Copyright © 2008 Adam Shortland
Everyday is the same. From beginning to end it’s the same.
The only difference is if I will eat today. My food stocks are dwindling now.
I’ve been walking for about two months. It has felt like an eternity. Since the
incident four months ago, I haven’t seen anyone else. Granted I don’t bother to
check the ruins for survivors, I’d probably be disappointed. So I’ve been
walking. Endlessly it would seem, but I hope to happen upon someone. In these
long two months I have not seen anything but rocks and rubble, not a living
thing. Its as if the whole world was emptied of all life. No animals, no fish,
no plants, no people. I’ve been living off canned food I had stored up. And if
I absolutely must I do go to the ruins looking for food. But I haven’t seen any
place with food in a week, and I’m starting to run out. Water wise I am
normally fine with I know how to ration my stuff, but this week has been
incredibly difficult. I can’t take any water from my surroundings it all has to
be bottled. Otherwise the water is either gone or turned into a disgusting
cesspool. I have to keep moving though. I can see the clouds gathering on the
horizon, and that means its getting closer. I walk all day, but I have to rest.
It moves day and night, it always seems to be behind me. I’m sure it will be on
me in a few hours at the most, but I will walk until it overtakes me.
to explain exactly what it is. In simplest terms it is a cloud. I know
it better as the third horseman, as the pestilence. This cloud, from what the
newspapers said before they stopped printing, was created by a union of
philanthropic scientists. They took up the cause of protecting the earth from
the machinations of global leaders. Then the war came. The last remaining
powers in the world fought a massive war over something small that no one
understood. But nonetheless it happened. This union of scientists wanted to
stop the war. From there they created this artificial pestilence. It was
intended to show both sides the power of man meant nothing when put against
that of nature. And to keep up this folly of a war would result in nature’s
wrath. The scientists released their cloud at the site of a battle. The cloud
did its job and took the lives of thousands, serving as a warning to the
transgressions of man. But as opposed to dissipating after a few hours, the
wind moved the cloud. It was blown right to a nearby city. And unlucky for
humanity, this city had one of the most advanced medical research facilities in
the world. The doctors there were dabbling in nanomachines with artificial
intelligences. Somehow, someway, the nanomachinces became sentient and merged
with the cloud. From there it swept the earth, devouring any organic matter to
power the nanomachines.
Now I am all that’s left, and the cloud is getting
closer. There is nothing left for me but my regrets. I wish I had had no hand
in creating that cloud. My mind was clouded with high-minded ideals that have
essentially caused the extinction of humanity. I wanted to save people, now I
only brought death. I before anyone should pay for what I have wrought on the
world. I will sit here and let it take me; let it deliver me to my deserved
punishment. But behold, there is a pool of water here that could deliver me
faster. I dip my hands into the muddy mire, it burns. I pull up the dirty water
and gulp it down. Then I wait. Something unexpected happens though. The muddy,
lethal quagmire rejuvenates me. Like giving a thirsty man water, I felt
refreshed, even nourished. It is obvious that this is dirty, diseased water. I
don’t understand this. But it doesn’t matter anyway; the clouds are very near
It is then
that I hear a sound that I haven’t heard for months. The sound of hoof falls.
On the near horizon, a horse appears, and its hooves break the silence. At
first glance it looks like a white horse bounding over the deadened hills, but
as it gets closer I notice things and begin to remember it. It is actually a
pale green color. The horse looks kind of decayed and gaunt. Just by looking at
it I know it should be dead. As it neared, so did the cloud. I cannot fathom
words that can describe the anguish and fear I am feeling right now.
brings back things. It trots up to me and stops. I can feel the hot, rotten
breath on my face. Then it began to speak, I hear a voice in my head.
remember me sire?” The horse stares intently into my eyes.
you?” I stammered. But strangely enough I felt comforted by the horse’s
“I am yours
sire, I am your horse. We must hurry, the others are waiting.” By no the cloud
had enveloped me, but nothing was happening. The cloud actually made me feel
better. But along with the cloud came a flood of memories. I was the head
scientist in charge of producing the pestilence, but I am something else. I knew
what the exact location had to be for these events to unfold. I knew exactly
what city would be the first to fall victim to the pestilence. I knew
everything in advance. I knew everything that was going to happen.
am I?” I ask the horse. Meeting its gaze, and all the while fearing its answer.
you are a horseman. You are the embodiment of pestilence, the third horseman if
you follow the book of revelation. None of that matters now though, your task
has been completed, and now you are to return home.”
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