Tag Archives: the four horsemen

Not-So-Random Writing Prompt 17: By Age, By Sickness, By War, By Justice, Pt. 5

John blinked back tears, his eyes stinging and wet. Then, someday it will be?

All things, living and unliving, seen and unseen, have an appointed time when I will call and they must answer. Rivers run dry. Rocks grind to dust. Stars blink out of the sky. The heavens spread themselves so thin that no piece of them will ever talk to or know another.

John’s tongue caught in his throat. Then, there is a higher plan?

Death did not stop its endless work, but it turned its bony head to face the man. There was something beautiful about it then, John thought. An exotic dancer telling a story with their hands, a soothsayer weaving an incantation. A plan. There is a plan, and that is the most beautiful thing of all.

All mankind is of one author, and is one volume. When one man dies, a chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language. Every chapter must be so translated. Some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice, but God’s hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all your scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another.

Then, our suffering improves us? The things I have seen, they are good?

Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it, but it is not current money in the use of it, except that you get nearer and nearer your home by it.

Then, that is the plan?

Death looked at John a moment longer, then turned away from him and back to its work. It must be. It must. Else, what is the point?

The End! Come back Monday for something new!


Not-So-Random Writing Prompt 17: By Age, By Sickness, By War, By Justice, Pt. 4

Death saw everything. Everything. But it did not need to see to do its holy work. It simply knew what to do and when. There was only one thing to do. It and its brothers had each been appointed a single task each, and Death oversaw them all, ensured that their vices and their indulgences all had the appropriate outcome. They destroyed and they sickened and they starved as they saw fit. Sometimes they worked together, Pestilence developing some new disease for War to turn against its prey, Famine greedily following as War cut a bloody swath through lands that should have been fertile, Pestilence turning its attention towards crops that should have been productive and giving them over to Famine’s insatiable appetite.

But though they ignored Death, they served its machinations. All things serve Death, it knew, and Death served all things.

Even John, fallen to his knees, tears welling in his eyes, mouth agape at the horror before him, was served by Death, it knew. But this was not the human’s appointed time. And a good thing, too. There was too much to do to trouble itself with a single life seeking dissolution before its appointed time. Its brothers swept the world, driving men to kill each other, women and children starving in the wake of the fighting, disease festering in the corpses that lay strewn upon the ground. It moved its many hands, and like a conductor leading a grand orchestra, it pointed and it gestured and the people fell.

John wept.

Silence, please. You’re distracting me.

The words drew a gasp from John, echoing inside his head, turning his thoughts into a flock of shrieking birds flapping desperately away from their roost. If his half-choked sobs had distracted this demon, this spider of bone harvesting the world with its many terrible limbs would surely destroy him for daring to speak at all. He waited in silence for his annihilation, but Death paid him no mind. But why

It is not your time.

Not-So-Random Writing Prompt 17: By Age, By Sickness, By War, By Justice, Pt. 3

Famine grew bored with John the second it saw him. Another human, indistinguishable from all the others. The same identical look of misery, of boredom, of crushing despair on its face. Famine understood that look. It understood it all too well. It dealt in hunger and thirst, in need and longing, in greed and emptiness. Famines not just of the body, but the mind and the soul. Desensitization. Ennui.

Famine held its arms up, as thin and brittle as sticks. It stared down at them from behind the blank mask it wore and considered the IV that fed it a steady supply of drugs and saline and calories and then the human spoke, and its voice was so novel a sound that it cut through the music being being blasted through Famine’s ears by the machine it wore upon its head.

Famine let its arm drop back by its side, back down to its distended and empty belly. Famine hungered. Famine always hungered. The human said something again, but Famine couldn’t hear it, and as it realized this, it lost interest. Of course the human had said something again. Making noise was simply part of what they did, as pointless and banal as the way they bludgeoned each other with rocks, scrabbled in the dirt, soiled their beds as they gave birth, looked on their children lovingly, wept and trembled in agony as their families died.

Famine sighed. So pointless, it said. So pointless and empty. All of it. You, me, the entire universe. There was never a guarantee of satiation, of satisfaction, of distraction, but we crave it. We need it all, as surely as we need food and water and air. Ther e is so much we need, so much we can be denied, so much that the universe, in all its randomness, can conspire to withhold from us.

And that’s the joke, little human. There is no higher plan. There is, in truth, no conspiracy. There is simply random chance. You can be born wealthy and another poor. You could be born in a time of plenty or a time of scarcity. There is no control, no order, no nothing. Simply bellies to be filled and not enough food to go around. Minds that hunger for something new, and no meaning to accompany the knowledge they gain.

Happy are those who can wither away in soporific stupor. Happy are those too stupid to open their eyes and see the world for what it is. Happy are those with the resolve to take matters into their own hands and end their lives.

John opened his mouth to protest, but no words escaped him. He frowned, furrowed his brow in thought. There were quotes, he knew, about the goodness of the human spirit, about the love of God, about the natural and blessed order of things, but they would not come to him.

Famine sighed again, bored once more. It adjusted the flow on its IV, increased the volume on its music, tried to ignore the rumbling in its belly. You are obvious and wearying. Be gone.

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