When he awoke, he had no idea where he was.

He sat up. Immediately he was checking his body; two long, thin legs, two gangly arms, eight bony fingers and two thumbs, two squishy, barely-focused eyes.

His first thought: 'Good to know I'm still intact'.

Thoughts drifted through his mind. He was having the strangest dream. 'Like falling', he thought.

Another thought entered his mind; a name. James.

'That must be my name. James. I am James.'

James lifted his gaze to the new environment around him. He had woken up in the middle of a forest. Trees surrounded him on all sides. He could hear birds, and squirrels, and the buzzing of insects. It was warm out, so he assumed it must be somewhere in the spring or summer months, but beyond that, he couldn't figure out how to gauge what the date was. Or how long he had been asleep, for that matter.

James racked his brain trying to remember, but found no memories; only questions. Where was he? Why was he here? Did he just come here to nap? He took a closer look at the forest scene. Most forests that he could recall had bugs, like mosquitoes and gnats, things that harried people and annoyed them and made them itch. No such bugs here. The air smelled sweet and felt heavy. The sun shined through the trees, creating a shifting mosaic of greens and blacks. All in all, it seemed way too perfect.

Then he saw something weird land on a nearby bush. Of this much he was certain; it definitely was not from any forest he could recall. The creature was tiny, and seemingly harmless, but James dare not go any further for fear he could be wrong. Upon closer inspection, James rationalized that the creature was some sort of insect. But, for reasons unknown to him, he somehow knew it wasn't a bug he'd ever seen before.

It was a small, round creature, with four, dragonfly-like wings. It had a pair of bulbous eyes that seemed to take up half, if not three quarters, of its 'face'. It had four spindly legs rather than six. It seemed almost… cute. The creature buzzed around the bush and landed on a leaf facing him, and James swore he could see it smile at him. He turned away from the strange creature as it buzzed off and disappeared into the trees.

James decided to walk around for a moment to see if he could find something familiar about the place, like a road or building. His first steps were shaky, and he had to reestablish his balance every so often. Nonetheless, for some reason he had it in his head that staying in one place for too long couldn't just be a mistake; it could be dangerous. James wandered around for a few minutes, but saw nothing but trees and rocks. Frustrated, he let out a grunt and sat down next to a nearby oak.

James lifted his gaze to the sky, and then realized something. 'The sun', he thought. 'I need to find a better view.'

James got to his feet, turned, and began to climb the tree he had sat up against. For some reason, the handholds came naturally to him. As he poked his head over the top of the tree, he could see the rest of the forest. An ever-changing sea of various green hues, and above it a sheet of blue. James couldn't remember a sky so clear, but then again, he couldn't remember anything about where he came from at the moment.

Looking around, James eventually found something of interest; what appeared to be a dirt road or footpath, roughly a mile north from where he was. This was good news, as it meant that there were other people and civilizations nearby. James slid to a lower branch and leapt from his perch, landing on his feet a few feet away.

James had no memory of where he came from, nor did he have any idea as to where he was going. But as he strode away towards where he saw the dirt path, he made a silent vow that he would find out.

By the time James had reached the road, his thoughts that the path was not natural were confirmed. The dirt here was coarse, a fine texture with very little debris like stones or growing weeds. There were no potholes or signs of disrepair, and the road remained roughly four feet wide at all times, indicating that it was not only man-made, but well maintained too. James scanned the ground to find any sign of marks or tracks, perhaps one made by a shoe or tire. Eventually, he found a set of tracks made by some kind of animal. James knelt down to get a closer look.

The tracks were made by a hoof, a large crescent shape, like a letter U. "Horse," James muttered to himself. "No signs of a carriage, but also not random, ruling out the possibility of this horse being wild. Probably a mount."

James made a sound of frustration. "Great. That's great. I can recognize horse tracks, I know how to climb a tree and get a proper lay of the land, but I don't know where I am or where I came from. Awesome! Good to see my memory is as sterling as ever!"

James began to stalk down the road in the direction the tracks were leading. The tracks weren't far apart, meaning that the rider felt no need to hurry. James took this to mean that civilization was not far in the direction the tracks were going, and the closer he got to a town, the closer he could get to people who could—who would—give him answers.


After a few hours of walking down a barren dirt road with the sun beating down on him and the forest on either side, James was sweaty, tired, and most of all, hungry. As luck would have it, however, a town had come into view in the distance. It was a relatively large town, but clearly rural, with no particularly large buildings or landmarks to speak of aside from a tower-like structure that James assumed was either a town hall or a bastion. It was also cut through by a small river, with several small cobblestone bridges closing the gap; James took note of this before shifting his gaze elsewhere. To his right was a cluster of small tents, and to his left were small cottages lining a seemingly vacant street, and beyond that another bridge leading to a forest of trees with what appeared to be apples. James's stomach growled at the thought of fresh food, and he decided that the trees would be his first stop.

As James began to walk towards the trees, his common sense overpowered his hunger. "I'm a stranger in a strange land as far as I know," He muttered to himself, "So it probably wouldn't be best to just walk up in plain view and take a bundle of fruit. Better to move unseen in case I'm not so welcome."

James was considering his options when a peculiar sight trotted into view; a horse. The horse had no rider, which was odd considering that it was running freely from its stable. But the fact that hit James the most was that the horse was speaking. Or, at least, it sounded like it was speaking, talking to itself in the same way that James did when he was alone. An indistinguishable mark was on its flank, too far away for James to make it out. Another horse, this one a mint-green color, seemed to holler "Wait up!" as it trotted up beside the first.

James suddenly realized that he was standing in the open like an idiot, and turned to bolt for the nearby trees. It wasn't fast enough; a startled noise from behind him told that he had been spotted. James dove into the bushes and sat still, refusing even to breathe. All the while he could hear the approach of the two horses, as well as their nervous, jittery whispers.

Finally, one of them reluctantly spoke up; "H-Hellooo?"

When James didn't reply, the other called out, "It's okay! We're not going to hurt you!"

'I'll bet', James thought.

When he heard one of the horses lean in to inspect the bush he was hiding in, James's mind ran through the possibilities; running would be his best bet, as scaring them off would attract too much attention and he didn't need nor want to see anyone hurt. Suddenly, a rustle nearby startled both parties, causing the horse to back off. James suppressed a sigh of relief.

"A chipmunk," one of the horses said.

"Come on, Bon Bon, you need to be on time for work."

"Right," 'Bon Bon' replied, and as James heard the two leave, he could faintly hear her say "What do you think that thing was?"

After a few minutes of silence, James cautiously shifted aside a few leaves and peered from his hiding spot. By the time he had decided to look, the previously-deserted streets had a fair amount of other horses, ones of every different size, shape and color. James could even make out a few things that were unnoticeable before; some of them had wings, while others had a single horn protruding from their foreheads. Most importantly, every single one of them sported some kind of tattoo on their flank; a sowing needle here, an apple there, and so forth. There wasn't a single human being in sight.

And then it dawned on him. There were no human citizens because he was looking at the citizens.

This town, this land, perhaps this entire planet was run by horses.

Only one thought echoed in his head as James gazed in confusion at the town, as he fled deeper into the surrounding forest, as he stopped by a tree to catch his breath.

'This isn't home.'