imagination.Surely it’s just your imagination, I told myself.
I woke in the morning stiff and sore and sprawled on the bathroom floor in my robe. There was nothing I could use for a weapon, and my watch read 9:00. The wind had died down, and if the forecast was right, the sun would be out and it would be a beautiful day. I cinched my bathrobe tight around my waist and, with fingers none too steady, unlocked the door, took a deep breath and poked my head out. The cottage was deserted, everything exactly as I’d left it, curtains hastily drawn, phone on the floor near the edge of the bed. After gathering enough courage to open the curtain and venture onto the deck, I discovered everything exactly as it had been the evening before. There were no footprints on the decking, no footprints on the sand beyond. There was no evidence of the naked man at all.
I dressed hastily and walked out onto the beach behind the deck. There were no footprints of any kind up close to my cottage, just lots of strange odd-shaped indentions in the sand. In my muzzy-headed condition, it took me a few minutes to realize they were hoof prints. I just figured someone had been out for an early-morning ride, though I thought it was a bit cheeky for them to come this close to my cottage.
As I went through the day, a little shopping in Lincoln city, a drive up the coast, lunch at Tidal Raves in Depoe Bay, my thoughts about the naked man on the beach became less thoughts of the scary stalker kind and more thoughts of wondering what might have happened if I’d invited him in when we were both clearly aroused by the situation. After a long walk on the beach in the afternoon sun, the man constantly in my thoughts, I masturbated in a long steamy shower leaning up against the tiles pretending the spray was the rain and the waves, that it was his mouth making my nipples tingle and rise, that it was his fingers opening me, stroking me, finding all the places that made me grind and shift and buck like a mare waiting for a stallion, that it was his fingers spreading me and making me ready for his cock. Thoughts of his cock reminded me of the white horse on the beach, and that made me wonder at the enormity of my need thinking of him vaulting my deck railing, thinking of the horse frolicking in the waves, thinking of the ebb and flow, of the undulation of sex, of his body penetrating mine; thinking of the overwhelming wave of release I might have had if I’d simply opened the sliding door and let him in.
When the sun set, I became ridiculously bold – perhaps it was due to jet lag, but certainly a couple of glasses of good Oregon Pinot Noir didn’t hurt. I stripped out of my clothes and wrapped myself in a blanket, then I settled in the chaise lounge with my glass of wine and my Kindle. I always had several erotic novels pulled up for my reading pleasure. I had a lot of sexual energy and at that point in my life, I was my only outlet, so I read a lot of erotica and watched a bit of porn now and then, but the man on the beach was even better than porn, and he was my own fantasy story come to life And then I’d ran away from him! I couldn’t really believe he was real, and yet if he was a dream, it really pissed me off that I’d done something so stupid as to run away rather than to stay and let him properly fuck me. I didn’t place much stock in lucid dreaming. I figured you get what you get, and your unconscious has a vicious sense of humor when it comes to the dreams you get, but I really, really wanted to revisit the man on the stormy beach. Instead, I got the horse.
It was the soft whickering that woke me. The moon had risen in a bright disk painting the pale horse in a silver grey dance of light and shadow. He pranced and sidestepped just beyond the edge of the waves, tossing his main, tail flowing like a kite behind him as he frolicked. Then suddenly he stilled, as though he were aware of my wakefulness. Seeing that I was no threat, he moved forward toward me. I stood, pulling the blanket tightly around me and moved to the rail, then I remembered the bowl of fruit on the kitchen table. “I’ve got something for you, boy,” I said. “Wait here, I’ll be right back.”
I was only gone a minute — just long enough to nab an apple, but when I returned, the horse wasn’t alone. The man from last night sat astride him, just as naked as he was the night before. But this time I wasn’t scared. This time I felt myself in control of the dream. He watched as I strode boldly down the steps onto the sand and offered the apple to the horse, feeling the soft velvet of his muzzle against my palm as he took my offering.
Then the horse gave me a gentle head butt and I lost my grip on the blanket. As it slid open, the man offered me his hand. It was a dream, I told myself. It had to be, so I lifted my hands to him letting the blanket fall away as he bent and scooped me one-armed onto the broad back of the horse and settled me in front of him. I gave a little gasp as, with the flat of his large hand low on my belly, he pulled me back against his hard naked chest.
