An otherworldly shriek in the dark reminded me I wasn’t home. I woke in the middle of my first night of a long stay on a small island on the Caribbean.
The island was remote and barely developed, grown wild with isolation; I’d taken three planes to reach its quiet shores. Remnants of a military past were seen on trails, haunted bunkers overgrown with vines, zones fenced off to hide ravaged landscapes.
The wind was incessant, the kind of wind that droned so constantly it created a soothing roar. This backdrop of white noise was pierced by shrieks in the night coming from somewhere on the grounds of the hilltop inn where I was one of only a handful of guests.
I peered through the shutters on my windows. Wind-whipped palm trees stood directly in front, transformed into silver wraiths by the moonlight. Beyond these palms a large open field that ended in cliffs, and beyond those the sea, a wide expanse of restless darkness.
On the moonlit plains were horses, about a dozen of them running together, legs churning, hooves pounding, manes flying. One of them shrieked again. They ran towards the edge of the cliff then away in a large circle. As they ran, more joined them–dozens became thirty, forty, fifty.
Horses that I’d seen earlier while touring the island, the peaceful sad-eyed creatures grazing along roadsides and at the edge of forests, some branded, some with wounds, others unblemished, were now gathered here as if with one shared unfulfillable purpose, driven to an unfathomable fury.
There was a final scream from the leader. All horses came to a stop and faced the sea en masse. Waiting.
Something was rising from the water. The moon cast an ethereal glimmer on the stirring waves. A massive creature, rising higher and higher, tall as a city skyscraper–taller, its hulk continuing its ascent from the water. An immensity beyond imagining.
Everything else was still. The horses, the palms, my breath. The wind had stopped. Water gushed around the rising form as it eclipsed the horizon.
I began to back away, slowly. But before I pulled my eyes away from the scene, I saw the head of each horse turn to look at me, eyes glinting in the moonlight.