Saturday, February 11, 2012

Apocalypse in a Bottle

The little boy, about six years old, digging through the attic full of his grandfather's trunks, books, and memories, found a dusty old brown bottle. Looking at the label, the boy tried to discern what the faded letters meant, but the word on the label was too big for his young years. He did recognize the pirate symbol under the word, as a faded skull, and crossbones. The word, printed in capital letters, started with an A, he was sure of that, the next was P, and he was sure of that. The next letter was a little broken up, but it looked like an O. The next three letters were CAL. Trying to sound out the letters one by one, as his mother had taught him, the boy struggled, but slowly stuttered out the three syllables, APOCAL. The next letters didn't make any sense to the boy, but he sounded out each one of them one after another with a little more confidence than the first letters YPSE. That's it, a-poc-a-lip-s-e, whatever that is, he thought as he pulled the cork from the top of the bottle and threw it off to the side. Looking into the bottle, the boy could see that something was moving down at the bottom, or is that just a reflection? 

Pouring out the contents, the boy watched in amazement as four objects the size of Cheerios came tumbling out. The objects landed on the hard wood floor of the attic and started to run on all fours toward the attic door. The boy wasn't sure, but to him it looked like the objects had grown a bit as they fell out of the bottle. Four little horses, with riders on the, but they didn't look like the cowboys that the boy was used to. By the time, the horse and riders reached the bottom of the stairs at the end of the hallway they had become the size of a cat. Coming to the front door, which the movers left open, the horse and riders were the size of a large dog. The boy's parents and the movers were around the side of the house inspecting a large cabinet that the movers thought they scratched; they don't see the horsemen dash across the front yard. 

About the size of a car, the horse and riders are almost full size now. Heading down the quiet street, the riders turn the corner and charge at full gallop. The riders are not cowboys at all, but rather, dressed in flowing robes and looking like characters from "Lawrence of Arabia." The first rider's white horse was foaming, and its mane flowing in the wind. The rider, leaning forward as the four of them reach the edge of the small town and start heading across the desert toward the Old Pueblo, he reaches behind him and un-slings his bow. The rider's eyes, squinting with determination, sweating, his mind reeling, one thought on his mind; battle. Not sure, whom he was to do battle with, he looked over at his companions riding on to his left and to his right. He knew them, but couldn't remember their names, they were familiar, but distant, and his mind was a cloud as he settled back into the thought that gave him comfort, conquest. 

The sky was turning dark as the clouds gathered, and the wind was turning cold, a wet cold. The distance between the outlaying areas and Tucson is about 14 miles and the horsemen were covering that distance quickly. The rider to Domination's left, a chestnut colored red horse, charging beside Domination was foaming and the horse was snorting. The rider, a look of anger on his face, moved closer to his brother, his hands on the reins gripped tight, speaking under his breath in an ancient language that was long dead before the Sumerians built their first towers. He repeated the same words over and over. If there were a linguist on this Earth that could translate the word, he would say that the word approximated our word for War. However, there isn't anybody who would know that language, having gone extinct before the Pyramids were even thought of. With the edge of Tucson coming into view, he reached up behind him and grabbed the sword that was sheathed and strapped to his back. Pointing the sword out with his right hand, his left hand still guiding his horse, he leans forward, the words on his lips getting louder than the pounding of the horse's gallop, becoming audible to the other riders. 

On the other side of Conquest, the rider of the black horse looked toward his brothers, and the word that his brother spoke sparked a memory buried deep within his thoughts for the last bit of time. Funny how time is meaningless, he thought, as he veered his horse away from the other riders. As the riders fan out, they are about to take the town just before twilight. On his black horse, the rider was searching for a word, a word that would describe the hunger, the pain, and the hate that he felt. Reaching into the bag strapped to his left side, he pulled out the object within and held it up. The scales held high the left one balancing against the right, wind whipping them wildly, and the rider lowered the scales and held them in front towards the city. Hearing his brother's words brought his long forgotten language back from the depths, and the rider fixated on the word, repeating it like his brother, the word was famine. 

The riders were now about three fourths of a mile apart as they galloped toward the modern town of Tucson, Arizona. Coming out of the dessert and onto the pavement, the riders dusty from riding through the sand and scrub bush, the dust flew from their robes. The storm behind them was coming upon the town as quickly as the riders. The last rider on his pale grey horse knew his purpose; he had no doubts why he was here; he knew what he must do, he always knew. Concentrating on his purpose that once along time ago he was charged with, he never once forgot who he was and who is brothers are. Long ago, when men wandered the earth as nomads, he and his brothers were already ancient. Long before the fall and before humankind received the spark of knowledge, the rider, and his brothers stood as lords over the world. Watching as the creatures gained first, knowledge of agriculture, and eventually settling and developing their first civilization, his name was already on the lips of all humans. As the nomads gathered in the Indus valley, his name became popular, and old men told stories about him and his brothers at night by the fire. The nomads told the stories to their children, and they in turn to their offspring; embellishments crept in and the stories were tamed down to frighten children. The truth frightened the adults. As the human's first civilization grew, and their language developed, and his name became both a noun and a verb. His name was Death. 

After many thousands of years watching the humans worship their pitiful gods, his brothers and he, retreated to the mountains of the north. From there, the four brothers were long forgotten as beings, but their names were never forgotten. Throughout the millennia, the memory of their reign continued, and their feats became legends amongst the mortals. The four horsemen lifted their heads to the sky as a loud trumpet sounds, getting louder and louder as they raced through the town. On his pale, grey horse, the rider took the lead heading towards the center of town. Breathing the air of this world made the rider sad. Feeling the wind against his face, he felt a pang of sorrow, and seeing the humans as he came around a corner, he knew that the time of men on Earth was over.