And then we were like the wind racing down the beach dangerously close to the swell of the waves. The spray took my breath and stung my eyes and for a moment I saw nothing but a blur. He slid his hand up my belly to caress my breasts, and on upward to cup my throat and my jaw, drawing me around, and I twisted and arched toward him as he mantled me and took my mouth and I breathed in the fresh breath of the storm humid and wild on his kiss, a kiss that lingered and deepened as the rhythm of the horse drove me back against his body, back against the urgency of his cock pressed to the small of my back.
Once he was certain I wouldn’t pull away from the dance of his tongue, his caress migrated downward again, thumbing my nipples until I squirmed and ached, stroking my belly in little kneading circles, each one lower than the one before, until he shivered his fingers down through my tight pubic curls. Even spread wide as I was mounted on the muscular back of the horse, unconsciously, I opened still wider as he teased and worried his way between my legs.
I pressed hard back against his body for leverage to get long thick fingers into places slick as seaweed and more heated than the laboring back of the horse. He intuited the depths of me where the hungry places begged and wept for release. With fingertips and the broad flat of his thumb, he explored the valleys and folds, the swells and undulations until I growled and arched and forgot how to be civilized. The salt spray that had misted us now rose above us in glorious curling waves, higher and higher until we road in the dark rise of their foamy shadows. The horse screamed and reared and I fell back against the man, who was now guiding the animal with only his knees, one hand teasing and making me ready, the other cupping my buttocks and lifting me until I could feel the insistent press of him pushing, prodding, opening me. Then with a loud, inhuman cry like a warrior at conquest, he plunged home deep and hard, forcing the breath from my lungs in a desperate cry for relief just as the horse turned headlong into the roll of the wave and took us down to the deep.
I came to myself in the semi-doze of the place where fantasy happens, naked breasts peeking to break the surface of the calm ocean undulating beneath me as I let the waves carry me in. It didn’t seem strange to me that I was naked and unafraid in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, nor did it seem strange when I realized I wasn’t in the middle at all, but gently riding the swells in toward the beach next to my rented cottage. It didn’t even seem strange that the sun was rising in the sky when my last memories had been of heated sex and full heavy night. What did seem strange, as I waded up the beach and wrapped myself in the discarded blanket that lay exactly where I’d left it, was that my cottage was swarming with police.
From my deck, two uniformed officers spotted me and the place went wild. Before I could speak, I was swarmed by EMTs trying to shove an oxygen mask in my face while one kept telling me just to relax and breathe deeply. When I was finally able to convince everyone that I was all right, a plain clothes detective named Dirk Snyder shooed the EMTs away and guided me the chaise lounge.
“What’s going on, detective? Why are all these cops in my cottage?”
He took a bottle of water a uniform handed him and gave it to me. When I’d drank most of it back in thirsty gulps, he settled onto his haunches next to me and held me in an earnest gaze. “Ms. Gibbons, you’ve been missing for three days.”
“What?” Suddenly the deck felt more like the deck of a ship as the memories of the wild ride on the beach came back to me. “How can that be?”
“The cleaner came Tuesday morning and found the place wide open. Several of the neighbors thought they saw you walking into the water. The tides were still high. They feared the worst.”
Since that night five years ago, I’ve read everything I can about the gods and goddesses and the spirits of the deep. I’ve read all the mythology and fairy tales I can find about water and water deities. I’ve read about water horses and mermaids and how sometimes they seduce people and take them down to the deep never to be released again. I guess I was lucky. But I’m more inclined to believe there was a reason for my survival. That reason is my daughter, conceived sometime during those three days I was supposedly missing. Every once in a while I have faint recollections, intimations of dreams of a place beneath the waves, of a man and a horse nearly interchangeable — always insatiable, and of me always ready and full of longing. The memories leave me aching with a desire I have no name for, and when I can stand no more and give myself relief beneath my sweat-drenched sheets or in a foamy bath or a steamy shower, I wish I could bring it all back to me – those three days.
The child who bears little resemblance to me but is a constant reminder of her father is the beautiful gift he left me, and yet I want more. Every day I want more, and yet I can’t bring myself to return to the sea because I’m afraid he’ll come for us, but I’m even more afraid that he won’t. Someday I’ll gather my courage and take the child he gave me back to that beach at Lincoln City and tell her about her father, and when the tide is high and the storm blows out on the heels of a full moon, we’ll wait for him together. Someday.