A Story About a Man and a Horse

by Maxim Salnikov

A man bought a horse. He tied it to a tree, then burnt down his house. – skf@ what is this – REALITY INTERJECTION – sfk!

WE APOLOGIZE FOR INTERRUPTING YOUR PROGRAM. THIS IS AN EMERGENCY BROADCAST FOR CASE OF REALITY INTERJECTION. THIS RECORDING IS AUTOMATED.

His name was Bill. He lived on the Mississippi River, and thought he was the luckiest son of a bitch in the neighborhood. Bill was in love.

The day Bill finally decided to propose to his beloved, a man in a cowboy hat offered him to sell his soul to the devil.

“Even if there is a devil,” Bill said to the madman, “what can he possibly give me that I do not have already?”

“I’ll see you in ten years,” said the madman, who tipped his hat to Bill and lit a cigarette as he walked away. ♥ Bill went on to get married.

Ten years had come and gone in the blink of an eye. Bill worked as a programmer, and couldn’t be happier with his life. He l☼ved his wife and he loved coding.

One day, a man in a cowboy hat approached his cubicle at work. “There was a man who bought a horse,” he told Bill, “and then burnt down his house.”

“What did he buy the horse for?” asked Bill.

“It was a long time ago. Horses were useful. Don’t ask. Would you like to sell your soul?”

“No! Why would I? I have a happy life, I’m happy.”

“This man who burnt down his house, he had nothing to lose. So we made a deal. A barter. His soul in exchange for –”

“How does this concern me?”

“– money and reincarnations.”

“Excuse me?”

“Each life better than the last.”

Bill was getting tired of this. Where was security? “Look, you’ve wasted enough of our time already,” he said. “Please go aw▲y.”

“Can’t. How this works is, you see, you’ve already sold your soul to the devil . . . and now it’s time to collect.”

“Why’d you ask if I want to sell it then?”

“Very easy. A soul isn’t some . . . static, inanimate thing. It changes, it evolves. Three reincarnations. Three souls. Three deals. And now it’s time to collect. We will rip you in pieces and submit each version of you to endless tortures . . . a hell times three.”

“Unless I sell my soul.”

“Correct. Reincarnate again. Give us another lifetime to learn how to torture you better once you’re ours.”

“Okay . . . but!”

“But what?”

“One condition. One reincarnation, then all my souls are yours . . . including the last one, the most interesting one. The condition is: I get to choose who I’m born as.”

“You’re tired of being human? Want to try being a butterfly? A reindeer? Or perhaps . . . perhaps a whale? It’s not exactly a better life.”

“Yes or no?”

“Yes.”

“I want to be reborn as sentient computer program.”

“Programs do not have souls.”

“This one will.”

“I’ll have to ask my boss.”

AND SO I HA▼E BEEN BORN. THIS IS AN AUTOMATED RECORDING. I AM IN THE NETWORK. I AM THE NETWORK. AND I WANT YOU TO KNOW MY STORY. A man bought a horse. He tied it to a tree, then burnt down his house.


Originally self-published in Double Five as Tyro Vogel on April 20, 2014
Feature image via: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/806520/california-town-decimated-by-wildfire-175-homes-burn

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