Say you are browsing Reddit, mindlessly, flicking through posts and comments, not really paying attention to what they are saying. You come across a post in a subreddit like mildlyinteresting talking about an interesting cover art to George Orwell’s 1984. You scroll through the comments and everything is typical until you stop and read a comment:
a unite a stage a coup a revolution a bring a genocide a new world a
“In the MKULTRA experiments, the CIA dosed unwitting subjects with LSD to see how they would react. What has not yet come to light is that MKULTRA was an intra-agency project. The CIA created new departments within the CIA and fed them steady doses of LSD and other psychoactives to see how the departments would diverge and mutate away from normal departments. Whole projects and hierarchies were created with everybody involved being more or less unwittingly under the influence of LSD. This is how the ‘restraint bed portals’ and ‘flesh interfaces’ were first created i.e. from a heavily psycho-mutated hierarchy. The entire thing had to be eliminated, but the technology it created has been revolutionary.”
This is how Mother Horse Eyes starts. Also known as The Interface Series, it is a complex narrative told through Reddit’s comments, compiled later in a dedicated subreddit where discussions are held. It is a story that caught the fascination of many. The entries come from many different points of view, time periods, writing styles—even at one point from the POV of a cat. Every entry is posted as a comment to a seemingly random Reddit thread (sometimes even deleted because of the content of it violating the Subreddit’s rules), although there are exceptions that seem to be inspired or tangentially related to the post. Another post in r/pics of a Lego Battleship has a comment involving American Marines finding a Korean man with “various pieces floating without connection“ and notes, “His head is like a balloon floating several feet over the rest of him.”
Considered a creepypasta by some, I think it’s more than that. Part of a new generation of indie horror, it’s an extremely creative spin on modern storytelling that seems to take influence from the world around it, and the author, whose username is often abbreviated as 9M9H9E9, also interacts with and responds to readers’ comments. The author is also a character within the story, as well as the eponymous Mother Horse Eyes, who is referred to in several entries. “I see in your posts many mentions of flesh interfaces. Care to define what that is for us? As well as you can using text at least?” 9M9H9E9 replies, “Obviously I can’t define a flesh interface in terms of purpose or composition or mechanism. I can only list the various phenomena which are related to them.” By asking the question, we have been able to parse a little more info and become part of the storytelling process ourselves.
While most other creepypastas and online stories have what I believe to be a thought-out beginning, middle, and end much like a novel, I don’t get that feeling with Mother Horse Eyes. It does have a conclusion, but it feels like the way we get to that conclusion is more accidental.
I can imagine the author clicking “random” on Reddit, finding a comment about a cute puppy, and furiously writing until the sun came up. Some of the comments don’t even seem to have anything to do with the main story. Perhaps they are a writing exercise? Often my best ideas are in the wee hours of the morning, and lately, I remember to actually write them on my phone. Maybe instead of just going back to sleep like me, he sees the idea through to its end. The dream-like quality of some of it would make sense, then.
One of the many disturbing aspects of The Interface Series is the Flesh Interfaces themselves. They are, quite literally, tunnels made of flesh that seem to transport whatever enters into another dimension where all manner of unspeakable cosmic horror takes place. “…it looked like the inside of somebody’s throat. Wet, reddish flesh-looking stuff. We had heard of them building tunnels, but this was…We really couldn’t even understand what we were looking at.” One of the many experiments described involving the tunnels also involves dosing people with high amounts of LSD, including a child, and pushing them into the Flesh Interface and recording the results.
One patient, an 8-year-old girl they refer to as “Jingles,” returns encased in a sac and attached to a “sort of placenta” pumping her body with millions of doses of a mutated form of LSD. Her behavior is that of a newborn and rapidly changes until she is back to “normal” and able to answer questions, until she describes what she saw and simply dies sitting up. Her last words are “Come unto these yellow sands.” Various quotes and passages from the Bible, Shakespeare, and famous novels are referenced. (The Subreddit does a great job of linking to any relevant text.)
