* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are not ashamed to admit that we never saw The Neverending Story. On the other hand, Sarah Meyer's piece is so good that we don't really care about the source material. Also, it actually has an ending.

What Artax The Horse Was Thinking Before He Sank Into The Swamps Of Sadness: Another Neverending Story

By: Sarah Meyer

Whew, it feels good just to slow down! This has been a heck of a quest. I mean, galloping across the Grassy Plains with Atreyu is my idea of a perfect afternoon, but this has been nonstop! That’s okay — the quest must be really¬†important¬†or Atreyu wouldn’t be so serious about it. He’s so focused! I admire that. I’m such an ol’ space cadet, me.

So this is a swamp? Never seen one before. It’s…a bit gloomy for my taste. But then I’m spoiled, living on the Grassy Plains. The Grassy Plains are the best.

Wow, this mud is relentless. I’ve got mud in all my horse places! And it does not smell great.

Aw, quit your whining, Artax. You’re on an adventure! How cool is that! Just like Daddy always said, your cheerful disposition’ll get you through anything! Thanks, Dad!

I do hope we wrap the quest up soon, though. Can’t wait to get back to the paddock, nice warm blanket, big bucket of oats. Oats are the best.

See, I am just straight up hungry, is all.

And tired. And muddy. Mud is the worst.

Snap out of it, Artax, you’re all right. Besides, this whole thing is bigger than you. There’s so much at stake here, like the future of Fantasia! Apparently. I’m not clear on the specific parameters of the quest. Like, what we’re supposed to be doing. Or why we’re in this swamp. I guess Atreyu’s meeting a quest-related person? Hope we find them soon! Ain’t no carrots in this swamp — ha!

Nope, nooooo carrots. Not a one.

I’m feeling pretty crummy, if I’m honest with myself. And sort of…melon…what’s that word? Melatonin? Melancholy, that’s it. Boy, I gotta start doing the crossword again, my vocab’s gone to shit.

‘Course I never was the sharpest nail in the horseshoe.

Is the mud getting deeper or is it just me? It is just me. Atreyu! I’m, like, four feet tall all of a sudden. What the heck?

Aw, shucks, he can’t understand me. I wish I could talk. Why are there racing snails and giant bats and flying dragon dogs all over the place, but no talking horses? Why no gift of speech for ol’ Artax? It sure is a whimsical, fantastical world we live in. Barely makes any sense, if you think about it.

Atreyu! He’s not even turning around. He’s a man on a mission today. He’s been talking about the Childlike Empress and the Nothing and blah blah human blah for days. Last night he didn’t even read to me.

Lousy quest. What a dumb word. Quest. Sounds like the symptom of a disease: oh, Artax has Fantasian tick fever and he’s questing from every orifice!

What’s gotten into me? I don’t want to blame my surroundings but this swamp is a bummer.

Now Atreyu’s noticed I’ve slowed down. I’m such a worthless slacker.

Quit yanking on my reins you…you buckskin-wearing punk! That’s right, I think your outfit is stupid! Who do you think you are with your shirt open to the navel? You’re fourteen for neighing out loud!

Wow, I’m not budging. I am officially stuck in the mud.

Whatever, it’s probably better this way.

God, I’m fat.

And I bet my foals think I’m a deadbeat sire.

I can’t remember the sun.

Neverending? Whatever.