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The Ride Home

Do you know what a Kelpie is?

By BlankmarksPublished about a year ago 9 min read

“She was drowning. She thrashed violently against the waves like an animal, but Step-Dad wouldn’t let go. Eventually, the screams stopped and he turned his attention to me. My body was shaking as if an earthquake was happening, his footstep felt that way. He grabbed me by my shirt, I couldn’t resist, my mind had shut down.”

“I soon felt the bone—chilling water engulf my legs, chest, and finally my head. He was…”

“Keep going Jacob.”

“He was going to kill me just like my mother, for no apparent reason. Even now I don’t know why this had to happen. Eventually, a passerby noticed the strange scene and just like that, my father disappeared. I could never look at the sea the same again.”

“Good job Jacob, you’ve finally been able to tell the story without panicking.”

I open my eyes to the familiar ceiling, the psychiatrist’s office. Today is my final day of therapy, at least according to me and my friend’s wallet. I get off the rough couch and look at her with weary eyes.

“Am I cured? Can I…finally swim again?”

“I’m afraid it’s not that simple Jacob. This was the first step to recovery. Now you have to actually face the sea again. But I don’t think you’re actually ready to dive right back into it yet. Pun intended.”

“So what am I supposed to do? I’m almost 18 and I have no real skills besides swimming. I don’t want to work a 9 to 5 all my life. I want….no, I need to swim again.”

“I know this is your final day with me so I can only give you this.”

She hands me 2 tickets to something called Creek Fair.

“There’s a fair coming that takes place near a shallow river. Go there with your friend and have some fun. When you have the energy you can take a dip. After that, it’s all up to you.”

“I don’t know…”

“Either this or water world. I don’t think you can afford the latter.”

“…Thank you.”

“No problem, I pray that you can get over this and live your life again.”

I shake my therapist for the last time and exit her office. Waiting outside to my surprise is Xavier. Still rocking the blond dye hair and rocker outfit I see. For someone with such an innocent face, I can never understand why he chose this style.

“Sorry that I can’t keep covering for you man.”

“It’s fine, thanks for always paying half of it.”

“Happy to help. So, are you okay?”

“I guess so, she did leave me this.”

I show the tickets to Xavier and his face immediately lights up.

“Sweet! What’s this for though?”

“There’s a shallow river near the fairgrounds. I thought we could have some fun and afterward…face my fears.”

“I’m with you Jacob, all the way to the Olympics.”

“Haha, I haven’t even conquered my trauma yet.”

“It’s only a matter of time. I still remember you before, like a torpedo!”

“If you say so. Still, thanks a lot for staying with me all these years.”

“Like I said before, I got your back.”

Me and Xavier talked about everything that came to mind as we exited the building. We had to search the city for a while until we came across the fairgrounds. The place was more impressive than I thought, it was colorful and lively. Bouncy castles, obstacle courses, food stalls, archer competitions, merry—go—around, and a band playing in the background.

“Wow, this place is sweet! Why didn’t we know that this existed in our own city?”

“Probably too busy paying bills.”

“Well, time to play hard after working hard.”

We gave our ticket to the gatekeeper and quickly got to having fun. We bounced in the castles, raced, danced, and ate like it was our last day. But despite it all, I couldn’t keep my eyes off the nearby river. It looked clean and clear but the fear still lingered heavily on my chest.

I wanted to have fun but it just kept growing heavier and heavier until I could do nothing but stare at it. I was fixated on the river, I felt it call and needed to answer.


“Huh, yeah?”

“You okay, want to face it now?”

“I suppose I should but-”

What is this feeling of foreboding when I look at that river? Why is it not clear anymore? Maybe I should put this off till tomorrow.

“I feel a bit sick, maybe we should face it tomorrow.”

“No problem, good thing too. I think we almost cleared the food stalls out, I almost feel bad.”

We cleaned our hands and prepare to leave this place. But, in the corner of my eye, something inescapable pulled my gaze. There was another attraction at this fair but only now do I notice it. What was looking back at me was a raven black house with fur so beautiful that I subconsciously walked towards it. I was light and it was my black hole.

“Oh, I see you 2 attracted to him as well?”


My focus was broken as an old man with graying hair and a cowboy outfit approached me. Now that he mentions it, I look back to see Xavier right behind. Was he pulled in as well?

“Y—Yes sir, I was admiring this…amazing horse. Where did you get him?”

“He’s new but a hot seller. All the other horses haven’t been chosen yet.”

Yes, the last attraction of the fair was horse riding. You ride the horse around a stake of hay at a slow pace. How could I have not seen this before?

“So do you two want to ride him? We have two open slots.”

Immediately we nearly screamed yes to the offer. But only one person can ride him at a time. In the end, we settled with rock paper scissors and sadly Xavier went first. For 5 minutes I had to watch him ride the horse with a big smile on his face.

“Okay, it’s your turn.”

I stepped up to the plate and helped onto the horse. At last, I was on him. Immediately I understood why Xavier was grinning so. His fur felt softer than clouds and the ride wasn’t bumpy. But there’s more to it, this back felt familiar and also…frightening.

But that feeling was washed away when the house turned its head. I swear to god I saw it smile the most gentle smile. I felt the need to hug it and so I did. It was bliss, and dark feelings that swelled up were quickly submerged. How could this be a danger to me?

“Alright, 5 minutes up.”