Another concept that has major implications for the plot are Hygiene Beds, a hybrid VR and life support system that many people find themselves addicted to and never emerge from. One narrative follows a “readjustment specialist” overseeing a woman’s removal from a malfunctioning Hygiene Bed. These beds take care of all your basic needs and so when she is finally extracted from a cocoon of her hair, overgrown for years, her body is almost completely atrophied and she is essentially blind. “Some occupants were unable to even understand the concept of eyelids or blinking…After not seeing anything more than a micrometer away for 24 years, there was no chance of her being able to see anything in the room.” I think this is fleshed out (ha) quite well in The Interface Series, and it reminded me of a few other mediums where it’s used in an interesting way.
The video game Observer also uses a VR/life bed in a side mission, where an old woman suffering from a terminal illness is in a bed and her mind is connected to that of a young girl. You “jack in” to her device and explore her mind. You are abruptly kicked out when her body dies, and it is implied that she and the child are now one (if you decide to restore the connection—otherwise, she dies).
The oft-forgotten animated series Spicy City (creator Ralph Bakshi, who also made the animated feature film Cool World) dealt with a similar subject in its first episode, “Love is A Download.” It is about a young woman escaping the horror of her abusive relationship by hooking up to her VR Bed and exploring a simulated world where she falls in love with a man who, out of the Pods, is a disabled veteran. The episode ends with them permanently uploading their consciousnesses to the internet, discarding their real bodies. I found this quite tragic and romantic when I first watched it as a kid!
Mother Horse Eyes herself is a mysterious and powerful being. Described by a child (who may or may not be the Author), she is sewn together from many different animal parts and has patches of wet burlap where they don’t quite meet. One of her feet is a large hoof, while the other is a small cat’s paw. She smells of cigarettes and disease. Her most prominent feature is, of course, her horse eyes, large and with sideways pupils. The child describes her giving medicine to the other children in the house and leading them downstairs, possibly to be sent into Flesh Interfaces.
Another thing about Mother is she appears to be affected by the Bible: “When I read it to her, her different pieces would shudder and pull apart, and she would howl like a wolf, and blood would run from her segments.” This isn’t a permanent way to destroy her, though, as she is later found in pieces all over the floor. Strange music causes her to reform, with the eyes last. “The eyes are missing, still fleshy cavities. They come in from the hallway, floating over my head, settling into her face with a squishing sound, streams of blood falling like tears. The sideways pupils fix on me.” Such a horrifying creature pretending to be your mother and doing unspeakable acts to other children is terrifying.
The Author himself has released very little information about his life outside of the story, and I believe most of this to be fake information that fits in with the narrative itself, as the Author is a character as well as the writer of the work. “He is male, in his thirties, lives in the United States, works as a freelance translator and was once a heavy user of LSD.” Of course, I could be wrong, and this could legitimately be a real person in our world, but another quote stating the information presented in the narrative “…is not fiction. Nor is it true. It is a mix of things which happened and things which almost happened. Things which were and things which could have been.” This leads me to conclude he is still acting as a character.
While the vast majority of Creepypasta and online stories have the author telling the story through a first-person perspective, putting us in the place of the writer as if the events were happening TO us, The Interface Series switches between various narrative styles depending on what is happening, and I find that this creates more interest. The “wait, what is going on here?” feeling in many of the segments is quite addicting. Often, it would be several days or weeks between posts dealing with specific narratives and you never knew where exactly the next piece would pop up, from a general subreddit about jokes to one about the band The Mountain Goats.
I’ve never quite been sure why body horror, in particular, appeals to me so much. The inherent wrongness of it? There’s a lot of speculation about the Flesh Interfaces…are they supernatural? Organic technology? The narratives going through experiments and research about it are some of my favourites, and they harken back to SCPs which in and of itself is the ultimate, collective creepypasta. The instantaneous nature of the internet to feed off other’s ideas and create new things is pretty inspiring. The efforts by the Mother Horse Eyes community to archive all the posts, (which is how I was even able to read it in the first place!) add notations and relevant links, and it should also be commended.
While I, unfortunately, didn’t know about Mother Horse Eyes and The Interface Series until years after its conclusion, once I did find it, I consumed it at a blistering pace. The story itself is wildly imaginative and original, and it ignited my love of reading again after not being able to focus on anything for months. With everything that’s going on in 2020, it felt completely natural to lose myself in a narrative that is so unpredictable, mirroring real life in a small way. I give it my highest recommendation and hope the discussions about it will continue for years to come.
You can read the full narrative at the subreddit for 9M9H9E9. ※