The face of the lake was stiller than he had imagined from the stories of the mysterious traveler who had first describe this legendary lake to him. The man, who appeared at the tavern one evening, had quietly mentioned a place where he had once been and gave away a map leading there.
He retrieved from his dry saddlebag the piece of soft parchment. Its edges were frayed from travel--this leaf had seen many hands and many more miles. Markings of lead pencil forming a basic map upon it had been smudged almost to indiscernability. The mysterious traveler had given him this page, insisting that he himself did not have enough strength left to ever return, but with a promise that any adventurer willing to make the long journey would be rewarded in unimaginable ways.
He was not checking his bearings, as he had checked countless times during his journey. He squinted, and his rough voice recited the incantation scratched above the map:
“Awaken Monsters, Caffeine kings,
I need a booster--give me wings.”
That was all that was written. He lifted his eyes from the page and to the glassy surface of the legendary lake. Nothing.
Then the wind shifted almost imperceptibly. Now, a stronger gust blew into his face from the lake. The gale was warm and broad, causing pebbles to roll up along the shore. His hand rose to protect his eyes from the lifting dust. Invigorated waters jostled tumultuously; crashing downwards and upwards, twisting, misting. Tall, roaring waves began to form and rise up the shoreline towards him, fall, then blast up again, higher, pushed by the bizarre wind. Chill sharp wetness bit his face as a wall of water crashed upon him. A crescendo of deafening noise filled his ears and he cried out as the wave washed his body to the hard ground.
Silence. Flat on his back, he could feel the water retreating; hear the sound of it peacefully flowing back into the legendary lake. The wind was again quiet and cold.
Soggily he arose. He still gripped the parchment in his hand. Dunes had been flattened; big stones scattered about. Wood had been ripped from trees on the opposite shore and accumulated in dense piles around him. With sudden alarm, he searched for his horse. Gone. Spooked, perhaps--or lifted to the sky, blown away? Thick remorse enveloped him. Though a beast, the horse had been a steadfast companion to him during the many trials of travel.
As he scanned the area for signs of his beloved horse, he noticed something odd about nearby boulder. The boulder, not too far off between him and the shore, had been one of the dunes. The powerful gale had washed away the mud to uncover this huge stone. Although the boulder was itself unremarkable, what sat atop it struck him as very strange. Something shiny; blue. Cylindrical. Fully intrigued and with mounting excitement, he navigated around debris towards the bright object that winked at him in the sun, remembering the mysterious traveler’s promise of great rewards.
When he reached the object, he bent and brought his face very close. Tiny letters spelled foreign words: "Nutrition Facts," "Please Recycle," and a long list of incomprehensible ingredients. The largest words appeared in a menacing text on the very front:
A noise. Pop. Fizz. The top of the cylinder had, by some unseen force, snapped open. Thrilled, he reached for the blue object and marveled at its temperature. Ice cold. He tried to bring the hole up to his eye for a close look but a light blue liquid splashed out onto him when he tipped it. Cursing himself, he straightened it and peered in from above. More blue liquid sloshed around inside.
Should he cleanse his body with the gift? He put the cylinder to his nose and sniffed curiously. Fruity. Perhaps this was a potion of some kind? Yes, that would make sense--given the magical nature of recent events, it seemed appropriate that he would be given a potion. Cautiously, taking care not to spill any more, he tasted the liquid. The flavor was not repulsive. He swallowed bigger and bigger gulps, slurping the contents until finally the cylinder was empty. He belched.
Beside this legendary lake anxiously awaiting something--anything--to happen, a new sensation settled within him: a stomach ache. Groaning, he clutched his middle region and harbored resentful thoughts towards that mysterious traveler who had directed him on this journey, so ill-fated that he had both lost his horse and become rather sick, alone and far from any doctor.
Pacing--brooding--before the boulder with his supposed reward tossed carelessly to the mud, he was struck with the awareness that his heart was thudding loudly against his chest. And his breathing was different--he drew great gulps of air, more quickly and deeply, as if he had run a great distance. When a facial muscle began to twitch rhythmically just above his cheek bone he thought that perhaps the drink was magic after all and would begin to work soon, after this short attack of strange side-effects. The muscle on his cheek then smoothed and ceased to flutter, but, gasping still, he became hot suddenly. A drop of sweat marched down his forehead.