It felt like one minute but apparently, time does fly when having fun. I reluctantly got off the horse and return to the normal world. The rest of the day went by as expected, like a blur. Me and Xavier were back in our bunk beds, but we couldn’t sleep. That black horse haunted our thoughts, it wouldn’t leave.


“What is it?”

“Do you think that horse is still awake?”

“What does it matter?”

“Let’s go back.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“I just need to ride one more time! You felt it too right, that horse is not normal. This is a once-of-a-lifetime chance to experience something special.”


I want to go, I want to see him again. Positive and negative feelings clash in my heart. I must go to him. There was no more debate, despite any hesitation or warnings, we went back to Creek Fair.

It was dark, quiet, and nothing more. I began to feel regret. What are we doing out here in the pitch—black night with no protection? Just for some house? Why are we so attached to this house?

Warning bells blared in my head but my legs refused to listen. Part of me wanted to finish what it started and the other wanted to go home. Despite the protests Xavier’s unwavering march kept me moving.

“Jacob, look.”

To our astonishment, the black horse was waiting for us. All negativity was once again washed away. How can such beauty harm us? We stared into its black eyes and it stared back at us, welcoming me.

We quickly played rock, paper, scissors to decide who would ride him first, ignorant of the strange situation we’d walked into. But it doesn’t matter, only the peace of the night matters.


“Damn it Xavier, did you cheat?!”

“No, luck is on my side.”

Xavier runs and hops on the horse. Unlike last time, the horse ran instead of peacefully walking. It ran across the whole fair, fast and elegantly. Despite the beauty before me, I couldn’t help but feel like something has been stolen from me. Something that I’ve forgotten.


“Xavier, it’s been five minutes!”

“Just 1 more minute.”



Xavier quickly came back to me and sigh in relief. Finally, it’s my turn to feel the wind.

“Okay, get off.”


“Xavier, get off!”

“I-I can’t.”

“What do you mean you can’t? Get off!”

I rush to Xavier determined to rip him off the horse but no matter how hard I try, Xavier wouldn’t come off.

“Help me man, what the hell is this!?”

I begin to panic, the peace was broken and I didn’t know what to do. I look towards the horse’s face to see if it’s the horse’s fault and what stares back at me…isn’t normal. Its eyes were black before but now it was as if it didn’t have eyes. The fur once soft was now wet and slick to the touch. The hooves were now revered as well, is this…a Kelpie?

Before I could think any further, the horse turned around and began its march.


I pulled as hard I can on the horse to stop it from leaving. I looked past it to see where it was going and my heart immediately sank.

“The river…”

It rushed back to me, all those suppressed feelings consumed my soul. How could I forget the river? And it’s no longer clear at all, it’s black as tar and deeper than hell. The fear tightens around my chest like a snake and I can barely breathe.

My best friend, my only friend is about to be dragged into the murky abyss and I’m too horrified to move.

“Jacob, please help!”

My mind flashes to my mother drowning in a river similar to this. Fear grips me further but more than that, I feel anger. I can’t let this thing take my friend too. I rushed to Kelpie and try to halt its exalted march.

I pulled at its tail, legs, and head. I even tried beating it with a stick. Nothing stopped its march and I was starting to give up. All I could do was beg.

“Please, stop! Don’t take my best friend! I can’t lose him too.”

To my surprise, it stopped and turned its head to me. Xavier was still stuck so wha-



I look to see something squirming at the sides of the Kelpie. Despite my immense fear and jelly legs, I stumbled to see what it was. To my horror, I see a writhing mass of faces stretching out from within the Kelpie’s stomach. It’s more than just faces, there were hands reaching out towards me, to welcome me.

One of those faces was my mother, screaming my name into my skull. I feel blood trickling down my face from the constant noises. I knew they wanted me more than they wanted Xavier. Face still stiff with fear, I turned towards the staring Kelpie.

I stared back into his eyes, pleading and asking why do this. It didn’t have to say it, the answer hit me like a bag of bricks. Those are my step-father’s eyes…now I know why its back felt so peaceful. Father once carried me on his back to help me sleep.

“So this is what were?”

The Kelpie’s head seemed to nod. So it wants to finish the job from last time? I look towards the petrified Xavier. I could just leave him here to die but…I can’t bring myself to do that.

“Take me then, I’m yours. Leave Xavier alive.

Xavier is then flung off the Kelpie. I prepare to mount but Xavier grabs me.

“Don’t do this! Not like this! I said I got your back right, so don’t make this choice for me.”

“Haha, look at you. You’re shaking like a leaf. Don’t push yourself Xavier, it’s time to let me go.”


Before he could say any more the Kelpie’s mouth opened to reveal countless tentacles that engulfed Xavier’s head. It swarmed around him like a mass of birthing snakes. Eventually, the tentacles retreated and Xavier fell unconscious. I should be scared for him but for some reason I know that wasn’t to kill him.

I just knew, he won’t remember this or me. I’m going to vanish from history, forgotten by the world. Fear would usually grip me but right now, I’m strangely at peace. I mount the Kelpie who continues its march towards the murky depths of the river.

From within the primordial chaos, I hear not screams but a lullaby. The same tune my father once sang. The question resurfaces, why did father kill mom? I think I know the answer now.

Welcome Home.”

Now I finally understand, I never left.


About the Creator


I’m Blankmarks and I love magic and fiction. I’ll write about various magic types and concepts not only for fun but to help writers create new magical worlds. I'll also post short stories, writing tips, and more.

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