Not-So-Random Writing Prompt 17: By Age, By Sickness, By War, By Justice, Pt. 1

Can you believe I got the installment number wrong on the entire last prompt? How silly of me. Anyway, stuff!

This piece is entitled “By Age, By Sickness, By War, By Justice.” It’s inspired by “The Four Horsemen” by Keith Thompson. I don’t own this image, I claim no rights to this image, and should Keith stumble across this post and demand that the image be removed, I will gladly do so. Also, you should go check out his portfolio website at

Let’s begin!

The Four Horsemen

War saw John. It saw him just as it saw everything, a face watching in every direction, surveying the whole world without movement, endlessly, unblinkingly. Do you see in this a higher plan, it asked him, and John had no answer.

But War wanted no answer. War was its own answer. I don’t. But then, it’s not my place to seek one. I have no such need. My existence is simple, and for that, I am grateful. All I have to do is be the urge in you to tighten your hands into fists and strike out. I do not even have to be the motivation. Fear, anger, cold logic, jealousy. The human mind supplies it all. All I have to do is be a reminder that violence is always an answer, and you find the excuse.

I am a peaceful man, John said.

No man is truly peaceful, War replied. A man’s soul is a wild animal locked in a cage. It may be a very strong cage with very strong locks, but the animal is eternal. It can never be tamed. Even imprisoned, it knows the taste of blood, the scent of fear, the joy of the kill. It knows. It remembers. It waits.

Our science has ended war.

And yet here I stand. And what has your science ever done by given glory to War? Your science took you from fists to stones, stones to metal, metal to gunpowder, chemicals, the atom. Your science gave you technology your ancestors would have called magic, would have dropped to their knees and bowed before. Your science made you gods, and like gods, you destroyed and created at your whims.

Miles below, the bodies burned. War saw them burning. John could smell them, his mind running like a machine built to haunt him. He imagined pits dug deep into the earth, wounds festering with so much rotting meat. Robots filled them in ceaselessly, and when the pits were full, the robots ignited them. He imagined. All this he imagined, and it was so.

War’s many lips pulled back in a corpse’s rictus against its many teeth. You are endlessly creative. I admire that.


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