Panic clenched him when muscles all across his skeleton were seized by great, shuddering spasms. A violent convulsion toppled his body. He writhed upon the ground, blood-pulse beating too brutally against his skull to hear his own shrieks; lungs near bursting, face contorting as extreme nervous malfunctions warped his features into gruesome expressions--inhuman, monstrous. His curled fingers dug into the mud. Grey sky oppressed him, clouds assuming forms that jeered at him, guffawing with the wind. The legendary lake, like a flat, oblong eye seemed to peer downwards at him--silent and amused.
Then, as if his tormentor had been satisfied, the convulsions reduced by degrees. He sensed the energies which had animated and overwhelmed him internalize within his flesh, become part of him--a fire digested in his blood. He arose with an ease that surprised him. Arteries pulsed and sizzled beneath his skin like lightning coils. In his head, the violent toll of his heart had been replaced by his own thoughts. His consciousness had grown loud, huge, towering, filling the broad sky. A spectrum of bare emotions vibrated within him now--and he had not only gained an immense intellect, but an influence upon the outer world as well: the dark clouds swirled no longer by the forces of nature but at the beckoning of his own foreboding desire. His breath was the cold wind. His thoughts were the toppling clouds.
He exercised his newfound powers by materializing an image of his former self upon the moist mud in front of him. Sharp disgust pushed nauseatingly upwards like vomit; disgust which like an animal he expurged with an atmosphere-shattering, roar. In a vision from the ancient past, he remembered how he had slowly made this journey upon horseback. What had he been seeking? He hadn't even known then, hadn't any clue; had followed his intuition unquestioningly with the mysterious traveler's promise dangling like a carrot before his stupid face.
And at what a slothly pace he had progressed, inch by inch along the stretching roads, entertained only by that dull horse! He would have the power now to make the trip in two great leaps--if he wished to return home--but he flinched at the memory of that abysmally drab house and his vapid wife, and her filthy children and the pale grass, and those thin clothes and his meritless job (tending the horses on his boss's farm) and his limp voice, and his lame grip and his shallow breath and his defeated acquiescence. . .
He knew he was no longer that man. His core self was the same--his ego remained intact, in fact magnified--but that insipid flesh which so limited him before had been transmogrified into an indefatigable muscle without inhibition; a wild horse without doubts or fears or weakness. And yet this couldn't be the reward that the mysterious traveler had promised. What he yearned for before, he still yearned for now. Although capable of anything, he yet remained with nothing to satisfy him. Acute rage combusted within him and he lunged wildly at the materialized image of himself; its clone face mocking surprise, it shortly dissolved leaving him alone again before the legendary lake.
When he perceived a muted neigh, the hanging clouds began to ripple weirdly. His heightened senses could actually detect the odor of the mare's dank sweat. He noticed the deep hoof-tracks leading away from the water and scoffed at the ineptitude of his former self. By following the impressions to the crest of a hill he could then see the fretting animal near a thick, solitary tree not far away.
He felt compelled to approach the horse. There was no need to ride it, and he was not in the mood for companionship—but something about the sound, the sight, the smell of this horse made him flush. His heart thudded once more; his palms moistened. The heat from the horse’s body radiated to him, and he was drawn to the flesh. He brought a hand forward to touch the fur, and in the instant he touched it, he gasped. Every follicle made his skin tingle with a pleasant sensation; the smooth texture was sublime. He walked around to the end of the mare, hand gliding along the curves of the mare’s body, and when he stood behind it with heavy breath, pangs of longing made it difficult to not caress the hind legs with both hands. The clouds were havoc.
Shirt ripped off, he was unable to resist the urge to press his full body up against the animal, the flesh so warm and wet. The horse tried to step away, but he gripped its rear, holding it forcefully down. Wildly, he pulled his leather pants down and pushed his erection into the animal. The animal struggled, whinnied and it attempted to pull away, but he used all his strength to keep it in place. He began to thrust deeply into the animal, with growing force, pleasure-waves coursing from his groin to his entire body. The satisfaction was overwhelming when he pushed his fingers into its anus. As he plunged his entire fist deep into its rectum, the mare’s hind legs tried to kick--but his forcible grip caused its knees to snap. He neighed.
"This is my reward!"
He achieved orgasm. And the clouds were limp.